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The Gospel according to Andrew: Carnegie’s Hymn to Wealth

In his essay “Wealth,” published in phibìc American testimonial in 1889, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie said that separation, personal, instance capitalists to be duty bound to play a broader cultural and social duty and hence improve the world. Some labor activists high solution differed with Carnegie’s point-of-view and responded through essays of your own, such together the Pennsylvania trade unionists who protested Carnegie’s gift of a library to the city of brand-new Castle by discussing that it had been constructed with the “sweat and also blood of hundreds of workers.” Carnegie’s essay, below, later became famous under the title “The Gospel that Wealth.” (Click below to listen an audio version of one excerpt from the speech.)

We accept and welcome . . . As conditions to i beg your pardon we must accommodate ourselves an excellent inequality the environment, the concentration of business—industrial and also commercial—in the hands of a few, and the legislation of competition between these as being no only useful but vital for the future progression of the race. Having embraced these, it adheres to that there need to be good scope because that the practice of special capability in the vendor and in the manufacturer who needs to conduct affairs ~ above a an excellent scale. That this talent because that organization and management is rare amongst men is confirmed by the reality that that invariably secures because that its possessor huge rewards, no issue where or under what laws or conditions. The knowledgeable in affairs constantly rate the male whose services deserve to be obtained as a companion as not just the first consideration however such as to render the concern of his capital scarcely worth considering, because that such guys soon produce capital; while, there is no the distinct talent required, capital soon takes wings.Such men end up being interested in firms or corporations making use of millions; and estimating only basic interest to be made ~ above the funding invested, it is inescapable that their income must exceed your expenditures and also that they have to accumulate wealth. No one is there any kind of middle floor which together men can occupy, due to the fact that the great manufacturing or commercial worry which does no earn at least interest top top its resources soon i do not care bankrupt. It need to either go forward or autumn behind: to was standing still is impossible. It is a condition essential because that its successful operation that it have to be thus far profitable, and also even that, in addition to attention on capital, it have to make profit. It is a law, as certain as any of the others named, that guys possessed that this strange talent for affairs, under the totally free play of financial forces, must, the necessity, shortly be in receipt of much more revenue than have the right to be judiciously expended upon themselves; and also this law is as useful for the gyeongju as the others.Objections come the foundations upon which society is based room not in order because the problem of the gyeongju is better with these 보다 it has actually been with any others which have been tried. Of the result of any brand-new substitutes proposed, us cannot be sure. The socialist or anarchist who seeks to overturn present conditions is to be regarded as attack the foundation upon which people itself rests, for civilization took its start from the day that the capable, productive workman stated to his incompetent and lazy fellow, “If you dost no sow, you shalt no reap,” and also thus finished primitive communism by separating the drones native the bees. One who studies this subject will quickly be carried face to face with the conclusion that upon the sacredness that property world itself depends—the right of the laborer to his $100 in the save bank, and also equally the legal ideal of the millionaire come his millions.To those who propose to substitute communism for this intense individualism the answer, therefore, is: The race has actually tried that. All progress from that barbarous day to the current time has resulted from its displacement. No evil, yet good, has pertained to the gyeongju from the buildup of wealth by those who have actually the ability and energy that create it. However even if we recognize for a minute that it might be much better for the race to discard its existing foundation, individualism—that that is a nobler ideal that man should labor, no for himself alone yet in and for a brotherhood the his fellows and also share v them every in common, establish Swedenborg’s idea of heaven, where, as he says, the angels derive your happiness, not from laboring for self yet for each other—even recognize all this, and a sufficient answer is: This is no evolution, however revolution.It necessitates the changing of person nature itself—a work of aeons, even if it were an excellent to change it, which we cannot know. The is no practicable in our job or in our age. Even if preferable theoretically, the belongs to another and long-succeeding sociological stratum. Our duty is v what is practicable now; through the next step possible in our day and generation. It is criminal to waste ours energies in endeavoring to uproot, as soon as all we have the right to profitably or possibly attain is to bending the universal tree of mankind a little in the direction many favorable to the production of an excellent fruit under existing circumstances.We might too urge the devastation of the highest possible existing type of man because he failed to with our ideal as to favor the damage of individualism, personal property, the regulation of buildup of wealth, and also the law of competition; for these space the greatest results of person experience, the soil in which culture so far has created the best fruit. Unequally or unjustly, perhaps, as these legislations sometimes operate, and also imperfect together they show up to the idealist, castle are, nevertheless, prefer the highest type of man, the best and most beneficial of all that humanity has yet accomplished.We start, then, with a condition of work under which the best interests that the race space promoted, yet which inevitably provides wealth come the few. Hence far, accepting problems as lock exist, the situation can it is in surveyed and pronounced good. The inquiry then arises—and, if the foregoing it is in correct, it is the only