Charles A. Beard, An Intellectual Biography

By Ellen Nore | Go to book overview

14

"The Old Isolationist"

Describing an incident that undoubtedly had occurred at a wartime social gathering, Charles Beard recorded the following dialogue in The Republic:

The Professor, who teaches international relations at Berwick University, greeted me a little boisterously and victoriously with: "How's the old isolationist?" To which his wife added, with a smile intended to be devastating: "A bit confused now, I suspect?"

As I was not selling groceries or peddling intellectual wares at a price, I could express my sentiments freely, and I said: "Confused as ever, Mrs. Tempey. I confess that I never have been able to reduce the world and universal history to a simple miniature with no blurred lines in it." 1

Beard never regretted his prewar noninterventionism. During the war he did not become less radical than he had been in the 1930s. On the contrary, his defense of the democratic process and the Constitution against usurpation by a powerful president, Roosevelt, appears in recent times as a remarkable example of prescience and courage in an age when so many of his contemporaries reviled him as the betrayer of American liberalism. Now we will concentrate on Charles Beard's concern with the process of democracy, on Charles and Mary Beard's final joint effort to create an American history, and on Charles' wartime writings, particularly The Republic (1943), which presented themes developed at great length in his final books on Franklin Roosevelt and the conduct of American diplomacy.

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