Building on Carnegie’s Legacy, Lego by Lego

Building on Carnegie’s Legacy, Lego by Lego

Scotland’s Dunfermline learned about dinosaurs, engineering, and collaboration when they built a dinosaur made of 35,000 Lego bricks

A six-and-a-half-foot red Lego dinosaur recently loomed large in the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum in the Scottish town of Dunfermline. One might not guess that thousands of hands and minds went into its construction, but this playful interpretation of the beloved Diplodocus carnegii dinosaur represents a grand collaboration. The original Diplodocus dinosaur, fondly dubbed “Dippy” by one and all, calls the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh home; a full-scale plaster replica of the original Dippy is currently touring the U.K. with great success. Meanwhile, Dunfermline went “Dippy About Dinosaurs” — thanks to Lego Dippy.

Children and other Dunfermline community members worked together with representatives from the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust, as well as with renowned Lego artist Warren Elsmore and his team, to put the dino’s 35,000 Lego bricks together, bringing the model to life for those in the area who might not be able to make it to see the traveling Dippy skeleton during its residency at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. Built in the collaborative spirit that was championed by Andrew Carnegie, Lego Dippy is an apt way to celebrate the philanthropist’s legacy today, during the centennial year of his death.


You forgot the second part! An ardent evolutionist, Andrew Carnegie funded paleontology expeditions to the western United States. One such dig uncovered fossils in a Wyoming quarry that would be named Diplodocus carnegii in honor of the expedition’s benefactor. (Photo: Chelsea Hall and Lez Dow)


“The interactive build process really brought the community together, and everyone had a great time; children, staff, adult visitors, and the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers who participated,” says Nora Rundell, chief executive of the Carnegie Dunfermline & Hero Fund Trusts. “Our idea was that not everyone can get to Glasgow to see the dinosaur cast and exhibition, and this event would provide a hands-on opportunity to relate to Dippy, even if it’s in Lego form. The aim of the exhibition in Glasgow and the Lego build in the Birthplace Museum was to allow people to see a Diplodocus take shape while learning about the fascinating story of Carnegie’s use of paleontology as a vehicle for peace diplomacy.”

Opening in Glasgow in January and running there through May 6, the extremely successful Dippy on Tour exhibition showcases the full-scale replica Diplodocus skeleton from the collections of the Natural History Museum in London. The exhibition includes materials, curated by the Birthplace Museum, telling the story of how Carnegie funded the excavation of the original fossil in Wyoming in 1898 — christened Diplodocus carnegii in honor of the dig’s benefactor. This eventually led to the development of Carnegie’s celebrated “Dinosaur Diplomacy” agenda: full-scale plaster replicas of the dinosaur skeleton were commissioned a few years later and gifted to seven heads of state, including the U.K., in an attempt to promote peace among nations. The original Dippy Diplodocus skeleton draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History each year. The U.K.’s Dippy replica, which has been on a tour throughout the country, continues to spread Carnegie’s ideals of peace and education.


“Carnegie was committed to inspiring younger generations in education and enterprise and the aim of the build was to make engineering concepts accessible to everyone, regardless of age or ability, and to engage them in the concept and construction processes.”

— Nora Rundell, Chief Executive of Carnegie Dunfermline & Hero Fund Trusts


In Dunfermline, the building of the Lego Dippy sculpture was one of several innovative educational programs designed by the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and the Birthplace Museum to teach not only natural history but structural engineering as well. The program had the added benefit of encouraging collaboration and educating the public at large about Andrew Carnegie’s legacy.

“Carnegie was committed to inspiring younger generations in education and enterprise and the aim of the build was to make engineering concepts accessible to everyone, regardless of age or ability, and to engage them in the concept and construction processes,” says Rundell.

Edinburgh-based Warren Elsmore led the Lego engineers. Elsmore specializes in engineering complex Lego models that enable group participation and construction. The choice of the Dippy shape for the completed model was meant to reinforce the Carnegie connection but also to present certain construction challenges.


It’s Dinosaur Season! Dunfermline community members of all ages were involved in the creation of Lego Dippy. (Photo: Chelsea Hall and Lez Dow)


Founded on teamwork, Elsmore planned a build process running over three days with each of the more than 1,100 participants, whose ages ranged from four years to adult, building simple shapes that were then put together to make up the whole. Each step of the project was designed and overseen by engineers from his team, who have created a wide range of equally challenging models in museums across Europe.

The process reflected “Carnegie’s idea that education should be accessible to all and his belief that working together will help us all to achieve great things,” says Rundell. Carnegie wisely understood that by being a “shareholder” in a process, participants would value the outcome more.

“The participants loved it,” reports Rundell. “Some kids spent hours at the museum, not only building Dippy, but also building other things, looking around the museum, and participating in family workshops, including special sessions for toddlers with Duplo instead of Lego.”

The Lego build project represents a directional change for the museum. “In the past, the museum has had more of a top-down approach presenting a ready-made exhibition for visitors to see/enjoy,” says Rundell, “whereas now it is more about joining in and doing things together.”


The Dunfermline community members who helped build the Lego Dippy replica are keeping Carnegie’s legacy alive — in the arts, in culture, in science, and in education.


On display at the Birthplace Museum through April 17, Lego Dippy was accompanied by a series of themed events (running into May) designed to engage visitors of all ages and abilities and encouraging them to explore the museum’s collection. All of the museum’s educational activities are free, in line with Carnegie’s belief that everyone should have access to education regardless of their income or ability. A dinosaur egg hunt around the museum served as a scavenger hunt bringing visitors to every corner of the collection. Dinosaur-themed family craft days, Lego-building workshops, and paleontology-themed family days as well as activities for babies and children under five help engage the youngest visitors in the museum and in Carnegie’s life and work.

Carnegie believed “there’s little success where there is little laughter,” so programming has been structured accordingly, to engage in age- and ability-appropriate ways. Toddler sessions are aimed to help them improve dexterity, while school-age children learn about Carnegie and life during the Victorian era in Dunfermline. “Carnegie was an ordinary man who achieved extraordinary things, and we teach children that they can, too,” says Rundell. “Also, children learn about how life is different today than in his time. For example, hygiene was poor in Victorian Dunfermline, but things are not great now either — we have plastic pollution and other problems that need solutions.”

One particularly innovative morning session at the Birthplace Museum was geared to children with sensory issues and special needs, offering a quieter time to connect with Lego Dippy and participate in activities around the dinosaur. These types of inclusive events are a true extension of Carnegie’s mission to foster education for all. The development of programming for individuals with autism is meant to enable those who do not usually visit museums, because of too much noise, audio interaction, light, or crowds, for example, to experience the displays in a suitable environment with appropriate support.


A Dazzle of Dippies? As evidenced by the museum’s Twitter feed, this photograph raises an important question: “Here is one dastardly display of dino duplication! Our model Dippy has already got a firm fan following, but the real question is what’s the proper collective term for a group of Dippies? A dazzle of Dippies? A doodle of Diplodocuses?” (Photo: Ronald MacEachen, Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum)


“Our staff have undergone training and the sessions are scheduled before and after the museum is open to the general public,” says Rundell, who reports that other groups with particular support needs can also book individual sessions. “Sometimes just offering a space for these community groups is enough — they are positively surprised when the museum staff reaches out to them and offers them an opportunity to visit and join in, such as with Young Carers (these are children under 18 who must provide care for another because of family circumstances). In most cases, these groups feel nobody is interested in them in other public venues. If kids need a quiet space and to be away from other crowds — just allowing them to come in and see an exhibit before we open to general public means a lot to them.”

The Birthplace Museum Dippy exhibit was just one of the many worldwide events being held this year as part of the Forging the Future series commemorating the centennial year of Andrew Carnegie’s passing. The Dunfermline community members who helped build the Lego Dippy replica are keeping Carnegie’s legacy alive — in the arts, in culture, in science, and in education. As a matter of fact, Lego Dippy’s sojourn in Dunfermline was so successful that even after the big red dino was taken down, the Birthplace Museum hosted Bricks 4 Kidz workshops, where children continued using Legos to build models of such favorites as the Stegosaurus and the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex. In Dunfermline, dinosaur fever rages on.


He Has the Best Job Warren Elsmore, an Edinburgh-based Lego artist, led the construction of the dinosaur replica. (Photo: Chelsea Hall and Lez Dow)

More Stories

Andrew Carnegie’s “Dinosaur Diplomacy” Continues to Inspire

Andrew Carnegie’s “Dinosaur Diplomacy” Continues to Inspire

Dippy, the world’s most famous dinosaur skeleton, may call Pittsburgh home, but a full-scale plaster copy of the huge beast is wowing crowds in the U.K.

It’s January in Glasgow, Scotland, where four technicians and two conservators are crouched on the marble floor at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, carefully piecing together an ancient jigsaw puzzle of sorts. For five days visitors gathered on balconies flanking the dramatically vaulted room watching the work. Before their eyes, 292 plaster bones were transformed into Diplodocus carnegii, a 14-foot-high, 14-foot-wide, 70-foot-long dinosaur skeleton filling the massive Center Hall, where it will hold court through May 6. Meet “Dippy,” as he is better known, the most famous dinosaur in the U.K.

Dippy’s arrival in Scotland, Andrew Carnegie’s birthplace, comes after three stops across the U.K., and prior to that, 12 months of careful work by conservators to prepare the huge — but delicate — object for its epic journey. The magnificent plaster of paris skeleton has never before traveled from its home in London’s Natural History Museum, not since 1905, when it was first unveiled there — the gift of Andrew Carnegie to the British people.

“Dippy is an enduring embodiment of Carnegie’s legacy and mission,” says Eric Dorfman, the Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, where the original dinosaur skeleton resides. “He is a beloved treasure because he connects us vividly to Earth’s distant past. Thanks to Carnegie, millions of people have engaged with Dippy intellectually, in the name of science, and emotionally, in the name of wonder.”


“Dippy is an enduring embodiment of Carnegie’s legacy and mission. He is a beloved treasure because he connects us vividly to Earth’s distant past. Thanks to Carnegie, millions of people have engaged with Dippy intellectually, in the name of science, and emotionally, in the name of wonder.”

