The Gospel of Wealth Summary: Andrew Carnegie

The Gospel of Wealth Summary

The Gospel of Wealth Summary provides a free book summary, key takeaways, review, quotes and author biography of Andrew Carnegie’s book regarding wealth. Andrew Carnegie could be long gone. But, his views about wealth still hold.

Andrew Carnegie was one of the wealthiest men in the USA. Hence, his open support for the capitalist model is simple to understand. Carnegie was a Scottish immigrant to America. He collected colossal fortune especially in the steel sector in the late 1800s. Carnegie Steel Co. was more than $400mn in today’s dollar when it sold. He devoted his remaining life to noble causes. The North American Review published his essay in 1889. Though short, this essay is full of Carnegie’s wisdom and vision.

Carnegie felt that law of competition is a capitalist society’s base. Hence, he said, just some rivals can – and must – control wealth. This isn’t a politically correct idea in today’s world. But, Carnegie encouraged the wealthy to accept their duty toward society. He practiced what he talked. In his lifetime, he gave over $350mn to many causes. This included setting up many libraries and Carnegie Mellon University. His ideas of charity and capitalism are rooted in using the dollar for a good purpose. Therefore, we recommend this book The Gospel of Wealth to all of you.

“The problem of our age is the proper ad­min­is­tra­tion of wealth.”

This Summary Will Help You Learn

  • Why Carnegie thought that wealth distribution is the base of capitalism,
  • How the competition law impacts a capitalist society, and
  • Why and how the rich must leave a lasting legacy.


  • The real value of money relies on its proper distribution.
  • Law of competition forms the base of capitalism.
  • Despite its faults, capitalism forms favorable economic situations for society.
  • Capitalism forms a difference between the rich and the middle class.
  • It’s certain that most wealth falls with the few.
  • The rich must follow a humble lifestyle and have a positive social image.
  • Wealthy people must help their fellow beings.
  • Proper oversight is needed; else recipients will mishandle charity.
  • Random acts of donation are often ineffective. They don’t benefit the full society.
  • Donors should play an active part in the proper use of their resources.

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The Gospel of Wealth Summary

Capitalism as a Vehicle for Growth

Economic development and growth are necessary for a capitalist society. An ideal system forms a line between the rich and poor. Industry leaders do their duties by creating business opportunities. These produce profit and offer employment for ordinary people. Financial success allows leaders in other areas to enjoy luxuries. These luxuries are beyond the access of the working class.  But, this isn’t a negative situation. Instead, such difference shows economic growth. In a capitalist system, the quality of goods/services is better. Plus, the prices are lower, and hence things are affordable for everyone. Some people may go back to the days of more equality among people. But, going back to those days will only be damaging.

Today’s working class can access necessities. These things were luxuries for even the prosperous 100 years ago. Sadly, economic growth comes at a considerable price. This is especially true in interpersonal relations. The growing gap between employee-employer becomes a ground for mistrust. An executive can’t have excellent relationships with all his workers especially when it’s a massive operation with thousands of people. Hence, workers become just names and faces. And so, both sides are unable to understand the problem of the other. Thus, the ultimate result is damaging to interpersonal relations.

The Law of Competition

The competition law forces employers to be careful about the expenses. Hence, salaries become a primary source of conflict between employee-employer. The law of competition has these flaws. But, rejecting its highly positive sides will be short-sighted. For future growth, competition is key. No other system can promote the growth of business this much. An individual may suffer in the process. But, society as a whole reaps the benefits. The ones who accept it will bloom. And, the ones to don’t accept this will fail.

The competition law builds an environment which develops leaders who’ve great skills. They know that profitability is the right measure of growth, especially in a free market economy. Capitalism allows great people to attain excellent results. This is the opposite of a communist society where individual growth isn’t encouraged. Capitalism, supported by competition, is better than communism.

This system enables all people to find their economic status. It appreciates the spur of individualism in every person. Also, it doesn’t support artificial limits which can stop growth. The system may not be perfect. But, it rewards people who’re capable and motivated.

Distribution of Wealth

Capitalism offers excellent chances to nearly all members of society. But, only a few are lucky to have the means to collect wealth. Such people have just three practical options for distributing their extra wealth. These are:

  1. Leave a legacy for their family members on their death.
  2. Fund organizations and projects to benefit society.
  3. Distribute resources all through their lives.

