Essay on Andrew Carnegie and “The Gospel of Wealth”


Andrew Carnegie is widely known as a prominent millionaire and a steel magnate who gained fame for his characteristic attitude towards wealth and responsibility that is associated with it. The following Andrew Carnegie essay will discuss the issues related to the most renowned work of this prominent figure “The Gospel of Wealth”. Current essay on Andrew Carnegie does not pursue a goal of analyzing the biography of this famous person, but is rather aimed at analyzing how his essay “The Gospel of Wealth” has changed the way the richest people of the world think about allocating wealth and being responsible for it. The essay written by Andrew Carnegie was an attempt to instill a new form of philanthropy in the self-made millionaires and leaders of the business world. He wrote his essay back in 1889, but in many ways it is still relevant even in the 21st century. It is known that by the time Andrew Carnegie died back in 1919, he had spent most his money (more than $350 million) on helping the less privileged social groups and the remaining $30 million were directed to various charity organizations. Andrew Carnegie was a shrewd and wise businessman. Therefore, he spent the last years of his life paying back the money he had obtained. The paper below will analyze the contribution of Andrew Carnegie based on his essay “The Gospel of Wealth”.

The major idea of Carnegie’s essay is focused on various dangers faced by wealthy entrepreneurs in terms of passing on their wealth to future generations and other individuals as well as organizations that are unable to manage it. Instead of using money frivolously and inefficiently, Andrew Carnegie claimed that this money should be invested in the useful ventures for the sake of public wellbeing. Despite the fact that capitalism could actually cause damage to certain groups of people while bringing benefit to others, poverty among other social problems could in fact be solved with the help of wealthy businessmen who should be ready to contribute to the welfare of the society. It is evident that the essay by Andrew Carnegie was not an attempt to criticize the laissez-faire capitalism system. Instead, it was just the opposite. The author recognized the inequality associated with the system, and believed that companies should be permitted to act as they wish without any governmental interventions. In order to cope with the imbalance, it was suggested by the author that the responsibility should be taken by wealthy entrepreneurs instead of the government.

 Why did Carnegie not believe in entrusting money to the future generations? He claims in his essay that most heirs of big fortunes tend to use their inherited money in a foolish and inefficient manner enjoying the luxurious life instead of investing money productively and wisely for the sake of public good. This idea reflected the philosophy of the Carnegie Foundation that was engaged in investing money of the millionaire into the development of various public institutions including libraries and others. At the same time, Carnegie did not perceive spending his wealth for the public good as something easy to do. As he claims in his essay, money should not be spent frivolously. When some organizations attempted to spend the investments they have received from Carnegie on extravagant and luxurious buildings, he provided a few guidelines intended to change the architectural designs into something more functional and simple.

The essay of Andrew Carnegie “The Gospel of Wealth” was highly acknowledged by the ruling authorities, but his ideas did not have many followers. Andrew Carnegie has proved that he was a unique entrepreneur who became known for giving away a vast portion of his fortune. Nowadays, the work of Carnegie is widely accepted as a revolutionary piece of writing filled with altruism, which is quite rare in the modern environment. In his essay, Carnegie tried to make it clear that the wealthy businessmen are superior to everyone else and should use their money wisely in order to help less privileged social groups. One of the issues that should be explored in the current paper is the relation between Carnegie’s work and his belief in Social Darwinism. He claimed that the very fact that some people are rich is an indication that these people are more privileged than others. This means that a wealthy person is the one who knows much about how the society can reach prosperity. Andrew Carnegie was of the opinion that the major goal of wealthy businessmen was to help the poor people for them to reach a decent social level and live a better life. However, he did not think that money should be wasted on the prosperity of the poor if the less privileged groups of people did not know perfectly well how to allocate that money. For example, it is common for parents to spend money for the benefit of their own children, but parents do not actually permit their children to have the money and spend it the way they like.

The essay of Andrew Carnegie is a perfect combination of philanthropy and Social Darwinism. Carnegie provides readers with a clear explanation on how vast fortunes of wealthy entrepreneurs should be allocated and distributed. “The Gospel of Wealth” makes it clear that wealthy businessmen should make efforts to change the conditions in which less privileged groups of society have to live. Therefore, most of the money owned by businessmen should go to charity. In this case, it should be noted that if to simply give money to the beggars, they will hardly ever learn how to use money correctly. People should know how to work hard so that this hard work will eventually pay off. Carnegie also emphasized the importance of healthy competition and individualism. Both of these aspects are known to facilitate the inequality across society leaving one group of people with everything they need and the rest of people without the slightest idea of how they should move forward and how they can beat poverty.

To conclude, the writing of Andrew Carnegie is a valuable resource that is intended for specific audience, namely the wealthy businessmen who should spend their money decently and wisely in order to ensure the relative prosperity and welfare of less privileged groups of society.

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