Acton, Lord (1834–1902)

John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, First Baron Acton of Aldenham, was born in Naples, Italy, on January 10, 1834. Harold Laski, the eminent British socialist, wrote of Acton that, together with Alexis de Tocqueville, “a case of unanswerable power could, I think, be made out for the view that [they] were the essential liberals of the nineteenth century.” His father, Sir Richard Acton, was descended from an established English line, and his mother, Countess Marie Louise de Dalberg, came from a Rhenish family that was considered to be second in status only to the imperial family of Germany. Three years after his father's death in 1837, his mother remarried Lord George Leveson (later known as Earl Granville, William Gladstone's foreign secretary) and moved the family to ...

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