American Radicals Some Problems and Personalities

By Harvey Goldberg | Go to book overview
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16
Charles Austin Beard: The Intellectual as Tory-Radical

WILLIAM APPLEMAN WILLIAMS


Editor's Note

THE FOLLOWING ESSAY BY PROFESSOR WILLIAMS on the great historian Charles A. Beard differs considerably from most of the other chapters. It is essentially interpretative, stressing the central purpose of Beard's work, rather than expository, setting out the details of his life and career. For clarification, therefore, it has seemed useful to preface the essay with a biographical note.

Charles Austin Beard ( 1874-1948) was born in Spiceland, Indiana, of a family which enjoyed property in both farmland and business. Though his home tradition was Republican and conservative in politics, young Beard became conscious in the 1890s of some of the worst abuses of American industrialization and urbanization. While a student at De Pauw University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1898, he had taken many trips to Chicago and had witnessed the exploitation of labor by employers and the degradation of politics by city machines.

Having decided upon a scholar's career, Beard did half a year of

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