The Gospel of Wealth
And Other Timely Essays
by Andrew Carnegie

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---Page vii. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

Editor's Introduction

1. FEW men wanted more intensely to win than Andrew Carnegie; none was more certain his destiny was success. In 1868, at the age of thirty-three, he wrote in a famous introspective note a sentence of self-analysis: "Whatever I engage in I must push inordinately." Thirty years later he was trumpeting his triumphs in golf. "I am beating my friends at golf so all goes well. I played eighteen holes today with Taylor. Beat him. Beat Murray Butler Saturday. Beat Franks the day before."

Baha'i Comment

2. Though he occasionally expressed a misgiving about success in business, his most genuine, his greatest achievement was as a businessman. The autobiographical fragment, hereafter published as the first essay, is correct in describing the Carnegie family's migration from Scotland when Andrew was young and his start in this country at the bottom of the industrial ladder. Later he found employment on the Pennsylvania Railroad and rose from telegrapher to a divisional superintendent. Meanwhile he was acquiring a fortune by saving and borrowing money and investing it in railroads and in firms supplying railroad equipment, in petroleum, and in various iron works. By 1868, when he penned the note already cited, he could expect an annual income of $50,000. Still pushing "inordinately," he transferred in the seventies his abilities and wealth to metallurgy. A business principle guided him: "Put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket,” and the financial strains of the panic of 1873 compelled him to concentrate his funds if he were to complete and operate The Edgar Thomson Steel Works near Pittsburgh. The plant made steel in Bessemer converters.

---Page viii. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

Though Carnegie was not the leader who introduced this revolutionary process to America, he was among the first to employ it on a large scale. In the years which followed he acquired coal and iron-ore properties and built mills to manufacture finished steel products. By the nineties Carnegie's was the most advanced and the most powerful unit in the American steel and iron industry. At the end of the century he sold out to the financiers and industrialists who were putting together the United States Steel Corporation. In 1901 after the sale he had a fortune of about $300,000,000.

Baha'i Comment

3. Though he retired from business, he did not disown it. Instead of being its apologist, at a time when critics and reformers were detecting and exposing its flaws, he remained its celebrant. As he informed the undergraduates of Cornell University, "I can confidently recommend to you the business career as one in which there is abundant room for the exercise of man's highest power, and of every good quality in human nature. I believe the career of the great merchant, or banker, or captain of industry, to be favourable to the development of the powers of the mind, and to the ripening of the judgment upon a wide range of general subjects; to freedom from prejudice, and to the keeping of an open mind.... If without sound, all-round judgment, he must fail. The business career is thus a stern school of all the virtues...." Commendation of this sort was, however, reserved for businessmen of a certain definition. "A man to be in business must be at least part owner of the enterprise which he manages," and be “chiefly dependent for his revenues upon its profits." "The business man, pure and simple plunges into and tosses upon the waves of human affairs without a life-preserver in the shape of salary; he risks all. ... The business man pursues fortune." This attitude set Carnegie a little apart from the business currents of his period. At a time when business was increasingly professionalized and bureaucratized, he excluded from the ranks of businessmen all salary receivers; when businessmen were

---Page ix. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

consolidating their organizations into trusts, holding companies, and corporations, Carnegie remained the anarchic individualist, a reluctant participator in pools and agreements and a man who held his big business within the confines of the partnership form of organization until the nineties. But these anachronisms, if such they were, delighted Carnegie. In so far as they made him unique, they tickled his vanity.
Baha'i Comment

4. Carnegie was fundamentally different, too, in his realization that there were in the world other values than those of a business culture and other goals than that of business success. His background mostly explained this. Radicals who admired the French Revolution and eloquently cursed social inequality and the unjust operation of the economy clustered along both sides of Carnegie's family tree. Indeed one of Andrew's uncles had been arrested for sedition after delivering a lecture on Chartism. For by this time the family's reforming impulse had channelized into supporting the political reform program which the working class had stated in the People's Charter. This document demanded universal manhood suffrage, voting by ballot, abolition of property qualifications for membership in Parliament and salaries for members, annual Parliaments, and equal electoral districts. Chartism, however, had fizzled out in 1848. But the circumstances which drove Andrew's immediate family to migrate to this country in that year were economic rather than political.

