History of Acton Institute

Founded in April, 1990, the Acton Institute is named in honor of John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton (1834-1902), 1st Baron Acton of Aldenham and the historian of freedom. Known as “the magistrate of history,” Lord Acton was one of the great personalities of the nineteenth century. Widely considered one of the most learned Englishmen of his time, Lord Acton made the history of liberty his life’s work. Indeed, his most notable conclusion of this work is that political liberty is the essential condition and guardian of religious liberty. He thereby points to the union of faith and liberty, which has been the inspiration for the mission of the Acton Institute.

Lord Acton

The mission of the Acton Institute is to promote a free, virtuous, and humane society. This direction recognizes the benefits of a limited government, but also the beneficent consequences of a free market. It embraces an objective framework of moral values, but also recognizes and appreciates the subjective nature of economic value. It views justice as a duty of all to give the one his due but, more importantly, as an individual obligation to serve the common good and not just his own needs and wants. In order to promote a more profound understanding of the coming together of faith and liberty, the Institute involves members of religious, business, and academic spheres in its various seminars, publications, and academic activities. It is our hope that by demonstrating the compatibility of faith, liberty, and free economic activity, religious leaders and entrepreneurs can contribute by helping to shape a society that is secure, free, and virtuous.

For further reading we recommend the Acton Book Shop, the Acton PowerBlog, and our weekly Acton Commentary articles.