Andrew Carnegie is regarded as the most distinguished philanthropist of all time as he was the first major industrialist who distributed almost all his wealth for charitable purposes and social services. Although Carnegie spent his assets for social services occasionally during his entrepreneurial life but he turned his massive dynamism to philanthropy after 1901 and quest of world peace remained his other priority. Further more, distribution of wealth for philanthropist purposes was a self-justification to alleviate the blames of unjust details of its accumulation. This paper will examine all these questions in detail and will try to find out the answers.
Andrew Carnegie remained the greatest industrialist in American history. His entrepreneurial competencies and his business acumen were the foremost qualities that capacitated him to grasp every opportunity to build a well-advanced business empire. Livesays manifests that his ability “to recognize the potential of a new service or product and to seize upon an auspicious moment to associate himself with it. Time and again he manifested this acumen, shifting his talents from factory to telegraph, from telegraph to railroad, from railroad to iron and then steel, meanwhile investing his money in express companies, oil fields, sleeping cars, and telegraphs before he finally fused his energies and capital in Carnegie Steel”. In addition to these abilities and personal characteristics, Carnegie and other entrepreneurs are blamed with economic, social and political exploitation to build their empires.
The history fabricated by many historians illustrates that 19th century of American history is marked with the economic exploitations of “robber barons” that deprived American citizens of the potential benefits of industrialization and collected huge profits for themselves. But some of the great industrialist and businessmen of the 19th century America have also been equated with “robber barons” and their accomplishments have been labeled as the result of exploitation, theft and treachery against their fallow countrymen. These historians include Andrew Carnegie in this list. These historians forget that Carnegie was not only the richest industrialist of his time but he is regarded as the greatest philanthropist.
Dr. Folsom, in his illustrative work, The Myth of the Robber Barons tries to cast away these fabricated notions and manifests a clear distinction between the exploiters and those entrepreneurs who struggled in an opposite way. These leaders worked to eliminate disparities in the industrial milieu and to break the monopolies. They further helped to create a just and progressive society by tackling social issues such as poverty, illiteracy etc. Dr. Folsom includes Carnegie among those entrepreneurs who worked to eradicate the social injustice from American society in particular and world in general through their philanthropist endeavors.
Now the question is that what compelled Carnegie to distribute all his hard-earned money in the social services unlike other contemporaries who worked to accumulate more and more. Carnegie writes in autobiography that the socio-cultural milieu in which he was brought up was clean from corrupt practices and his habits and thinking was formulated in a way that restrict him from indulging in any evil practices for the accumulation of wealth. He says in this regards;
“I knew nothing of the base and vile. I had always been brought in contact with good people. This was the world in which I dwelt with my companions, all of them refined young men, striving to improve themselves and become respected citizens”.  (65).
Although Carnegie was entangled in his entrepreneurial life during much of his life but he devoted his last years to the philanthropist work. There was major shift in his philosophy of life and wealth during the last years of 1880s but he turned his complete attention from business to social services in the first decade of nineteenth century. His philosophy of life and idea of social services can be extracted from his famous essay “Wealth”. He says;
Poor and restricted are our opportunities in this life; narrow our horizon; our best work most imperfect; but rich men should be thankful for one inestimable boon. They have it in their power during their lives to busy themselves in organizing benefactions from which the masses of their fellows will derive lasting advantage, and thus dignify their own lives. The highest life is probably to be reached, not by such imitation of the life of Christ as Count Tolstoï gives us, but, while animated by Christ’s spirit, by recognizing the changed conditions of this age, and adopting modes of expressing this spirit suitable to the changed conditions under which we live; still laboring for the good of our fellows, which was the essence of his life and teaching, but laboring in a different manner.
He is of the view that a wealthy man should “consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community — the man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.” 
His philosophy wealth inculcated in him a spirit to devote the later part of his life in the social services. His philosophy of life further compelled him not to distribute the wealth among his workers but it forced him to utilize it in such a way that it could benefit mankind on permanent basis. Unlike other contemporary entrepreneurs, spending huge amount of money was a delightful exercise for him. In this regard, Swetnam and Smith write;
At first Carnegie considered it a game to give his money away. Whereas most men enjoyed making money, he in contrast delighted in seeing his fortune diminish. There never lived a man who had as much fun in giving away his wealth as Carnegie. One of his teasing tricks in giving was to hold his beneficiary in suspense, using the element of surprise. 
