Acton, Lord John
(1834–1902)
   John Emerich Edward Dalberg, first Lord Acton, was a historian and advocate of political liberty. Dalberg was born on January 10, 1834, in Naples. He assumed the Regius Chair of Modern History at Cambridge University in 1895 and was concerned with the danger to individuals by religious and political persecution. Embodying a liberal view, Acton emphasized progress of freedom through centuries. His universal history outlined relationship between individual liberty and religious virtue. Acton argued that revolution increased freedom, although he did not approve it. His ideas are reflected in Essays in the History of Liberty, Essays in the Study of Writing and History and Essays in Religion, Politics, and Morality. He was the author of powerful and popular aphorisms such as “it is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority,” “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and “liberty is the prevention of control by others.” He died in 1902 at Tegernsee.
   FURTHER READING:
    Hill, Roland. Lord Acton . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000.
   PATIT PABAN MISHRA

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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