— Eric Dorfman, Director, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh


Free to the public at each of its eight stops, the exhibition Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure will travel to every region of the U.K. Just as Andrew Carnegie envisioned when he gifted the cast copy of the original skeleton to the British, Dippy on Tour is meant to spark curiosity about the natural world while helping to bridge differences between peoples with a frankly awe-inspiring symbol of our common history on this planet.

“Dippy has acted as an ambassador for the natural world,” observed Sir Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, during the opening of the Glasgow exhibition on January 22.

“We are thrilled that Dippy has once again made it safely across the Irish Sea and has now arrived at Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. Dippy on Tour has so far seen record visitor numbers at the three previous venues,” said Dixon, referring to Dorset County Museum in England’s South West, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the West Midlands, and Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Carnegie’s dinosaur is indeed a phenomenon on the road. In Dorset, Dippy was crowned “tourism champion,” and for the stop in Glasgow, Kelvingrove’s website urges visitors to use public transit to get to the museum because Dippy has proved so popular that “our car park is full from early morning at weekends.”

Dippy’s three-year tour throughout the U.K., its “natural history adventure,” aims to introduce 1.5 million people to this fascinating specimen of evolutionary history in an effort to inspire not only the next generation of scientists but to encourage families to set off on their own natural history adventures. The Kelvingrove exhibition includes information about animals currently under threat, and the steps being taken to protect them through conservation and re-wilding. The museum is also organizing a series of events to encourage visitors to explore its incredible natural history collections and to learn about the “biodiversity right on your doorstep in Glasgow.”

Stateside, the original Dippy, a composite skeleton of bones excavated in Wyoming in 1898, has been on display at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh since 1907. Thought to be between 152 and 154 million years old and perhaps the most famous dinosaur skeleton in the world, the Pittsburgh Diplodocus serves as a beloved mascot for both the museum and the Steel City.

“Carnegie shared knowledge. He did not secret Dippy away after the discovery. He shared him with the world,” said Eric Dorfman. “For many people, Dippy is the definitive dinosaur, the image they imagine when they hear the word. Here at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, where the real Dippy is on view, hundreds of thousands of people of all ages get to marvel at him every year.”


On the Road William Thomson, great-grandson of Andrew Carnegie, takes a closer look at a plastic replica of the skull of Dippy, the Natural History Museum of London’s famous Diplodocus carnegii skeleton, as it was unveiled at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, the fourth stop on the beloved behemoth’s three-year tour of the U.K. This full-size plaster cast of Dippy (the original dinosaur skeleton calls Pittsburgh home) was one of eight copies gifted by Carnegie to the U.K. and seven other countries. According to Thomson, Diplodocus carnegii was seen by his great-grandfather as “a symbol and an opportunity.” (Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)


But Dippy is not simply a gateway to learning about science and our natural world. As William Thomson, Andrew Carnegie’s great-grandson, pointed out at the Kelvingrove Museum opening, Diplodocus carnegii was seen by his great-grandfather as “a symbol and an opportunity.”

“By gifting copies to the heads of state of seven other countries as well as the U.K., Carnegie hoped to demonstrate through mutual interest in scientific discoveries that nations have more in common than what separates them,” he said.

“He used his gifts,” Thomson continued, “in an attempt to open inter-state dialogue on preserving world peace — a form of Dinosaur Diplomacy! Replicas of Diplodocus carnegii are still on display in some of the most famous natural history museums in Europe, but sadly the wellspring of their united history has been largely forgotten. The exhibition sheds some light on this remarkable story.”

An ardent evolutionist, Andrew Carnegie funded paleontology expeditions to the western United States. One such dig uncovered fossils in a Wyoming quarry that would be named Diplodocus carnegii in honor of the expedition’s benefactor. The specimen that was crafted from those fossils has proved to be incredibly important to science as it became the holotype, the original specimen upon which its species is based. Carnegie funded full-size cast models of that Diplodocus dinosaur and gifted them to museums around the world. His goal was twofold: to spread the advances that scientists were making in their understanding of the natural world, but also to celebrate our shared history and findings, both objectives serving in his eyes as a form of diplomacy.


Dusty Dinosaur The full-size plaster skeleton of Diplodocus carnegii — affectionately nicknamed Dippy — was presented to London’s Museum of Natural History by Andrew Carnegie in 1905. Cast from the original at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the London Diplodocus is here gently feather-dusted by a cleaner, November 1936.  (Photo: William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Carnegie believed that celebrating our shared interests and the commonalities between nations would promote peace and understanding around the world, a noble cause at the very core of all of his philanthropic endeavors. A century after his death that work continues in the many philanthropic and educational organizations he founded.

“Carnegie’s legacy endures in the empowerment of people and the sharing of knowledge,” says Dorfman. “He understood how democracy and equality depend on access to knowledge, to culture, to education. Dippy’s U.K. tour, sharing this wonder with people who might otherwise not have access, is a proper tribute to Carnegie.”

After Dippy’s current residency in Scotland at the Kelvingrove Museum, the dinosaur will be carefully dismantled and packed up to continue on its grand tour. Following Glasgow, Dippy’s upcoming venues are:

Today, Norwich Cathedral, where Dippy on Tour concludes, serves as a place of both worship and learning, and is a fitting setting to bridge the scientific and spiritual questions that arise when contemplating our ancient evolutionary past.

“The presence of Dippy in Norwich will naturally bring people from all backgrounds and beliefs and will stimulate questions and debate about creations and the origins of life as well as some of the major issues facing humanity today,” said Jane Hedges, the cathedral’s dean. “It will prompt people to think about aspects such as climate change and food production.”

For Professor Eric Cross, dean of cultural affairs at Newcastle University, Dippy’s residency in the north of England provides a timely opportunity for scholarly research and discussion around environmental issues. Dippy’s visit, he says, “will help illustrate some of the key global challenges such as sustainability and climate change that are central to the University’s research.”

The Diplodocus carnegii cast has been the imposing star of Hintze Hall at London’s Natural History Museum since 1979, although his appearance has changed over the years to reflect advances in our understanding of dinosaur biology and evolution — most recently in 1993.


Field Trip! Pupils from Botanic Primary School seem thoroughly engaged during a media preview for the Dippy on Tour exhibition at Ulster Museum in Belfast, September 2018. The actual source of all the excitement, London’s Diplodocus carnegii skeleton, looms behind them. (Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)


Andrew Carnegie’s remarkable philanthropic legacy has also continued to evolve over the years through the ever-evolving work of the organizations he founded. The challenges these institutions address are some of the most intractable and urgent of our time. In this centennial year of his passing, Carnegie institutions worldwide are hosting Forging the Future, a series of events celebrating his commitment to doing “real and permanent good in this world,” while also working to sustain his vision and his legacy into the 21st century.

The wildly popular Dippy on Tour exhibition is part of the Forging the Future series, which commemorates and expands upon Andrew Carnegie’s lasting achievements in peace, education, the arts, science, culture, and philanthropy. The Forging the Future series will culminate with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy awards ceremony in New York City, on October 16, 2019. Dippy will definitely be there in spirit.

More Stories

(Not) Going Dutch

(Not) Going Dutch

The competition to design the new Peace Palace in The Hague was not without controversy, not least because on May 11, 1906, the jury announced that the winner was … French!

By Fred A. Bernstein

The magnificent Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, built thanks to the largesse of Andrew Carnegie, soars as testament to the American philanthropist’s unshakable belief that for the progress of mankind, the tide had turned at last, and that “even the smallest further step taken in any peaceful direction would soon lead to successive steps thereafter.”


Big philanthropic initiatives on peace and security have become few and far between, according to a recent article in the Nation, ruefully titled “You Never Give Me Your Money.” Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Stephen Del Rosso told the Nation that he has seen a “retraction of funding” over the course of the past 20 years in the area of peace and security, adding, “It’s lonely out here.” But Carnegie Corporation of New York has peacebuilding in its DNA: its programs build on Andrew Carnegie’s efforts to banish war, which he called “the earth’s most revolting spectacle.” Perhaps Andrew Carnegie’s most tangible such effort was building a home in The Hague for the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an intergovernmental organization created in 1899. “At last there is no excuse for war,” Carnegie said of the court in a 1905 speech to the students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “A tribunal is now at hand to judge wisely and deliver righteous judgment between nations.”


Carnegie Corporation of New York has peacebuilding in its DNA: its programs build on Andrew Carnegie’s efforts to banish war, which he called “the earth’s most revolting spectacle.”


In 1913 Carnegie spoke at the dedication of the Peace Palace, the structure designed as the permanent home for the Court of Arbitration. Financed by Carnegie, it “became the physical manifestation of his desire to bring about world peace, the same desire that fuels the Corporation’s work today,” says Del Rosso, program director for international peace and security at the Corporation. Indeed, the Palace now accommodates not only the arbitration court but also the International Court of Justice (the principal judicial arm of the United Nations, commonly known as the World Court), as well as an international law academy and a research library holding the world’s largest collection of materials on international peace and justice.

To ensure that the building would be as lofty as its mission, the planners held an architectural competition — a tradition dating back at least to 1419, when Filippo Brunelleschi was selected to design the dome of the famed Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. By the 20th century, architectural competitions had become de rigueur for significant public projects. The Peace Palace competition presaged several better-known contests: in 1948, Eero Saarinen’s design for the Gateway Arch, on the St. Louis waterfront, was chosen from among 172 entries (including one submitted by his father, Eliel Saarinen). And in 1957, Jørn Utzon, a young Danish architect, triumphed in a competition to design the Sydney Opera House, known for its iconic, sail-like roofs. Tellingly, the Florence cathedral, the Gateway Arch, and the Sydney Opera House are among the world’s most recognizable structures.


