After my book, „The Gospel of Wealth,”[44] was published, it was inevitable that I should live up to its teachings by ceasing to struggle for more wealth. I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution. Our profits had reached forty millions of dollars per year and the prospect of increased earnings before us was amazing. Our successors, the United States Steel Corporation, soon after the purchase, netted sixty millions in one year. Had our company continued in business and adhered to our plans of extension, we figured that seventy millions in that year might have been earned.

[Footnote 44: The Gospel of Wealth (Century Company, New York, 1900) contains various magazine articles written between 1886 and 1899 and published in the Youth’s Companion, the Century Magazine, the North American Review, the Forum, the Contemporary Review, the Fortnightly Review, the Nineteenth Century, and the Scottish Leader. Gladstone asked that the article in the North American Review be printed in England. It was published in the Pall Mall Budget and christened the „Gospel of Wealth.” Gladstone, Cardinal Manning, Rev. Hugh Price, and Rev. Dr. Hermann Adler answered it, and Mr. Carnegie replied to them.]

Steel had ascended the throne and was driving away all inferior material. It was clearly seen that there was a great future ahead; but so far as I was concerned I knew the task of distribution before me would tax me in my old age to the utmost. As usual, Shakespeare had placed his talismanic touch upon the thought and framed the sentence –

„So distribution should undo excess, And each man have enough.”

At this juncture – that is March, 1901 – Mr. Schwab told me Mr. Morgan had said to him he should really like to know if I wished to retire from business; if so he thought he could arrange it. He also said he had consulted our partners and that they were disposed to sell, being attracted by the terms Mr. Morgan had offered. I told Mr. Schwab that if my partners were desirous to sell I would concur, and we finally sold.

There had been so much deception by speculators buying old iron and steel mills and foisting them upon innocent purchasers at inflated values – hundred-dollar shares in some cases selling for a trifle – that I declined to take anything for the common stock. Had I done so, it would have given me just about one hundred millions more of five per cent bonds, which Mr. Morgan said afterwards I could have obtained. Such was the prosperity and such the money value of our steel business. Events proved I should have been quite justified in asking the additional sum named, for the common stock has paid five per cent continuously since.[45] But I had enough, as has been proved, to keep me busier than ever before, trying to distribute it.

[Footnote 45: The Carnegie Steel Company was bought by Mr. Morgan at Mr. Carnegie’s own price. There was some talk at the time of his holding out for a higher price than he received, but testifying before a committee of the House of Representatives in January, 1912, Mr. Carnegie said: „I considered what was fair: and that is the option Morgan got. Schwab went down and arranged it. I never saw Morgan on the subject or any man connected with him. Never a word passed between him and me. I gave my memorandum and Morgan saw it was eminently fair. I have been told many times since by insiders that I should have asked $100,000,000 more and could have got it easily. Once for all, I want to put a stop to all this talk about Mr. Carnegie ‚forcing high prices for anything.'”]

My first distribution was to the men in the mills. The following letters and papers will explain the gift:

New York, N.Y., March 12, 1901

I make this first use of surplus wealth, four millions of first mortgage 5% Bonds, upon retiring from business, as an acknowledgment of the deep debt which I owe to the workmen who have contributed so greatly to my success. It is designed to relieve those who may suffer from accidents, and provide small pensions for those needing help in old age.

In addition I give one million dollars of such bonds, the proceeds thereof to be used to maintain the libraries and halls I have built for our workmen.

In return, the Homestead workmen presented the following address:

Munhall, Pa., Feb’y 23, 1903



We, the employees of the Homestead Steel Works, desire by this means to express to you through our Committee our great appreciation of your benevolence in establishing the „Andrew Carnegie Relief Fund,” the first annual report of its operation having been placed before us during the past month.

The interest which you have always shown in your workmen has won for you an appreciation which cannot be expressed by mere words. Of the many channels through which you have sought to do good, we believe that the „Andrew Carnegie Relief Fund” stands first. We have personal knowledge of cares lightened and of hope and strength renewed in homes where human prospects seemed dark and discouraging.