History is proof that heirs mishandle legacies. European royal families gave their estates to the eldest male child. Even if his lavish ways of living ensured the destruction of the money, this behavior raises the question if parents must give their wealth to children. Of course, a parent won’t make his child live in poverty. Because ensuring a decent life for a child is a parental duty. Still, there’s a chance that parents do a disservice by giving millions to their kids. This’s especially true for children who can’t fend for themselves. Or those who don’t have any charitable goals. Hence, parents should teach their kids a sense of responsibility. And, also by giving them proper education.

There’s the second scenario as well. That is people, leaving their wealth for public consumption. Here, they give up the chance to do charity while being alive. Sadly, those left in charge don’t use the wealth for society’s best interests.

The rich have the power to sponsor things from which society can benefit.

Higher Taxes May Help

Higher taxes are a suitable means of discouraging the rich from hoarding money. They’ll also encourage wealthy people to allocate their resources while they’re alive. And, not waiting for others to do so once they die. People who collect money but don’t use for society aren’t worthy of admiration. The community won’t appreciate this. It’ll feel that they left their money because they can’t take it to their grave.

For Society’s Benefit

The best way of allocating surplus is ensuring that it benefits maximum people. The primary goal is to create a system which invests wealth in noble causes. This is more desirable than the less effective traditional approach. In the old method, donors allocate small sums to society over many years. In the absence of clear direction and control, money may not be appropriately used. People may end up spending it on unnecessary things.

Samuel J. Tilden was former governor of New York. He gave $5mn to build a free library in NYC. This’s a great example of how to spend one’s fortune for society’s benefit. A library opens the world’s treasure contained in books for all. But, Tilden would’ve been more praised, if he did this when he was alive. This way there wouldn’t have been the legal controversy and delay.

Wealthy people should identify and be thankful for their gift. They have the chance to help their fellow beings. The power to make other people’s lives better is a rare gift. And no one should waste this.

The mandate for the Wealthy

The mandate for the rich is apparent. Live a humble life without any fanfare. Provide sensibly for your family. And see all extra money as a way of helping society. The rich are just acting as a “trustee and agent” for their poor fellow beings. Wealthy people should find the best way to use their assets for society’s benefits.

Of course, there’s no universal definition of indulgence. Hence, one can’t identify whether a rich person is leading a life of luxury. One can’t even tell the level to which a person works within his sensibility. But, public sentiment is a mediator of good taste. It could be in matters of lifestyle, dressing or behavior. A person showing his money prefers appearance over substance. Also, he doesn’t see charity seriously. In this sense, the public’s judgment is often right.

Sensible Charity

The random distribution of donation is a big hurdle in society’s growth. There’s a dire need for wise advice and administration. Otherwise, donors waste millions on the unworthy and drunken. Randomly donated money increases the problems it should be removing. The money you give drunkards will not bring any change to their lives. Instead, they’re likely to misspend it. Giving charity may make people feel good about themselves. It may also stop beggars from being a nuisance for some-time. But, the same amount invested in a worthy cause will have a more significant impact.

The primary goal of the charity is benefitting people who want to improve their life. But, they don’t have the means to do so. In a few cases, otherwise, hard-working people are struck with bad luck. Hence, they want temporary financial help. In most cases, though, donors must donate to those whose intentions are genuine. And not to those who are just seeking a handout. So, if you wish to give, find where your money is going.

Follow people who build infrastructure which helps societal growth. For example, books, libraries, etc. help people to grow their mental and physical skills. Museums please the senses and elevate the society by large.

“Not evil, but good has come… from the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wealth by those who have had the ability and energy to produce it.”

Solving the Problem

The proper allocation of money has many benefits. It leaves the wealthy free to continue collecting wealth. Plus, it assures the rich that they won’t have to compromise their individuality. Instead, society trusts them to act on behalf of the deprived. Hence, the rich will use their powers to manage the society’s wealth for the larger good.

Millionaires should realize that there’s no pride in dying rich. The wealthy who don’t donate when they’re alive will die unsung. Applying this “gospel of wealth” will help the humankind. It will also mend the gap between the poor and the rich.