Symbols of Peace The dove has been a symbol of peace at least as far back as the biblical story of Noah. The Dutch artist Herman Rosse (1887–1965) was only 24 years old when he was selected to design much of the interior of the Peace Palace. The Hague-born artist painted doves throughout the building — on the tiles, on plaster ceilings, and even on stained-glass windows (like this one in a courtroom antechamber). Rosse compared his work as a decorative artist to composing for an orchestra: both the aesthetics and the meaning of his decorations, he said, “are to be connected into one ‘symphonic’ whole.” The Palace was only the first of many commissions for Rosse, who enjoys the distinction of being the first Dutchman to win an Oscar — for his art direction of 1930’s King of Jazz. And on a personal “note”: he met his future wife, Sophia Luyt, at the Peace Palace, where she was an assistant to Thomas Mawson, the landscape designer for the complex. (Photo: © Carnegie Foundation–Peace Palace)


At their best, competitions elicit compelling designs, often from little-known architects who wouldn’t otherwise have been considered for such high-profile commissions. To the list of relatively obscure architects who have won important competitions, add the name Louis-Marie Cordonnier (1854–1940) of Lille, France, whose Peace Palace design was selected in 1906 from among 216 entries. More than a century after its completion, the red-brick and sandstone building stands as an “icon of the development of international law,” in the words of Arthur Eyffinger, author of the definitive study The Peace Palace: Residence for Justice, Domicile of Learning (1988). It is also a major tourist draw. Upon entering the building, visitors immediately sense that it “is a ‘palace’ in the true sense of the word. The distinguished impression of the building’s exterior is heightened still by the soberness, the quiet of the interior, which has no room for ‘overcrowding.’ … Even a layman could guess at once that choicest materials from all corners of the earth have been gathered and lovingly made into what they are by artists’ hands,” wrote C. H. de Boer, author of a guidebook to the Palace (1948; 1951).

Such extravagance was made possible by the deep pockets of Andrew Carnegie, whose fondest hope was that the work conducted within the Palace walls would make war obsolete. This aim was shared by Russia’s Czar Nicholas II, who in 1899 convened the Hague Convention to address the problem of international weapons proliferation. Although the 26 nations participating in the meeting failed to reach a significant arms agreement, they did succeed in founding the Permanent Court of Arbitration as a means of resolving future international disputes.

Because the court had no home of its own, in 1900 Russian diplomat Frederic de Martens traveled to Berlin to enlist the aid of the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Andrew Dickson White, in securing funding for an appropriate structure. White immediately thought of Carnegie, whose interest in world peace was well established. Initially, the philanthropist offered to donate a library to the new court, but after protracted negotiations he pledged $1.5 million (more than $43 million in today’s dollars) toward construction. In 1904 the board of the Carnegie Foundation, which is based in The Hague, assumed control of the project, and a year later the Dutch government bought the Foundation two properties, totaling 16 acres, in an idyllic spot alongside the extensive royal woods known as the Zorgvliet. The Foundation, advised by a leading Dutch architect, began planning the competition.

Every architecture competition involves trade-offs, and this one was no exception. As Eyffinger, a classicist, law historian, and former head librarian of the International Court of Justice, recently explained in an email: “Prize competitions are highly interesting, if mostly saddening stories in which, more often than not, human nature and rivalry prevail over technical and strictly professional issues.” However, the ultimate success of the Peace Palace design speaks highly of the process followed by the Carnegie Foundation.

The first thing the organizers of an architectural contest must decide is whether to allow all architects, or only a preselected group, to enter. An open call may bring a flood of submissions, but few from established architects (who are likely to be deterred by the low odds of winning). Conversely, an “invited competition” would exclude lesser-known architects who might have the most original ideas. In the case of the Peace Palace, an additional question arose: Should the competition be limited to Dutch architects, as the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects demanded at the time, or should it be open to architects of any nationality, the view — not insignificantly — of Andrew Carnegie himself?


Stairway to Heaven Cordonnier modeled the building’s main stairway, made of “blanc clair” marble, on the much larger grand stair of Charles Garnier’s Paris Opera (1861–75). The standing candelabras were gifts of Austria. The bohemian crystal lamps flanking the stairway were gifts of The Hague. The statue on the landing at the top, Peace Through Justice by Andrew O’Connor, was a present from the U.S. government, though not given until 1924. O’Connor’s modern version of Lady Justice is without the usual blindfold, scales, and sword. (Photo: © Carnegie Foundation–Peace Palace)


Weighty Matters The huge jasper vase in the entrance chamber to the small courtroom was a gift from Czar Nicholas II, whose initiative led to the creation of the Peace Palace. But then, in a manner of speaking, he almost destroyed it: the urn (together with its base) weighs an incredible 3,200 kilograms; the builder had to reinforce the concrete floor before it could be installed. Gold embellishments include the double-headed eagle insignia of the Romanovs. (Photo: © Carnegie Foundation–Peace Palace)


Eventually, the Carnegie Foundation board decided on a competition that was both open and closed. It would be international — as befits an organization dedicated to world unity — but limited to entrants nominated by the 26 countries that took part in the 1899 Hague Convention. (The single exception was the nomination of American architects, which was left to Carnegie himself; he chose Peabody & Stearns of Boston and Carrère & Hastings of New York.) The Foundation board, besieged by requests from foreign architects and their professional associations that the competition be open to anyone, eventually relented, although only the invited firms were paid a stipend for participating.

Another issue in architecture competitions is whether to solicit fully developed designs or mere conceptual sketches. The former approach, requiring hundreds of hours of work, might discourage all but the best-funded practitioners. The latter, a so-called ideas competition, may result in the choice of an exciting scheme by an architect who then turns out to have little practical experience.

In this case, the board set the bar very high: the “Programme of the Competition for the Architectural Plan of the Peace Palace for the Use of the Permanent Court of Arbitration with a Library,” distributed worldwide on August 15, 1905, informed architects that they had seven months to produce plans, elevations, sections, and perspectives for a finished structure meeting hundreds of precise requirements. The process proved overwhelming, and, as the deadline approached, the participating architects were granted an extra month.

More than 200 entries arrived by the (revised) deadline, April 15, 1906. The six jurors (chosen by the Carnegie Foundation board) included the president-elect of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the architect of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the German emperor’s personal architect, among other grandees of the profession. The one American was William Robert Ware of Milton, Massachusetts, founder of the architecture school at Columbia University.

Altogether, the entries comprised more than 3,000 drawings — so many it was hard to find a place to hang them, until Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands offered the walls of her Kneuterdijk Palace. There, in May, after reviewing the proposals privately, the jurors convened to pick a winner. They began by naming their favorite projects. Forty-four plans received at least one nod, and thus qualified for further discussion. The field was eventually narrowed to 16. Several jurors were unsatisfied with the pool of entries and suggested, to no avail, that the contest be reopened.

The jury took a final vote on May 11. In first place was Cordonnier’s scheme for separate courthouse and library buildings connected by a corridor, with four large corner towers, all in a richly decorated, neo-Renaissance mien. The jury, in a written statement, praised the design for “following the local traditions of XVI Century architecture.” But Eyffinger succinctly notes that this was not the case. “Cordonnier’s design,” he writes, “was in no way linked to Dutch tradition.” Nor did the choice of period make sense to everyone. “Why on earth the 16th-century style?” one critic asked mockingly. “Is it because Holland was engaged in war (with Spain) most of that period?” (In a detailed critique of the completed palace, the New York Times would later peg the style “Sicilian Romanesque,” explaining that the design reflected “in some degree both the Norman and the Oriental influence resultant from the many political mutations of the island of the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages.”)


Grand Illusions This handsome watercolor rendering is part of the submission that won Louis-Marie Cordonnier the Peace Palace commission. But sticking to Andrew Carnegie’s budget meant eliminating many of the flourishes of the original design. Cordonnier’s four corner towers were reduced to two — the highest of which was adorned with a clock donated by Switzerland — and the ornamentation was simplified considerably by the project’s “executive architect,” Johan van der Steur. (Photo: © Carnegie Foundation–Peace Palace)


More positive attention was focused on the fourth-place design, by the Austrian architect Otto Wagner, a leader of the Vienna Secession movement and one of the great figures of 20th-century architecture. In fifth place was the New York firm of Greenley & Olin, whose design hued to the neoclassical style exemplified by The New York Public Library’s central building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. A plan by another highly influential architect, Eliel Saarinen of Finland, didn’t make the top six, nor did any proposal from the Netherlands. Modernism was also nowhere to be seen among the finalists.

The selected plan prompted not just criticism but also litigation. Between 1907 and 1911 a group headed by Hendrik Berlage, a celebrated Dutch architect, fought to annul the result of the competition, claiming, among other things, that the cost of Cordonnier’s scheme would far surpass the announced budget. Although the board ultimately won dismissal of the suit, at one point it seriously considered scrapping the jury’s verdict and going with the Saarinen plan. Not legally bound by the jury’s decision, it also at one point thought of moving forward with the Greenley & Olin proposal.

Make It New — But Not Modern

Fourth Down The eminent Austrian architect Otto Wagner (1841–1918), known for introducing a streamlined modernism to his native Vienna, submitted what today looks like a rather traditional design for the Peace Palace. The jury awarded Wagner’s design fourth prize; still, the eminent judges seemed more condescending than admiring, noting Wagner’s “novel methods of artistic treatment.” Rudolph Schindler, the Viennese architect who went on to great fame in California, considered Wagner one of the three progenitors of modern architecture, along with Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland and Louis Sullivan in Chicago. (Photo: © Carnegie Foundation–Peace Palace)

When the Peace Palace opened in 1913, the critic for the New York Times christened its throwback architectural style “Sicilian Romanesque,” going on to note that many of its graceful but often inappropriately “warlike” details were of a nature to provoke criticism from “the lovers of pure art.”

The Peace Palace was meant to embody the promise of the future. But its style was based entirely on the past. Indeed, oddly for a building dedicated to eradicating war, many of its details were derived from forts and castles. Its architect, Louis-Marie Cordonnier, was accustomed to replicating the work of earlier eras. Born in 1854, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was influenced by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, restorer of France’s medieval monuments, and Charles Garnier, architect of Paris’s ornate opera house. But the design of the Peace Palace was backward-looking even within the context of Cordonnier’s career, given its unmistakable resemblance to his Dunkirk (France) Town Hall, completed in 1901. Perhaps it’s understandable that Cordonnier would reuse aspects of past projects — the Peace Palace competition required architects to assemble detailed drawings in a very short time and on a tight budget. (As one of the 26 architects invited to participate in the competition, Cordonnier would have been paid a small fee.) Moreover, the Beaux-Arts tradition encouraged copying the successful elements of older buildings.

