It's the birthday of the historian Charles Beard, born near Knightstown, Indiana (1874). He was one of the most controversial historians of his day, in part because he refused to accept the myths passed down about the nobility of the founding fathers. In one of his first important books, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, (1913) he uncovered the records of personal holdings of government securities by the framers of the constitution, and he found that they all got rich when the constitution was adopted.[Image: Beard on the cover of LIFE in January of 1944.]
His most ambitious book was The Rise of American Civilization (1927).
Charles Beard said, "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."
My coworker Adrienne forwards yesterday's edition of the Writer's Almanac (listen here; scroll down to November 27). Of particular interest is this historical fact:
at 12:07 PM