Baha'i Comment

5. Whether defeated or not, a career of agitation developed in the Carnegies an ability at exposition, discussion, argument, public address, and newspaper writing. They were devoted to books. One ancestor, indeed, was nicknamed ”Professor” and Carnegie's father was "an awfu' man to read." Carnegie never shook off this inheritance. Perhaps the Scottish admiration for the things of the mind and of the spirit reinforced the family's learned tradition. Nonetheless he was not sure later that the professions had as desirable an

---Page x. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

effect upon their practitioners as did business. The professional mind, occupied with fame rather than dollar getting, was "clear but narrow."
Baha'i Comment

6. Yet it would be a mistake to ascribe Carnegie's non-business interests and concerns solely to a family or national background. Carnegie liked to be different. In business he loved to depart from the traditional paths of the ironmasters, "Fathers-in-Israel," as he derisively christened them. One of his favorite exhortations to young men was "Attract attention." He followed his own advice. At a time when such businessmen as John D. Rockefeller and Elbert H. Gary (1846-1927) were supposed to be without an intellectual attainment larger than the ability to lead a Sunday-school class, he was the friend of literary men, those characteristically successful like Mark Twain and Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909) of the Century, who acted as a recruiter of the "gods" of the literary world that attended Carnegie's "literary dinners" at his home on upper Fifth Avenue. Carnegie loved to drop names - "My dear friend, Matthew Arnold," - and hobnob with college presidents and statesmen, particularly if British. In one mail he received letters from Gladstone, Spencer, and John Morley. "I am quite set up as no other can say this." There was a strong streak of the show-off in Carnegie; he sought to startle and perplex. This trait, combined with the fact that his attitudes were often formulated for an occasion, prevented his thought from attaining system or consistency. It was often contradictory and impish.

Baha'i Comment

7. Nonetheless, the essays in this volume reveal certain underlying patterns of thought. The details, of course, were not all Carnegie's own. In the post-Civil War years books rather than preachers frequently converted American businessmen and made the tangle and perplexity of this world literally clear to them. Edward Atkinson (1827-1905), New England cotton manufacturer, insurance man and publicist, one of the most perceptive commentators on America's economic structure in the post-Civil War era, owed his intellectual emanci-

---Page xi. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

pation to Carlyle's Sartor Resartus. Charles Francis Adams, Jr. (1835-1915), later President of the Union Pacific Railroad, found his road to Damascus in England when in 1865 he read John Stuart Mill's essay on Auguste Comte, which "revolutionized in a single morning my whole mental attitude." Andrew Carnegie records in his Autobiography how he chanced to read Darwin and certain works of Herbert Spencer. "I remember that light came as in a flood and all was clear. Not only had I got rid of theology and the supernatural, but I had found the truth of evolution. 'All is well since all grows better' became my motto, my true source of comfort." Carnegie became one of Spencer's greatest American friends and through a lifetime of association showered him with kindnesses and admiration. Over the years in book and essay Spencer wrote on many topics; whether Carnegie was acquainted with the whole body of Spencer's work or was influenced by it at every point it is quite impossible to tell. A discussion in the second of these essays, "The Problem of Wealth," uses Spencerian-Darwinian phrases and concepts to justify the regime of competition. But long before the "survival of the fittest" gained fashionable currency in the vocabulary of business and other men, it was believed that the race and prizes belonged to the swift. Carnegie was as apt to quote the biblical parable of the talents as a justification for wealth as to cite evolution, and it is notable that his original acknowledgment of Spencerian influence was in religious and theological matters. Actually his secularism and skepticism, uncharacteristic of his business generation, owed quite as much to the beliefs of his immediate forebears as they did to natural and social science.
Baha'i Comment