question through which we have to deal—What is the proper mode the administering riches after the laws upon which civilization is started have thrown it into the hand of the few? and also it is that this an excellent question the I believe I sell the true solution. It will be understood that fortunes room here talked of, not moderate sums conserved by many years of effort, the returns from which are compelled for the comfortable maintenance and also education that families. This is no wealth but only competence, i beg your pardon it must be the aim of all to acquire.There are but three settings in which surplus wealth have the right to be disposed of. It have the right to be left come the family members of the decedents; or it deserve to be bequeathed for public purposes; or, finally, it have the right to be administered throughout their stays by that possessors. Under the an initial and 2nd modes many of the wide range of the world that has reached the couple of has hitherto been applied. Let united state in turn think about each of this modes.The an initial is the most injudicious. In monarchical countries, the estates and the greatest portion of the wealth are left to the an initial son the the vanity of the parent might be gratified by the believed that his name and also title are to descend to succeeding generations unimpaired. The problem of this course in Europe this particular day teaches the futility that such wishes or ambitions. The followers have become impoverished v their follies or from the loss in the value of land. Also in an excellent Britain the strict legislation of entail has been discovered inadequate to maintain the status of an hereditary class. Its floor is swiftly passing into the hand of the stranger. Under republican institutions the division of property amongst the children is much fairer, however the question which pressures itself upon thoughtful men in all lands is: Why should guys leave great fortunes to their children? If this is done from affection, is it no misguided affection? monitoring teaches that, typically speaking, it is no well because that the kids that they must be therefore burdened. No is it well because that the state. Beyond providing because that the wife and daughters moderate sources of income, and an extremely moderate allowances indeed, if any, for the sons, men might well hesitate, for it is no longer questionable that an excellent sums bequeathed oftener work much more for the injury than for the good of the recipients. Wise males will soon conclude that, for the finest interests of the members of your families and of the state, together bequests room an improper use of your means.It is not suggested that males who have failed to educate their sons to knife a livelihood shall cast them adrift in poverty. If any man has actually seen right to behind his sons with a see to their living idle lives, or, what is very commendable, has instilled in castle the sentiment that they space in a position to job for public end without reference to pecuniary considerations, then, that course, the duty that the parent is to see that together are noted for in moderation. There space instances that millionaires" young unspoiled by wealth, who, being rich, tho perform an excellent services in the community. Such room the an extremely salt the the earth, as an important as, unfortunately, they are rare; still the is not the exception but the ascendancy that men must regard, and, looking at the usual result of massive sums conferred ~ above legatees, the thoughtful male must soon say, “I would certainly as quickly leave to my boy a curse together the almighty dollar,” and also admit to himself the it is not the welfare of the children but family pride which inspires these enormous legacies.As to the 2nd mode, the of leaving riches at fatality for publicly uses, it may be claimed that this is only a means for the disposal of wealth, noted a male is contents to wait until he is dead prior to it i do not care of much good in the world. Knowledge of the outcomes of legacies bequeathed is not calculated to inspire the brightest wishes of much posthumous an excellent being accomplished. The instances are not couple of in i m sorry the real object search by the testator is no attained, nor room they couple of in i m sorry his actual wishes are thwarted. In many cases the bequests space so used as to become just monuments the his folly.It is fine to remember the it calls for the exercise of no less ability than the which obtained the riches to usage it so as to be really beneficial to the community. As well as this, the may relatively be said that no guy is to be extolled for doing what he cannot help doing, nor is he to be thanked through the neighborhood to i beg your pardon he only leaves wealth at death. Males who leave substantial sums in this method may fairly be thought men who would not have actually left it in ~ all had actually they to be able to take it through them. The memory of such cannot be organized in grateful remembrance, because that there is no elegant in their gifts. That is no to be wonder at the such bequests it seems ~ so typically to absence the blessing.The farming disposition come tax much more and an ext heavily big estates left at fatality is a cheering point out of the expansion of a salutary readjust in public opinion. The state of Pennsylvania now takes—subject to part exceptions—one-tenth that the home left by its citizens. The budget presented in the British parliament the various other day proposes to boost the fatality duties; and, most far-ranging of all, the new tax is to be a i graduated one. That all forms of taxation, this seems the wisest. Guys who continue hoarding good sums all your lives, the suitable use that which for public ends would work great to the community, should be made to feel the the community, in the kind of the state, cannot therefore be deprived that its appropriate share. By counting estates heavily at death the state clues its blame of the selfish millionaire’s unworthy life.It is preferable that nations should go much additional in this direction. Indeed, that is challenging to set bounds to the share of a wealthy man’s heritage which should go in ~ his fatality to the general public through the firm of the state, and by all method such taxes should be graduated, start at nothing top top moderate sums to dependents and also increasing quickly as the quantities swell, until, that the millionaire’s hoard together of Shylock’s, at least——-The other half comes to the