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Albert J. Beveridge

Albert J. Beveridge

American politician
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American politician
A.K.A. Firpo
Countries United States of America
Occupations Politician Historian Lawyer
Gender male
Birth 6 October 1862 (Highland County, Ohio, U.S.A.)
Death 27 April 1927 (Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana, U.S.A.)
Politics Republican Party
Education DePauw University
The details

Albert Jeremiah Beveridge (October 6, 1862 – April 27, 1927) was an American historian and US senator from Indiana. He was an intellectual leader of the Progressive Era and a biographer of Chief Justice John Marshall and President Abraham Lincoln.

Early years

He was born on October 6, 1862 in Highland County, Ohio; his parents moved to Indiana soon after his birth. Both of his parents were of English descent. His childhood was one of hard work and labor. Securing an education with difficulty, he eventually became a law clerk in Indianapolis. He was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1887 and practiced law in Indianapolis.

Beveridge graduated from Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University) in 1885, with a Ph.B. degree. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He was known as a compelling orator, delivering speeches supporting territorial expansion by the US and increasing the power of the federal government.

Political career

Beveridge entered politics in 1884 by speaking on behalf of presidential candidate James G. Blaine and was prominent in later campaigns, particularly is that of 1896, when his speeches attracted general attention. In 1899, Beveridge was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican and served until 1911. He supported Theodore Roosevelt's progressive views and was the keynote speaker at the new Progressive Party convention which nominated Roosevelt for U.S. President in 1912.

Beveridge is known as one of the great American imperialists. He supported the annexation of the Philippines and along with Republican leader Henry Cabot Lodge he campaigned for the construction of a new navy. In addition, in 1901, Beveridge became chair of the Senate Committee on Territories. This allowed him to sponsor the annexation of Oklahoma in 1906. However, being a hard core racist, he blocked statehood for New Mexico and Arizona because he deemed that the population of the territories was too sparsely occupied by Anglos and contained too large a population of Hispanics and Native Americans whom he described as intellectually incapable of understanding the concept of self-governance. After Beveridge's re-election in 1905 to a second term, he became identified with the reform-minded faction of the GOP. He championed national child labor legislation, broke with President William Howard Taft over the Payne-Aldrich tariff, and sponsored the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906, adopted in the wake of the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Furthermore, Beveridge joined insurgents in supporting postal savings bank legislation and railroad regulations with the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910.

He lost his senate seat to John Worth Kern when the Democrats took Indiana in the 1910 elections. In 1912, when former president Theodore Roosevelt left the Republican Party to found the short-lived Progressive Party, Beveridge left with him, and ran campaigns as that party's Indiana nominee in the 1912 race for governor and the 1914 race for senator, losing both. When the Progressive party disintegrated, he returned to the Republicans with his political future in tatters; he eventually ran one more unsuccessful race for Senate in the 1922 primary against Harry S. New, but would never again hold office. Another contribution towards his political downfall was the fact he was big critic of Woodrow Wilson. He encouraged Wilson to take a more interventionist policy with the Mexican Revolution and disliked him for suggesting that America should join the League of Nations. He felt the League of Nations undermined American independence.

In the twilight of his life, Beveridge came to repudiate some of the earlier expansion of governmental power that he had championed in his earlier career. In one notable address, delivered before the Sons of the Revolution's annual dinner in June 1923, Beveridge decried the growth of the regulatory state and the proliferation of regulatory bodies, bureaus and commissions. "America would be better off as a country and Americans happier and more prosperous as a people," he suggested, "if half of our Government boards, bureaus and commissions were abolished, hundreds of thousands of our Government officials, agents and employees were discharged and two-thirds of our Government regulations, restrictions and inhibitions were removed."


As his political career drew to a close, Beveridge dedicated his time to writing historical literature. He was a member and secretary of the American Historical Association (AHA). His four-volume set The Life of John Marshall, published in 1916-1919 won Beveridge a Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography; it connected events in John Marshall's life with his later US Supreme Court rulings.

Beveridge spent most of his final years after his 1922 defeat writing a four-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, only half-finished at his death, posthumously published in 1928 as Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858 (2 vols.). It stripped away the myths, to reveal a complex and imperfect politician. His accumulated materials for the continuance of the project were handed on to Carl Sandburg at the request of his wife, Catherine Eddy Beveridge. In 1939, the AHA established the Beveridge Award in his memory, through a gift from the widow and from donations from members.

There is a famous lost film of Leo Tolstoy made in 1901, a decade before Tolstoy died. American travel lecturer Burton Holmes visited Yasnaya Polyana with Beveridge. As the three men conversed, Holmes filmed Tolstoy with his 60-mm camera. Afterwards, Beveridge's advisers succeeded in having the film destroyed, for fear that documentary evidence of a meeting with the radical Russian author might hurt his chances of running for the presidency.


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