Lord Acton Quotes

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.

And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.

Socialism means slavery.

The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.

Men cannot be made good by the state, but they can easily be made bad. Morality depends on liberty.

Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.

Limitation is essential to authority. A government is legitimate only if it is effectively limited.

A wise person does at once, what a fool does at last. Both do the same thing; only at different times.

The principle of the Inquisition was murderous. . . . The popes were not only murderers in the great style, but they also made murder a legal basis of the Christian Church and a condition of salvation.

Be not content with the best book; seek sidelights from the others; have no favourites.

Official truth is not actual truth.

It is easier to find people fit to govern themselves than people fit to govern others.

Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force.

Be generous before you are just. Do not temper mercy with justice.

Federalism is the best curb on democracy. [It] assigns limited powers to the central government. Thereby all power is limited. It excludes absolute power of the majority.

Liberty is the prevention of control by others.

The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern: every class is unfit to govern.

Great men are almost always bad men.

There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men.

The will of the people cannot make just that which is unjust.

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.

It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.

We are not sure we are right until we have made the best case possible for those who are wrong.