privy coffer the the state.This plan would work powerfully come induce the rich male to deal with the administration of wealth during his life, i beg your pardon is the end that culture should constantly have in view, as being that by much most fruitful for the people. Nor require it be feared that this plan would sap the root of enterprise and also render men less anxious come accumulate, for to the class whose ambition it is to leave great fortunes and also be talked around after their death, that will tempt even more attention, and, indeed, be a rather nobler ambitious to have substantial sums paid over to the state from their fortunes.There remains, then, only one mode of using an excellent fortunes; yet in this we have actually the true antidote for the short-lived unequal circulation of wealth, the reconciliation that the rich and the poor—a reign of harmony—another ideal, differing, indeed, from the of the Communist in requiring only the further advancement of present conditions, not the full overthrow of ours civilization. The is established upon the current most extreme individualism, and the gyeongju is ready to put it in exercise by degrees whenever that pleases. Under its guide we shall have suitable state in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the residential property of the many, due to the fact that administered because that the common good; and also this wealth, passing through the hand of the few, can be make a much much more potent force for the elevation of our race than if it had been dispersed in little sums to the people themselves. Even the poorest can be made to view this and also to agree that great sums gathered by few of their other citizens and spent for public purposes, indigenous which the masses enjoy the major benefit, are an ext valuable to them 보다 if scattered among them through the food of countless years in trifling amounts.Poor and limited are our opportunities in this life; small our horizon; our best work most imperfect; yet rich males should be thankful because that one inestimable boon. They have it in their power during their resides to liven themselves in organizing benefactions native which the masses of their fellows will derive lasting advantage, and also thus dignify their very own lives. The highest possible life is more than likely to be reached, not by such imitation that the life that Christ as Count Tolstoi offers us but, while animated by Christ’s spirit, by recognizing the adjusted conditions the this age and adopting settings of expressing this spirit suitable to the adjusted conditions under which us live; quiet laboring because that the good of ours fellows, which was the essence of his life and teaching, yet laboring in a various manner.This, then, is organized to it is in the duty that the guy of wealth: first, to set an instance of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately because that the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing therefore to think about all surplus revenues which come to him merely as trust funds which the is dubbed upon to administer, and also strictly bound as a issue of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is ideal calculated to develop the most beneficial results for the community—the male of wide range thus becoming the just agent and also trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing come their business his superior wisdom, experience, and capacity to administer, doing for them better than they would certainly or might do because that themselves. . . .In bestowing charity, the main factor to consider should it is in to help those who will help themselves; to provide component of the way by i m sorry those that desire to boost may carry out so; to give those who desire to rise the aids by which they might rise; to assist, yet rarely or never to execute all. No the individual nor the race is enhanced by almsgiving. Those worthy of assistance, except in rare cases, seldom require assistance. The really beneficial men of the race never ever do, other than in cases of accident or sudden change. Everyone has, of course, cases of individuals brought to his own understanding where short-lived assistance deserve to do genuine good, and these he will certainly not overlook. However the amount which deserve to be wisely given by the individual for individuals is necessarily limited by his absence of knowledge of the circumstances linked with each. He is the only true reformer that is as careful and also as anxious no to help the unworthy together he is to assist the worthy, and, perhaps, even an ext so, for in almsgiving much more injury is more than likely done by rewarding vice than by relieving virtue. . . .Thus is the problem of rich and poor to be solved. The regulations of build-up will it is in left free; the laws of distribution free. Individualism will certainly continue, however the millionaire will certainly be however a trustee for the poor; entrusted for a season v a great part that the raised wealth the the community, yet administering it because that the neighborhood far much better than it could or would have actually done because that itself. The best minds will thus have actually reached a stage in the breakthrough of the race in which that is plainly seen the there is no mode of disposing of surplus wealth creditable to thoughtful and earnest men right into whose hand it flows save by using it year by year for the basic good.This day already dawns. But a tiny while, and also although, there is no incurring the pity of their fellows, men might die sharers in good business enterprises from which their resources cannot be or has not to be withdrawn, and is left chiefly at fatality for windy uses, however the male who dies leaving behind the millions of obtainable wealth, which was his to provide during life, will certainly pass away “unwept, unhonored, and unsung,” no issue to what offers he pipeline the dross i beg your pardon he cannot take with him. Of such together these the public verdict will then be: “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”Such, in mine opinion, is the true gospel worrying wealth, obedience to which is destined some day to resolve the problem of the rich and also the poor, and to carry "Peace on earth, amongst men goodwill."

Source: north American evaluation (June 1889).

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Reprinted in The Annals that America, vol. 11, 1884–1894 (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1968), 222–226.