History of the United States-Charles Beard, Mary Beard(1921)

Thousands of the immigrants who came to America disliked the state and disowned the church of the mother country. They established compacts of government for themselves and set up altars of their own. They sought not only new soil to till but also political and religious liberty for themselves and their children.




The Great Migration to America
The Agencies of American Colonization
The Colonial Peoples
The Process of Colonization


Colonial Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce
The Land and the Westward Movement
Industrial and Commercial Development


Social and Political Progress
The Leadership of the Churches
Schools and Colleges
The Colonial Press
The Evolution in Political Institutions


The Development of Colonial Nationalism
Relations with the Indians and the French
The Effects of Warfare on the Colonies
Colonial Relations with the British Government
Summary of Colonial Period


The New Course in British Imperial Policy
George III and His System
George III’s Ministers and Their Colonial Policies
Colonial Resistance Forces Repeal
Resumption of British Revenue and Commercial Policies
Renewed Resistance in America
Retaliation by the British Government
From Reform to Revolution in America


The American Revolution
Resistance and Retaliation
American Independence
The Establishment of Government and the New Allegiance
Military Affairs
The Finances of the Revolution
The Diplomacy of the Revolution
Summary of the Revolutionary Period


The Formation of the Constitution
The Promise and the Difficulties of America
The Calling of a Constitutional Convention
The Framing of the Constitution
The Struggle over Ratification


The Clash of Political Parties
The Men and Measures of the New Government
The Rise of Political Parties
Foreign Influences and Domestic Politics


The Jeffersonian Republicans in Power
Republican Principles and Policies
The Republicans and the Great West
The Republican War for Commercial Independence
The Republicans Nationalized
The National Decisions of Chief Justice Marshall
Summary of Union and National Politics


The Farmers beyond the Appalachians
Preparation for Western Settlement
The Western Migration and New States
The Spirit of the Frontier
The West and the East Meet


Jacksonian Democracy
The Democratic Movement in the East
The New Democracy Enters the Arena
The New Democracy at Washington
The Rise of the Whigs
The Interaction of American and European Opinion


The Middle Border and the Great West
The Advance of the Middle Border
On to the Pacific – Texas and the Mexican War
The Pacific Coast and Utah
Summary of Western Development and National Politics


The Rise of the Industrial System
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution and National Politics


The Planting System and National Politics
Slavery – North and South
Slavery in National Politic
The Drift of Events toward the Irrepressible Conflict


The Civil War and Reconstruction
The Southern Confederacy
The War Measures of the Federal Government
The Results of the Civil War
Reconstruction in the South
Summary of the Sectional Conflict


The Political and Economic Evolution of the South
The South at the Close of the War
The Restoration of White Supremacy
The Economic Advance of the South


Business Enterprise and the Republican Party
Railways and Industry
The Supremacy of the Republican Party (1861-1885)
The Growth of Opposition to Republican Rule


The Development of the Great West
The Railways as Trail Blazers
The Evolution of Grazing and Agriculture
Mining and Manufacturing in the West
The Admission of New States
The Influence of the Far West on National Life


Domestic Issues before the Country (1865-1897)
The Currency Question
The Protective Tariff and Taxation
The Railways and Trusts
The Minor Parties and Unrest
The Sound Money Battle of 1896
Republican Measures and Results


America a World Power (1865-1900)
American Foreign Relations (1865-1898)
Cuba and the Spanish War
American Policies in the Philippines and the Orient
Summary of National Growth and World Politics


The Evolution of Republican Policies(1901-1913)
Foreign Affairs
Colonial Administration
The Roosevelt Domestic Policies
Legislative and Executive Activities
The Administration of President Taft
Progressive Insurgency and the Election of 1912


The Spirit of Reform in America
An Age of Criticism
Political Reforms
Measures of Economic Reform


The New Political Democracy
The Rise of the Woman Movement
The National Struggle for Woman Suffrage


Industrial Democracy
Cooperation between Employers and Employees
The Rise and Growth of Organized Labor
The Wider Relations of Organized Labor
Immigration and Americanization


President Wilson and the World War
Domestic Legislation
Colonial and Foreign Policies
The United States and the European War
The United States at War
The Settlement at Paris
Summary of Democracy and the World War


