Adaptation: The Road to Success (1861-1900)
How does a man come by his political beliefs? Indisputably, self- interest wields great influence, but this is truer of his mature years, when a sense of the realities of life is presumably stronger. The fledgling man of politics is the product of other forces--family, upbringing, environment--whose influence he reveals whether he accepts or rejects their teachings.
James M. Beck's formative years were a suggestive combination of acceptance and rebellion. He entered the world of politics under the powerful sway of traditional influences which made him an individualistic, anti-corporation, Cleveland Democrat. But he grew up in the booming avaricious post-Civil War years, and ultimately he responded to the opportunities offered by big business and the Republican party. This story, of a sensitive, vital young man whose strong ambition to share in the fruits of American capitalism vied with an inbred repulsion from that force's crasser aspects, is of special import. Beck's private struggle symbolized the adjustment of a nation to large-scale capitalism, and his final acceptance of McKinley Republicanism was the confession of the ambitious young American that the future lay with a corporation-dominated society. Having made this choice, he, like the nation, was plagued with intermittent doubts as to its wisdom.