Respectfully yours

{ HARRY F. ROSE, Roller { JOHN BELL, JR., Blacksmith Committee { J.A. HORTON, Timekeeper { WALTER A. GREIG, Electric Foreman { HARRY CUSACK, Yardmaster

The Lucy Furnace men presented me with a beautiful silver plate and inscribed upon it the following address:



Whereas, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, in his munificent philanthropy, has endowed the „Andrew Carnegie Relief Fund” for the benefit of employees of the Carnegie Company, Therefore be it

Resolved, that the employees of the Lucy Furnaces, in special meeting assembled, do convey to Mr. Andrew Carnegie their sincere thanks for and appreciation of his unexcelled and bounteous endowment, and furthermore be it

Resolved, that it is their earnest wish and prayer that his life may be long spared to enjoy the fruits of his works.


I sailed soon for Europe, and as usual some of my partners did not fail to accompany me to the steamer and bade me good-bye. But, oh! the difference to me! Say what we would, do what we would, the solemn change had come. This I could not fail to realize. The wrench was indeed severe and there was pain in the good-bye which was also a farewell.

Upon my return to New York some months later, I felt myself entirely out of place, but was much cheered by seeing several of „the boys” on the pier to welcome me – the same dear friends, but so different. I had lost my partners, but not my friends. This was something; it was much. Still a vacancy was left. I had now to take up my self-appointed task of wisely disposing of surplus wealth. That would keep me deeply interested.

One day my eyes happened to see a line in that most valuable paper, the „Scottish American,” in which I had found many gems. This was the line:

„The gods send thread for a web begun.”

It seemed almost as if it had been sent directly to me. This sank into my heart, and I resolved to begin at once my first web. True enough, the gods sent thread in the proper form. Dr. J.S. Billings, of the New York Public Libraries, came as their agent, and of dollars, five and a quarter millions went at one stroke for sixty-eight branch libraries, promised for New York City. Twenty more libraries for Brooklyn followed.

My father, as I have stated, had been one of the five pioneers in Dunfermline who combined and gave access to their few books to their less fortunate neighbors. I had followed in his footsteps by giving my native town a library – its foundation stone laid by my mother – so that this public library was really my first gift. It was followed by giving a public library and hall to Allegheny City – our first home in America. President Harrison kindly accompanied me from Washington and opened these buildings. Soon after this, Pittsburgh asked for a library, which was given. This developed, in due course, into a group of buildings embracing a museum, a picture gallery, technical schools, and the Margaret Morrison School for Young Women. This group of buildings I opened to the public November 5, 1895. In Pittsburgh I had made my fortune and in the twenty-four millions already spent on this group,[46] she gets back only a small part of what she gave, and to which she is richly entitled.

[Footnote 46: The total gifts to the Carnegie Institute at Pittsburgh amounted to about twenty-eight million dollars.]

The second large gift was to found the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The 28th of January, 1902, I gave ten million dollars in five per cent bonds, to which there has been added sufficient to make the total cash value twenty-five millions of dollars, the additions being made upon record of results obtained. I naturally wished to consult President Roosevelt upon the matter, and if possible to induce the Secretary of State, Mr. John Hay, to serve as chairman, which he readily agreed to do. With him were associated as directors my old friend Abram S. Hewitt, Dr. Billings, William E. Dodge, Elihu Root, Colonel Higginson, D.O. Mills, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, and others.

When I showed President Roosevelt the list of the distinguished men who had agreed to serve, he remarked: „You could not duplicate it.” He strongly favored the foundation, which was incorporated by an act of Congress April 28, 1904, as follows:

To encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner investigations, research and discovery, and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind; and, in particular, to conduct, endow and assist investigation in any department of science, literature or art, and to this end to coöperate with governments, universities, colleges, technical schools, learned societies, and individuals.

I was indebted to Dr. Billings as my guide, in selecting Dr. Daniel C. Gilman as the first President. He passed away some years later. Dr. Billings then recommended the present highly successful president, Dr. Robert S. Woodward. Long may he continue to guide the affairs of the Institution! The history of its achievements is so well known through its publications that details here are unnecessary. I may, however, refer to two of its undertakings that are somewhat unique. It is doing a world-wide service with the wood-and-bronze yacht, „Carnegie,” which is voyaging around the world correcting the errors of the earlier surveys. Many of these ocean surveys have been found misleading, owing to variations of the compass. Bronze being non-magnetic, while iron and steel are highly so, previous observations have proved liable to error. A notable instance is that of the stranding of a Cunard steamship near the Azores. Captain Peters, of the „Carnegie,” thought it advisable to test this case and found that the captain of the ill-fated steamer was sailing on the course laid down upon the admiralty map, and was not to blame. The original observation was wrong. The error caused by variation was promptly corrected.