But what about the judges? Were they right to pick a design that eschewed innovation, perhaps believing that historical references would give the building gravitas and, thus, legitimacy? Greenley & Olin’s admittedly beautiful and for its time thoroughly “safe” neoclassical design would have fit that bill nicely. Or would they have done better to choose something more forward-looking, given Andrew Carnegie’s desire that the world break with its past?

The New York Times weighed in on September 7, 1913, with an entire page devoted to the new Peace Palace. And though the sub-headline was kind (“It is a superb structure, the interior being especially beautiful”) the article itself was not. It stated:

The Palace of Peace … is far from being such a representative specimen of modern architecture as would have seemed fitting to its object. Indeed, it is wholly imitative of the architecture of another age, without the slightest effort at large symbolism of modern life. This is rather astounding, in view of the character of the man who gave the great fund for the creation of the Palace of Peace and of his adopted nationality, which is significant of the new and progressive, rather than of the old and retardative.

The unnamed critic went on to blame the Dutch (“a downright people as ever they were”) for the failures of the building, which he described as “closely allied in general aspect to the type of some certain much-visited Flemish town halls,” although lacking their “strength and the intensity of idea which some of these latter reveals.”

But could the building, as the Times critic suggested, have served as a “representative specimen of modern architecture”? To be sure, most of the great monuments of the modernist era lay in the future; Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, the German and Swiss-French masters of the International Style, did their most important work after World War I. Still, by the time the Peace Palace competition was announced in 1906, architecture’s future had begun to emerge in singular buildings on both sides of the Atlantic.

Indeed, of the 100 most influential buildings of the 20th century (as determined through an exhaustive survey of the world’s leading architects for the book 100 Buildings (Rizzoli 2017), eight predated the Peace Palace. Three were in the U.S.: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House (Chicago; 1908–11), with its astonishing cantilevers, and his Larkin Administration Building (Buffalo; 1903–6), a kind of cathedral for workers; and the Arts and Crafts style Gamble House by the brothers Greene and Greene (Pasadena; 1907–19). In Scotland, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was developing his own arts and crafts vocabulary with his Glasgow School of Art (Glasgow; 1896–1909). And on the Continent, Otto Wagner was exploring novel facade treatments with his Post Office Savings Bank (Vienna; 1903–12), covered in flat squares of marble. Less than a mile away, Adolf Loos, with his Michaelerplatz House, nicknamed Looshaus (Vienna; 1909–11), had explored ways to make plain materials like stucco beautiful. Peter Behrens looked at the aesthetics of industrialization with his AEG Factory in Berlin (1907–9).

Perhaps most interestingly, in Holland Hendrik Berlage, the architect who in fact sued to overturn the competition results, had completed his stock exchange, the Beurs van Berlage (Amsterdam; 1896–1903), which helped make unadorned surfaces acceptable on significant public buildings. Each of these architects, though not ready to dispense with ornament entirely, pioneered new systems of decoration derived less from the classical orders than from scientific advances, non-representational art, and other contemporary sources.

Were the judges of the Peace Palace architectural competition aware of these new directions in architecture? One of the finalists was Otto Wagner, though it’s true Wagner proposed a design far less modern than the work he was doing in Vienna. Wagner must have understood that the judges — given the location and purpose of the building, and their own backgrounds — weren’t looking for a radical architectural solution. What they wanted was a building that would align the arbitration court, a new untested institution, with powerful institutions of the past, and that’s what Louis-Marie Cordonnier delivered.

In the end, however, the board set out to make the Cordonnier proposal work. So in July 1906, shortly after announcing the winning entry, board members traveled to Dunkirk, France, to see that architect’s town hall. That building so closely resembled Cordonnier’s Peace Palace design that, in Eyffinger’s words, the board members might have felt “downright cheated by the plagiarism.”

Moreover, Cordonnier, busy at his office in Lille, had little interest in relocating to The Hague, or even in making regular visits. The board persuaded him to collaborate with a Dutch architect so as to move the project forward, and eventually Cordonnier brought in the Haarlem firm of Johan van der Steur.


Even with the simplified design, the board had to ask Carnegie for additional funds — which led to his belated discovery that a brick-and-mortar library was to be a major part of the building. (When he initially offered to provide the funds for a library at the Peace Palace, Carnegie explained, he had meant a collection of books, not a library structure.)


Van der Steur’s first task was to cut costs by modifying the original design. As Eyffinger recently noted, “The building was, both on financial and aesthetic grounds, stripped of its all-too-elaborate decorations (Cordonnier was an artist first, an architect second), and two bell towers were cut out altogether. The dimensions were reduced, the ground plan altered, and the overall appearance adapted to the more modest Dutch taste — van der Steur was a very sober architect, the opposite of Cordonnier, but not exactly a creative genius.” The building, now a 234-foot square surrounding a courtyard of 102 by 132 feet, was not universally beloved in its time. Reviewing the finished building in 1913, the New York Times called van der Steur’s interventions “detrimental to a general scheme which already was by far too conventional.”

Even with the simplified design, the board had to ask Carnegie for additional funds — which led to his belated discovery that a brick-and-mortar library was to be a major part of the building. (When he initially offered to provide the funds for a library at the Peace Palace, Carnegie explained, he had meant a collection of books, not a library structure.) “I am positively wounded…. To speak of ‘The Library and Court of Arbitration’ is as if a bereaved husband were to ask plans for a sacred shrine to ‘my nephew and my dear wife,’” Carnegie wrote in a letter to David Jayne Hill, the U.S. minister in The Hague. However, through an exchange of letters and some personal diplomacy, matters were eventually smoothed over.

Meanwhile, work proceeded in the van der Steur offices. The Peace Palace’s cornerstone was laid on July 30, 1907, during the Second International Peace Conference, which was held, like the first conference (1899), in The Hague. This symbolic act preceded the actual groundbreaking by months, and splendid gifts soon began pouring in from around the world. The Russian czar sent an ornate and very grand vase — so heavy that the floor below it needed reinforcement. America’s offering was perhaps less impressive, although today the marble figure of Peace Through Justice is given pride of place at the top of the great staircase in the main entry hall, greeting visitors to the Palace in her own way. As Eyffinger, the Dutch historian, explains wryly:

America’s official gift was the marble statue representing Peace Through Justice, as it was named. After WWI, with President Wilson furious at the profitable neutrality of the Dutch during the war, the U.S. Congress did not vote in favor of a gift to the Peace Palace, and the statue (by Andrew O’Connor, and not produced until 1924) will initially have been meant for different purposes altogether. The marble lady of peace wears a wedding ring and has hands like shovels. Perhaps the records of O’Connor’s life will tell you more of the provenance of the statue!

The result is an edifice rich in allegorical detail and metaphorical allusion. Here’s de Boer, the guidebook author, describing just a bit of the decor of the Great Hall of Justice, the nobly proportioned and beautifully appointed room in which the International Court of Justice sits in session:

Remarkable for this room are its four stained-glass windows, which are a present of Great Britain. They were painted by Douglas Strachan and represent the development of mankind from its primitive days to the period when war as a means of international politics will have been banished. The painting by Albert Besnard is a gift from France. It represents a young woman separating two horsemen to prevent their fighting, while the men standing on the rocks are trying to settle their dispute by arbitration.

A grand opening was scheduled for August 1913, a month during which peace conferences were held throughout The Hague. As Eyffinger writes in The Peace Palace, “All in all, it looked very much as if the whole universe of pacifism had gravitated to The Hague — indeed, the atmosphere … was that of a joyful world reunion.” The high point came on August 28, as hundreds of dignitaries turned out for the inauguration of the Peace Palace. Old world met new, with Andrew Carnegie bowing deeply to the Dutch queen. However, as Eyffinger observes, to the Dutch public that day, it was Andrew Carnegie who was visiting royalty, likening his ride to the Peace Palace to a Fifth Avenue ticker-tape parade. Carnegie was profoundly moved by the occasion. His diary for that day reads:

Looking back a hundred years, or less perchance, from today, the future historian is to pronounce the opening of a World Court for the Settlement of International Disputes by Arbitration the greatest one step forward ever taken by man, in his long and checkered march upward from barbarism. Nothing he has yet accomplished equals the substitution for war, of judicial decisions founded upon International Law, which is slowly, yet surely, to become the corner stone, so long rejected by the builders, of the grand edifice of Civilization.

Taking his turn at the lectern that day, Carnegie predicted that the end of war was “as certain to come, and come soon, as day follows night.”

Tragically, Carnegie’s certainty did not become a reality. Exactly 11 months to the day after the opening of the Peace Palace, World War I — “the war to end all wars” — erupted when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. All seemed hopeless.

And yet …


Goddess Gates The impressive main gates to the grounds of the Peace Palace in The Hague were a gift from the government of Germany. Designed by the architect Bruno Möhring and manufactured by the firm Schulz und Holdefleiss of Berlin, the gates hang off large sandstone columns crowned by putti. Their four central brass medallions, installed in November 1912, feature relief sculptures of the goddesses Concordia, Amicitia, Pax, and Justitia (Concord, Friendship, Peace, and Justice). The government of Germany has twice funded restorations of the gates, most recently in 2010. (Photo: © Carnegie Foundation–Peace Palace)


The Peace Palace endures, and the seemingly never-ending work of the world’s peacebuilders continues.

In late September 2018, at the Peace Palace, Carnegie PeaceBuilding Conversations connected leading stakeholders from various backgrounds and generations, including underrepresented players and those directly affected by conflict and war. Presented by Carnegie institutions worldwide and their partners, the three-day program was designed to generate unexpected insights and routes for progress in promoting world peace.

