Beyond Hemispherism: Charles Beard’s Vision of World Order

  • Christopher McKnight Nichols
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan History of International Thought book series (PMHIT)


This chapter explores the developing thought and policy positions of historian Charles Beard from the 1910s through the early 1940s. Reading Beard’s work in the context of the debates and politics of the so-called interwar era opens new vistas onto changing views about the nature of international relations and United States’ proper place within the world system. History was crucial to progressive foreign policy in this era. For Beard, a progressive understanding of the past was essential to interpret patterns and events. His historical narratives, in turn, shaped his vision for present and future policy. Beard’s personal shift is mirrored in his histories. He moved rapidly from a pro-war, Wilsonian interventionist stance, to post-war disillusionment. Beard’s hopes for international peace in the late 1920s, like many liberal intellectuals and activists, succumbed to world cataclysm. By 1940, drawing on the lessons of World War I, he staunchly advocated isolationist “continentalism” and “hemispherism.”



Work on this chapter was supported by an Andrew Carnegie fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The author would like to also thank the editors of the volume and Danielle Holtz for her superb research and editing assistance.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher McKnight Nichols
    • 1
  1. 1.School of History, Philosophy, and ReligionOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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