Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth

Topics: America

In Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth, he argues the importance of the contributions made to society and stresses how the rich are morally obligated to donate most of their wealth to a variety of charities before dying in order to give back and further improve society. The basis of Carnegie’s principles and beliefs can be easily seen in his dictum, a short statement that expresses his general truth or principle. This dictum showcases his lifestyle and where his priorities lie at the time: “To spend the first third of one’s life getting all the education one can.

To spend the next third making all the money one can. To spend the last third giving it all away for worthwhile causes.”

In Carnegie’s second step of his three-part lifestyle, Carnegie spent his time “making all the money one can,” and then eventually spend the last third giving it all away for worthwhile causes. However, to gain wealth just for the sake of having money is, as Carnegie says, “one of the worse species of idolatry,” as he believed that there was “no idol more debasing than the worship of money.

” Seeking to avoid this, Carnegie spends the last third of his life, as seen in his dictum, giving his wealth away for “worthwhile causes.” Undergoing a transformative change, the economy of the United States during the late- nineteenth century boomed as a result of the changes in the manufacturing of products, becoming “stimulated and enlarged by the inventions of this scientific age” .

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With this rise in efficiently, a surplus amount of industrial businesses popped up looking to accumulate their own wealth. However, competition between businesses also greatly grew, weeding out the less efficient industries and leaving only the most profitable and efficient business left, “[ensuring] the survival of the fittest in every department” . This basic economic idea is akin to Darwinism, forming the foundation of the economic process at the time. Similar to Darwinism, only the strongest and most efficient firm or industry will survive while the weakest and less efficient business will die and decrease the surplus population of industries. Such principle leaves a man with a choice, either to accumulate his wealth and capitol and continue to grow, or to either grow lazy, becoming bankrupt as a result;

This process of “either [going] forward or [falling] behind,” ensures that this process is “beneficial for the race,” as only the most profitable, and most efficient, business survive. Without the drive to settle and expand into new territory due to the frontier being not so unsettled anymore, America was instead fixated on improving what technology current day people currently had in order to make lives easier. This new America was characterized by the development and improvement of tools that modern day people still use today. Such tools were invented to replace outdated technology in order to become more efficient, making life easier as a result. For example, in order to become more productive and effective, inventions like the automatic glass bottle blowing machine allowed glass bottles being able to become mass produced easily rather than having laborers hand making each individual bottle, increasing the speed and efficiency the way glass bottles are made.

Instead of a drive to settle down and colonize new unexplored land, a desire to improve and expand upon the technology of the 19th century held supreme and replaced the former desire, giving way for new technology to replace previous outdated inventions such as the “toaster that turned toast” that had to be manually turned, which was later replaced with the more efficient pop-up toaster created in 1919. This more efficient product saves time that you would have spent turning the manual toaster compared to the automatic pop-up toaster, thus being more efficient as you can spend this newfound amount of time doing something else, like reading a book or having more time for tea time. As America was focused on its steadily technological advances, there was also revolutionary social changes in the works during the 20th century, such as the 19th amendment being passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and then being ratified on August 18, 1920.

Comparing pre-20th century America to 20th century America showcases this huge step in the development of equality and technology that was only dreamed about in previous decades showing that this new America was all about the improvement technology and political advances. The peak of the political advances of the time finally came in the form of the 19th amendment. Women finally getting the right to vote has been long sought, having been continuously fought for as earliest as 1848 and then finally getting their rights in 1919 with almost 7 decades in-between the start of the woman suffrage movement and the ratification of the 19th amendment. With this amendment being the absolute pinnacle of the advancement in social equality, new 20th century America was classified as a time of inventing and social progress.

With these changes, both technological and social, there was some groups that did not agree with these changes, such as the large group of blue-collared workers being replaced by the revolutionary machines that allowed for the mass production of products that were usually handmade. This group of blue-collared workers being put out of work created controversy among other laborers saying that machines and robots will eventually take over the work force and put everyone out of work. While this controversy wasn’t far from the truth as many jobs today have been taken by automatic machines, such as a self-checkout line in stores and online ordering nearly replacing every brick and mortar store, these however, were good times for consumers.

