Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad man.
1st Baron Acton, John Emerich Edward Dalberg
John Emerich Edward Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton (1834-1902), British historian. Letter, April 3, 1887, to Bishop Mandell Creighton. The Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, vol. 1, ch. 13, ed. Louise Creighton (1904).
William Pitt the Elder had made a similar observation, in a speech to the House of Lords, Jan. 9, 1770: "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it." In the present century, the economist J.W. Galbraith wrote, "In the United States, though power corrupts, the expectation of power paralyzes." ("The United States," published in New York Nov. 15, 1971, repr. In A View from the Stands, 1986).