FC: Beard's economic interpretation of the U.S. Constitution | "In that study I had occasioned to read voluminous writings by the fathers, and I was struck by the emphasis which so many of them have placed upon economic interests as forces in politics and the formulations of laws and constitutions." - Charles Beard "An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution"
1: Charles Austin Beard is one of the 20th Century's most celebrated historians. He is commonly associated with numerous political science studies and his radical re-evaluation of the Founding Fathers. Along with this, he was an isolationist believing in American non-intervention during WWII. | Who was Beard?..
2: Beard's Interpretation... | Beard argued that the structure of the Constitution was based primarily on competing economic interests of the founding fathers. More Specifically, Beard contends that the Constitutional Convention was attend by elites. Therefore, the Constitution was written by an elite group seeking to protect its personal property (bonds) and economic standing, not that of the ordinary individual.
3: The Founders... | The founders were Federalists who supported a strong, centralized government and favored the Constitution during its drafting and ratification | They were individuals who's primary economic interests were tied to personal property | They were mainly merchants, shippers, bankers, speculators, and private/public securities holders.
4: Anti-federalists... | These were the individuals who opposed the Constitution and supported a more decentralized government. Their economic interests were tied to real property | Beard said these opponents consisted mostly of isolated, less commercial farmers, who often were also debtors and northern manorial planters along the Hudson River. However Beard maintained that many southern slave owning planters, who held much of their wealth in personal property, had much in common with the northern merchants and financiers, and should be included in the supporters for the Constitution.
5: Some evidence of the economists influence in the Constitution | - States could no longer issue paper money-hard money to the wealthy | - Taxes on imports but not exports-people had to pay for the American wealthy merchant's goods and not foreign ones | -More concrete financial/trade rules-allowed the wealthy to more easily set up and monitor their businesses | -More national power-states had less control over economy and debtors were forced to pay their debts to the wealthy | -Assumption of state debts-boosted the price of public securities owned by the rich.
6: Criticisms of Beards view... | Brown and McDonald
7: Robert Brown concludes that Beard is completely wrong. After examining various economic and social classes he concluded that 18th cent. America was democratic, franchise was common, and there was widespread support for the Constitution. | Forrest McDonald examined the wealth, economic interests and votes of those who attended the convention. He concluded that anyone planning to rewrite history in terms of economic interests would find the facts to be insurmountable. He says, "On all counts, then, Beards thesis is entirely incompatible with the facts".
8: "You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence." -Charles Beard
9: Bibliography: | www.conservativepedia/Charles_Beard.com | www.absolutestronomy.topics.com | www.britannica.com/EBchecked | en.citzendium.org/wiki/Charles_Beard | www.firstprinicplejournals.com | www.historians.org/info/AHA_history