At the turn of the 20th century, a small group of gentlemen cornered the American stock market and created for themselves empires beyond the government’s control. Their collective affluence was so grand that the vestiges are ever more present in their legacies today than they were over one hundred years ago. Men of such wealth are immortal and will always be remembered if they are able to invest sensibly.
Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-born self-made multimillionaire, presents several essays on the topic of wealth. In The “Gospel of Wealth” and Other Writings, Carnegie discriminately addresses the rich. He warns benefactors against bequeathing prosperity to children who are incapable of sustaining the fortune. Being skeptical of charities that donate directly to the poor, he writes that excess wealth should be spent on things that can benefit the masses ─ libraries, universities, museums, etc.
Carnegie should not be mistaken for a person of tremendous social empathy; his thoughts are definitely those of a capitalist. He believes that government is responsible for the welfare of its citizens. His philanthropic ideas are merely instructions on how the rich can still be remembered after death.
Carnegie’s essays are perfectly written, but it should be remembered that they were written before monopolies were disbanded by federal laws and regulations. Carnegie considers investment to be a skill in which only a small portion of the population is competent. His essays are not sympathetic. At times, they seem scandalous.
Many consider Carnegie’s essays to be compassionate in theory but foolish in practice. He will be remembered for his ability to monopolize the steel industry, to become one of the world’s wealthiest men, and to bestow his fortune on mankind afterwards. With his name on numerous endowments, it is possible that Carnegie was able to achieve immortality after all.