Beale, Howard K(ennedy) 1899-1959

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BEALE, Howard K(ennedy) 1899-1959

PERSONAL: Born April 8, 1899, in Chicago, IL; died following a heart attack December 27, 1959; son of Frank A. and Nellie Kennedy Beale; married Georgia Robinson, 1942; children: three sons. Education: University of Chicago, B.A., 1921; Harvard University, M.A., 1922, Ph.D., 1927.

CAREER: Author and educator. Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA, instructor, 1925-26; Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, instructor, 1926-30; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, visiting associate professor of history, 1934; New York University, New York, NY, lecturer, 1934-35; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, professor, director of graduate studies, 1935-48; University of Wisconsin, professor, 1948-59; University of Munich, Munich, Germany, Fulbright professor, 1955-56.

MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa, American Association of University Professors, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Civil Liberties Union, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


The Critical Year: A Study of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1930.

(Editor) The Diary of Edward Bates, 1859-1866, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1933.

Are American Teachers Free? An Analysis of Restraints upon the Freedom of Teaching in American Schools, Scribners (New York, NY), 1936.

A History of Freedom of Teaching in American Schools, Scribners (New York, NY), 1941.

(Editor) Charles A Beard: An Appraisal, University of Kentucky Press (Lexington, KY), 1954.

Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD), 1956.

(Editor) The Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy under Lincoln and Johnson, Norton (New York, NY), 1960.

Contributor to periodicals, including American Historical Review, Harper's, Independent Woman, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Nation, and Pacific Historical Review.

SIDELIGHTS: Howard K. Beale was a historian who published works on topics ranging from the presidencies of Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt to the restraints found within America's educational system. Beale also worked untiringly as an educator, social crusader, and political activist. After graduating from the University of Chicago, he moved to New England where he completed his master's and doctoral degrees at Harvard University. Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor Allan D. Charles reported how Beale's mentor at Harvard, Edward Channing, challenged him to research the "extensive and thorny historical problem of Andrew Johnson's presidency." At first, Beale felt himself incapable of tackling such a complicated subject, but under his mentor's guidance, Beale accomplished the task. A revised version of this dissertation, The Critical Year: A Study of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction, was published in 1930.

The Critical Year was radical because it stood in direct opposition to prevailing, post-Civil War views, but after its publication Beale was regarded by many as a leader in the movement to revise popular notions of the Reconstruction Era, and his ideas becoming known as the "Beale Thesis." In The Critical Year, Beale describes how a Radical Republican faction dominated the U.S. Congress of 1867. Instead of working toward reconciliation between the North and South, said Charles, this group of Northern congressmen sought to "chasten the defeated South." Beale concludes that the anti-Southern sentiment was fueled by economic motives, and not by any idealistic goals of helping the freed slaves, because the North lost interest in them once "the new economic order was firmly entrenched in power." According to Charles, Beale discusses how these northern Republicans feared the diminishing tariffs of peaceful times, and how they were also convinced that if the Southerners were readmitted to Congress, they would not support such Republican measures as "federal support for transportation and central banking." Congressmen Charles Sumner of Massachusetts and Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania were considered the leaders of the Radical Republicans, who championed the cause of the industrial North against the agrarian Southern states. According to Robert David Ward in the Encyclopedia of Southern History, Beale "influenced a generation of students to regard the Radicals as manipulative politicians." Furthermore, Ward noted that although Beale's revisionist ideas of Reconstruction had fallen out of favor by the late twentieth century, "his work remains a major step in the efforts to understand our past."

In 1932 Beale published The Diary of Edward Bates, 1859-1866. Bates, a vocal opponent of slavery, served as U.S. attorney general from 1861 to 1863, during the Lincoln administration. The man left behind five voluminous diaries, which Beale transcribed and edited, resulting in a 685-page work. Beale noted that Bates had been a contender for the 1860 presidential nomination, and—regarding Lincoln's quick rise from obscurity—Bates' first mention of Lincoln as a possible presidential nominee appeared in a journal entry, only three weeks before the Republican convention.

For his next books, Beale pursued a totally different subject: academic freedom. He based his first book, Are American Teachers Free? An Analysis of Restraints upon the Freedom of Teaching in American Schools, upon interviews with teachers, and upon the results of questionnaires that were anonymously answered. In regard to the questionnaires, Beale soon observed something quite remarkable: despite a strict promise of their anonymity, many teachers would not permit their answers to be published. That fact, in itself, led Beale to conclude that there was a serious lack of freedom in the educational world. He reexamined these questions in A History of Freedom of Teaching in American Schools, in which he discovered that emotionally or politically charged issues were forbidden topics for teachers to pursue in the classroom.

Beale's Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power, was based upon lectures that Beale originally gave at Johns Hopkins University. Beale thoroughly researched this work by interviewing Roosevelt's friends, family, and various government representatives. He also studied diplomatic records, said Charles, in order to understand "how Roosevelt was viewed in foreign capitals as well as how foreign diplomatic efforts were seen in Washington." Charles also commented that Beale's work "married intellectual history and biography in a context of diplomatic history."

Beale's final book, The Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy under Lincoln and Johnson, was published posthumously. The idea for this book originated during Beale's years as a graduate student at Harvard, when he questioned the reliability of Welles' diary. Many critics, Charles concluded, "praised the Beale edition as an excellent achievement and a useful aid to scholarship."



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 17: Twentieth-Century American Historians, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983, pp. 32-38.

Encyclopedia of Southern History, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1979, p. 111.*