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The Gospel of Wealth Review

In the USA, the wealthiest men were Andrew Carnegie, and he started his own business and devoted whole life to improve the business. The competition in the society is higher that requires improved strategy in business to make more success. Carnegie sold all his business of steel and iron during 1901 and received $225 million. The big issues faced by a poor person is discussed in “The gospel of wealth summary” by Andrew Carnegie. In his business achievements, he learned more wisdom and vision. The control of wealth in the business is the most important factor that improves revenues and outcomes.  After reading the book, I felt that “The Gospel of Wealth” is for all. The book provides information about charity, capitalism, and causes for improved wealthy business.

After reading the book, the reader learns about the real value of money and how properly it can be distributed in the business. The law of competition can be applied to business terms and forms the basis of capitalism. Capitalism induces a difference between the middle class and the rich. Wealth falls and increases due to proper strategies. The mishandling of charity in the business reduces revenues. Capitalism in the business is a driving factor for the growth and financial success. Before reading the book, I often considered economic growth increases, but the massive operations have an impact on the growth of the business. The massive operation has an ultimate impact on the interpersonal relations of employees and workers. In organizations, competition law develops skills in the workers. The distribution of wealth is based on three practical options as fund organization, project benefits, distributive resources, and behavior rise.

The book was work that attempts about argue of view that the American republican system is providing. The rich funds were promoted for the influential supporters. The libraries and universities are providing knowledge to the learners.

The Gospel of Wealth Quotes

“The problem of our age is the proper ad­min­is­tra­tion of wealth.”

“Not evil, but good has come… from the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wealth by those who have had the ability and energy to produce it.”

“In­di­vid­u­al­ism, Private Property, the Law of Ac­cu­mu­la­tion of Wealth and the Law of Competition… are the highest result of human experience.”

“The price which society pays for the law of competition, like the price it pays for cheap comforts and luxuries, is also great; but the advantages of this law are also greater still than its cost.”

“It is to this law that we owe our wonderful material development.”

“Upon the sacredness of property civ­i­liza­tion itself depends – the right of the laborer to his hundred dollars in the savings bank, and equally the legal right of the millionaire to his millions.”

“What is the proper mode of ad­min­is­ter­ing wealth after the laws upon which civ­i­liza­tion is founded have thrown it into the hands of the few?”

“By taxing estates heavily at death the State marks its con­dem­na­tion of the selfish millionaire’s unworthy life.”

The rich “have it in their power during their lives to busy themselves in organizing bene­fac­tions from which the masses of their fellows will derive lasting advantage.”

“There is no mode of disposing of surplus wealth creditable to thoughtful and earnest men… save by using it year by year for the general good.”

“Of every thousand dollars spent in so-called charity today, it is probable that nine hundred and fifty dollars is unwisely spent.”

“In bestowing charity, the main con­sid­er­a­tion should be to help those who will help themselves.”

“No man is… to be thanked by the community to which he only leaves wealth at death. Men who leave vast sums in this way… would not have left it at all had they been able to take it with them.”

About the Author

Andrew Carnegie was a tycoon in the American steel sector in the 19th century. Soon, he became the wealthiest man in the country. Carnegie was famous for his charitable actions. He gave $350mn to build schools and libraries. Carnegie Mellon University was one of them.


Having read this The Gospel of Wealth Summary, how do you feel? Do you have any idea to share with us? Please feel free to share your thought with us. We are happy to further discuss with you!

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  1. I agreed with the Gospel wealth summary because he explained about the responsibility of philanthropy by the new upper class of self-made rich. Which is a right and appropriate point to explain this responsibility? The arguing points of the Carnegie is very unique which is “wasteful use of capital in the form of extravagance”. I agree with this post and learning.

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  2. Always clear , I love this and I agreed with the Gospel wealth summary because he explained about the responsibility of philanthropy by the new upper class of self-made rich. Which is a right and appropriate point to explain this responsibility? The arguing points of the Carnegie are very unique which is “wasteful use of capital in the form of extravagance”. I love the way the lesson was structured

    • Thanks for your comment. We will have more and more books written by Andrew Carnegie to be published. Please come back and visit us again!

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