Summary of The Gospel of Wealth

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

The Gospel of Wealth book summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans




  • Innovative


Considering that Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was among the richest men in American history, his unabashed support for the capitalist system is easy to understand. A Scottish immigrant to the US, Carnegie amassed his vast fortune primarily in the steel industry in the late 1800s. By the time he sold the Carnegie Steel Company in 1901, it was worth more than $400 million in today’s dollars, according to the Carnegie Foundation. He dedicated the rest of his life to philanthropic causes. In 1889, the North American Review published Carnegie’s treatise on the moral obligation of the rich to use their money to benefit society. Though brief, this essay is brimful of Carnegie’s wisdom, instinct and foresight. Carnegie believed that the law of competition is the foundation of a capitalist society. Consequently, he said only a select few top competitors could – and should – control the largest proportions of wealth. Needless to say, this is not necessarily a politically correct viewpoint in all corners of today’s world, but Carnegie implored the super-rich of his era to recognize and embrace their inherent obligation to use their wealth for philanthropy. He practiced what he preached: During his lifetime he donated more than $350 million to a variety of causes, including the establishment of numerous libraries and Carnegie Mellon University. Though applying the ideas of this wealthy, charitable son of the 19th century to society in the 21st century is challenging, getAbstract recommends Carnegie’s historic perspective. His views of capitalism, philanthropy, and human nature remain rooted in sincerity and in an understanding of the value of a dollar, particularly a dollar put to a good cause.

About the Author

Andrew Carnegie was a mogul in the US’s steel industry in the 19th century and became the nation’s richest man. A renowned philanthropist, he donated some $350 million to build public libraries and educational institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University.



Capitalism as a Vehicle for Growth

Economic growth and development are inevitable – in fact, desirable – in a productive capitalist society. If the system functions properly, it creates a separation between the wealthy and the working class. Captains of industry fulfill their responsibilities when they create viable business opportunities that generate profit and provide a means of employment for the general public. Financial success enables corporate executives and leaders in other fields, such as the arts and literature, to live in larger homes and enjoy luxuries that exceed the laborer’s grasp. But this is not an adverse situation; on the contrary, this separation reflects economic growth and the advancement of society. A system based on capitalism improves the quality of goods and services, lowers prices, and makes commodities infinitely more affordable for everyone. Though some may look back nostalgically to the days of greater equality among people, a return to those days would be nothing short of disastrous.

Today’s working class family has access to commonplace necessities that even the rich saw as luxuries only a century ago. Unfortunately, industrial growth...

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

Global Inequality
The Future of Work
Social Startup Success
Move Fast and Break Things
The Tyranny of Metrics

Related Channels

Comment on this summary