Thursday, 6 October 2016



If Andrew Carnegie were not the richest man in the world he certainly did not have more than two competitors for the honor in Dollarland, where millionaires and multi-millionaires mostly congregate. Latest estimates of his wealth, made at the time of his daughter's marriage a few months ago, place the amount at £120,000,000. On top of this he has "given away" millions to the number of thirty or forty. And as these huge sums may be regarded as giving him a return in the way of notoriety and satisfaction to what humanitarian or social instincts he may be accused of possessing it will be seen that his vast wealth ran to something like £160,000,000.

John D. Rockefeller, or the Rockefeller family interests, probably would eclipse this gargantuan pile. But in late years the Rockefeller money has been divided somewhat in ostensible ownership, though the control at bottom would remain the same. The Pierpont Morgan grip on the wealth of the United States and the world would give the Carnegie millions a tight run for first place for amount and certainly for political influence would win comfortably. But sized up roundly Carnegie was just about the wealthiest man in the world, and therefore in his own personality the most potent influence for good or evil among mankind.

Judged by ordinary standards Andrew Carnegie was a great man, a "good" man it may be. His whole theology was comprised in the verb (imperative mood) and adverb, "Get on!" And he got on, as honestly and morally as the law required. An interview with him published recently described how he first invested in a little real estate and thus implanted in himself the passion for making money. It became a hobby, if not a disease.

Oil investments and finally steel production became his fields of exploitation. He made millions, tens of them, before he took breath and began to find time for investments in charity, international peace propaganda, and the free gifts of libraries with which his name is better known than anything else.

But as has been said frequently in America of the "benevolence" of other millionaires, Carnegie's gifts were more or less blood money. The great wealth that he had gathered had been wrung from the sufferings and tears, and sometimes the blood, of the workers, his fellow men and women. How could a man return to them that which he had so taken from them, secured legally it may be, but yet robbed by the terrible power which wealth and therefore the control of labor give over the bodies, hearts, and souls of the workers?

Carnegie's doings on the industrial field include that never-to-be-forgotten strike at the Homestead steel and ironworkers, caused by an attempt in July, 1892, to reduce wages. Three hundred armed Pinkerton constables were brought to overawe the workers, and a bloody combat, lasting two days, in which a brass ten-pound cannon was used, caused the deaths of eleven workmen and spectators. The Pinkertons were driven out of the town, and the military sent to restore order whilst Henry Frick, the manager, was shot by Alex. Berkmann, who was one of the Homestead employees. This Carnegie works upheaval is one the most remarkable strikes in the history of the United States.

The deceased millionaire may not have been personally responsible for the trouble, but at any rate it illustrates in what circumstances huge fortunes are piled up, even to the spilling of the blood of those who make the wealth. Not the giving away of the whole £160,000,000 that Carnegie made could lead people generally to embrace his faith, that the world is a place in which to amass money. The richest man in the world should still be the poorest in the respect of the people, just as he has been declared by the Master to be in the sight Heaven.

Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 - 1936), Wednesday 13 August 1919, page 4

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