acton, john emerich edward dalberg, 1st baron
acton, john emerich edward dalberg, 1st baron defined in 1939 yearacton, john emerich edward dalberg, 1st baron - Acton, john emerich edward dalberg, 1st baron (1834-1902);
acton, john emerich edward dalberg, 1st baron - British historian and moralist. Born Jan. 10, 1834, at Naples, of an old Roman Catholic family, Acton was the son of Sir John F. E. Acton, 7th Bart., by a German wife. He was educated in Paris, at Oscott under Wiseman, and finally at Munich for six years under Dollinger, with whom, in 1857, he visited Italy. In 1855 he went to the U.S.A., and in 1856 to the coronation of Alexander II.
In 1858 Acton settled at Alden-ham, Shropshire, where he formed his famous library of 59,000 volumes, now in the university of Cambridge. He sat as Liberal M.P. for Carlow, 1859-65, but spoke only once in the House. He was a friend and admirer of Gladstone, by whom, in 1809, he was raised to the peerage. In The Rambler, The Home and Foreign Review, and other periodicals, Acton consistently endeavoured to widen the view of English Roman Catholics, but his advocacy of the reunion of Christendom and his opposition to papal infallibility were viewed with disfavour at Rome, and the publications were stopped. In 1874 Acton replied in The Times to Gladstone's pamphlet on the Vatican Decrees.
Honoured by many universities, Acton was appointed, in 1895, regius professor of modern history at Cambridge and elected honorary fellow of Trinity College. He remained until his final illness in 1901 in full communion with Rome, and died June 9, 1902, at Tegernsee, Bavaria, where he was buried. Lord Acton was a profound scholar and a gifted historian. He planned The Cambridge Modern History, but wrote little, and his lectures and contributions to periodicals remained uncollected until after his death. His great library of 59,000 volumes was bought by Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie presented it to Lord Morley, by whom in turn it was presented to the University of Cambridge.
Bibliography. Letters to Mary Gladstone, with memoir by H. Paul, 1904; Lectures on Modern History, 1906; History of Freedom and other Essays, 1907; Lectures on the French Revolution, ed. J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence, 1910; Acton, The Formative Years, David Mathew, 1945.
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