What Was Charles Beard’s Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution?

Historian Charles Beard’s controversial 1913 interpretation of the framing of the United States Constitution was based on his view that the Founding Fathers were motivated by class interests and self-serving economic concerns. Beard’s assertion was that the U.S. Constitution was an economic document that was created to serve economic ends and was designed to favor industrialists and investors who would gain an advantage through a strong national government and unified political system.

Beard’s 1913 book, “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States,” has been viewed as the beginning of what became known as the “History Wars,” which challenged many of the traditional concepts of teaching and interpreting American history. Beard’s book and his economic interpretation of what led to the framing of the U.S. Constitution has remained a subject of debate since its first publication.