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, An Economic Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution (1913), has been the subject of great controversy ever since its publication. While frequently criticized for its methodology and conclusions, it was responsible for a wide-ranging reinterpretation of American history of the founding era. He was also the co-author with his wife Mary Beard of The Rise of American Civilization (1927), which had a major influence on American historians.An icon of the progressive school of historical interpretation, his reputation suffered during the Cold War era when the subject of economic class conflict was anathema to most historians. 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"". Hofstadter, nevertheless, praised Beard, saying he was ""foremost among the American historians of his or any generation in the search for a usable past"".