At the closing event, held in the Great Hall of Justice, the winners of two notable peace prizes were announced and their extraordinary achievements celebrated. Youth-led organization BogotArt received the first Youth Carnegie Peace Prize for its “Letters of Reconciliation” project, which creates a dialogue between disconnected groups in Colombia, addressing the challenges of promoting youth participation in peace transition processes. For Leonardo Párraga, BogotArt executive director, the prize is “a direct demonstration of the power that the youth have to transform conflict and build sustainable peace.”

War correspondent Rudi Vranckx, winner of the 2018 Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize, has for more than three decades put his life on the line to give voice to people caught in some of the most dangerous conflict areas in the world. “Every word has consequences,” Vranckx reminded the audience. “Every silence does too. Silence is not an option.”

Again, old world met new. Next-generation peacebuilders are ready. Dr. Bernard R. Bot, chairman of the Carnegie Foundation–Peace Palace, forcefully invoked Andrew Carnegie, who made both the Peace Palace and the Carnegie Foundation tangible realities. “In all his ideas, he was dominated by an intense belief in the future, in progress, in education, and in a future without war. His spirit as well as his faith in the ability of individuals to better themselves, and thus the society in which they live, is a beacon of light for future generations to follow.”

Fred A. Bernstein studied architecture (at Princeton University) and law (at NYU) and writes about both subjects. He has contributed more than 400 articles, many on architecture, to the New York Times, and is a regular contributor to such magazines as Architectural Record and Architectural Digest. He has also published in journals like the New York University Review of Law and Social Change. In 2008 Bernstein won the Oculus Award, bestowed annually by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for excellence in architecture writing.

More Stories

A “Fool for Peace”

A “Fool for Peace”

How can we use Andrew Carnegie’s legacy today to strengthen the case for democracy and peace, as well as the values and institutions that uphold those ideals?

By David Nasaw

The Carnegie PeaceBuilding Conversations, a three-day program presented by Carnegie institutions worldwide and their partners, was held at the Peace Palace in The Hague in September 2018. Among the event’s roster of speakers, David Nasaw, the biographer of Andrew Carnegie and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Distinguished Professor of History at the CUNY Graduate Center, examined the great Scot’s legacy both historically and in terms of more recent developments. Here follow Professor Nasaw’s prepared remarks.


September 24, 2018 | The Hague, Netherlands

We are here today because of a funny-looking little Scotsman, who, in his high-heeled boots stood no more than five feet tall, a strange-looking gnome of a man who resembled Santa Claus in a top hat or a miniaturized Karl Marx.

We are here today because that little man believed in evolution, in reason, in humanity.

We are here today because that little man had a big voice and the money to make himself heard and be taken account of.

We are here today because in an age too much like our own — an age of armaments escalations, build-ups, and races, an age where military men were saluted for their bravery and stout hearts and peace activists ignored or ridiculed as utopians, cranks, dreamers — that little man dedicated himself and a good part of his fortune, his welfare, his health, and his reputation to campaigning for peace.

We are here today to celebrate, learn from, and carry on the legacy of a child of the Scottish Enlightenment; a man of the 19th century, the century of light and progress; an enthusiast, a utopian, a fool, a crank, a dreamer, but also a pragmatist and politician who preached the gospel of peace on earth.

Andrew Carnegie had learned from Herbert Spencer that the laws of evolutionary progress guide change over time, that history has both purpose and direction, that the world was getting more prosperous, more civilized, more humane. The age of barbarism had been marked by savagery, the inability of men to settle disputes other than through violence, the organized killing of innocent men by innocent men. The age of civilization would, on the contrary, be marked by the replacement of violence with reason in the settling of domestic, personal, and international disputes.

“You will find the world much better than your forefathers did,” Carnegie declared in his second rectorial address to the students of St. Andrews, delivered just five years into the new century. “There is profound satisfaction in this, that all grows better; but there is still one evil in our day, so far exceeding any other in extent and effect, that I venture to bring it to your notice.… There still remains the foulest blot that has ever disgraced the earth, the killing of civilized men by men like wild beasts as a permissible mode of settling international disputes.”



Carnegie was not alone in campaigning for peace. The first half of the 19th century, in the U.S. and Britain and on the continent, witnessed the proliferation of local, regional, and national peace and arbitration societies, congresses, and campaigns. A major international peace conference in 1849, to which the American peace societies sent as a delegate a former slave, condemned war and called for compulsory arbitration, reduced spending on armaments, the creation of an international “High Tribunal,” and a Congress of Nations.

The early 19th-century peace movement did not end well — it was a victim of the Crimean War, of disagreements about what constituted good and bad conflicts, just and unjust wars, and of unresolved and perhaps unresolvable questions about whether the citizens of enslaved nations in Europe, like the Italians, had the right to fight for their freedom. This organized peace movement did not die — it instead entered on a new phase, one led by international lawyers and statesmen who argued that after centuries of warfare, peace would have to be built, step by step, through the creation of a body of international law and arbitration treaties that called for the peaceful resolution of disputes.

Peace, disarmament, and arbitration activists like Andrew Carnegie had, by the last quarter of the 19th century, come to believe that their cause was not only just, but achievable. They pointed, with pride and hope, to 1872 and the peaceably arbitrated resolution of the “Alabama Case,” which had pitted Great Britain against the United States over the American demand for compensation for the damage caused by British-built confederate warships, and to 1895, when the Americans and the British peaceably settled another dispute over the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana. “Truly,” Carnegie wrote Prime Minister Gladstone, arbitration as a substitute for war “seems to me the noblest question of our time.” The Americans and the British would set the example which the rest of the world would soon follow.


Peace in His Time In this illustration from the French newspaper Le Petit Parisien (August 27, 1905), President Theodore Roosevelt introduces Japanese foreign minister Komura Jutaro to Russian prime minister Sergius Witte at the Portsmouth Peace Conference of 1905. For his efforts brokering peace between Japan and Russia and an end to the Russo-Japanese War (1904–5), Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 1906. The Norwegian statesman Gunnar Knudsen’s award ceremony speech read in part: “The United States of America was among the first to infuse the ideal of peace into practical politics. Peace and arbitration treaties have now been concluded between the United States and the governments of several countries. But what has especially directed the attention of the friends of peace and of the whole civilized world to the United States is President Roosevelt’s happy role in bringing to an end the bloody war recently waged between two of the world’s great powers, Japan and Russia.” (Photo: Leemage/UIG via Getty Images)


The scaffolding for a new, civilized world order was already in place — here, at The Hague, where a Permanent Court of Arbitration had been established at the international conference in 1899, called by Czar Nicholas II, and attended by the representatives of 27 nations. The promise of peace through arbitration at The Hague was affirmed when, in December 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt persuaded Britain, Germany, Italy, and Venezuela to submit their dispute over Venezuela’s refusal to pay its debts for arbitration by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“The world took a long step upward yesterday,” Carnegie wrote the president the day after the four states had agreed to arbitration, “and Theodore Roosevelt bounded into the short list of those who will forever be hailed as supreme benefactors of man.” In a “New Year Greeting” published in the New York Tribune, Carnegie declared that Roosevelt, in “breathing life into The Hague tribunal, the permanent high court of humanity, for the peaceful settlement of international disputes,” had moved humanity a step closer toward the “coming banishment of the earth’s most revolting spectacle — human war — the killing of man by man.… The complete banishment of war draws near. Its death wound dates from the day that President Roosevelt led … opposing powers … to the Court of Peace, and thus proclaimed it the appointed substitute for that which had hitherto stained the earth — the killing of men by each other.”

To celebrate the dawn of this new era, Carnegie, in April 1903, committed $1.5 million (about $43 million today) for the erection of a Peace Palace to house the Permanent Court of Arbitration and a library. Mankind was now set on the path to peace — and progress along it appeared inexorable.

In October 1904, U.S. Secretary of State Hay issued a call for a second peace conference at The Hague.

In June 1905 Japan and Russia ceased hostilities and agreed to negotiate peace terms, with President Roosevelt as arbitrator, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Carnegie, buoyed by events, stepped up his personal and now full-time campaign for peace. In October 1905, in his second rectorial address at St. Andrews, he delivered an overly long treatise — how anyone sat through it is beyond me — on the history of peace activism, on the folly, the madness, the immorality, the inhumanity of war, and the need to eliminate it from the face of the earth through “Peaceful Arbitration.” He urged his hearers, university students, to resist the clarion call to arms. There was no glory to be had by putting on a uniform and killing one’s fellow men. “We sometimes hear, in defense of war, that it develops the manly virtue of courage. This means only physical courage, which some animals and the lower order of savage men possess in the highest degree. According to this idea, the more man resembles the bulldog the higher he is developed as man.” It was to educate the public to the true meaning of courage, of heroism, that Carnegie had the year before created his Hero Funds. He was prouder of his Hero Fund than of any of his other endowments. “It grew out of his intense conviction,” his friend and one of the original commissioners Frederick Lynch insisted, “that it took just as much heroism to save life as it did to take it, whereas the man who took it got most of the recognition.”

“Most of the monuments in the world,” Carnegie had discovered, to his dismay, were “to somebody who has killed a lot of his fellowmen.” That was not heroism. His Hero Fund would call attention to, recognize, and reward the true heroes of the world.

With every utterance, Carnegie made new enemies and enflamed old ones. Teddy Roosevelt, whom Carnegie regarded as his partner in peace, was near apoplectic at the Scotsman’s dismissal of the manly military virtues, at Carnegie’s delight that fewer and fewer young men appeared to be volunteering for military service, and his call on university men to resist putting on uniforms and defending their nations. In November 1905 he wrote Whitelaw Reid that he had tried hard to like Carnegie

but it is pretty difficult. There is no type of man for whom I feel a more contemptuous abhorrence than for the one who makes a God of mere moneymaking and at the same time is always yelling out that kind of utterly stupid condemnation of war which in almost every case springs from a combination of defective physical courage, of unmanly shrinking from pain and effort, and of hopelessly twisted ideals.… It is as noxious folly to denounce war per se as it is to denounce business per se. Unrighteous war is a hideous evil; but I am not at all sure that it is worse evil than business unrighteousness.



