Science and Society 65 (3):350 - 375 (2001)

A materialist criticism of the interpretation of American history offered by Charles A. Beard finds that both the strengths and the weaknesses of the Progressive — or rather Populist — historians can be deduced from their character as intellectual representatives of the old middle class of petty proprietors. This class was especially influential in American history due to the presence of the "frontier," the petit-bourgeois regime of landed property, and the special character of American class coalitions. The way out of the current impasse in American historical studies is to develop a materialist interpretation of American history having the peculiarities of U. S. capitalist development as its central theme and drawing on the insights provided by the Populist historians and their New Left critics.
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