|"Don't Fuck with the Trux" was his personal motto,
or at least it should have been.
One has to wonder what sort of diplomacy he engaged in. Beale was a badass, for lack of a better term. In 1902, in San Francisco he was charged with shooting a newspaper editor. He argued it was self-defense and was acquitted. At age 60 in Washington, D.C., he started a fist-fight with a former Navy Secretary.
Beale was also involved in politics. He was a delegate from California to the Republican Convention in 1912. In 1920, he offered cash rewards to young Republicans who came up with the best suggestions for the platform.
An ardent supporter of liberty and limited government, Beale was a big fan of the Herbert Spencer, the legendary English philosopher who was a proto-libertarian of sorts. Spencer died in 1903, but Beale was convinced that the American people in the early 20th century desperately needed his wisdom. In 1916, Beale produced a book of Spencer's writings that were accompanied by commentary from important men such as President/Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Henry Cabot Lodge. In The Man Versus the State a Collection of Essays, Beale hoped to warn his fellow citizens about the dangers of the progressive movement, so-called. The publisher wrote at the start of the book:
It is due to the interest and energy of Mr. Truxtun Beale that these essays of Herbert Spencer, with comments by eminent Americans, have been gathered together into a book. Mr. Beale has been a student and a disciple of Spencer ever since he became acquainted with his work; he has, indeed, been a sort of lay exponent of the Spencerian philosophy in America. It is a long generation since Spencer did the greatest part of his work, but it is not so long since these essays were new and vital in the world. They are filled with straight thinking and fundamental truths about man's efforts to construct social organisms and state systems, and the inevitable failure of democracy to bring about that perfection of order and social justice of which man has always dreamed. Spencer looked into the world and into the heart of man, and what he found he set down faithfully and without swerving from the truth. Because of their lack of sentimental thinking and their lack of unfounded hope; because of their recognition of truths not altogether pleasing to our social dreams, these essays, after establishing the foundation of all our modern social thinking, were in a fair way to be neglected, if not forgotten by the world, until Mr. Beale conceived the idea of gathering certain of them together and making them into a book. In pursuit of his idea, Mr. Beale travelled about the country enlisting the aid of a few of those leaders of thought in America who know the tremendous value of Spencer's work in our social system; and he succeeded in inducing these men to write critical and interpretative comments on the essays, as they appear in the light of what they can teach us in relation to the problems' that are perplexing America to-day. This book is the result of Mr. Beale's adventure in preaching the gospel according to Herbert Spencer.
|Herbert Spencer at 78
Truxtun Park I also thought about putting together a book of Spencer's writings along with commentary about how they relate to current political debates. I didn't know that nearly 100 years before Beale had done the same thing. Other than seeing his name on a plaque, I had no idea who he was. I wonder if Beale thought up the idea while at his Annapolis retreat. Maybe I should really work on that project now and dedicate it to Truxtun Beale.
Beale eventually died in 1936 at his country home in Annapolis. His house must have been in or around the area, but I do not know where. He was buried in Williamsburg, VA. . But that doesn't answer why it was named after his first name or why the spelling is different for Truxton Heights. A simple answer may be that he didn't name the park after himself. It was likely named after his grandfather, who he was also named after, Thomas Truxtun, a naval officer during the Revolutionary War who later rose to the rank of Commodore. In the days before the grammar and spelling nazis required conformity, spelling was not always consistent and sometimes Thomas Truxtun's name was spelled as Thomas Truxton. What is the right version? Who knows? But it probably made sense to use both spellings to make sure that his memory was properly honored.
So there you have it, the history of Truxtun Beale who donated the land that became Truxtun Park. And in case you are wondering, there is a Beale Park out there, but it is in California.
The 'witch's grave' in Truxtun Park.