Tag Archives: lord john dalberg acton

Great Men are Bad Men <- Lord Acton

henryVIII-24bI cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did not wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility.

All 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.

Lord John Dalberg Acton, Letter to Mandell Creighton (1887)

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Posted by on October 1, 2009 in Politics


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