The importance of the event insured that the making of the Constitution of the United States would become the subject of debate, study, and writing for many years to come. Early in 1913 there emerged from this historiographical maze a work that was destined to become a classic. In that year Charles A. Beard, then a young professor of politics at Columbia University, published his An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, a brilliant, challenging, and provocative study that has towered over everything else written on the subject, before or since. This chapter presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book subjects Beard's thesis to the most careful scrutiny, to fill in the details, on his own terms, in the framework of his own assumptions, methodology, and questions—in short, to discover whether the details are compatible with the broad outlines he sketched.