Lord ActonLord Acton, [John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton] (1834-1902), First Baron Acton of Aldenham

Famous Lord Acton Quote

“I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power ... Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Lord ActonLord Acton
~ Lord Acton

in a letter to the bishop of London, Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5,1887

Ratings and Comments

warren, olathe

Have heard the last line all my life.

JoW, Utah
  • Reply
JoW, Utah    4/16/08

Leaders should not gain the trust of the people because of the office they inherit.

FamouslyUnknown, Hackensack NJ

Lord Acton is not quite right. Power does not corrupt, greed corrupts. Greed is the force and Power is the lever for action in the direction Greed demands. Typically, Greed x Power = Cruelty ( a corruption of our humaneness). Mahatma Gandhi had tremendous power, or rather spiritual force, to move millions of Hindus and Muslims against the British, but he had no greed, so that his equation became Justice x Power = Freedom, with compassion for the 'enemy' British. The assassination of Gandhi and partition of India loosed the lunatics on both sides. 'Oh what fools we mortals be.'

Justin, Elkland

Power alone does not corrupt great statesmen.

jim k, Austin,Tx

I agree with Justin. As to the Congress, we have replaced great statesmen with political hacks.

Mike, Norwalk

Good comments above. The corruptible are drawn by tyrannical power like a moth to the flame. "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." (George Washington) In the de jure U.S. each individual was to be pope and king as is averse to the current statist theocracy that infests this land (as is more than abundantly clear by the cannons strangling We The People) The popes and kings of the current statist theocracy infesting this land and/or the de jure servants (government employees that stand in simile of pope and king's job performance - not authority or right) should not be trusted and, they should be treated like each and every, any and all other individuals ! ! !

J Carlton, Calgary

Excellent Observation.

cal, lewisville, tx

DC has taken and reserved all power for itself. We need to observe the tenth ammendent of our constitution and give all power not in the first nine ammendents back to the states.

  • Reply
RBESRQ    10/12/10

Guy's, where do you come from? Of course absolute power is not the only form of corruption - Lord Acton could write a book on the rest - he did actually. Archer, please have patience, I have been away and just getting over the damn flu. I really do promise to have a response by tomorrow. Your friend,

David, Otlando

Let every man be judged, by his works and actions. Not his words. We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them. Abigail Adams (1744 - 1818), letter to John Adams. The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions. Confucius. Power and absolute power in the wrong hands, can be like a child playing with matches.

Johann Hollar, Saint Paul, MN

My words exactly. Why should people in power be treated any differently than us common folk? Power should belong to the wise and honorable, not fools who are in it for themselves.

E Archer, NYC

It's a classic because it is true.

T. Fite, Cadillac, Mi.

The danger of power is that it has the ability, for a time being, to override truth.

Mary - MI
  • Reply
Mary - MI    6/17/13

Our founders who risked life, limb, wealth and their families fought long and hard for this nation's Liberties and Freedoms against a despotic British government and its king. They realized that in order to protect the new found country/nation from foreign invasion and to protect all individual sovereign unalienable rights that they had to form a government made up of a Limited Republic with a Supreme Rule of Law.

Without the U.S. Constitution we would persistently suffer individuals who have despotic ulterior motives and agenda's. The end consequence would be that our liberties and freedoms would dissolve into constant and continuous mayhem.

Why do I state that? Because human-beings are not saints and without a national Supreme Rule of Law (which by the way can be amended under Article V) despots, megalomaniacs, power hungry narcissistic sociopaths with extreme wealth and power would surely own the people and destroy all thought of liberty and unalienable natural rights. - Mary MacMaster - June 17, 2013

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." -- Wendell Phillips, (1811-1884)


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