Today, the Morgan Silver Dollar Coin remembers when Andrew Carnegie gave away his fortune for the benefit of the people.
On January 29, 1902, the Anderson [SC] Intelligencer newspaper printed a lengthy article from New York describing Mr. Carnegie’s gifts:
New York, Jan. 13.—Andrew Carnegie has given away forty million dollars in 1901, says the New York World.
This has been the first year that Mr. Carnegie has been able to devote undivided attention to giving away his money in line with his declared intention not to die rich.
When Mr. Carnegie wrote his famous letter saying, “To die rich is to die disgraced,” the public was incredulous.
That was seven years ago. Nearly two years ago when the quotation from his own pen was shown him, with the query. “How is it to be accomplished?” Mr. Carnegie said through the World: “Watch and see.”
In 1899 Mr. Carnegie gave away $5,000,000. On New Year’s Bay in 1901, his gifts aggregated $20,000,000. In 1901, as Mr. Carnegie had nothing else to do, he has multiplied the amount of all his former gifts by two.
Small and wiry, taking excellent care of himself, with no business worries, and engaged in the pleasant pastime of “making his soul,” Andrew Carnegie bids fair to live beyond the scriptural seventy years.
He was 64 years old on the 25th of November. At his present rate of giving he will be comparatively poor five years hence.
Up to the present year Mr. Carnegie had not given away more than his income, estimated at $15,000,000 a year. Now that he has broken into his principal, the income of course has been reduced as well, and this will continue to grow smaller until Mr. Carnegie is an ordinary millionaire.
The exact amount of Mr. Carnegie’s wealth has never been made public, but the estimate of $250,000,000, made at the time he sold his steel properties to the United States Steel Corporation, late last winter, is accepted as conservative by Wall Street men and financiers.
The backbone of his wealth was $150,000,000 in 5 percent gold bonds of the corporation and it is those bonds which Mr. Carnegie is giving to the cities of America and Great Britain for libraries and educational purposes.
The balance of Mr. Carnegie’s wealth is made up of United States steel stock, of British war, loans, of United States government bonds and gilt-edged railroad investments, besides, real estate in New York City and Pittsburg, prominent among the buildings being the Carnegie Music Hall in this city and the mansion now being finished in Fifth Avenue on the block bounded by Nineteenth and Fifty-first streets, on which there is no expense being spared.
Gifts of $10,000,000 are now being reported from Mr. Carnegie and once a hint is given that an institution is to be benefited by his generosity it is accepted as true and generally turns out to be so.
Only one other man in America could duplicate Mr. Carnegie’s gifts, and he is John D. Rockefeller. For any other man or family to give $40,000,000 in one year would be to cripple the giver.
The handsome house at No. 5 West Fifty-first street, which was given by Mr. Carnegie to his wife when he took her there a bride, will have an added interest through associations connected with Mr. Carnegie’s great benefactions.
Here have been planned the gifts which have astonished the world—the $5,200,000 library of New York City, the $10,000,000 gift to Washington for national education, the $10,000,000 gift to Scotland for her universities, and the $4,000,000 to Pittsburg for old Carnegie employees who need pensions. At least $50,000,000 have been given away from the private library in which Mr. Carnegie enjoys his Shakespeare and other standard works.
On the walls are these mottoes:
“The present movement is our aim; the next we never see.”
“He that dare not reason is a slave; he that cannot, a fool; he that will not is a bigot.”
This library is on the second floor of the Carnegie, house. In a connecting room sits the secretary, one of the busiest men in town. Hundreds of letters come in one delivery of Mr. Carnegie’s mail, and these must be assorted by the secretary.
In his new mansion Mr. Carnegie will have a much larger library and a splendid office for the transaction of his business of bettering humanity.
As soon as J. Pierpont Morgan took Mr. Carnegie’s business troubles off his mind he began to get rid of his wealth with a free hand and the belief is that he will keep up the pace.
His first intimation of the greater gifts which were to come was made on the date of his departure for Europe early in March.
On March 13 President Schwab, of the Carnegie company, received the letter which told of the gift of $5, 000,000 to the employees of that company, now merged in the steel trust; $4,000,000 was for those injured in the service, those dependent upon employees who had lost their lives in the service of the company, and for pensions for those grown old in the employ of the company.
One million was for the maintenance of libraries built by Mr. Carnegie in Braddook, Homestead and Duquesne.
