Ever since Charles Beard published his seminal work, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, in 1913, a vigorous debate has ensued among historians over the purpose and design of the Constitutional Convention. Was it, as Beard claimed, a Thermidorean counterrevolution, a reaction to the leveling propensities unleashed by the Revolution, or was it a conclave of patriots dedicated to the preservation of the Union and intent on strengthening the federal government so as to overcome the centrifugal forces tearing the confederation apart? For about forty years after its appearance, Beard's interpretation reigned supreme. It became the accepted wisdom that the Founders had acted out of selfish class interests in fashioning a constitution that would serve to protect the forms of property with which they were particularly associated. Subsequently, however, during the 1950s, Beard's analysis was subjected to more exacting scrutiny and found wanting. Vigorous challenges against his methodology and conclusions were raised by such writers as Douglass Adair, Cecelia M. Kenyon, Robert E. Brown, and Forrest McDonald. In the wake of their analyses very little of Beard's thesis was left intact.