As things now stand, the course of instruction in American history in our public schools embraces three distinct treatments of the subject. Three separate books are used. First, there is the primary book, which is usually a very condensed narrative with an emphasis on biographies and anecdotes. Second, there is the advanced text for the seventh or eighth grade, generally speaking, an expansion of the elementary book by the addition of forty or fifty thousand words. Finally, there is the high school manual. This, too, ordinarily follows the beaten path, giving fuller accounts of the same events and characters. To put it bluntly, we do not assume that our children obtain permanent possessions from their study of history in the lower grades. If mathematicians followed the same method, high school texts on algebra and geometry would include the multiplication table and fractions.

There is, of course, a ready answer to the criticism advanced above. It is that teachers have learned from bitter experience how little history their pupils retain as they pass along the regular route. No teacher of history will deny this. Still, it is a standing challenge to existing methods of historical instruction. If the study of history cannot be made truly progressive like the study of mathematics, science, and languages, then historians assume a grave responsibility in adding their subject to the already overloaded curriculum. If the successive historical texts are only enlarged editions of the first text – more facts, more dates, more words – then history deserves most of the sharp criticism which it is receiving from teachers of science, civics, and economics.

In this condition of affairs, we find our justification for offering a new high school text in American history. Our first contribution is one of omission. The time-honored stories of exploration and the biographies of heroes are left out. We frankly hold that, if pupils know little or nothing about Columbus, Cortes, Magellan, or Captain John Smith by the time they reach high school, it is useless to tell the same stories for perhaps the fourth time. It is worse than useless. It is an offense against the teachers of those subjects that are demonstrated to be progressive in character.

In the next place, we have omitted all descriptions of battles. Our reasons for this are simple. The strategy of a campaign or of a single battle is a highly technical, and usually a highly controversial, matter about which experts differ widely. In the field of military and naval operations, most writers and teachers of history are mere novices. To dispose of Gettysburg or the Wilderness in ten lines or ten pages is equally absurd to the serious student of military affairs. Any one who compares the ordinary textbook account of a single Civil War campaign with the account given by Ropes, for instance, will ask for no further comment. No youth called upon to serve our country in arms would think of turning to a high school manual for information about the art of warfare. The dramatic scene or episode, so useful in arousing the interest of the immature pupil, seems out of place in a book that deliberately appeals to boys and girls on the very threshold of life’s serious responsibilities.

It is not upon negative features, however, that we rest our case. It is rather upon constructive features.

First. We have written a topical, not a narrative, history. We have tried to set forth the important aspects, problems, and movements of each period, bringing in the narrative rather by way of illustration.

Second. We have emphasized those historical topics which help to explain how our nation has come to be what it is to-day.

Third. We have dwelt fully upon the social and economic aspects of our history, especially in relation to the politics of each period.

Fourth. We have treated the causes and results of wars, and the problems of financing and sustaining armed forces, rather than military strategy. These are the subjects that belong to history for civilians. These are matters which civilians can understand – matters which they must understand if they are to play well their part in war and peace.

Fifth. By omitting the period of exploration, we have been able to enlarge the treatment of our own time. We have given special attention to the history of those current questions which must form the subject matter of sound instruction in citizenship.

Sixth. We have borne in mind that America, with all her unique characteristics, is a part of a general civilization. Accordingly, we have given diplomacy, foreign affairs, world relations, and the reciprocal influences of nations their appropriate place.

Seventh. We have deliberately aimed at standards of maturity. The study of a mere narrative calls mainly for the use of memory. We have aimed to stimulate habits of analysis, comparison, association, reflection, and generalization – habits calculated to enlarge as well as inform the mind. We have been at great pains to make our text clear, simple, and direct; but we have earnestly sought to stretch the intellects of our readers – to put them upon their mettle. Most of them will receive the last of their formal instruction in high school. The world will soon expect maturity from them. Their achievements will depend upon the possession of other powers than memory alone. The effectiveness of their citizenship in our republic will be measured by the excellence of their judgment as well as the fullness of their information.

M.R.B., New York City,
February 8, 1921.

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