Beard is far more nuanced than the other comments would suggest. Beard discusses Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, and Samuel Adams within the context of a revolutionary movement intended to replace autocratic rule with republicanism or democracy.
This page was taken off the Internet.
All my attempts to contact Prof. Sparks, who originally put it up, have been a failure up to now. The original URL for this page was: Readings and Cases, 11th ed.
Harper Collins, In the following essay, which is adapted from The Supreme Court and the ConstitutionCharles Beard presents evidence that the framers of the Constitution were less interested in furthering democratic principles than in protecting private property and the interests of the wealthy class.
Since this work was written over eighty years ago, there are a few anachronisms you may want to keep in mind. First, when Beard speaks of the "Confederacy," he is referring to the government that existed under the Articles of Confederation -- not to the Confederate states that seceded from the Union during the Civil War.
Also, it is important to remember that the Senate was still not elected by popular vote when Beard was writing -- although that was changed in by the Seventeenth Amendment. Finally, when Beard speaks of "republican" or "democratic" tendencies, he is not referring to the Republican or Democratic parties, but is instead using the words in their more generic sense.
The reason and spirit of a law are to be understood only by an inquiry into the circumstances of its enactment. The underlying purposes of the Constitution, therefore, are to be revealed only by a study of the conditions and events which led to formation and adoption.
At the outset it must be remembered that there were two great parties at the time of the adoption of the Constitution -- one laying emphasis on strength and efficiency in government and the other on its popular aspects. Quite naturally the men who led in stirring up the revolt against Great Britain and in keeping the fighting temper of the Revolutionaries at the proper heat were the boldest and most radical thinkers -- men like Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson.
They were not, generally speaking, men of large property interests or of much practical business experience. In a time of disorder, they could consistently lay more stress upon personal liberty than upon social control; and they pushed to the extreme limits those doctrines of individual rights which had been evolved in England during the struggles of the small landed proprietors and commercial classes against royal prerogative, and which corresponded to the economic conditions prevailing in America at the close of the eighteenth century.
They associated strong government with monarchy, and came to believe that the best political system was one which governed least. A majority of the radicals viewed all government, especially if highly centralized, as a species of evil, tolerable only because necessary and always to be kept down to an irreducible minimum by a jealous vigilance.
Jefferson put the doctrine in concrete form when he declared that he preferred newspapers without government to government without newspapers.
The Declaration of Independence, the first state Constitutions, and the Articles of Confederation bore the impress of this philosophy.
In their anxiety to defend the individual against all federal interference and to preserve to the states a large sphere of local autonomy, these Revolutionists had set up a system too weak to accomplish the accepted objects of government; namely, national defense, the protection of property, and the advancement of commerce.
They were not unaware of the character of their handiwork, but they believed with Jefferson that "man was a rational animal endowed by nature with rights and with an innate sense of justice and that he could be restrained from wrong and protected in right by moderate powers confided to persons of his own choice.
The new American political system based on these doctrines had scarcely gone into effect before it began to incur opposition from many sources. The close of the Revolutionary struggle removed the prime cause for radical agitation and brought a new group of thinkers into prominence.
When independence had been gained, the practical work to be done was the maintenance of social order, the payment of the public debt, the provision of a sound financial system, and the establishment of conditions favorable to the development of the economic resources of the new country.
The men who were principally concerned in this work of peaceful enterprise were not the philosophers, but men of business and property and the holders of public securities.Charles Austin Beard (November 27, – September 1, ) was, with Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential American historians of the first half of the 20th feelthefish.com a while he was a history professor at Columbia University but his influence came from hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science.
An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. Charles Beard. Selections. Full Document; In fact, the inquiry which follows is based upon the political science of James Madison, the father of the Constitution and later President of the Union he had done so much to create.
From: Charles Beard and the Constitution For nearly two years, he’d wandered the streets of occupied Mosul, chatting with shopkeepers and Islamic State fighters, visiting friends who worked at the hospital, swapping scraps of information. Charles Beard’s article, Framing the Constitution, alleges the members of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were “disinterested” in providing basic rights for citizens.
Charles Beard presented a different view of the motives of the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution. He argued that the writers of the Constitution were mainly concerned with economic factors.
He believed they were trying to preserve the rights of property owners. Beard, Charles AWORKS BY BEARD SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY Charles A. Beard (–), historian, political scientist, and educator, was, from about to , one of the most influential social thinkers in the United States .