Carnegie was undeterred by the criticisms, by the caricatures, by the insults to his manhood. What worried him was that, while mankind appeared to be progressing toward peace, there were fearful signs of war on the horizon. The British and the Germans were engaged in an escalating battle to build bigger and bigger dreadnoughts, with other nations now entering the fray. Though Carnegie Steel was making a fortune outfitting new battleships with steel armor, Carnegie insisted that armor was for defensive, not offensive, purposes. And, to his partners’ dismay, he campaigned for an end to this arms race.

Carnegie hoped and expected that the subject of disarmament would be discussed at the Second International Peace Conference in The Hague, which, after postponements, was scheduled to meet in June 1907, or at a disarmament conference in London, which he actively proposed and promoted. In the meantime, in preparation for the Hague conference, he took an active, oversized role in funding, organizing, and convening a massive and massively publicized meeting of the National Arbitration and Peace Congress at Carnegie Hall in April 1907.

The meeting was a triumph — but it was only a meeting, an exhortation, and a prayer. The real work of peace was to be accomplished at The Hague that summer. Carnegie was not content to leave the business of peacemaking to the delegates. In early June 1907 he attended Kaiser Wilhelm II’s annual regatta at Kiel in northern Germany, hoping that he would be able to arrange a personal meeting and a personal connection to the kaiser. He did not get much of a chance to do so — the kaiser was more interested in his yachts than in talking peace to the strange little loquacious Scotsman about arbitration and The Hague.

From Kiel, Carnegie and his wife, Louise, boarded a special railroad car provided him by the kaiser, which, with the Dutch government’s cooperation, arranged for his through passage to The Hague. He arrived — as a private citizen — while the conference was in process and spent the next few days as cheerleader and publicist. The second Hague conference would continue to meet through the fall, long after Carnegie had departed. The fact that little was accomplished on naval disarmament, compulsory arbitration, a League of Peace, or the organization of an international police force neither deterred nor discouraged Carnegie. More nations had participated in 1907 than in 1899 and the conference had adjourned with a resolution to meet again, though no date was set for a third conference. (A date was eventually set: 1915, but by then it was far too late for peace. There would be no third peace conference at The Hague.)

Despite the failures of the second Hague conference, Carnegie remained confident that naval disarmament, compulsory arbitration, and a League of Peace would come to pass, but perhaps not just yet. The nations of the world had failed to bring about the desired end at their conference at The Hague, but Carnegie would succeed where they had failed, through the power of personal diplomacy. He had already established firm connections with the leaders of the U.S. and the U.K., helped along by healthy contributions to the Republicans in America and the Liberal Party in the U.K. He had lesser but still friendly personal relationships with the leaders of France and Italy. He had failed, however, and failed rather spectacularly, to make any headway with Kaiser Wilhelm II. But he did not despair. He would enlist as his surrogate peacemaker a man who would have no trouble gaining an audience with and sitting down with the kaiser. Theodore Roosevelt would be his representative, his agent, his envoy, his liaison to the European heads of state. While president, Roosevelt had been prohibited by custom from leaving the country. His term of office would, however, end in March 1909 and he would be free to travel the world on Carnegie’s behalf.


“Although we no longer eat our fellow-men nor torture prisoners, nor sack cities killing their inhabitants, we still kill each other in war like barbarians. Only wild beasts are excusable for doing that in this, the twentieth century of the Christian era, for the crime of war is inherent, since it decides not in favor of the right, but always of the strong. The nation is criminal which refuses arbitration.”

— Andrew Carnegie, letter to the trustees of the Carnegie Peace Fund (which would become the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), December 14, 1910


Roosevelt’s first priority, however, was not making peace, but shooting as many large animals as he could in Africa. Carnegie made a deal with the ex-president. He would provide the funds Roosevelt needed for his African expedition. When the killing was finished — after the slaughter of over 500 African animals, 55 species of large mammals, and 11 elephants — Roosevelt would leave Africa for Europe to do Carnegie’s bidding. “After Africa, then the real ‘big game,’” he wrote Roosevelt. “Meet the men who rule European nations, then you have a source of power otherwise unobtainable — You promise to become the ‘Man of destiny.’”

Carnegie barely took a breath now — he was more frightened than ever by the escalating naval arms race and tensions in Europe. Bigger and bigger armies and navies did not ensure peace, but rather provoked war. Men with pistols in their hands were more likely to shoot one another; nations with armies and navies more likely to engage in war, he proclaimed at the annual meeting of the New York Peace Society at the Hotel Astor in April 1909. It did not require much imagination to envisage a scenario where a minor incident might lead to world war, perhaps a drunken altercation between British and German marines. “Under the influence of liquor … one is wounded, blood is shed, and the pent up passions of the people of both countries sweep all to the winds.”

In April 1910 Roosevelt arrived in Europe from his African adventures and was greeted like a conquering hero in Paris, then in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway (where he received the Nobel Prize for his role in arbitrating an end to the Russo-Japanese War). Carnegie’s plan was that Roosevelt meet first with Kaiser Wilhelm II in Berlin and enlist his support for a compulsory arbitration treaty, and then go to London to meet with the leaders of the British government to secure their approval. This grandest of schemes was derailed, temporarily, when on the eve of Roosevelt’s arrival in Berlin, Edward VII of Britain died, and all future diplomatic activity ground to a halt. But even had the king (who happened to be the kaiser’s uncle) lived, Carnegie’s grand scheme was destined for failure. Roosevelt had no intention of doing his bidding.

“Carnegie … had been asking me to try to get the Emperor committed to universal arbitration and disarmament,” Roosevelt wrote his friend George Trevelyan in Britain. “Carnegie’s purposes as regards international peace are good, although his methods are often a little absurd.” Roosevelt refused to present the kaiser with Carnegie’s “absurd” peace proposals. He indirectly raised the possibility of Germany’s slowing the naval arms race with Britain, but indicated he would not be disturbed if there were no movement towards disarmament. Roosevelt assured the kaiser that he was “a practical man and in no sense a peace-at-any-price man.”


“A Laugh from the Gallery” Carl Hassmann’s 1907 cartoon (a detail shown here) for the American satirical weekly Puck shows the visitors’ gallery at the Second International Peace Conference in The Hague. The benches overflow with a rogues’ gallery of tyrants, invaders, and conquerors, including Frederik II, Oliver Cromwell, Ramses, William I, Hannibal, Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionhearted, Caesar, Saladin, Napoleon I, Charlemagne, and Theodoric. They are all laughing at the idea of international cooperation. (Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)


Roosevelt not only failed to secure the agreement of the kaiser to move forward but, in the wake of King Edward VII’s death and the hubbub over succession and the coronation of a new monarch, he gleefully postponed and then canceled his meetings with the leaders of the ruling Liberal Party in Britain.

Carnegie’s plans had fallen flat — there would be no arbitration treaty, no disarmament conference in London, no League of Peace in The Hague. But he did not give up hope. Instead he shifted his focus from Europe to Washington, where he intended, under the leadership of President Taft, to secure passage of a meaningful, near compulsory bilateral treaty of arbitration between the U.S. and Britain, after which similar treaties would be negotiated with France, Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan, culminating in the creation of a functioning League of Peace.

To help Taft get his proposal through the Senate, Carnegie organized — and donated $10 million dollars to establish — his “peace trust,” the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP). He named Elihu Root, former secretary of war and state and now senator from New York, as its first president. His letter to his trustees made clear his intentions: “Although we no longer eat our fellowmen nor torture prisoners, nor sack cities killing their inhabitants, we still kill each other in war like barbarians. Only wild beasts are excusable for doing that in this, the twentieth century of the Christian era, for the crime of war is inherent, since it decides not in favor of the right, but always of the strong. The nation is criminal which refuses arbitration.”

Taft’s treaties ran into trouble almost immediately, when it became clear that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was not going to sign a treaty which obligated the nation to arbitrate issues of “honor” or “national interest” without the Senate’s explicit approval. Teddy Roosevelt, now on the warpath against his successor, declared, in no uncertain terms, that the nation that pledged to arbitrate its differences would end up dishonored and impotent, like the man who, when his wife was assaulted by a ruffian, took the ruffian to court instead of attacking him on the spot. Carnegie wanted to fight back against Roosevelt and treaty opponents by launching a publicity campaign organized and funded by his new Endowment, but Elihu Root refused to do so. Carnegie did not argue — as a matter of principle, he did not overrule the men he had chosen to run his various philanthropic endeavors. Instead he took $10,000 of his own money to pay for clergymen to travel to Washington and lobby their senators. Again, his efforts came up short and Taft’s arbitration treaty bill was eviscerated by amendments.

Carnegie blamed Taft’s lack of political skills for the defeat, refusing to recognize the frightening insularity of America’s leaders. He had never paid much attention to public opinion, believing that he had the money and the skill to educate the public to his thinking. It was a fateful, terrible mistake to build peace from the top down, as Carnegie had attempted to do, without simultaneously working from the bottom up. Carnegie’s trust in the American public and in politicians — his optimism that they too were reasonable men and women — was falsely placed. There was work to be done — then and now — in the United States. He did not do it, but we must. As I wrote the final draft of this talk, the front page of the New York Times carried an article, bylined The Hague: “On War Crimes Court, U.S. Sides with Despots, Not Allies.”

The Hague conference had failed, Roosevelt’s mission for peace had ended in failure, and the treaties of arbitration which Taft had attempted to push through Congress had been destroyed by Congress. The arms race in Europe continued apace.

And still, the “Star-Spangled Scotsman,” as he proudly called himself, refused to give up. In February 1914, bowing to Elihu Root’s wish to keep the Endowment out of political controversies, Carnegie endowed a second agency, the Church Peace Union (known today as the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs) with $2 million, with the understanding that it would take a more activist role than the Endowment could. With the leaders of the new organization, an ecumenical group of churchmen, all peace activists, he planned an international conference to be held in Germany in August.

And then, the unthinkable. Carnegie, as had been his routine for decades, spent the summer of 1914 in Scotland, when, as he had predicted, the spark he had spent the last 20 years trying to extinguish took flame, and absent any compulsory arbitration mechanisms or institutions, the nations of Europe resorted to violence to settle a local dispute between Austria and Serbia. His first task was to rescue the Church Peace Union delegates from Britain and the United States who had been trapped in Germany when war was declared. That accomplished, he returned to the United States and went immediately to Washington, where he implored President Wilson and the American government to do what it could to broker some sort of peace agreement. He failed, the war ground on, the killing accelerated.