8. With his family background of Chartist reform it was not surprising that Carnegie was a passionate believer in democracy. Almost as soon as he reached the United States he was writing back to the homeland that he had found the fulfillment of his dreams -no royal family, no aristocracy, no established church. "We have the Charter which you have

---Page xii. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

been fighting for for years as the Panacea for all Britain's woes." In 1886 he wrote Triumphant Democracy, as extravagant an example of booster or promotional literature as was ever penned by a public relations expert. In words which are touching for their sincerity and simplicity he dedicated the volume "To the Beloved Republic, under whose Equal Laws I am made the peer of any man, although denied political equality by my native land." Like his definition of the businessman, this statement is as remarkable for its emphasis as for its omissions. Its stress is social and political; its "equality" is political equality. On another occasion he defined democracy as not meaning "equality of conditions, physical or mental, or equality as to property· It does mean political equality and the equality of opportunity."
Baha'i Comment

9. On nearly every count this was exactly the creed of American business in the decades of the late nineteenth century. Though there were doubters among them, American businessmen, even sophisticated ones, accepted the open-ended character of American society and its institutions -- universal manhood suffrage, the free public school, the right of the laborer to choose his occupation and of the receiver of income, whether of salary, wages, or profits, to spend it as he chose. These were the cornerstones of the faith of a generation which, like Carnegie, was exceptionally sanguine, self-reliant and masculine. In some respects Carnegie carried the creed to more logical and more extreme positions than his business contemporaries. Most of them would hardly have seconded his approval of labor organization as an expression of self-reliance and as commendable striving by associated individuals for self-betterment. Carnegie here spoke for himself and a powerful minority of businessmen. If it had not been for these dissenters among employers, the task of labor unions would have been even more onerous.

Baha'i Comment

10. Triumphant Democracy was more than an effusive love letter to the United States; it recommended a good example which England might well imitate. For one of Carnegie's

---Page xiii. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

boyhood dreams had been "to grow up to kill a king" and, more soberly, to transform Britain into a republic. In the early eighties he purchased a string of newspapers in Great Britain and through them and in other ways began to push his campaign. By the middle of the decade his movement petered out, failing to topple the House of Lords or abolish the monarchy and other traces of political privilege. Triumphant Democracy was therefore not an opening salvo but a valedictory. The theme of transforming Britain remained, however, a persistent one - if only wistfully. In 1890 Carnegie was writing to William Ewart Gladstone about the comforts and conveniences of the Pennsylvania Limited -- "all of them free of charge" - between Chicago and New York. He concluded his letter, "What a quickening of the British mind we may get when the British Republic comes."
Baha'i Comment

11. Though turned back from ultimate objectives, Carnegie maintained a deep interest in the course of British domestic politics, as the last four essays in this volume demonstrate. He was on friendly terms with English statesmen and did not refrain from lecturing or instructing them-and frequently baffling them. The body of British political doctrine that most appealed to him was Gladstonian liberalism. Its evangelical overtones must have left him cold, but in the later part of his career Gladstone at least supported the broadening of the suffrage and a series of measures culminating in Home Rule to allay or remove the age-old bitterness between Ireland and England. Of course the Carnegie-Gladstone relationship was not based solely upon the mutuality of political outlook. Gladstone was a success, a person who counted; for him Carnegie's admiration approached the idolatrous. When Gladstone commented in print on The Gospel of Wealth, the happy author wrote, "It seems like a dream that you who was to the little Scotch lad, something beyond human - should be attracted by anything he has promulgated and that he should really know you in the flesh. Always with reverence, Andrew Carnegie." Other leading

---Page xiv. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

British exponents of liberalism, Lord Rosebery (1847-1929), for example, he tried to turn in a Gladstonian direction.
Baha'i Comment

12. With a "native land" on one side of the Atlantic and an "adopted country" on the other, Carnegie perforce went beyond mere nationalism. We reinforced this dualism by taking long annual vacations in England and Scotland, the "fairyland," either in coach-and-four or on Scottish estates. Eventually he became the owner of Skibo, an estate of 30,000 acres and a castle with American improvements. At its flag-staff flew "the United flag ... the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack sewn together - the first of that kind of flag ever seen.” Carnegie was naturally the apostle of a federation of England and the United States (in which the more numerous American inhabitants would outvote their transatlantic cousins), and of the annexation of Canada.

