George Louis Beer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
George Louis Beer
Born(1872-07-26)July 26, 1872
Staten Island, NY, USA
DiedMarch 15, 1920(1920-03-15) (aged 47)
New York, NY, USA
Period1893 - 1923
SubjectAmerican History, Colonial History
Notable awardsLoubat Prize (1913)

George Louis Beer (July 26, 1872 – March 15, 1920) was a renowned American historian of the "Imperial school".

Born in Staten Island, New York, to an affluent family that was prominent in New York's German-Jewish community, Beer's father owned a successful tobacco importing business. He studied at Columbia University, where he received the A.B. degree (1892) and then an A.M. degree in 1893. Beer's master's thesis ("The Commercial Policy of England Toward the American Colonies") was supervised by Professor Herbert Levi Osgood and was immediately published in the Columbia University Studies in History, Economics and Public Law. He taught European History at Columbia from 1893 to 1897 while he also worked in the tobacco business.

After retiring from business in 1903, he devoted his time to extensive research in British archives, and wrote three highly regarded and influential books on the British-American colonial period. In 1913, he was the first Loubat Prize recipient for The Origins of the British Colonial System, 1578-1660, one of those books. His work The English Speaking Peoples, was published in 1917. He stressed the successful workings of the commercial dimensions of the British Empire and was part of the "Imperial School" which emphasized the economic benefits and efficient administration of the Empire. He was American correspondent of the British Round Table Journal.[1]

Beer served as colonial expert to President Woodrow Wilson's American Commission of Inquiry during World War I[1] and attended the 1919 Paris Peace Conference as a member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, for which he was chief of the Colonial Division in 1918-1919. He was also a member of the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations and was appointed director of the Mandatory Section of the League's Secretariat in 1919.

Beer married Edith Hellman on November 11, 1896. She was the niece of one of his early mentors at Columbia, E. R. A. Seligman, who had also married Beer's sister. Beer and his wife had one daughter, and the marriage lasted until Beer's untimely death on March 15, 1920.

The George Louis Beer Prize[edit]

Beer left a bequest to establish a prize recognizing outstanding historical writing relating to European international history since 1895. American citizens or permanent residents are eligible, for books published in the year preceding the award. The George Louis Beer Prize has been awarded in most years since 1923.[2]


  • The Commercial Policy of England Toward the American Colonies (1893) full text online.
  • British Colonial Policy, 1754-1765 (1907) full text online.
  • Origins of the British Colonial System, 1578-1660 (1908) full text online.
  • The Old Colonial System, 1660-1754 (2 vols., 1912) full text online.
  • The English Speaking Peoples: Their Future Relations and Joint International Obligations (1917) full text online.
  • African Questions at the Paris Peace Conference (1923) full text online.
  • Coclanis, Peter A. "George L. Beer." In Clyde Norman Wilson (ed.), American Historians, 1866-1912. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 47. Detroit: Gale Research, 1986. Literature Resource Center. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.
  • Schuyler, Robert Livingston. "Beer, George Louis." In Allen Johnson et al. (eds.), Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b George Louis Beer, Louis Herbert Gray (1923). "Editor's Preface". African Questions at the Paris Peace Conference. The Macmillan Company.
  2. ^ American Historical Association, accessed April 5, 2010