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Lord John Emerich Acton
1834 - 1902

British historian, expert on Edmund Burke, leader of the Liberal Catholics in England, Member of Parliament and the House of Lords, and then a professor of history at Cambridge.

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Essays in the History of Liberty (Selected Writings of Lord Acton)
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For centuries it was never discovered that education was a function of the State, and the State never attempted to educate. But when modern absolutism arose, it laid claim to everything on behalf of the sovereign power... When the revolutionary theory of government began to prevail, and Church and State found that they were educating for opposite ends and in a contradictory spirit, it became necessary to remove children entirely from the influence of religion.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Apr. 05, 1887 - from a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton
Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.

There are no public, as distinct from private, objects worthy to be purchased at the expense of souls. Consequently the interest of individuals is above the exclusive interest of the state. The power of the whole is not to be set in the balance for a moment with freedom - that is, the conscience of the subject - and those who act on other principle are the worst of criminals.

Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is the highest political end.

1907 - from The History of Freedom
Liberty is the highest political end of man...[but] no country can be free without religion. It creates and strengthens the notion of duty. If men are not kept straight by duty, they must be by fear. The more they are kept by fear, the less they are free. The greater the strength of duty, the greater the liberty.

That great political idea, sanctifying freedom and consecrating it to God, teaching men to treasure the liberties of others as their own, and to defend them for the love of justice and charity more than as a claim of right, has been the soul of what is great and good in the progress of the last two hundred years.

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

Liberty is the prevention of control by others. This requires self-control and, therefore, religious and spiritual influences; education, knowledge, well-being.