Obituary

Samuel Beer memorial service

Apr 14 '09

I’ve been asked by a member of Samuel Beer’s family to share the details of his memorial services. They are:

Thursday, April 16, 3pm St. Albans, Washington, DC
Tuesday, April 21, 2pm, Bigelow Chapel, Harvard, Cambridge, MA

The Washington Post has an “obituary”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/13/AR2009041302655.html for him today – some extracts below.

Samuel H. Beer, 97, a Harvard University political scientist who specialized in the government and politics of Great Britain and also was a theorist of American federalism, died April 7 at his home in Washington of congestive heart failure. He also had a residence in Cambridge, Mass. Dr. Beer spent about 40 years at Harvard and became chairman of the government department before retiring in 1982. Several of Dr. Beer’s many books were about Britain, including his influential “British Politics in the Collectivist Age” (1965), a study of the ideological evolution of Britain’s three largest political parties.

… Dr. Beer the political theorist occasionally became the political partisan. In 1935 to 1936, he worked on the staff of the Democratic National Committee and occasionally wrote speeches for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He became chairman of the liberal advocacy organization Americans for Democratic Action. In the 1980s, he critiqued the “new federalism” under President Ronald Reagan. He told the New York Times in 1982 that Reagan’s efforts to shift power from Washington to state and local officials seemed an abdication of responsibility for “one of the standard, classic functions of the central government in any system — to do a little evening up among regions.” Called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, he told lawmakers that they were obligated to consider the will of the people before taking the grave step of removing a president. By twice electing Clinton, the American people had spoken, Dr. Beer maintained, and Congress had no reason to countermand their judgment.

… He was a police reporter for the New York Post and a writer at Fortune magazine before receiving his doctorate in political science from Harvard in 1943. During World War II, he served as an Army artillery captain and stayed on afterward as part of the U.S. military government in Germany. Returning in 1946 to his teaching duties at Harvard, he developed an approach to comparative government that relied on the interwoven insights of political, social and economic theory. In retirement, he became the first Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Professor of American Politics at Boston College.