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True Stewardship

( Originally Published 1902 )



JOSEPH ALLEN, of Braddock, Pa., an engineer in the Edgar Thompson Steel Works, was on his way to the mill, when he passed a car loaded with quicklime. A laborer, unloading the car, not noticing him, threw a shovelful of the lime into his face, burning out both of his eyes, and making him the first pensioner of the Andrew Carnegie fund of four million dollars. On retiring from business, Mr. Andrew Carnegie wrote this letter to the people of Pittsburg from New York, dated March 12, 1901:

"An opportunity to retire from business came to me unsought, which I considered it my duty to accept. My resolve was made in youth to retire before old age. From what I have seen around me, I cannot doubt the wisdom of this course, although the change is great, even serious, and seldom brings the happiness expected. But this is because so many, having abundance to retire upon, have so little to retire to. The fathers in olden days taught that a man should have time before the end of his career for the ` making of his soul.' I have always felt that old age should be spent, not as the Scotch say, in ` making mickle mair,' but in making a good use of what has been acquired, and I hope my friends of Pittsburg will approve of my action in retiring while still in full health and vigor, and I can reasonably expect many years for usefulness in fields which have other than personal aims.

" The pain of change and separation from business associations and employees is indeed keen—associates who are at once the best of friends, employees who are not only the best of workmen, but the most self-respecting body of men which the world has to show. Of this I am well assured and very proud.

" I should have more time now to devote to the Institute and to the technical school, which are in the higher domain of Pittsburg's life, and these I have long seen to be my chief work—the field in which I can do the greatest, because the highest, good for Pittsburg. The share which I have had in the material development of our city may be considered only the foundation on which the things of the spirit are built, and in taking the proceeds of the material to develop the things of the spiritual world I feel that I am pursuing the ideal path of life and duty."

A letter of the same date was sent to the president and managers of the Carnegie Company, setting apart a fund of five million dollars—one million for maintaining the libraries built by Carnegie in Braddock, Homestead and Duquesne, and the other four millions to be employed in aiding the poor and disabled workmen of his mills and the needy families of those who met death in their employment. In his letter he says :

"The income of the other four million is to be applied:

" First, to provide for employees of the Carnegie Company in all its works, mines, railways, shops, etc., injured in its service, and for those dependent upon such employees that are killed.

" Second, to provide small pensions or aids to such employees as, after long and creditable service, through exceptional circumstances, need use of it.

" This fund is not intended to be used as a substitute for what the company has been in the habit of doing in such cases. Far from it. It is intended to go still further, and give to the injured or their families, or to employees who are needy in old age, through no fault of their own, some provision against want as long as needed, or until young children can become self-supporting.

" I make this first use of surplus wealth upon retiring from business, as an acknowledgment of the deep debt which I owe to the workmen who have contributed so greatly to my success. I hope the cordial relations which exist between employers and employed throughout all the Carnegie Company's works may never be disturbed, both employers and employed remembering what I said in my last speech to the men at Homestead : ` Labor, capital and business ability are the three legs of a three-legged stool ; neither is first, neither is second, neither is third; there is no precedence, all being equally necessary. He who would sow discord among the three is an enemy of all."

The great steel king has set a beautiful example to the rich men of this country in his estimate of the relation of capital to labor and in his recognition of the debt which wealth owes to poverty. However industrious and cheerful he may have been in the accumulation of his vast fortune, he was never half so happy as he seems to be in giving his money away.



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