Mr. Carnegie, in designating this gift as his first under the changed conditions, said:
“I make this first use of surplus wealth upon retiring from business as an acknowledgement of the deep debt which I owe to the workmen who have contributed so greatly to my success.”
To the people of Pittsburg he wrote:
“An opportunity to retire from business came, to me unsought, which I considered it my duty to accept. My resolve was made in youth to retire before old age. From what I have Been around me, I cannot doubt the wisdom of this course, although the change is great, even serious, and seldom brings the happiness expected. But this was because so many having abundance to retire upon have so little to retire.
“The fathers in olden days taught that a man should have time before the end of his career for the ‘making of his soul.’ I have always felt that old age should be spent not, as the Scotch say, in ‘making mickle mair,’ but in making good use of what has been acquired; and I hope my friends of Pittsburg will approve of my action of retiring while still in full health and vigor and I can reasonably expect many years for usefulness in fields which have other than personal aims.
“The share which I have had in the material development of our city may be considered only the foundation on which the things of the spirit are built, and in taking the proceeds of the material to develop the things of the spiritual world I feel I am pursuing the ideal path of life and duty.”
On March 15, the gift to New York City for sixty-five branch libraries was announced. On the eve of his departure for Europe Mr. Carnegie wrote to Director Billings, of the New York Public Library:
“Our conferences upon the needs of Greater New York for branch libraries to reach the masses of the people in every district have convinced me of the wisdom of your plans. Sixty-five branches strike one at first as a very large order, but as other cities have found one necessary for every 60,000 or 70,000 population, the number is not excessive.
“You estimate the average cost of these libraries at say $80,000 each, being $5,200,000 for all. If New York will furnish sites for these branches for the special benefit of the masses of the people, as it has done for the central library, and also agree in satisfactory form to provide for their maintenance as built, I should esteem it a rare privilege to be permitted to furnish the money as needed for the buildings, say $5,200,000. Sixty-five libraries at one stroke probably breaks the record, but this is the day of big operations, and New York is soon to be the biggest of cities.”
Mr. Carnegie proved his earnestness by hastening in every way the city’s ability to accept his gift, and the sites are now being chosen for the buildings on which work will be begun in the spring in all probability.
At the time of the gift, and while Mr. Carnegie was on the sea, news came from other cities that he had made library offers to them. St Louis reported a gift of $1 ,000,000. In Pittsburg it was said that Mr. Carnegie would in time give $2,500,000 to the endowment of his technical school in that city, with the intention of making it the finest of its kind in the United States and adding new fame to Pittsburg.
Since his return to America Mr. Carnegie has visited Pittsburg and given $2,000,000 more as an earnest of his intentions. At the same time he told the members of the board of trustees of the institute to go ahead and erect as many buildings for the technical school as they liked, and he would foot the bills, no matter whether the amount was $5,000,000 or$10,000, 000.
While abroad Mr. Carnegie gave $10,000,000 to four educational institutions, with the plan of opening their doors to the poor of Scotland. These institutions are the Marischel college at Aberdeen, and Dundee college and St. Andrew’s, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The gift to the United States of $10,000,000 is pending in Washington but is as good as given. Mr. Carnegie intends to make the terms possible for Uncle Sam’s acceptance.
No obstacles can stop Mr. Carnegie from giving—once his mind is made up—and where another man might be piqued and withdraw the offer, Mr. Carnegie will meet the beneficiary more than half way to get him to accept.
The point raised that Mr. Carnegie’s offer of United States’ Steel Corporation bonds would make the government interested in a trust has been recognized by Mr. Carnegie as a reasonable obstacle, and the $10,000,000 will be offered in some shape which will be beyond criticism.
It has been said that his endowment for national education may be increased to $25,000,000. Mr. Carnegie has made several trips to Washington to confer with President Roosevelt on the matter.
His plans contemplate the establishment in Washington of a college of higher education, the nucleus to be the various government scientific bureaus.
Besides these great benefactions, Mr. Carnegie has given many $20,000, $50,000 and $100,000 sums for the establishment of libraries in other cities according to their size. All are obliged to provide sites and guarantee an income of 10 percent on Mr. Carnegie’s gift for the maintenance of the libraries.
While giving away millions, Mr. Carnegie delights in golf, and the wonder among his friends has been that he has not endowed a university of golf.
He also takes pleasure in walking through Central Park and all the policemen in the park know the little man with the quick step and jaunty bearing.
The Morgan Silver Dollar Coin shows with an image of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, circa 1905.