An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States/Preface

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PREFACE

The following pages are frankly fragmentary. They are designed to suggest new lines of historical research rather than to treat the subject in an exhaustive fashion. This apology is not intended as an anticipation of the criticism of reviewers, but as a confession of fact. No one can appreciate more fully than I do how much of the work here outlined remains to be done. The records of the Treasury Department at Washington, now used for the first time in connection with a study of the formation of the Constitution, furnish a field for many years' research, to say nothing of the other records, printed and unprinted, which throw light upon the economic conditions of the United States between 1783-1787.

If it be asked why such a fragmentary study is printed now, rather than held for the final word, my explanation is brief. I am unable to give more than an occasional period to uninterrupted studies, and I cannot expect, therefore, to complete within a reasonable time the survey which I have made here. Accordingly, I print it in the hope that a few of this generation of historical scholars may be encouraged to turn away from barren "political" history to a study of the real economic forces which condition great movements in politics.

Students already familiar with the field here surveyed will discover that I have made full use of the suggestive work already done by Professor Turner, Drs. Libby, Ambler, and Schaper.

I am indebted to Mr. Merwin of the Treasury Department for his great courtesy in making available the old records under his jurisdiction; to Mr. Bishop, of the Library of Congress, for facilitating the examination of thousands of pamphlets as well as for other favors; and to Mr. Fitzpatrick, of the Manuscript Division, for keeping his good humor while bringing out hundreds of manuscripts which seemed to yield results wholly out of proportion to the labor entailed.

I am under deep obligation to two friends, nameless here, without whose generous sympathy and encouragement, this volume could not have been written.

CHARLES A. BEARD. Washington, D.C.,

February, 1913.