The fifteen-million-dollar pension fund for aged university professors (The Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Learning), the fourth important gift, given in June, 1905, required the selection of twenty-five trustees from among the presidents of educational institutions in the United States. When twenty-four of these – President Harper, of Chicago University, being absent through illness – honored me by meeting at our house for organization, I obtained an important accession of those who were to become more intimate friends. Mr. Frank A. Vanderlip proved of great service at the start – his Washington experience being most valuable – and in our president, Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, we found the indispensable man.
This fund is very near and dear to me – knowing, as I do, many who are soon to become beneficiaries, and convinced as I am of their worth and the value of the service already rendered by them. Of all professions, that of teaching is probably the most unfairly, yes, most meanly paid, though it should rank with the highest. Educated men, devoting their lives to teaching the young, receive mere pittances. When I first took my seat as a trustee of Cornell University, I was shocked to find how small were the salaries of the professors, as a rule ranking below the salaries of some of our clerks. To save for old age with these men is impossible. Hence the universities without pension funds are compelled to retain men who are no longer able, should no longer be required, to perform their duties. Of the usefulness of the fund no doubt can be entertained. The first list of beneficiaries published was conclusive upon this point, containing as it did several names of world-wide reputation, so great had been their contributions to the stock of human knowledge. Many of these beneficiaries and their widows have written me most affecting letters. These I can never destroy, for if I ever have a fit of melancholy, I know the cure lies in re-reading these letters.
[Footnote 48: The total amount of this fund in 1919 was $29,250,000.]
My friend, Mr. Thomas Shaw (now Lord Shaw), of Dunfermline had written an article for one of the English reviews showing that many poor people in Scotland were unable to pay the fees required to give their children a university education, although some had deprived themselves of comforts in order to do so. After reading Mr. Shaw’s article the idea came to me to give ten millions in five per cent bonds, one half of the £104,000 yearly revenue from it to be used to pay the fees of the deserving poor students and the other half to improve the universities.
The first meeting of the trustees of this fund (The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland) was held in the Edinburgh office of the Secretary of State for Scotland in 1902, Lord Balfour of Burleigh presiding. It was a notable body of men – Prime Minister Balfour, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (afterwards Prime Minister), John Morley (now Viscount Morley), James Bryce (now Viscount Bryce), the Earl of Elgin, Lord Rosebery, Lord Reay, Mr. Shaw (now Lord Shaw), Dr. John Ross of Dunfermline, „the man-of-all-work” that makes for the happiness or instruction of his fellow-man, and others. I explained that I had asked them to act because I could not entrust funds to the faculties of the Scottish universities after reading the report of a recent commission. Mr. Balfour promptly exclaimed: „Not a penny, not a penny!” The Earl of Elgin, who had been a member of the commission, fully concurred.
The details of the proposed fund being read, the Earl of Elgin was not sure about accepting a trust which was not strict and specific. He wished to know just what his duties were. I had given a majority of the trustees the right to change the objects of beneficence and modes of applying funds, should they in after days decide that the purposes and modes prescribed for education in Scotland had become unsuitable or unnecessary for the advanced times. Balfour of Burleigh agreed with the Earl and so did Prime Minister Balfour, who said he had never heard of a testator before who was willing to give such powers. He questioned the propriety of doing so.
„Well,” I said, „Mr. Balfour, I have never known of a body of men capable of legislating for the generation ahead, and in some cases those who attempt to legislate even for their own generation are not thought to be eminently successful.”
There was a ripple of laughter in which the Prime Minister himself heartily joined, and he then said:
„You are right, quite right; but you are, I think, the first great giver who has been wise enough to take this view.”
I had proposed that a majority should have the power, but Lord Balfour suggested not less than two thirds. This was accepted by the Earl of Elgin and approved by all. I am very sure it is a wise provision, as after days will prove. It is incorporated in all my large gifts, and I rest assured that this feature will in future times prove valuable. The Earl of Elgin, of Dunfermline, did not hesitate to become Chairman of this trust. When I told Premier Balfour that I hoped Elgin could be induced to assume this duty, he said promptly, „You could not get a better man in Great Britain.”
We are all entirely satisfied now upon that point. The query is: where could we get his equal?
It is an odd coincidence that there are only four living men who have been made Burgesses and received the Freedom of Dunfermline, and all are connected with the trust for the Universities of Scotland, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the Earl of Elgin, Dr. John Ross, and myself. But there is a lady in the circle to-day, the only one ever so greatly honored with the Freedom of Dunfermline, Mrs. Carnegie, whose devotion to the town, like my own, is intense.
