Charles A. Beard

Charles A. Beard

Charles Austin Beard (November 27, 1874 – September 1, 1948) was, with Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential American historians of the first half of the 20th century. He published hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science. His works included a radical re-evaluation of the founding fathers of the United States, who he believed were motivated more by economics than by philosophical principles. Beard's most influential book, written with his wife Mary Beard, was the wide-ranging and bestselling The Rise of American Civilization (1927), which had a major influence on American historians.

Beard was famous as a political liberal, but he strenuously opposed American entry into World War II, for which he blamed Franklin D. Roosevelt more than Japan or Germany. This stance helped to destroy his career, as his fellow scholars first repudiated his foreign policy and subsequently dropped his materialistic model of class conflict. Richard Hofstadter concluded in 1968: "Today Beard's reputation stands like an imposing ruin in the landscape of American historiography. What was once the grandest house in the province is now a ravaged survival."

Read more about Charles A. Beard:  Progressive Historiography

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