Baha'i Comment

13. "I tell you," he wrote in 1898, "that race is the potent factor." His letters are replete with references to "The Race" or "Our Race." If he wanted a rationalization for the Anglo-Saxon supremacy which was largely instinctive with him, the context of his times would have provided it. The pastor and the professor alike were bursting from their studies to proclaim the glad tidings that the Teutonic or Anglo-Saxon races were "the political nations par excellence" and were authorized "in the economy of the world to assume the leadership in the establishment and administration of states." Of such moonshine the logical corollary was imperialism, and Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914) in his discussions of sea power and historical greatness (The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1890) became its spokesman. But Carnegie had too much common sense; he pulled back. Though the Spanish-American War gave the possibility of realizing imperial visions, such a program appalled Carnegie as a defiance of American principles. Two essays, "Distant Possessions" and "Americanism versus Imperialism," state his reservations to racism thus operating. He joined with other Americans to forestall a peace treaty consummating

---Page xv. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

this betrayal, he helped finance the Anti-Imperialist League, and he tried to influence public men with such zeal as to elicit from one of them the observation that “Andrew Carnegie seems to be off his head." In 1900, however, he refused to finance a third party movement against William McKinley. The ineptitude of this proposal is perhaps enough to justify Carnegie's decision, but his withdrawal question whether, as in his campaign for a British Republic he was genuinely interested in following through reforms which were not a success in the short run.
Baha'i Comment

14. Of course he could elevate a specific issue to a broader basis. He could take comfort for the failure of his British campaign in the thought of an Anglo-Saxon, English speaking federation and the consequent democratic political changes forced upon his native land. For the failure of federation to materialize and for the collapse of true Americanism, perhaps a campaign for world peace through some other devices could be some counterweight. Soon after his arrival as a youth in this country he wrote an essay against the Crimean War in which he maintained that the machines of war deserve the execration given to the scaffold or guillotine. Later he was drawn into the Peace Society of Great Britain and he dates from the late eighties his preoccupation with the abolition of war. At first he was apparently sanguine enough to believe a hatred of war was enough to abolish it; later he saw in arbitration an alternative to conflict. Eventually Carnegie financed at the construction at The Hague of a “Temple of Peace - the most holy building in the world because it has the holiest end in view. I do not even except St. Peter’s or any other building erected to the Glory of God…” And in 1910 he gave $10,000,000 for the Carnegie endowment for International Peace. Carnegie's commitment to the peace movement had the incidental advantages of personal association with statesmen and scholars at international conferences to which he was frequently appointed a delegate and of the award of foreign decorations.

---Page xvi. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

Baha'i Comment

15. In the area of war and peace Carnegie was not a deviant from the accepted canon of business thought. In the writings of the business press and of businessmen few themes are more frequent and more persistent than the realization that America's position and policy by conducing to peace gave the nation an immense competitive advantage. It avoided the wasteful expenditure of public funds on armament and the crushing burden of high taxes; it directed our manpower to production rather than military purposes. On the contrary, our European competitors had to shoulder these burdens much to our advantage. War upset the rationality and order which business was trying to introduce into economic operations.

Baha'i Comment

16. As I have indicated, it is impossible to treat Carnegie's non-business interests without mentioning his benefactions. The most significant essays in this volume are those which contribute its title. The philosophy there set forth had been succinctly anticipated in 1868 in Carnegie's famous memorandum to himself: "Beyond this [$50,000 a year] never earn -make no effort to increase fortune, but spend the surplus each year for benevolent purposes…. Man must have an idol - the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry - no idol more debasing than the worship of money. To continue much longer ... with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest possible time, must degrade me beyond hopes of permanent recovery." As a declaration of personal allegiance to a program this avowal and the later "Gospel of Wealth" are revealing. But historically they have little novelty. For centuries Christ had exalted and consecrated individual generosity and benevolence; charity was a Christian virtue and Christ had answered the rich young_ man's question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" by the directive, "Sell all that thou hast and distribute unto the poor." Through the ages men and women had followed an ideal of the Christian stewardship of wealth.