My election to the Lord Rectorship of St. Andrews in 1902 proved a very important event in my life. It admitted me to the university world, to which I had been a stranger. Few incidents in my life have so deeply impressed me as the first meeting of the faculty, when I took my seat in the old chair occupied successively by so many distinguished Lord Rectors during the nearly five hundred years which have elapsed since St. Andrews was founded. I read the collection of rectorial speeches as a preparation for the one I was soon to make. The most remarkable paragraph I met with in any of them was Dean Stanley’s advice to the students to „go to Burns for your theology.” That a high dignitary of the Church and a favorite of Queen Victoria should venture to say this to the students of John Knox’s University is most suggestive as showing how even theology improves with the years. The best rules of conduct are in Burns. First there is: „Thine own reproach alone do fear.” I took it as a motto early in life. And secondly:
„The fear o’ hell’s a hangman’s whip To haud the wretch in order; But where ye feel your honor grip, Let that aye be your border.”
John Stuart Mill’s rectorial address to the St. Andrews students is remarkable. He evidently wished to give them of his best. The prominence he assigns to music as an aid to high living and pure refined enjoyment is notable. Such is my own experience.
An invitation given to the principals of the four Scotch universities and their wives or daughters to spend a week at Skibo resulted in much joy to Mrs. Carnegie and myself. The first meeting was attended by the Earl of Elgin, chairman of the Trust for the Universities of Scotland, and Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Secretary for Scotland, and Lady Balfour. After that „Principals’ Week” each year became an established custom. They as well as we became friends, and thereby, they all agree, great good results to the universities. A spirit of coöperation is stimulated. Taking my hand upon leaving after the first yearly visit, Principal Lang said:
„It has taken the principals of the Scotch universities five hundred years to learn how to begin our sessions. Spending a week together is the solution.”
One of the memorable results of the gathering at Skibo in 1906 was that Miss Agnes Irwin, Dean of Radcliffe College, and great-granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin, spent the principals’ week with us and all were charmed with her. Franklin received his first doctor’s degree from St. Andrews University, nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. The second centenary of his birth was finely celebrated in Philadelphia, and St. Andrews, with numerous other universities throughout the world, sent addresses. St. Andrews also sent a degree to the great-granddaughter. As Lord Rector, I was deputed to confer it and place the mantle upon her. This was done the first evening before a large audience, when more than two hundred addresses were presented.
The audience was deeply impressed, as well it might be. St. Andrews University, the first to confer the degree upon the great-grandfather, conferred the same degree upon the great-grandchild one hundred and forty-seven years later (and this upon her own merits as Dean of Radcliffe College); sent it across the Atlantic to be bestowed by the hands of its Lord Rector, the first who was not a British subject, but who was born one as Franklin was, and who became an American citizen as Franklin did; the ceremony performed in Philadelphia where Franklin rests, in the presence of a brilliant assembly met to honor his memory. It was all very beautiful, and I esteemed myself favored, indeed, to be the medium of such a graceful and appropriate ceremony. Principal Donaldson of St. Andrews was surely inspired when he thought of it!
My unanimous reëlection by the students of St. Andrews, without a contest for a second term, was deeply appreciated. And I liked the Rector’s nights, when the students claim him for themselves, no member of the faculty being invited. We always had a good time. After the first one, Principal Donaldson gave me the verdict of the Secretary as rendered to him: „Rector So-and-So talked to us, Rector Thus-and-So talked at us, both from the platform; Mr. Carnegie sat down in our circle and talked with us.”
The question of aid to our own higher educational institutions often intruded itself upon me, but my belief was that our chief universities, such as Harvard and Columbia, with five to ten thousand students, were large enough; that further growth was undesirable; that the smaller institutions (the colleges especially) were in greater need of help and that it would be a better use of surplus wealth to aid them. Accordingly, I afterwards confined myself to these and am satisfied that this was wise. At a later date we found Mr. Rockefeller’s splendid educational fund, The General Education Board, and ourselves were working in this fruitful field without consultation, with sometimes undesirable results. Mr. Rockefeller wished me to join his board and this I did. Coöperation was soon found to be much to our mutual advantage, and we now work in unison.
[Footnote 49: Columbia University in 1920 numbered all told some 25,000 students in the various departments.]
In giving to colleges quite a number of my friends have been honored as was my partner Charlie Taylor. Conway Hall at Dickinson College, was named for Moncure D. Conway, whose Autobiography, recently published, is pronounced „literature” by the „Athenæum.” It says: „These two volumes lie on the table glistening like gems ‚midst the piles of autobiographical rubbish by which they are surrounded.” That is rather suggestive for one who is adding to the pile.
