Beer, George Louis

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BEER, GEORGE LOUIS (1872–1920), U.S. historian and publicist. Born in Staten Island, n.y., during his twenties he was successful in the tobacco business, from which he retired in 1903 to devote himself to research on the theme which commanded all his work as an historian: the economic features of 17th- and 18th-century British colonial policy. His writings include: Commercial Policy of England toward the American Colonies (1893); British Colonial Policy, 175465 (1907); The Origins of the British Colonial System, 15781660 (1908); and The Old Colonial System, 16601754 (2 vols., 1912). Beer's basic theses were that English colonization had aimed at setting up a self-sufficient commercial empire of interdependent and complementary areas; that British commercial policy toward the American colonies had promoted their growth; and that the removal of the French from Canada encouraged the American colonies to assert themselves and seek independence. During World War i, Beer supported the British cause. He expressed the hope, particularly in The English Speaking Peoples (1917), that Great Britain and the U.S. would ultimately rejoin in a political union, to ensure the progress of the postwar world. He served as chief of the colonial division of the American delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, and helped draft the treaty provisions dealing with the former German colonies. He urged the establishment of "mandates" to promote the welfare of the natives. His African Questions at the Paris Peace Conference was published in 1923. A participant in many communal and charitable activities, Beer was a director of the Jewish Protectory and Aid Society.


George Louis Beer… (1924); dab, s.v.; Scott, in: Marcus W. Jernegan Essays… (1937), 313–22; Cockroft, in: H. Ausubel et al. (eds.), Some Modern Historians of Britain (1951), 269–85.

[Abraham S. Eisenstadt]