Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The philosophy underlying much of the charitable giving in America today can be traced to an essay written by wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1889. Titled “ The Gospel of Wealth, ” the piece laid out Carnegie’s belief that the very rich should give something back to the society that made their successes possible.
Carnegie argued that rather than simply bequeathing their vast wealth to heirs, the super rich should dispense chunks of their fortunes through trusts aimed at benefiting the general public. Carnegie’s ideas took hold. In the century-plus since his essay was published, many of America’s wealthiest people have followed in his philanthropic footsteps — and we’ve all benefited from their decisions."