The last chapter in Mr. Conway’s Autobiography ends with the following paragraph:
Implore Peace, O my reader, from whom I now part. Implore peace not of deified thunder clouds but of every man, woman, child thou shalt meet. Do not merely offer the prayer, „Give peace in our time,” but do thy part to answer it! Then, at least, though the world be at strife, there shall be peace in thee.
My friend has put his finger upon our deepest disgrace. It surely must soon be abolished between civilized nations.
The Stanton Chair of Economics at Kenyon College, Ohio, was founded in memory of Edwin M. Stanton, who kindly greeted me as a boy in Pittsburgh when I delivered telegrams to him, and was ever cordial to me in Washington, when I was an assistant to Secretary Scott. The Hanna Chair in Western Reserve University, Cleveland; the John Hay Library at Brown University; the second Elihu Root Fund for Hamilton, the Mrs. Cleveland Library for Wellesley, gave me pleasure to christen after these friends. I hope more are to follow, commemorating those I have known, liked, and honored. I also wished a General Dodge Library and a Gayley Library to be erected from my gifts, but these friends had already obtained such honor from their respective Alma Maters.
My first gift to Hamilton College was to be named the Elihu Root Foundation, but that ablest of all our Secretaries of State, and in the opinion of President Roosevelt, „the wisest man he ever knew,” took care, it seems, not to mention the fact to the college authorities. When I reproached him with this dereliction, he laughingly replied:
„Well, I promise not to cheat you the next gift you give us.”
And by a second gift this lapse was repaired after all, but I took care not to entrust the matter directly to him. The Root Fund of Hamilton is now established beyond his power to destroy. Root is a great man, and, as the greatest only are he is, in his simplicity, sublime. President Roosevelt declared he would crawl on his hands and knees from the White House to the Capitol if this would insure Root’s nomination to the presidency with a prospect of success. He was considered vulnerable because he had been counsel for corporations and was too little of the spouter and the demagogue, too much of the modest, retiring statesman to split the ears of the groundlings. The party foolishly decided not to risk Root.
[Footnote 50: It amounts to $250,000.]
[Footnote 51: At the Meeting in Memory of the Life and Work of Andrew Carnegie held on April 25, 1920, in the Engineering Societies Building in New York, Mr. Root made an address in the course of which, speaking of Mr. Carnegie, he said:
„He belonged to that great race of nation-builders who have made the development of America the wonder of the world…. He was the kindliest man I ever knew. Wealth had brought to him no hardening of the heart, nor made him forget the dreams of his youth. Kindly, affectionate, charitable in his judgments, unrestrained in his sympathies, noble in his impulses, I wish that all the people who think of him as a rich man giving away money he did not need could know of the hundreds of kindly things he did unknown to the world.”]
My connection with Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes, which promote the elevation of the colored race we formerly kept in slavery, has been a source of satisfaction and pleasure, and to know Booker Washington is a rare privilege. We should all take our hats off to the man who not only raised himself from slavery, but helped raise millions of his race to a higher stage of civilization. Mr. Washington called upon me a few days after my gift of six hundred thousand dollars was made to Tuskegee and asked if he might be allowed to make one suggestion. I said: „Certainly.”
„You have kindly specified that a sum from that fund be set aside for the future support of myself and wife during our lives, and we are very grateful, but, Mr. Carnegie, the sum is far beyond our needs and will seem to my race a fortune. Some might feel that I was no longer a poor man giving my services without thought of saving money. Would you have any objection to changing that clause, striking out the sum, and substituting ‚only suitable provision’? I’ll trust the trustees. Mrs. Washington and myself need very little.”
I did so, and the deed now stands, but when Mr. Baldwin asked for the original letter to exchange it for the substitute, he told me that the noble soul objected. That document addressed to him was to be preserved forever, and handed down; but he would put it aside and let the substitute go on file.
This is an indication of the character of the leader of his race. No truer, more self-sacrificing hero ever lived: a man compounded of all the virtues. It makes one better just to know such pure and noble souls – human nature in its highest types is already divine here on earth. If it be asked which man of our age, or even of the past ages, has risen from the lowest to the highest, the answer must be Booker Washington. He rose from slavery to the leadership of his people – a modern Moses and Joshua combined, leading his people both onward and upward.
In connection with these institutions I came in contact with their officers and trustees – men like Principal Hollis B. Frissell of Hampton, Robert C. Ogden, George Foster Peabody, V. Everit Macy, George McAneny and William H. Baldwin – recently lost to us, alas! – men who labor for others. It was a blessing to know them intimately. The Cooper Union, the Mechanics and Tradesmen’s Society, indeed every institution in which I became interested, revealed many men and women devoting their time and thought, not to „miserable aims that end with self,” but to high ideals which mean the relief and uplift of their less fortunate brethren.