This is only one of numerous corrections reported to the nations who go down to the sea in ships. Their thanks are our ample reward. In the deed of gift I expressed the hope that our young Republic might some day be able to repay, at least in some degree, the great debt it owes to the older lands. Nothing gives me deeper satisfaction than the knowledge that it has to some extent already begun to do so.

With the unique service rendered by the wandering „Carnegie,” we may rank that of the fixed observatory upon Mount Wilson, California, at an altitude of 5886 feet. Professor Hale is in charge of it. He attended the gathering of leading astronomers in Rome one year, and such were his revelations there that these savants resolved their next meeting should be on top of Mount Wilson. And so it was.

There is but one Mount Wilson. From a depth seventy-two feet down in the earth photographs have been taken of new stars. On the first of these plates many new worlds – I believe sixteen – were discovered. On the second I think it was sixty new worlds which had come into our ken, and on the third plate there were estimated to be more than a hundred – several of them said to be twenty times the size of our sun. Some of them were so distant as to require eight years for their light to reach us, which inclines us to bow our heads whispering to ourselves, „All we know is as nothing to the unknown.” When the monster new glass, three times larger than any existing, is in operation, what revelations are to come! I am assured if a race inhabits the moon they will be clearly seen.

The third delightful task was founding the Hero Fund, in which my whole heart was concerned. I had heard of a serious accident in a coal pit near Pittsburgh, and how the former superintendent, Mr. Taylor, although then engaged in other pursuits, had instantly driven to the scene, hoping to be of use in the crisis. Rallying volunteers, who responded eagerly, he led them down the pit to rescue those below. Alas, alas, he the heroic leader lost his own life.

I could not get the thought of this out of my mind. My dear, dear friend, Mr. Richard Watson Gilder, had sent me the following true and beautiful poem, and I re-read it the morning after the accident, and resolved then to establish the Hero Fund.


‚Twas said: „When roll of drum and battle’s roar Shall cease upon the earth, O, then no more

The deed – the race – of heroes in the land.” But scarce that word was breathed when one small hand

Lifted victorious o’er a giant wrong That had its victims crushed through ages long;

Some woman set her pale and quivering face Firm as a rock against a man’s disgrace;

A little child suffered in silence lest His savage pain should wound a mother’s breast;

Some quiet scholar flung his gauntlet down And risked, in Truth’s great name, the synod’s frown;

A civic hero, in the calm realm of laws, Did that which suddenly drew a world’s applause;

And one to the pest his lithe young body gave That he a thousand thousand lives might save.

Hence arose the five-million-dollar fund to reward heroes, or to support the families of heroes, who perish in the effort to serve or save their fellows, and to supplement what employers or others do in contributing to the support of the families of those left destitute through accidents. This fund, established April 15, 1904, has proved from every point of view a decided success. I cherish a fatherly regard for it since no one suggested it to me. As far as I know, it never had been thought of; hence it is emphatically „my ain bairn.” Later I extended it to my native land, Great Britain, with headquarters at Dunfermline – the Trustees of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust undertaking its administration, and splendidly have they succeeded. In due time it was extended to France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark.

Regarding its workings in Germany, I received a letter from David Jayne Hill, our American Ambassador at Berlin, from which I quote:

My main object in writing now is to tell you how pleased His Majesty is with the working of the German Hero Fund. He is enthusiastic about it and spoke in most complimentary terms of your discernment, as well as your generosity in founding it. He did not believe it would fill so important a place as it is doing. He told me of several cases that are really touching, and which would otherwise have been wholly unprovided for. One was that of a young man who saved a boy from drowning and just as they were about to lift him out of the water, after passing up the child into a boat, his heart failed, and he sank. He left a lovely young wife and a little boy. She has already been helped by the Hero Fund to establish a little business from which she can make a living, and the education of the boy, who is very bright, will be looked after. This is but one example.

