On January 10th, 1994, the Acton Institute welcomed the eminent conservative philosopher, historian, novelist, and intellectual Russell Kirk to Grand Rapids to deliver what would be his final public lecture. Just over three months later, on April 29, Kirk would pass away at his home in Mecosta, Michigan.
Kirk’s final lecture, titled “Lord Acton on Revolution,” was a reflection on and critique of Lord Acton’s views on revolution. Acton’s writings on revolution, initially restrained in their support, over time developed into a more enthusiastic posture. In the end, Kirk faults Acton for too earnestly supporting the abstract common good that revolution would supposedly advance, and for failing to foresee the dangers that revolution could pose to the liberty that he so cherished.