Charles A. Beard, an Intellectual Biography

By Ellen Nore | Go to book overview

3

At Columbia
Student and Teacher

Beard's last article for Young Oxford, "Citizenship in the Twentieth Century," was published in April 1902, the month he and Mary and their infant daughter returned to America. Here Beard summarized the position to which his reading, his temperament, and his experience in England had brought him: One must approach the dilemmas of modem life "with a full comprehension of the profound meaning of the industrial revolution, a thorough grasp of the problems of democracy, a clear knowledge of the service‐ ableness of applied science, and a complete acceptance of the principles of social evolution...." The world was constantly changing, society was a "vast complex interdependent organism"; systems of thought had little value because evolution had "destroyed the tory, the radical, and the millennium socialist." Men who had "believed in special dispensation for aristocracy," who had staked their lives "on one man one vote," and who had "proclaimed the 'economic breakdown' as the beginning of heaven" had all been betrayed by history. Thoughtful persons, Beard concluded, as he would in all of his subsequent prescriptive writing, "agree at least on the principle of social welfare as the criterion for morals and legislation." This principle, he predicted, would be "the wedge" that would "break through the hindrances to social freedom."

Experiences in England had given substance to Beard's consciousness of the oppression of white industrial workers and had strengthened his vision of the contributions a scholar could make to the achievement of a more

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