With the mass production of products, the time it took to make decrease and the cost it took to create went down as a result of certain products not being handmade anymore benefiting consumers greatly. However, blue-collared workers aren’t the only group that was in trouble during the 20th century, due to the industrial revolutions bringing more people from rural environments into urban ones being allured by the prospect of “work, [to] earn more money and have a chance to improve their quality of life” (Houghton par.2), resulting in the amount of farms decreasing greatly, from “a peak of close to 7 million in the mid-1930s to just over 2 million in 2000”, hurting small farms but benefitting larger farms; as a result, the large farms have more room to expand thus giving them a higher chance of profit through more crops running further decreasing the population of smaller farms as they cannot keep compete in a price war with the larger farms.

The first World War was the first foreign war that America has stepped into as “the United States joined a coalition to fight a war not on its own soil or of its own making” (Hindley par. 3), something that the United States will repeat many times over the following centuries. As President Wilson goes to form the League of Nations after the conclusion of the war, Wilson then permanently involves the entirety of the United States into the state of foreign affairs everywhere by joining the League of Nations, in a sharp contrast to America before the war where the U.S. did not involve themselves in any foreign affair unless it directly involved them. One of the many political problems that President Wilison encountered in the aftermath of the war was the fact that his nemesis Senator Henry Cabot Lodge wanted the exact opposite of what Wilison wanted, the return of the United States becoming isolated again from foreign affairs.

The problem of either involving America in every foreign affair or to isolate America as it had been before the war still lingers with the people of America even today, as seen in America involving themselves in the battles in Syria when the war is not endangering the U.S. as people question what or why are American soldiers doing over there. One similarity between America in 1914 and the 1920s is the technological growth of the United States. As the U.S. joins the war, scientist focuses their efforts on inventing weapons of war that were to be used against German forces, some inventions during the time were tanks, poison gas, and flamethrowers; these inventions revolutionized the concept of war as killing enemy soldiers were easier due to not having to go face to face with enemy troopers as all you had to do was to stand a distance away and pull a trigger, compared to wars and battles that didn’t involve firearms.

During the 1920s there was a similar revolutionary invention that came in the form of the telephone and radio. These revolutionary inventions allowed for long range communication for the public, these two long range mass communication devices greatly influenced the current Jazz Age during the time, allowing for more consumers going to more and more parties more efficiently as words travels faster with the invention of the phone. After the war the United States will continue to involve themselves with the affairs of foreign affairs having a worldwide impact everywhere thanks to the creation and joining of the League of Nations. One major change of America’s politics changing is the way we deal with foreign affairs, before the first world war America would have never involved themselves in any foreign affair as if it had nothing to do with us, but due to the executive decision of former president.

Wilson to join the League of Nations, America is now almost always actively involved with a foreign affair somewhere at all given times, as seen in the constructions of U.S. embassies in most countries. A new regulation popping up after World War 1 was the 18th amendment, the banning of having and consuming alcoholic beverages, while the majority of the public didn’t agree with it due to the Jazz Age being in progress as beer was one of the many things that made bars and parties fun to go to, there were still however many that had thought this ban would have been very progressive and helpful. One of the larger issues that came after World War 1 was the fact that the United States are now a part of foreign affairs as.

the U.S. gets into battles to help supposed allies despite the people were promised that there were going to be no more wars, leading the people to question the “values and assumptions of Western civilization.” Despite being known as the war to end all wars, many wars came after WW1 eventually leading up to the second World War with the Russian revolution being the starting point. Now that the United States is involved with wars that aren’t on U.S. soil, Americans are fighting not for their homeland, but for foreign nations we have no connection to besides an “alliance,” as our own soldiers are dying for a cause that is not our own, becoming a controversial opinion.

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Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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