The Gospel of Wealth

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish immigrant who opened up his own steelworks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1873. Carnegie became the steel industries central figure. Unlike some of the other major corporation owners, Carnegie came from little to no money. He worked his way up the food chain and was a definite "self made man". Carnegie was a very savvy businessman, he made deals with railroads and then bought out the smaller businesses that competed with him. Carnegie teamed up with Henry Clay Frick, who bought up coal mines. Together they dominated the steel industry and controlled railroad expansion in the late 19th Century.
Andrew Carnegie

Pittsburgh, 1873
Henry Frick

In the late 19th Century, the money in the United States was not distributed equally. There were few tycoons such as, John Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, as well as Andrew Carnegie. The idea of Social Darwinism was rapidly spreading around the country. This is the theory that those who succeeded deserved their success and those that failed deserved their failure. This belief was popular amongst the successful business men because it justified their success.

Andrew Carnegie argued that people who were wealthy didn't just have power, they had responsibility. It was their duty to to use their own individual money and give back to help society progress. This idea became known as the "Gospel of Wealth". Carnegie's actual speech, "The Gospel of Wealth", was delivered in 1889. It addressed the national economic problem that money was unequally distributed. He believed that the upper class wealthy people should use their money and come together with the poor to better society. The speech included the belief that the sharing of money amongst the entire country would create a sense of unity. One wealthy mans money would become the money of many other people. He felt that it was the job of the wealthy to set an example of how to live for the less fortunate people.

The Gospel of Wealth
Acres of Diamonds
Horatio Alger's, "Ragged Dick"

The racion to Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth" was eye opening to many Americans of the time. After Carnegie, many other people expanded on the belief. Russel H. Conwell became the spokesman for the "Acres of Diamonds" belief. This was very similar to the Gospel of Wealth, but it stated that it was the duty of people to get rich. Horatio Alger was a writer who wrote about the success stories of people making it from nothing.