Becker, Carl Lotus

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Becker, Carl Lotus

Carl Lotus Becker, 1873–1945, American historian, b. Blackhawk co., Iowa. He taught history at Dartmouth College (1901–2), at the Univ. of Kansas (1902–16), and at Cornell (1917–41). After retirement he was professor emeritus and university historian at Cornell. Among his early works were monographs such as his History of Political Parties in the Province of New York, 1760–1776 (1909), but his real forte was the analysis of thought and philosophy in action, exemplified by his studies on the American Revolutionary period (e.g., The Declaration of Independence, 1922, repr. 1942) and in the broader study, The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers (1932). His deep concern with the use of history for the improvement of international relations and the quality of life was shown in his How New Will the Better World Be? (1944). His works are remarkable as much for the quiet originality of his thought as for the purity and lucidity of his impeccable literary style.

See collection of his letters (ed. by M. Kammen, 1974); biographies by C. W. Smith (1956, repr. 1973) and B. T. Wilkins (1961, repr. 1967); C. Strout, The Pragmatic Revolt in American History (1958, repr. 1966).

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