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As America's Constitution marks the 200th anniversary of its ratification, it remains as viable and important today as when it was framed in 1787- and so is Charles A. Beard's iconoclastic masterwork. First published in 1913, Beard's radical volume sparked a deep historical debate that has not abated. Scrutinizing the Constitution in light of economic forces, he proposed for the first time that this politico-legal document was shaped by a group of men whose commercial interests were best served by its provisions. In honor of the Constitutional Bicentennial, Beard's classic study has been updated to include a new introduction by Forrest McDonald, one of America's foremost Constitutional historians. McDonald explores the intellectual traditions which influenced Beard, suggests why he wrote about the business and property interests of the Founding Fathers (and what he hoped to to accomplish by revealing them), and analyzes how contemporary scholars have changed Beard's pragmatic vision. He also pays tribute to a groundbreaking thesis that ended America's uncritical reverence for its revolutionary past.
First published in 1913, Beard’s iconoclastic masterwork sparked a deep historical debate that has not abated. Scrutinizing the Constitution in light of economic forces, he proposed for the first time that this politico-legal document was shaped by a group of men whose commercial interests were best served by its provisions. One hundred years later, An Economic Interpretation continues to stand the test of time, raising important questions about commercial and political power and generating radical new insights into our laws and our economy.
Charles A. Beard (1874-1948) is considered one of the most influential American historians in the first half of the twentieth century. Some of his works include Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy, and The Administration and Politics of Tokyo.
"Here again is the original constitutional skeptic to remind Americans that our republic's authors had not only intellects but interests. Charles Beard set out to jolt his contemporaries out of their pious admiration of the constitution's framers. His economic interpretation remains a lively, surprisingly humorous and sharp-witted analysis of the nation's beginnings. Reading it today, the book aims a keen and pointed thrust at the originalism of our own age."
"One hundred years after it first appeared, Charles Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution still commands our attention as a classic of historical scholarship -- not because every view Beard put forward has stood the test of time but because the questions he raised about the intersections of economic and political power are just as relevant today as when he wrote."
"This is the book that started us all on the journey to understanding the complex motives and conflicting interests that shaped our constitution. 100 years after its publication, it still has the power to excite and exasperate, to stir fierce debate and to inspire new interpretations."