Charles Beard

Beard, Charles Austin

Charles Austin Beard, 1874–1948, American historian, b. near Knightstown, Ind. A year at Oxford as a graduate student gave him an interest in English local government, and after further study at Cornell and Columbia universities he wrote, for his doctoral dissertation at Columbia, The Office of Justice of the Peace in England (1904, repr. 1962). While teaching (1904–17) history and politics at Columbia, he joined James Harvey Robinson in promoting the teaching of history that would encompass all aspects of civilization, including economics, politics, the intellectual life, and culture. Together they wrote The Development of Modern Europe (1907) and compiled an accompanying book of readings.

Beard was especially concerned with the relationship of economic interests and politics. His study of the conservative economic interests of the men at the Federal Constitutional Convention, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution (1913), caused much stir; he also wrote Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy (1915, repr. 1965) and The Economic Basis of Politics (1922). His interest in city government led to American City Government (1912) as well as the long-standard American Government and Politics (1910). After resigning from Columbia in World War I, he helped to found the New School for Social Research (now New School Univ.), was director (1917–22) of the Training School for Public Service in New York City, and was an adviser on administration in Tokyo after the disastrous Japanese earthquake of 1923. Beard wrote A Charter for the Social Sciences in the Schools (1932), which had an enormous influence on the teaching of history.

Beard became widely known to the general reading public through The Rise of American Civilization (2 vol., 1927, repr. 1933) and its sequels (Vol. III and Vol. IV), America in Midpassage (1939), and The American Spirit (1943), all written in collaboration with his wife, Mary Ritter Beard, 1876–1958. This panoramic work is an example of the broad historical view that Beard championed; the great store of fact is laid open with easy and graceful literary style. With his wife he also later wrote a brief survey, The Beards' Basic History of the United States (1944, rev. ed. 1960).

Charles Beard, much criticized as a radical in his earlier years, was just as much criticized by the liberals in his later years for his violent opposition to Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, especially in the struggle over the Supreme Court and in foreign policy. Beard's last work was President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War, 1941 (1948, repr. 1968). Mary R. Beard, a historian in her own right, was particularly interested in feminism and the labor movement and wrote a number of works on the subjects, notably Women's Work in Municipalities (1915), A Short History of the American Labor Movement (1920), On Understanding Women (1931), and Woman as Force in History (1946).

See studies by B. C. Borning (1962) and R. Hofstadter (1968, repr. 1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Political and Social Thought of Charles A. Beard
Bernard C. Borning.
University of Washington Press, 1962
Charles A. Beard, An Intellectual Biography
Ellen Nore.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1983
Charles A. Beard and American Foreign Policy
Thomas C. Kennedy.
University Presses of Florida, 1975
Charles Austin Beard: Liberal Foe of American Internationalism
Philbin, James P.
Humanitas, Vol. 13, No. 2, Fall 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Pragmatic Revolt in American History: Carl Becker and Charles Beard
Cushing Strout.
Yale University Press, 1958
Progress and Pragmatism: James, Dewey, Beard, and the American Idea of Progress
David W. Marcell.
Greenwood Press, 1974
On the Nature of History: Essays about History and Dissidence
James C. Malin.
J.W. Edwards, 1954
FREE! Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy
Charles A. Beard.
Macmillan, 1915
The Supreme Court and the Constitution
Charles A. Beard.
Prentice Hall, 1962
FREE! An Introduction to the English Historians
Charles A. Beard.
Macmillan Company, 1908
FREE! National Governments and the World War
Frederic A. Ogg; Charles A. Beard.
The Macmillan Company, 1919
FREE! Cross Currents in Europe To-Day
Charles A. Beard.
Marshall Jones Company, 1922
The Administration and Politics of Tokyo
Charles A. Beard.
The Macmillan Company, 1923
American Radicals Some Problems and Personalities
Harvey Goldberg.
Monthly Review Press, 1957
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 16 "Charles Austin Beard: The Intellectual as Tory-Radical "
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