Holdrege Public Library – Nebraska
Andrew Carnegie, Philanthropist
Can you imagine becoming the richest person in the world and then giving your money away? That’s exactly what Andrew Carnegie did. After retiring in 1901 at the age of 66 as the world’s richest man, Andrew Carnegie wanted to become a philanthropist, a person who gives money to good causes. He believed in the “Gospel of Wealth,” which meant that wealthy people were morally obligated to give their money back to others in society.
Carnegie had made some charitable donations before 1901, but after that time, giving his money away became his new occupation. In 1902 he founded the Carnegie Institution to fund scientific research and established a pension fund for teachers with a $10 million donation. Do you know of any other causes that Carnegie funded?
Throughout his life, Andrew Carnegie loved to read. So it made sense that he wanted to give money to support education and reading. When Carnegie was a young man he lived near Colonel James Anderson, a rich man who allowed any working boy to use his personal library for free. In those days, America did not have a system of free public libraries.
Carnegie never forgot Colonel Anderson’s generosity. As a result, Carnegie supported education; he gave money to towns and cities to build more than 2,000 public libraries. He also gave $125 million to a foundation called the Carnegie Corporation to aid colleges and other schools. What else did Carnegie believe in?
World peace was another cause Carnegie believed in. He established the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and funded the building of the Hague Palace of Peace, which houses the World Court, in the Netherlands. By 1911, Carnegie had given away a huge amount of money — 90 percent of his fortune.