Among other social works, establishments of libraries remained his major concern. Carnegie Libraries were established in the English Speaking countries including United States and Great Britain. The first Carnegie Library was established in his native hometown Dunfermline, Scotland in 1883. Later on, in 1885, he reserved half a million US Dollar to establish a library in his American seat of power, Pittsburgh. During the last two decades of 19th century, Carnegie’s major philanthropist effort was restricted to establishment of public libraries in North America and former British Empire.
Carnegie had a staunch belief that everyone is entitled to proper formal education. So his most extensive philanthropist efforts starts with the promotion of education in 1901. He donated $ 2 million to establish a technological institute namely Carnegie Institute if Technology at Pittsburgh. He set a number of other institutes like Carnegie institute of Washington, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His obsession with world peace remained phenomenal. He was of the view that almost all the pathos and miseries of humanity are results of wars. That was the reason that he devoted huge sums to study the causes and motives of wars and to find an ultimate panacea for this malady. So he established Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1910. Later on he established Palace of Peace at Hague in 1913. He also established Carnegie Corporation of New York to provide aid and assistance to universities and other research institutes. (PBS, 2007)
His native land of Scotland also remained a hub of his philanthropist efforts. He donated two million US Dollars to create a trust for the improvement of educational and research standards at the Scottish institutes. He reinforced the idea that higher educational standards could not only be achieved through the creation of universities but the welfare of the teachers and staff members of these institutes is a pre-requisite for good education. So for this purpose, Carnegie initiated a Carnegie Teachers’ Pension Fund with an amount of $10,000,000.
Furthermore, he helped the workers to get unionized in order to save their interests and/or forward it to the concerned authorities at the public and private levels. “By the time of his death in 1919, he had overseen the distribution of nearly $350 million. This included the cost of constructing 2811 public libraries and donations for almost 8000 church organs…”
Some research scholars and historians are of the view that giving money to charities and establishing other social services were acts of repentance. While other historians see in him an ambivalent personality that was an exploiter as well a messiah. Carnegie was unusual among the industrial captains of his day because he preached for the rights of laborers to unionize and to protect their jobs. However, Carnegie’s actions did not always match his rhetoric. Carnegie’s steel workers were often pushed to long hours and low wages.”
However, the various institutes and libraries across the globe provide multi-faceted beneficial services to humanity hitherto and do not enable any historian and scholar to question the philanthropist efforts of Carnegie as meaningless. These institutes are an epitome of unwavering stance of Carnegie against the accumulation of wealth and its proper utilization for the benefit of mankind.
American Experience. 2007. ANDREW CARNEGIE the Richest Man in the World. PBS
Documentary. PBS/WGS, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/. (accessed June 15, 2007)
Carnegie, Andrew.1920. Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Folsom, Burton. 1991. The Myth of the Robber Barons. Herndon: Young America’s
Livesay, Harold. 1975. Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). 2007. Andrew Carnegie: Rags To Riches Timeline. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/timeline/index.html. (accessed June 15, 2007)
Swetnam, George and Helene Smith. 1993. The Carnegie Nobody Knows. USA:
Whaples, Robert. “Andrew Carnegie”. 2007. EH.Net Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Whaples. http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/Whaples.Carnegie. (accessed June 15, 2007)
Yellen, Samuel. 1936. American Labor Struggles. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
Harold Livesay. Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 1975, p.19.
 For example the noted historian Samauel Yellen (1936) provides an example of exploitation at the Carnegie Steel. He writes, “The earnings of the miners exceeded those of the steel laborers by two full days’ pay a week. While the workmen in the steel industry sank into a state of slavery, the Carnegie Steel Company grew rapidly, accumulated more and more wealth, transformed itself into the United States Steel Corporation, and with its monopoly on steel productions, established itself at the very heart of American capitalism”.
Samauel Yellen. American Labor Struggles. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, p.100.
 Carnegie, Andrew. Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920, p. 65
 The publication of his works like “Triumphant Democracy” in 1886 and “Gospel of Wealth in 1889 manifested his ideas about social justice and equality.
 Andrew Carnegie, “Wealth,” North American Review, CXLVIII (June 1889), 653-64, p. 18
 Ibid. p. 19
 Swetnam and Smith. The Carnegie Nobody Knows. USA: McDonald/Sward Publishing, 1993., p. 154.
 PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). Andrew Carnegie: Rags To Riches Timeline. 2007. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/timeline/index.html.
 Robert Whaples “Andrew Carnegie”. 2007. http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/Whaples.Carnegie.
 American Experience. ANDREW CARNEGIE the Richest Man in the World. PBS
Documentary. PBS/WGS, 2007. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/.
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