[Footnote 52: The universities, colleges, and educational institutions to which Mr. Carnegie gave either endowment funds or buildings number five hundred. All told his gifts to them amounted to $27,000,000.]
My giving of organs to churches came very early in my career, I having presented to less than a hundred members of the Swedenborgian Church in Allegheny which my father favored, an organ, after declining to contribute to the building of a new church for so few. Applications from other churches soon began to pour in, from the grand Catholic Cathedral of Pittsburgh down to the small church in the country village, and I was kept busy. Every church seemed to need a better organ than it had, and as the full price for the new instrument was paid, what the old one brought was clear profit. Some ordered organs for very small churches which would almost split the rafters, as was the case with the first organ given the Swedenborgians; others had bought organs before applying but our check to cover the amount was welcome. Finally, however, a rigid system of giving was developed. A printed schedule requiring answers to many questions has now to be filled and returned before action is taken. The department is now perfectly systematized and works admirably because we graduate the gift according to the size of the church.
Charges were made in the rigid Scottish Highlands that I was demoralizing Christian worship by giving organs to churches. The very strict Presbyterians there still denounce as wicked an attempt „to worship God with a kist fu’ o’ whistles,” instead of using the human God-given voice. After that I decided that I should require a partner in my sin, and therefore asked each congregation to pay one half of the desired new organ. Upon this basis the organ department still operates and continues to do a thriving business, the demand for improved organs still being great. Besides, many new churches are required for increasing populations and for these organs are essential.
I see no end to it. In requiring the congregation to pay one half the cost of better instruments, there is assurance of needed and reasonable expenditure. Believing from my own experience that it is salutary for the congregation to hear sacred music at intervals in the service and then slowly to disperse to the strains of the reverence-compelling organ after such sermons as often show us little of a Heavenly Father, I feel the money spent for organs is well spent. So we continue the organ department.
[Footnote 53: The „organ department” up to 1919 had given 7689 organs to as many different churches at a cost of over six million dollars.]
Of all my work of a philanthropic character, my private pension fund gives me the highest and noblest return. No satisfaction equals that of feeling you have been permitted to place in comfortable circumstances, in their old age, people whom you have long known to be kind and good and in every way deserving, but who from no fault of their own, have not sufficient means to live respectably, free from solicitude as to their mere maintenance. Modest sums insure this freedom. It surprised me to find how numerous were those who needed some aid to make the difference between an old age of happiness and one of misery. Some such cases had arisen before my retirement from business, and I had sweet satisfaction from this source. Not one person have I ever placed upon the pension list that did not fully deserve assistance. It is a real roll of honor and mutual affection. All are worthy. There is no publicity about it. No one knows who is embraced. Not a word is ever breathed to others.
[Footnote 54: This amounted to over $250,000 a year.]
This is my favorite and best answer to the question which will never down in my thoughts: „What good am I doing in the world to deserve all my mercies?” Well, the dear friends of the pension list give me a satisfactory reply, and this always comes to me in need. I have had far beyond my just share of life’s blessings; therefore I never ask the Unknown for anything. We are in the presence of universal law and should bow our heads in silence and obey the Judge within, asking nothing, fearing nothing, just doing our duty right along, seeking no reward here or hereafter.
It is, indeed, more blessed to give than to receive. These dear good friends would do for me and mine as I do for them were positions reversed. I am sure of this. Many precious acknowledgments have I received. Some venture to tell me they remember me every night in their prayers and ask for me every blessing. Often I cannot refrain from giving expression to my real feelings in return.
„Pray, don’t,” I say. „Don’t ask anything more for me. I’ve got far beyond my just share already. Any fair committee sitting upon my case would take away more than half the blessings already bestowed.” These are not mere words, I feel their truth.
The Railroad Pension Fund is of a similar nature. Many of the old boys of the Pittsburgh Division (or their widows) are taken care of by it. It began years ago and grew to its present proportions. It now benefits the worthy railroad men who served under me when I was superintendent on the Pennsylvania, or their widows, who need help. I was only a boy when I first went among these trainmen and got to know them by name. They were very kind to me. Most of the men beneficiaries of the fund I have known personally. They are dear friends.
Although the four-million-dollar fund I gave for workmen in the mills (Steel Workers’ Pensions) embraces hundreds that I never saw, there are still a sufficient number upon it that I do remember to give that fund also a strong hold upon me.