Carnegie celebrated his 79th birthday in November 1914. In December he predicted that if a League of Peace were not established at the end of the war now raging, the vanquished would rise up again to renew the cycle of bloodshed.

In March 1915 he was asked in an interview with the New York Times if he had “lost faith in the peace impulse which centers at The Hague.”

“Certainly not. I verily believe that in this war exists the most impressive, perhaps the only argument which could induce humanity to abate forever the curse of military preparation and the inevitably resultant woe of conflict.… This war staggers the imagination.… I do not underestimate its horror, but I hope, and I believe that this very horrible, newly barbaric excess will so revolt human nature against all things of the kind that the reaction will be great enough to carry us into the realms of reason. And the realms of reason are the realms of peace.”


Peace Illusion For Andrew Carnegie, the opening of the Peace Palace was a triumph, and he began 1914 with great optimism, declaring himself “strong in the faith that international Peace [was] soon to prevail.” History had a different idea. Less than a year after the opening of the Peace Palace, World War I — “the war to end all wars” — erupted. This detail from a 1914 postcard shows the Angel of Peace being expelled from the Peace Palace by the Demon of War. For Carnegie’s skeptics, WWI was proof that arbitration — and his beautiful “Temple of Peace” — could not prevent war, and that conflicts between states could only ever be settled on the battlefield. (Photo: © Carnegie Foundation–Peace Palace)

This was to be his last interview.

He retreated into silence, stopped writing, seeing visitors, speaking, corresponding; he refused to read the newspapers. His friends were distraught, as, of course, was Louise, his wife, who did not recognize the once voluble, active little man who could not stop talking. They were convinced he had suffered some sort of a nervous breakdown, brought about by his failure to do anything to stop the Great War. The supreme optimist had in the end been defeated by the reality of man’s inhumanity to man. And had ceased to communicate with the world around him.

On November 10, 1918, the day before the armistice was signed ending World War I, he took up pen again to write a last letter to Woodrow Wilson. “Now that the world war seems practically at an end I cannot refrain from sending you my heartfelt congratulations upon the great share you have had in bringing about its successful conclusion. The Palace of Peace at the Hague would, I think, be the fitting place for dispassionate discussion regarding the destiny of the conquered nations, and I hope your influence may be exerted in that direction.”

Wilson’s response was generous. “I know your heart must rejoice at the dawn of peace after these terrible years of struggle, for I know how long and earnestly you have worked for and desired such conditions as I pray God it may now be possible for us to establish.” While Wilson did not know where the peace talks would be held (they would end up at Versailles, not The Hague), he was sure that Carnegie would “be present in spirit.”

And Woodrow Wilson may have been right.

We are here today because Andrew Carnegie remains with us in spirit. He was a man of the 19th century who hoped for better in the 20th century. We are now nearly two decades into the 21st. Might we not take something away from Andrew Carnegie’s crusade for peace, failed though it was. Let us pause — at this moment, in this grand Palace of Peace, and look back across the desolate dark century that has passed, the world wars, the genocides, the killing fields. Without forgetting the horrors of our recent past and the dismal failures to build a lasting peace, let us remember, celebrate, and build upon this little man’s dreams. Let us renew, with him, our commitment to work towards a future when reason and humankind take the final step forward on the path from barbarism to civilization.

More Stories

Andrew Carnegie Continues to Support His Hometown, Dunfermline


Andrew Carnegie Continues to Support His Hometown, Dunfermline

On May 17th, 1848, Andrew Carnegie ventured beyond the borders of his hometown of Dunfermline, Scotland, for the second time in his life. That day his family set sail from the Broomlielaw of Glasgow and began a seven-week voyage to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Carnegie wouldn’t return to his hometown for 14 years, but he never forgot his Scottish roots, and it is clear that Dunfermline maintained a special place in his heart. In 1874, Dunfermline received Carnegie’s first public gift, and nine years later it became home to one of Carnegie’s first storied public library buildings.

Upon acquiring his wealth and retiring from business, Carnegie set about in earnest to distribute his fortune. His most significant contribution, both in money and enduring influence, was the establishment of several trusts.

While many of these trusts focus on national and global initiatives, Carnegie created the Dunfermline Trust in 1903 with a specifically local focus. Endowed with roughly $4 million, the Dunfermline Trust had the sole mission of helping Andrew Carnegie’s small hometown meet the needs of its people.

Today, the Trust has become tightly woven into the community of Dunfermline and distributes targeted grants which address issues of health, poverty and general wellbeing in the community.

An important initiative for the Trust is a focus on mitigating loneliness among seniors in Dunfermline. Just this year, Carnegie Dunfermline Trust collaborated with Contact the Elderly, a national charity, whose volunteers organize monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for elderly community members. Contact the Elderly has two chapters in Dunfermline, each with a dozen members who are mostly in their 80s and 90s. With the funding provided by the Trust, members of the two chapters – who would not ordinarily meet – have had the opportunity to connect and take a nostalgic trip on a steam train to the historic Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway.

The Trust also works with youth communities. “Where one generation might benefit from a steam train excursion, another might be better off with the very latest in classroom technology,” said Nora Rundell, Chief Executive of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. “For example, working with the virtual reality and gaming expertise of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Abertay University in Scotland, we have created a teaching module targeted at Dunfermline’s younger residents focused on the life, times and legacy of the Scottish-born American philanthropist.”

The educational game, entitled “The Legacy,” provides students with a fun learning opportunity, and a chance to revise what has been covered in the classroom. The comprehensive module illustrates the impact of small philanthropic giving and kind actions and provides schools with free educational tools, including class presentations, activity sheets and a virtual reality computer game modelled on the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum.

The educational program is specific to the local curriculum for the time being, but the Trust is planning to further revise the game and associated materials for use in other school systems in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and beyond.

“It’s exciting to see our ideas take shape all over the world,” said Nora Rundell. “Our primary focus, however, is to ensure the lives of all our residents in Dunfermline are bettered in every way we can. Today, thanks to Andrew Carnegie’s endowment, Cairneyhill football players have the means to practice outside, the patients at Queen Margaret Hospice can seek comfort in a hospice garden, and children can benefit from a newly relocated music therapy studio. We’re here to help the people of Dunfermline, today and tomorrow, live their best lives.”

Peace Palace: International SDG 16 House


Peace Palace: International SDG 16 House

At the end of the 19th century, the last Russian Tsar, Nicolas II, initiated an international peace conference with the aim of stopping an ongoing series of wars in Europe. In need of a neutral venue for peace talks he approached Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands to host the conference. Consistent with its policy of neutrality, the Dutch government agreed to serve as host for the peace conference.

Many issues were discussed, but one crucial notion followed from the conference: Peace through Law.

Humanity would be saved from warfare, loss of lives and goods, if battles were no longer fought on the battlefield, but in the courtroom. A Permanent Court of Arbitration and international laws would be established to prevent political conflicts from becoming violent. To host this court, a new building would be constructed to serve as a symbol of world peace – the Peace Palace.

In need of funding, Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands wrote a letter to Andrew Carnegie. He responded favorably to the call and donated $1.5 million to construct the Peace Palace. To manage his donation, he created the Carnegie Foundation in 1903. The Peace Palace opened its doors in 1913, a day Carnegie described in his diaries as “the happiest day” of his life.

A century after Andrew Carnegie’s passing, the Carnegie Foundation still owns and manages the Peace Palace. Today it continues its mission as a “temple of peace and justice,” to prevent conflicts, to solve conflicts peacefully, and to promote world peace.

Along with the Permanent Court of Arbitration established by the First Hague Peace Conference of 1899, the Peace Palace also houses the International Court of Justice. This Court is the main juridical organ of the United Nations, making the Peace Palace the only building outside New York that hosts a principal organ of the United Nations, mentioned in the UN Charter.

In September, 2017, the Carnegie Foundation signed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Charter of The Netherlands, thereby committing to the promotion of progress on the internationally agreed development goals. A central issue to these goals is the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies – United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16.

“These goals provide an excellent framework for dialogues on the future of the world. Especially ground-breaking in the SDG’s is that a specific goal is set to promote Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: Goal 16,” said Erik de Baedts, Director of the Carnegie Foundation- Peace Palace.

In September 2018, the Carnegie Foundation – Peace Palace took another step in its commitment to the SDGs. During the Carnegie Peacebuilding Conversations event series Hugo von Meijenfeldt, SDG Coordinator of the Netherlands, joined Erik de Baedts and Carnegie Foundation Chairman Dr. Bernard Bot on stage to announce the Peace Palace as the international SDG 16 House.

As the international SDG 16 House, the Peace Palace will serve as the official convening location for dialogue and events on the promotion of the SDGs, including the integration of SDG 16 with the other sixteen SDGs. The Peace Palace has committed itself to promoting progress on these imperatives, and to linking the sixteenth SDG, “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” with the other SDG goals such as No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water, and Climate Action.

“The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations are the most important goals that the world must work on. The Peace Palace is an historic place, a place full of ideals, historic achievements and results, a place with a mission,” said Erik de Baedts. “As we look toward the next 100 years, forging the future of Andrew Carnegie’s legacy, we look forward to progressing the global SDG agenda, bringing us closer to our founder’s vision of world peace.”

Forging the Future Together: Q&A with William Thomson


Forging the Future Together: Q&A with William Thomson

Can you give us a brief overview of your association with the institutions your great-grandfather, Andrew Carnegie, established?

I have been a trustee of the Carnegie UK Trust since 1982. At first, I was a trustee, then I became a convener of one of the Trust’s policy sections, then vice chairman, and eventually chairman. After dedicating five fruitful years to the Trust I took a step back, but the Trust wished to continue the family connection and very kindly asked me to become honorary president—a role I’ve held ever since.

Why did you want to be a part of the Carnegie UK Trust?

