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Beard, Charles. An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1925. vii, 330 pp. Reprinted 2001 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. LCCN 00-036834. ISBN 1-58477-111-9. Cloth. $80. * In this classic and controversial interpretation of the economic conditions of the United States between 1783-1787, Beard proposes the thesis that the Framers were motivated by economic concerns. In his landmark work The Growth of American Law Hurst describes An Economic Interpretation... as "one of 'the basic works' on the Federal Convention of 1787." Hurst, The Growth of American Law: 458. Beard [1874-1948] was a founder of The New School for Social Research.
This book provides a critical introduction to the history and current meaning of the United States' Constitution. It is organised around two themes: Firstly, the US Constitution is old, short, and difficult to amend. These characteristics have made constitutional 'interpretation', especially by the US Supreme Court, the primary mechanism for adapting the Constitution to ever-changing reality. Secondly, the Constitution creates a structure of political opportunities that allows political actors, including political parties, to pursue the preferred policy goals even to the point of altering the very structure of politics. Politics, that is, often gives meaning to the Constitution. Deploying these themes to examine the structure of the national government, federalism, judicial review, and individual rights, the book provides basic information about, and deeper insights into, the way the US constitutional system has developed and what it means today.

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