An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of The United States

Overview

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 ...

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An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Eric Rauchway
"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."
Eric Foner
"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."
Carol Berkin
"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."
Professor Eric Rauchway
"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."
Professor Eric Foner
"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."
From the Publisher
"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."

Library Journal
In this 1913 volume, Beard, the founder of the New School for Social Research, contends that the Founding Fathers included a clear strategy for Colonial economics in the writing of the Constitution. A staple for history and economics collections. (Classic Returns, LJ 11/1/98)
Booknews
Beard (1874-1948), who taught at Columbia University and was a founder of The New School for Social Research, uses the letters, papers, and documents of the men who took part in framing and adopting the Constitution to assess their economic interests in it. The new introduction to this classic in American historiography provides a sense of the person behind the book. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780029024805
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 9/5/1986
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 330
  • Sales rank: 688,750
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.43 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
Introduction to the 1935 Edition
Preface
I Historical Interpretation in the United States 1
II A Survey of Economic Interests in 1787 19
III The Movement for the Constitution 52
IV Property Safeguards in the Election of Delegates 64
V The Economic Interests of the Members of the Convention 73
VI The Constitution as an Economic Document 152
VII The Political Doctrines of the Members of the Convention 189
VIII The Process of Ratification 217
IX The Popular Vote on the Constitution 289
X The Economics of the Vote on the Constitution 253
XI The Economic Conflict over Ratification as Viewed by Contemporaries 292
Index 327
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