Andrew Carnegie, 1835-1919: A captain of industry whose philanthropy adapted the
Swedenborgian "doctrine of uses" to the Industrial Age
son of a poor Scottish immigrant, Andrew Carnegie started out working at
humble jobs but through his hard work and acute business insight he
eventually formed the giant Carnegie Steel Company in 1892. In 1902
banker J.P. Morgan arranged to buy out Carnegie for $250 million, making
him the world's wealthiest man.
In his Gospel of Wealth,
Carnegie set forth the idea that the wealthy should spend the latter
part of their lives giving away their wealth. Carnegie established a
pattern of modern philanthropy followed by later industrialists, and his
Carnegie Corporation in New York continues to carry out his
philanthropic work today.
Carnegie's social conscience was
shaped in part by his mentors Matthew Arnold and Herbert Spencer, but he
was also influenced by Swedenborg's Doctrine of Uses. As a young man,
he attended the Sunday school of the Swedenborgian Church in Pittsburgh
and was librarian of that church. Carnegie did not merely give away his
wealth--he devoted considerable effort to make certain that his gifts
would be put to proper use, an approach that fitted Swedenborg's
doctrine to early twentieth century America in a remarkable way.