Albert Jeremiah Beveridge (October 6, 1862 – April 27, 1927) was an American historian and United States Senator from Indiana. He was an intellectual leader of the Progressive Era, and a biographer of justice John Marshall and President Abraham Lincoln.
Albert J. Beveridge 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 U.S. and increasing the power of the federal government.
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. 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.
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.
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 4-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 U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
Beveridge spent most of his final years after his 1922 defeat writing a 4-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, which he only half-finished before his death, and which was posthumously published in 1928 as Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858 (2 vols.), stripping 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 his wife Catherine Eddy Beveridge's request. In 1939 the AHA established the Beveridge Award in his memory through a gift from Catherine Beveridge and donations from members.
There is a famous lost film of Leo Tolstoy made in 1901, a decade before he died. American travel lecturer Burton Holmes visited Yasnaya Polyana with Beveridge. As the three men conversed, Holmes filmed Tolstoy with his 60-mm movie camera. Afterwards, Beveridge's advisers succeeded in having the film destroyed, fearing that documentary evidence of a meeting with the radical Russian author might hurt his chances of running for the U.S. presidency."In Support of an American Empire" (1900)"The Russian Advance" (1903)The Young Man and the World (1905) at Project Gutenberg.The Life of John Marshall, in 4 volumes (1919), Volume I, Volume II, Volume III and Volume IV at Internet Archive.The Meaning of the Times and other Speeches (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1909) at Open Library.Americans of Today and Tomorrow (1908)Pass Prosperity Around (1912)What is Back of the War? (Indianaopolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1916) at Internet Archive.Abraham Lincoln 1809–1858, 2 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin) (1928)