Charles Beard Economic Interpretation Constitution Thesis

Charles Beard Economic Interpretation Constitution Thesis-11
Professors in the constitutional law academy are the most intent on seeing that Beard stay buried.They seem to fear that if Beard came back to life the Constitution would become a bastard anti-democratic document, lose its political legitimacy, and their enterprise of liberal versus conservative debate over the real meanings of the document would go into bankruptcy.“[Hamilton] was the colossal genius of the new system. that he had little to do with the formation of the Constitution [at Philadelphia], but it was his organizing ability that made it a real instrument bottomed on all the substantial interests of the time. It has been charged that he leaned always on the side of the financial interests against the public as represented in the government; but it must be remembered that at the time the new system went into effect, the public had no credit and financiers were not willing to forego their gains and profits for an abstraction. [Hamilton] was swayed throughout the period of the formation of the Constitution by large policies of government -- not by any of the personal interests so often ascribed to him.” But if gatherings in the recent past on Beard are an accurate guide, the major thrust will be not to celebrate his work.

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The tragedy however is that Beard’s has gone from beyond critical challenge to below intellectual respect without ever being adequately understood.

Contrary to the stereotype that still emanates from the top of the history profession and the constitutional law academy,* Beard in was not sympathetic to the Jeffersonian or anti-Federalist populist traditions.

In short, he seemed more tolerant of "men of property" (Beard 1944, 120-137).

Was it because two world wars had changed his world-view?

In any event, whether for war-time propaganda reasons, or for the reasons wrought by intellectual evolution, Charles Beard near the end of his life had softened his once-adversarial stance.

My only important criticism of Beard is that economic interpretations of history that exclude all others, of the kind that Beard wrote in his earliest years, are at best one-dimensional.Spatial restraint forces me to be brief; suffice it to say that the view of the Constitution offered by Beard was a much mellower view than the one offered by him a bit more than thirty years earlier.He discussed the various features of the document and extolled its virtues.Barely heard but basically ignored will be geeky econometric voices advising caution against another hasty burial.Their inconvenient findings are that according to contemporary quantitative techniques economic self-interest indeed played a major role in determining support for or opposition to the Constitution.Had he been cauterized by the barbarism of twentieth-century global war?Or had he merely begun to be more tolerant, as so often happens as people reach the ends of their lives?While largely maintaining his reform stance on the domestic front, Beard developed a “continentalist” stance on foreign policy that condemned the modern progressive tradition of not just Woodrow Wilson but also Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt for pushing America out of its isolation into military conflict in Europe and Asia.Yet while somewhat downplaying Hamilton’s role, Beard still maintained his neo-Federalist view in support of the Constitution.Beard also stands alone among the progressive historians inasmuch as he wrote a consensus-style book in collaboration with his wife.It was entitled The Beards'' Basic History of the United States and was published in 1944. ) seconded many of Jameson''s notions of the end of primogeniture, disestablishment of the Anglican church, and so on.


Comments Charles Beard Economic Interpretation Constitution Thesis

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