Charles Austin Beard was, with Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential American historians of the first half of the 20th century. He published hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science. His works included a radical re-evaluation of the founding fathers of the United States, who he believed were motivated more by economics than by philosophical principles. Beard's most influential book, written with his wife Mary Beard, was the wide-ranging and bestselling The Rise of American Civilization, which had a major influence on American historians.
Beard was famous as a political liberal, but he strenuously opposed American entry into World War II, for which he blamed Franklin D. Roosevelt more than Japan or Germany. This stance helped to destroy his career, as his fellow scholars first repudiated his foreign policy and subsequently dropped his materialistic model of class conflict. Richard Hofstadter concluded in 1968: "Today Beard's reputation stands like an imposing ruin in the landscape of American historiography. What was once the grandest house in the province is now a ravaged survival."
I am convinced that the world is not a mere bog in which men and woman trample themselves in the mire and die. Something magnificent is taking place here amid the cruelties and tragedies, and the supreme challenge to intelligence is that of making the noblest and best in our curious heritage prevail.
The lessons of history? There are four: The bee fertilizes the flower it robs; whom the gods would destroy they first make mad with power; the mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small; when it is dark enough, you can see the stars.