Not too far away from the Anna Paulonastraat of yesterday’s post, is the Carnegieplain.
I took these photos last summer one late afternoon when the sun was really not at a favourable angle at all, I didn’t go inside because there was a special event on so wasn’t open to the public right at that moment.
Therefore I took some outside shots of the gates and building but really wanted to in this post about the person for whom this is named.
The official website of the Vredespaleis (Peace Palace) http://www.vredespaleis.nl/default.asp?tl=0 tells the story in detail so I will just lift out some text and advise you that the rest of the website is well worth a visit and a read for further information.
Once I am fully mobile again this is a place that is high on my wish-list to visit and to learn more about. Sadly I don’t, and never remotely will, possess even a minuscule percentage of his wealth, but I dohope to emulate Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic ideals whenever, and however I can in my lifetime.
Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919) was born Dunfermline, Scotland,the eldest son of William Carnegie, a linen weaver and local leader of the Chartists (a group that sought to improve the conditions of working class life in Great Britain), and Margaret Carnegie, daughter of Thomas Morrison, a shoemaker and political and social reformer.
When he was thirteen, the family moved to the United States, where he worked his way up from telegraph messenger to successful entrepreneur.
He had received little formal schooling and credited his education to his love of books. As a boy, he took advantage of the generosity of a person in his village who opened his library to local working boys.
Later, wishing others to have access to similar opportunities, since he believed books to be the key to knowledge and open mind, Carnegie gave gifts to communities in the United States to establish free public libraries.
At the age of eighteen, he started working for the railroads. But Carnegie was never quite reconciled to working for other people.
He was still employed by the railroad when he invested in a new company being set up to manufacture railway sleeping cars.
In 1873, the first of his steel works started, taking advantage of the profit potential he saw in the Bessemer converter, the first practical method of converting iron ore into steel.
It was a unique company, founded on the philosophy of Carnegie that “it shall be the rule for the working man to be partner with capital… as an owner of the shares and so far interested in the success of his effort combined with that of the man of affairs.”
The steel company was very successful and Carnegie’s steel empire expanded over time. Later on, he invested his profits in oil fields, managing to profit first from the development of the train and afterwards from the transition from coal to oil as fuel.
Around 1900, one year after the Hague Peace Conference, Carnegie, aged sixty-five, decided to retire from business. In 1901, he concluded a historical transaction by selling his business to the banker J. Piermont Morgan for $480 million.
He then started working on what he considered “a far more difficult and serious” task than accumulating money, namely “spending it wisely”.
Carnegie’s personal motto was that “he who dies rich, dies in shame”.
According to him, wealth ought to be administered for the best good of the community. So he systematically donated money in the way he thought would most benefit the greatest number of people.
This self-made man believed that a lack of education was the cause of a great number of problems in society and was convinced that education of the public could solve many of these problems. As a result, he spent most of his fortune on funding educational institutions, establishing no fewer than 4,000 libraries and financing many church organs.
But above all, Carnegie was a man of peace.
After the mediation of his friend Andrew White, Carnegie agreed to finance the construction of a world peace centre in The Hague with an amount of $1.5 million on condition that the centre would not just house the Permanent Court of Arbitration but also a legal library that would meet the highest possible standards.
In 1904, a special foundation was set up to manage the funds and the preparations for the construction. The Carnegie Foundation is still owner and manager of the grounds and buildings at the Peace Palace in The Hague.
By making use of the principles of “scientific philanthropy,” which he had outlined in his book,’ The Gospel of Wealth’, Carnegie proceeded to give away $350 million during the next 18 years.
By the time of his death in 1919, he had created 22 different Carnegie Institutions and trusts, all with the single purpose of benefiting humankind.
My Dutch Oma (Grandmother) was born in The Hague in 1897 and lived to be almost 100 years of age. I remember her telling me that she played as a child on the nearby Scheveningseweg as the Vredespaleis was being built and she and her parents went and looked when it was newly opened (1913).