Valentini (Chief of the Civil Cabinet), who was somewhat skeptical at first regarding the need of such a fund, is now glowing with enthusiasm about it, and he tells me the whole Commission, which is composed of carefully chosen men, is earnestly devoted to the work of making the very best and wisest use of their means and has devoted much time to their decisions.

They have corresponded with the English and French Commission, arranged to exchange reports, and made plans to keep in touch with one another in their work. They were deeply interested in the American report and have learned much from it.

King Edward of Britain was deeply impressed by the provisions of the fund, and wrote me an autograph letter of appreciation of this and other gifts to my native land, which I deeply value, and hence insert.

Windsor Castle, November 21, 1908


I have for some time past been anxious to express to you my sense of your generosity for the great public objects which you have presented to this country, the land of your birth.

Scarcely less admirable than the gifts themselves is the great care and thought you have taken in guarding against their misuse.

I am anxious to tell you how warmly I recognize your most generous benefactions and the great services they are likely to confer upon the country.

As a mark of recognition, I hope you will accept the portrait of myself which I am sending to you.

Believe me, dear Mr. Carnegie,

Sincerely yours


Some of the newspapers in America were doubtful of the merits of the Hero Fund and the first annual report was criticized, but all this has passed away and the action of the fund is now warmly extolled. It has conquered, and long will it be before the trust is allowed to perish! The heroes of the barbarian past wounded or killed their fellows; the heroes of our civilized day serve or save theirs. Such the difference between physical and moral courage, between barbarism and civilization. Those who belong to the first class are soon to pass away, for we are finally to regard men who slay each other as we now do cannibals who eat each other; but those in the latter class will not die as long as man exists upon the earth, for such heroism as they display is god-like.

The Hero Fund will prove chiefly a pension fund. Already it has many pensioners, heroes or the widows or children of heroes. A strange misconception arose at first about it. Many thought that its purpose was to stimulate heroic action, that heroes were to be induced to play their parts for the sake of reward. This never entered my mind. It is absurd. True heroes think not of reward. They are inspired and think only of their fellows endangered; never of themselves. The fund is intended to pension or provide in the most suitable manner for the hero should he be disabled, or for those dependent upon him should he perish in his attempt to save others. It has made a fine start and will grow in popularity year after year as its aims and services are better understood. To-day we have in America 1430 hero pensioners or their families on our list.

I found the president for the Hero Fund in a Carnegie veteran, one of the original boys, Charlie Taylor. No salary for Charlie – not a cent would he ever take. He loves the work so much that I believe he would pay highly for permission to live with it. He is the right man in the right place. He has charge also, with Mr. Wilmot’s able assistance, of the pensions for Carnegie workmen (Carnegie Relief Fund[47]); also the pensions for railway employees of my old division. Three relief funds and all of them benefiting others.

[Footnote 47: This fund is now managed separately.]

I got my revenge one day upon Charlie, who was always urging me to do for others. He is a graduate of Lehigh University and one of her most loyal sons. Lehigh wished a building and Charlie was her chief advocate. I said nothing, but wrote President Drinker offering the funds for the building conditioned upon my naming it. He agreed, and I called it „Taylor Hall.” When Charlie discovered this, he came and protested that it would make him ridiculous, that he had only been a modest graduate, and was not entitled to have his name publicly honored, and so on. I enjoyed his plight immensely, waiting until he had finished, and then said that it would probably make him somewhat ridiculous if I insisted upon „Taylor Hall,” but he ought to be willing to sacrifice himself somewhat for Lehigh. If he wasn’t consumed with vanity he would not care much how his name was used if it helped his Alma Mater. Taylor was not much of a name anyhow. It was his insufferable vanity that made such a fuss. He should conquer it. He could make his decision. He could sacrifice the name of Taylor or sacrifice Lehigh, just as he liked, but: „No Taylor, no Hall.” I had him! Visitors who may look upon that structure in after days and wonder who Taylor was may rest assured that he was a loyal son of Lehigh, a working, not merely a preaching, apostle of the gospel of service to his fellow-men, and one of the best men that ever lived. Such is our Lord High Commissioner of Pensions.

News Reporter

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