Baha'i Comment

---Page xvii. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

17. That Carnegie should take this path was startling, for his tone had been secular, and he believed there was truth in all religions. Since clerics have a keen scent for heresy and a sharp eye for danger, the hostility or moderation with which they greeted Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth" had significance. While granting that his statement was "interesting," they generally went on to celebrate the virtues and achievements of Christian charity or wandered off into irrelevancies like the tariff. One eminent Methodist divine in England chose to discuss the "Gospel of Wealth" as a therapy for social ills -- Carnegie had certainly invited discussion on this level and concluded that a millionaire of the Carnegie class was "an anti-christian phenomenon, a social monstrosity, and a grave political peril!" To grant that Carnegie contributed a secular tone to giving is not to assert that he was a pioneer in this respect. In America the note goes back at least Franklin; and Stephen Girard, another Philadelphian, had in his endowment for Girard College expressly stipulated "no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister of any sort whatever, shall ever hold or exercise any station or duty whatever in the said College; nor shall any such person be admitted for any purpose, or as a visitor, within the premises appropriated to the purposes of the said College.”

Baha'i Comment

18. While it has been demonstrated that American public opinion expected rich men to give at least part of their fortunes for public purposes, it did not follow that such generosity was a path to popularity. Carnegie did not find it so. When he first, offered Pittsburgh $250,000 for a library building, the City Council rejected it. Later, when the City changed its mind, Carnegie gave $1,000,000 and went on to give, as well as a library, an art museum and music hall. Smaller places showed the same reluctance to accept a Carnegie gift. It was said he insisted that the building bear his name; this was untrue. Others apparently suspected that acceptance was an endorsement of the methods by which Carnegie had acquired his fortune. A more important and

---Page xviii. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

concrete objection was Carnegie's insistence that communities appropriate an amount, usually a percentage of his gift, for the support of the buildings he gave them; communities bristled at dictation from the steel king. Nor did Carnegie find it easy to dispense his fortune wisely. Begging letters poured in by the thousands. For his benefactions Carnegie sought out expert advisors; in the field of education the presidents of Cornell and Johns Hopkins played this role. In cases he handled on his own he often exhibited extraordinary sensitivity and patience. Anyone who reads the interchange of letters about the purchase of Lord Acton's library -- the terms stipulated that Acton could continue without embarrassment to use it -- will be impressed by the delicacy and tact of the philanthropist. Nonetheless, the evolving forms in the administration of his bequests reflected Carnegie's experiences as a giver and his fatigue as a merely personal administrator.
Baha'i Comment

19. In the last analysis Carnegie's achievement as a philanthropist lay in doing what he wrote he ought: to do; or, phrased in another way, he had an intellectual rather than a purely impulsive formula for his giving. This always over-impresses intellectuals. Be that as it may, he built 2,507 libraries - the free public library) was to his mind the people’s university. In the more formal educational field he financed technical training at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, encouraged research in basic science by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and through the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching established a pension fund for college teachers. Only institutions without denominational connections could apply for inclusion. Finally in 1911 he created the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a separate foundation as large as all his other trusts combined. In simplified spelling, the Corporation was enjoined "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among the people of the United States, by aiding technical schools, institutions of higher lerning, libraries, scientific

---Page xix. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

research, hero funds, useful publications, and by such other agencies and means as shall from time to time be found appropriate therefor." Before his death in 1919 he gave away $311,000,000.
Baha'i Comment

20. It does not impugn the noble integrity of this achievement to point out that Carnegie's program of philanthropy ministered to his exhibitionism. Though he modestly forbade the specific memorialization of his name, the essay, "Gospel of Wealth," enabled him to be a distinctive rich man, to select among his "dear fellow millionaries" - past and present - those he could commend or, by inference, censure. As he roamed about cracking heads or dispensing bouquets, he could play the congenial role of the maverick, a role J. P. Morgan found so disturbing in him. He could startle. On the stage of attention and influence, where he loved to stride, he could toss about once again the "Fathers-in-Israel."

