Andrew Carnegie



Interviewer: Mr. Carnegie! Mr. Carnegie!
(Car Stops)
Interviewer: Can I please have an interview with you upon your essay, The Gospel of Wealth?
(Carnegie gets out of the car)
Carnegie I’m a very busy man child. Every second is essential.
Interviewer: It’s only a few minutes sir. Only a few comments and answers about your philosophy in this world.
Carnegie: I guess I have got some time for this interview of yours. Where will it be?
Interviewer: Please follow me Mr. Carnegie. My office is only a few hundred paces from here. I’m so excited that I’m talking to you.
Carnegie: I’m only a man of great age, with the idea of sharing in this great world of ours. Everyone believes that I’m great, but all I am is a investor and the founder of Carnegie Steel.
(Arrives at office)
Interviewer: All right sir! Please sit there and we’ll begin.
Carnegie: This is a great place of yours but I would rather stand
Interviewer: I have heard many rumors and ideas about which events had an impact on you to write this essay. Please explain who Herbert Spencer is.
Carnegie: Herbert Spencer could be thought as whom I would call the one who influenced my life the most. The great man’s writings not only helped me get rid of theology and the supernatural, but I now found the truth of evolution in the world.
Interviewer: What did he actually write? What were his meanings in his book?
Carnegie: Young Man. Have you heard of the great Charles Darwin’s?
Interviewer: Yes? Isn’t he the naturalist, who showed the people in the world that all species of life have evolved over time from common “parents” through the process called natural selection?
Carnegie: Yes that’s him. Charles Spencer was a man who adapted his theory of natural selection and applied it to human society in a philosophy known as “Social Darwinism”
He believed and he wrote his books such as Principles of Biology according to the main ideas that the government did more harm than good, and also that competition and ideas caused social evolution.
Interviewer: Excuse me, but what’s social evolution?
Carnegie: It is the idea that certain behaviors in humans could potentially be more beneficial to them than to others, and through his writings, it helped me write my ideas in an essay called The Gospel of Wealth. Herbert Spencer’s theories of social Darwinism are what I went against.
Interviewer: What were the problems that you found that you had wanted to address in your essay, Mr. Carnegie?
Carnegie: The problem of our age is the administration of wealth, where the poor and rich could still be tied together as humans being born of the same rights.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Carnegie: In the past years, there were not much differences between the houses, the clothes, the food, or even the environment of every human, but as the times passed, technology and the separation between the rich and the poor are with us today. This separation is great for the people and the race of human beings, but the many contradictions between the creation of wealth from the social laws, and social provision, helped me gain the idea that the rich people should at least try to help the poor.
Interviewer: What do you think especially about the problems with the difference?
Carnegie: There are always successful benefits under the laws of competition, but there are also disadvantages of having the differences of the rich and poor. The separation between the wealthy and the poor with the condition that the human race is in, giving wealth to the few could be made to be beneficial. The problem is not the difference between the rich and the poor, but which way is the proper mode of administrating wealth. My main point could said that the rich should use their wealth to try to help enrich the society.
Interviewer: From listening to others who have read your essay, I heard that there were three modes in where the wealth could be wasted. What were they?
Carnegie: I have clearly stated the three main points that should be followed in close attention. The dangers of rich entrepreneurs and kings just giving their money to their descendents, other persons or organizations not qualified enough to handle it, and just letting it be administered by themselves throughout their whole lives. Instead of wasting money, the money should be put towards the public good. People should just not leave money to their children, because as history tells us, most of the heirs waste their fortunes, just living their lives instead of trying to help the public good. I have noticed that this type of capitalism may indeed give damage to many people; I believe that it could help poverty grow no more, if wealthy businessmen contribute to the problem.
All I am trying to specify in my essay is that as wealthy entrepreneurs, they have a responsibility of helping the general public.
Interviewer: As you said Mr. Carnegie, how do you plan to carry out your philosophy?
Carnegie: I hope to build libraries all over the country, buildings for the economic principles, and to give certain funding programs for people in need.
Interviewer: Thank you for joining me today for this wonderful and elaborative interview of yours.
Carnegie: No problem child. I hope I have answered all the questions that you have asked.



Gospel of Wealth

The problem of our age is the administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship. The conditions of human life have not only been changed, but revolutionized, within the past few hundred years. In former days there was little difference between the dwelling, dress, food, and environment of the chief and those of his retainers. . . . The contrast between the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer with us to day measures the change which has come with civilization.
There are but three modes in which surplus wealth can be disposed of. It can be left to the families of the decedents; or it can be bequeathed for public purposes; or, finally, it can be administered during their lives by its possessors. Under the first and second modes most of the wealth of the world that has reached the few has hitherto been applied. Let us in turn consider each of these modes. The first is the most injudicious. In monarchial countries, the estates and the greatest portion of the wealth are left to the first son, that the vanity of the parent may be gratified by the thought that his name and title are to descend to succeeding generations unimpaired. The condition of this class in Europe to day teaches the futility of such hopes or ambitions. The successors have become impoverished through their follies or from the fall in the value of land.... Why should men leave great fortunes to their children? If this is done from affection, is it not misguided affection? Observation teaches that, generally speaking, it is not well for the children that they should be so burdened. Neither is it well for the state. Beyond providing for the wife and daughters moderate sources of income, and very moderate allowances indeed, if any, for the sons, men may well hesitate, for it is no longer questionable that great sums bequeathed oftener work more for the injury than for the good of the recipients. Wise men will soon conclude that, for the best interests of the members of their families and of the state, such bequests are an improper use of their means.

