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Who is Lord Acton?

Described as “the magistrate of history,” Lord Acton was one of the great personalities of the nineteenth century and is universally considered to be one of the most learned Englishmen of his time. He made the history of liberty his life's work; indeed, he considered political liberty the essential condition and guardian of religious liberty.

Books about Acton

Lord Acton is popularly remembered for his pungent aphorisms – “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” – but of far deeper significance was his lifelong study of the history of freedom. It was a work never completed. But Acton's brilliant insights, the fruit of his vast erudition, were forthcoming on rare occasion, and never more powerfully than in the two lectures published here. These writings are a precious heritage for the promise of civilization in our time and forevermore.


Selected Writings of Lord Acton by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

Lord Acton was among the most illustrious historians of nineteenth-century England, a man of great learning with a deep devotion to individual liberty and a profound understanding of history. This is the most complete collection of Acton essays ever published.


Professor Lord Acton by Owen Chadwick

This lecture was delivered at Cambridge University on March 16, 1995 by Professor Owen Chadwick in celebration of the 100 years since Lord Acton assumed the Regius Chair of Modern History. The author, a distinguished Acton scholar who himself served as Regius Professor, details the history of Acton's tenure at Cambridge, including the intrigue surrounding his appointment, his lectures, his work on the Cambridge Modern History, his philosophy of history, and the influence he had on the writing of history in Britain.


Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics by Gertrude Himmelfarb

Lord Acton is the author of the maxim, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." In this intellectual biography, Gertrude Himmelfarb regards Acton as a man more of our age than of his own. He was a Liberal Catholic and a distinguished historian, and his vigorous denunciations of nationalism, racism, statism, and bigotry rank among the classics of political and social thought.


Lord Acton by Roland Hill

In this remarkable biography, Roland Hill is the first to make full use of the vast collection of books, documents, and private papers in the Acton archives to tell the story of the enigmatic Lord Acton.


Acton In America by S. W. Jackman, Editor

Lord Acton's journal of his voyage to America in 1853, including visits to New York, Boston and Cambridge, and Emmitsburg, Maryland. With an introduction by the editor, S.W. Jackman.


Acton 1906


Papers about Acton

Lord Acton on the Historian by Josef L. Altholz (part of an anthology)

In this essay, Dr. Altholz describes Acton's rigorous approach to the historian's vocation, especially focusing on his view of the historical project in relation to religion and liberty. Altholz examines Lord Acton's views on truth and truthfulness, as well as Acton's differing opinions and eventual departure from his mentor, Ignaz von Dollinger.


The Legacy of an Education by James C. Holland (part of an anthology)

There were highly distinctive elements in the education of Lord Acton. It is Professor Holland's contention that there was a direct relationship between those elements and Acton's life work, including his championing of an educated laity, free intellectual inquiry, historical study as a conserver of truth, and the duty of the informed historian to make moral judgments in history. In his energetic and often brilliant pursuit of these causes, Lord Acton relentlessly invoked the intellectual and moral canons acquired in his youth.


Lord Acton on Revolution by Russell Kirk

This writing examines Lord Acton's views on revolution. Although he did not exactly approve of revolution, he was able to tolerate it because he believed it increased freedom. This essay demonstrates that Acton's views on revolution changed over time.