Chapter VII
Gathering Doubts: The Solicitor Generalship (1921-1925)

It was ironic that the very sincerity of James M. Beck's conservatism made it impossible for him to derive deep satisfaction from his tenure as Solicitor General of the United States under Presidents Harding and Coolidge. His individualism and constitutionalism continued to shape his political thinking even after the Republican party regained power. But despite their professions of faith, America's political and business leaders during the 1920's did not conspicuously adhere to the traditional principles so dear to the Solicitor General. After the huge governmental participation in the war and with the continued consolidation of American finance and industry, no such return to a simpler time was possible. Beck's experiences as the government's chief legal officer, and as an attorney for large business interests thereafter, conspired to drive home the fact that the true conservative, like the sincere liberal, found the America of the 1920's a distasteful and unsatisfying society.


I

COINCIDENT with the Republican victory in 1920, James M. Beek gave up his New York law practice and informed friends of his intention to move to Washington. He hastened to remind Harding that "I have been almost continuously on the

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