. . .
As to the second mode, that of leaving wealth at death for public uses, it may be said that this is only a means for the disposal of wealth, provided a man is content to wait until he is dead before it becomes of much good in the world.... The cases are not few in which the real object sought by the testator is not attained, nor are they few in which his real wishes are thwarted....
The growing disposition to tax more and more heavily large estates left at death is a cheering indication of the growth of a salutary change in public opinion.... Of all forms of taxation, this seems the wisest. Men who continue hoarding great sums all their lives, the proper use of which for public ends would work good to the community, should be made to feel that the community, in the form of the state, cannot thus be deprived of its proper share. By taxing estates heavily at death, the state marks its condemnation of the selfish millionaire's unworthy life.
. . . This policy would work powerfully to induce the rich man to attend to the administration of wealth during his life, which is the end that society should always have in view, as being that by far most fruitful for the people....
There remains, then, only one mode of using great fortunes: but in this way we have the true antidote for the temporary unequal distribution of wealth, the reconciliation of the rich and the poor-a reign of harmony-another ideal, differing, indeed from that of the Communist in requiring only the further evolution of existing conditions, not the total overthrow of our civilization. It is founded upon the present most intense individualism, and the race is prepared to put it in practice by degrees whenever it pleases. Under its sway we shall have an ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the many, because administered for the common good, and this wealth, passing through the hands of the few, can be made a much more potent force for the elevation of our race than if it had been distributed in small sums to the people themselves. Even the poorest can be made to see this, and to agree that great sums gathered by some of their fellow citizens and spent for public purposes, from which the masses reap the principal benefit, are more valuable to them than if scattered among them through the course of many years in trifling amounts.


Napolean HIll, journalist for Carnegie


Main Ideas of Essay

Andrew Carnegie wrote an essay that would go on to change the way many of the world’s richest thought about theirwealth and the responsibility that came along with it. “The Gospel of Wealth” was Andrew Carnegie’s attempt to infuse the business world – especially the upper class of self-made millionaires – with a new sense of philanthropy.
By the time he died in 1919, he had given away most of his fortune, $350,695,653 to be exact. There was still an additional $30,000,000 remaining, but all of it was earmarked for various foundations and charities. All his life, he had been a shrewd businessman, but he spent his last years paying back what he had taken. In writing this essay, the Scot outlined this very ideology.

The central thesis of the essay focused on the dangers of wealthy entrepreneurs simply passing on their fortune to their children, or other persons and organizations that were not qualified to handle it. Instead of wasting money on frivolous expenses and using it inefficiently, Carnegie argued that such money should be put towards the public good. Thus, even as capitalism could indeed hurt some while benefiting others, poverty could in fact be tackled and solved by the very wealthy businessmen that had contributed to the problem.

Influence of Herbert Spencer on Carnegie
Of all the writers that Carnegie read and studied throughout his life, he said that the English philosopher Herbert Spencer was the one who influenced him most. Spencer's writings provided the philosophical justification for Carnegie's unabashed pursuit of personal riches in the world of business, freeing him from the moral reservations about financial acquisition that he had inherited from his egalitarian Scottish relatives.

In his "Autobiography," Carnegie wrote about the dramatic effect of reading both the naturalist Charles Darwin and Spencer.

"I remember that light came as in a flood and all was clear," Carnegie wrote. "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."

Spencer adapted Charles Darwin's notion of natural selection and applied the theory to human society in a philosophy that became known as "Social Darwinism." It was Spencer who coined the term "survival of the fittest," using it to apply to the fate of rich and poor in a laissez faire capitalist society. Spencer argued that there was nothing unnatural -- and therefore wrong -- with competing and then rising to the top in a cut- throat capitalist world.

"Spencer told [Carnegie] that it was a scientific fact that somebody like him should be getting to the top," says historian Owen Dudley Edwards. "That there was nothing unnatural about it, wrong about it, evil about it."

Not only was competition in harmony with nature, Spencer believed, but it was also in the interest of the general welfare and progress of society. Many successful capitalists of the late 19th century embraced Spencer's philosophy. These captains of industry used his words as justification to oppose social reform and government intervention. As Spencer said, these would interfere with the natural -- and beneficial -- law of survival.

"The concentration of capital is a necessity for meeting the demands of our day, and as such should not be looked at askance, but be encouraged," Carnegie wrote, paraphrasing Spencer. "There is nothing detrimental to human society in it, but much that is, or is bound soon to become, beneficial."

Yet Carnegie did not follow all of Spencer's teachings, especially Spencer's call for unfettered laissez faire capitalism. Carnegie argued, for example, that if workers were to have an eight-hour day, the state would have to regulate it -- something that Spencer never would have approved. Carnegie also ignored Spencer's complete opposition to philanthropy, as the American business tycoon was one of the great philanthropists of his day. Spencer held that the poor were the unfit who would not survive; Carnegie, however, believed that the poor (such as himself) were often the ones who grew up to become "the epoch-makers."
Sources Used
"Andrew Carnegie - Philosophy." - Historical Events, Latest News, News Archives. 8 Dec. 2008 <>.

"Andrew Carnegie - Philosophy." - Historical Events, Latest News, News Archives. 8 Dec. 2008 <>.

"Andrew Carnegie Gospel of Wealth - Famous-Entrepreneurs - Andrew Carnegie." Famous Entrepreneurs, Small Business, Young, Successful, Women, Toronto Resources. 8 Dec. 2008 <>.

"Modern History Sourcebook: Andrew Carnegie: Gospel of Wealth." FORDHAM.EDU. 8 Dec. 2008 <>.

"The American Experience | Andrew Carnegie | People & Events | Herbert Spencer." PBS. 8 Dec. 2008 <>.

"The Gospel of Wealth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 8 Dec. 2008 <>.'

What role did Andrew Carnegie play in the development of the Industry?
How do you think his philosophy would have an impact to the rich millionares in the world?
In the time period that the philosophy was made, what were some of the other ideas that were running around?