Baha'i Comment

21. For some reason literateness in businessmen arouses popular and occasionally scholarly suspicion. They are thought not to possess the brains to think abstractly and summon thought or the ability to write the works to which their names are signed. Although Carnegie lived before the days when ghost-writing was standard operating procedure for businessmen and politicians (and occasionally candidates for the Ph.D.), he has not escaped the stigma. In the folklore of possible authorship the most common name given to the "faceless one" is that of James Howard Bridge. Carnegie once referred to him as "my clever secretary." Undoubtedly Bridge was of great assistance in the compilation of Triumphant Democracy, and he wrote a book on his own to prove that Carnegie had little to do with the accumulation of his fortune - this was the work of others. An examination of the private papers of Carnegie in the Library of Congress is enough to refute the notion that Carnegie could not express himself. The essays in this volume are authentic Carnegie.

Baha'i Comment

22. Nor was he the only literate or articulate man of business in a notable business generation. John D. Rockefeller col-

---Page xx. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

lected in a volume his Random Reminiscences of Men and Events (1909); in spite of later scholarship, the volume retains a usefulness. Of business essayists contemporary with Carnegie, Edward Atkinson, the economist David A. Wells (1828-1898), the railroad journalist and economist Henry Varnum Poor (1812-1905), to mention no others, were all penetrating observers. Like Carnegie, they felt writing was a way to influence, and they sought quite consciously so to write and so to publish as to shape public opinion and policy. When due attention has been given to these business writers and to the media in which their work appeared, the business literature of the age will compare favorably in bulk and in force with that of reformists and. critics.
Baha'i Comment

23. Carnegie wrote of events of course as he saw them in his own time, and it is scarcely to his discredit that he could not foresee the ironies subsequent events of twentieth-century history have produced-the two world wars despite his "Temple of Peace" at the Hague; revolution in Cuba and alignment with a foreign power despite the Monroe Doctrine; decline of empire and emergence of new nations on the African continent, then the arena of fierce new imperialistic rivalries; the vast American commitments all over the world; permanent conscription; continuing frustrations of international "co-operation"; the rise in power of Soviet Russia, no longer "one of our best friends." Nevertheless, typical spokesman of business as Carnegie was, he remains unique in the variety of his interests, the fecundity of his writing, and in my estimation, in the impression he made. The republication of these essays should remove once and for all the commonplace notion that the whole business generation was one of "robber barons" and that its members were all either crooks or clowns, dunces or hypocrites.

Baha'i Comment

---Page xxi. The Gospel of Wealth - Editor's Introduction---

A Note on the Text

The first edition of THE GOSPEL OF WEALTH And Other Timely Essays came out in 1900, when the Century Company adapted and assembled in one volume twelve articles of topical interest written by Carnegie between 1886 and 1899. Acknowledgement of the original sources was made in the following statement: "The various articles in this volume are reprinted by permission of the publishers of the periodicals in which they originally appeared. The autobiographical fragment which precedes the essays proper was written for the 'Youth's Companion'; the other papers were first published in the 'Century Magazine,' the 'North American Review,' the 'Forum,' the 'Contemporary Review,' the 'Fortnightly Review,' and 'Nineteenth Century,' and the 'Scottish Leader.'" Curiously enough, although the edition carefully identified each essay by periodical and year, none is attributed to the Fortnightly Review. The present text follows that of 1900. A subsequent edition (1906) includes an additional essay entitled "British Pessimism," which had appeared in the Nineteenth Century and After in 1901.

Baha'i Comment