The charge [has been made] that the founders designed the Constitution primarily to benefit themselves and their class (property owners) financially, and that the economic motif was their dominant incentive. Such was the thesis of the American historian, Dr. Charles Beard. Yet Madison said: “There was never an assembly of men . . . who were more pure in their motives.” We must remember that these were men who had sacrificed in many cases their fortunes and their sacred honor.
Shortly after the turn of this century, Charles Beard published his work An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. This book marked the beginning of a trend to defame the motives and integrity of the founders of the Constitution. It also grossly distorted the real intent of the founders by suggesting their motivation was determined by economics—a thesis that had originated with Karl Marx. Beard himself was not a Marxist, but he was a socialist in his thinking, and he admitted there was much we could learn from Marx’s ideas. Before his death Beard recanted his own thesis, but the damage had been done. This began a new trend in educational and intellectual circles in the United States.