I didn’t expect to have a connection with the UK Trust. I knew that my mother had been a trustee, but she died very young, and at that point my father became a trustee. I certainly didn’t expect it, but they approached me, and we both wanted to continue the family connection. I hope they haven’t regretted it!

Why did Andrew Carnegie establish the Carnegie UK Trust?

The Carnegie UK Trust, established in 1913, was one of the last trusts Andrew Carnegie created. His active philanthropy really came to an end when the first world war started in 1914.

Andrew Carnegie was concerned that the trusts he had set up for Britain, Great Britain in those days, were too focused in Scotland. At the time, he had already established the Carnegie Universities Trust, the Dunfermline Trust— which was extremely important because it covered his hometown of Dunfermline and the surrounding area— and, of course, he had the Hero Fund which covered the whole of Great Britain.

He and, I think, some of his advisors in Dunfermline were concerned that the remit of the Dunfermline Trust was too narrow, and we needed to do something that was much more encompassing of Great Britain as a whole, so he set up the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust.

As always, he tended to keep these things relatively simple; so, it was made to be for the benefit of all the people in the UK and Ireland.

What do you believe Andrew Carnegie’s legacy is?

The legacy of his philanthropies is varied across all the different interests the Carnegie institutions are responsible for, and one enormous legacy is that of philanthropy in itself– the idea that people who accumulate great wealth also have a responsibility to see that that wealth goes back into the community, for the benefit of mankind.

If we go back to what Andrew Carnegie did, it was very much underpinned in his belief that mankind could always go onwards and upwards to achieve greater things, greater purity, greater nobility. He had a belief, and his trusts are very much pitched toward, this idea of “real and permanent good,” whether they be about education or otherwise.

How is the Trust forging the future of that legacy?

The Trust examines issues which may not yet be relevant today, but it tries to look to the future and work toward policy solutions for the problems of tomorrow. In some ways it’s comparable to a think tank, but in other ways it’s more than that— it’s looking forward and figuring out how to deal with future problems.

What does that legacy mean to you?

Of course, I’m very proud of the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, but in many ways, it also makes one quite humble. I know I’m only a family representative— I’m not the person who made the money — and so for me, what I want to do, and I think this is shared by other members of the family who are involved in the Trust, is just help continue his legacy. It’s not about us, it’s about his legacy and the work that is continuing to help others today.

What is your vision for the future of Andrew Carnegie’s legacy?

One of the most important developments we’ve had over the last 10 years, is that the Carnegie institutions now talk to each other. Now, they can cross-fertilize in their programming and create new programs by combining expertise in different areas. In this sense, establishing the wider brand of Carnegie has been important, and one can’t deny the role too of the Carnegie Corporation in the way it has assisted other foundations both financially and through its advice and guidance. I hope this continues, and for the individual institutions Andrew Carnegie established to continue forging the future— together.


William Thomson CBE, Former Chair and Honorary President, Carnegie United Kingdom Trust

Carnegie’s Unique Vision: Q&A with Linda Hills


Carnegie’s Unique Vision: Q&A with Linda Hills

Can you give us a brief overview of your association with the institutions your great-grandfather, Andrew Carnegie, established?

I first became involved with the Carnegie institutions when my cousin William Thomson invited me to the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy event being held in Scotland in 2005. At the event my daughter and I were introduced to Mark Laskow and others from the Carnegie Hero Fund in Pittsburgh and they told me I’d have to stop by to visit. About a year later I was looking at colleges with my daughter and we found ourselves in Pittsburgh so we stopped by the fund’s office and they gave us such a warm welcome! Soon after, Mark Laskow asked me to consider serving on the Hero Fund Commission board, and I’ve been involved since.

Why did your great-grandfather establish the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission?

Grandpa Nagie set up the Hero Fund after the Harwick mine disaster in Pennsylvania in 1904. It was one of the worst coal mining accidents in US history. Two men went in to try and save their fellow working men, but nobody made it out and over 150 families were left without their husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers. In those days there wasn’t a welfare system to support people when calamity took place. Andrew Carnegie was inspired by those two men who put themselves in harm’s way, and he said, “I have to help.”

What differentiates the Carnegie Hero Fund from other awards for heroism?

The criteria that is so important is that the Hero Fund awards civilian heroes. Andrew Carnegie was passionate about world peace, and he didn’t want the fund to award those who are paid and trained to fight. He wanted to recognize the common person who suddenly saw a situation, immediately reacted, and took themselves out of safety to put their own lives on the line to save a stranger.

What does the Hero Fund mean to you?

The Hero Fund means a great deal to me. Out of all the Carnegie institutions, the Hero Fund was Andrew Carnegie’s own idea. His “ain bairn”— his own child.

I don’t have a big role but becoming a part of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission was the greatest gift that could have possibly been given to me. It has enabled me to not only contribute in some small way to the legacy of my great-grandfather, but it has offered me opportunities to meet new, interesting people and to learn about the causes he was passionate about through his institutions’ continuing work.

What do you believe Andrew Carnegie’s legacy is?

Andrew Carnegie’s way of giving was so unique. Many people, including me, view him as the Father of Modern Philanthropy. He gave in a time whem there were no tax incentives, nothing compelled him to give, but he did it because he felt in his heart that this was his mission.

But the brilliance in his vision was his trust in future generations. He didn’t limit his institutions, he set them up, told them what his hopes were, and said “I believe that you who will be managing this in the future will know better than I do on how to make the best possible use of the funds I am endowing you with.” He knew he couldn’t predict the future, and that is why we sit here today with a vibrant living legacy of a man who died 100 years ago.

What is your vision for the future of Andrew Carnegie’s legacy?

I don’t think Grandpa Nagie could have ever imagined what he created. I think the institutions have grown beyond his greatest expectations. My hope is that what is happening now doesn’t ever stop, that the Medal of Philanthropy continues on, and the institutions continue to work together.

Since establishing the Medal of Philanthropy there has been an energy around the institutions that doesn’t seem to be diminishing at all and Grandpa Nagie gave the institutions enough flexibility so they could evolve with the times. I don’t see anything that could stop them from continuing what they’re doing, if not doing even more down the road. In 10 or 50 years, the institutions may look very different, but they will always continue working towards a better world.

Andrew Carnegie — Peacenik?


Andrew Carnegie — Peacenik?

Five questions for master biographer David Nasaw

How could Andrew Carnegie — the pragmatic and even hard-headed businessman — have believed that global peace was achievable?

Carnegie was a peace activist from very early on. He believed that peace was inevitable, that mankind was progressing, and that war was a vestige of savagery. Like duels, feudalism, and serfdom, war would be eliminated over time, with the coming of an Age of Civilization that would replace the Age of Barbarism. To get to this peaceful world, one needed leaders, and Andrew Carnegie was going to do everything he could in his power to hasten the day when world peace arrived.


Why did Carnegie establish the Peace Palace?

He tried to build a structure for peace just as he had built his factories and steel mills. He was a dreamer, and nowhere were his dreams greater than when it came to the establishment of peace.

He built the Peace Palace hoping that one day soon it would become the center of a new world court. Instead of sending young men to kill one another on the battlefield, nations would convene at a court of peaceable arbitration in the Peace Palace and settle their difficulties peaceably.

The Hague was the “City of Peace,” and Carnegie was going to hasten the coming of peace through the Peace Palace, which was both a monument to peace as well as the home, he hoped, of an International Court of Arbitration.


How did Carnegie envision conflict between nations being settled?

He had a simple, two-stage process in mind. The nations of the world would come together two by two and sign treaties of arbitration. The Americans and the British would begin the process by signing a treaty that compelled each nation to submit its difficulties with the other nation to arbitration. Once the British and the Americans had signed this bilateral treaty, then the British would sign one with the Germans, and then the Americans would sign one with the French — like dominoes. All of these bilateral agreements would lead to what he called a “League of Peace” that would be centered at The Hague.

Concurrently, the nations of the world would begin to establish international laws of arbitration. There was no such thing as international law at the time, but the treaties of arbitration, the League of Peace, and the creation of a body of international law would all render war obsolete. Or so Carnegie hoped and dreamed.


What was Carnegie’s greatest accomplishment in peacebuilding?

There are three interrelated aspects to Andrew Carnegie’s legacy for peacebuilding.

First, there are his organizations themselves. Almost all of them in one way or another are dedicated to creating a peaceable world — not just the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which has “peace” in its name, but certainly Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Hero Funds are dedicated to the notion that heroism does not consist in killing people on the battlefield. Heroism is simple, everyday acts of kindness and can involve risking one’s life to help another person. His institutions are his legacy.

Second, the Peace Palace building. Most monuments are to war, to soldiers, and to generals. The magnificent palace in The Hague is a monument to peace.

Third, Carnegie sets an example through his unflagging determination to end war. His argument was simple: war is not inevitable. He just kept pushing for peace. It didn’t matter if people made fun of him. He got a lot of ridicule from people he trusted, like Teddy Roosevelt. That example — the willingness to dream, to be a utopian, and to be a pragmatist on the path to peace — that’s Carnegie’s legacy, and it remains alive today.


How do you think Carnegie will be remembered, in the context of peace, a century from now?

One hopes there will be a steady movement in the direction that Carnegie set out for us, toward peaceable resolution. If you look at the world today: yes, there is strife and warfare, but there has not been a third world war, and hopefully there will not be one. Andrew Carnegie, more than 100 years ago, tried to convince world leaders that in the modern era, war is too deadly and weapons are too advanced. Maybe some part of Carnegie’s message is getting through, and perhaps progress is continuing toward its logical conclusion.


David Nasaw is an American author, biographer, and historian who specializes in the cultural and social history of early 20th-century America. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Distinguished Professor of History at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Nasaw is the author of Andrew Carnegie (2006), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the recipient of the New-York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. During the 2018 Carnegie Peacebuilding Conversations in The Hague, Professor Nasaw found the time to consider a few questions about Andrew Carnegie’s peacebuilding efforts.

The Carnegie UK Trust: Changing Minds, Changing Lives


The Carnegie UK Trust: Changing Minds, Changing Lives

The Trust continues Andrew Carnegie’s original vision to improve the lives and well-being of people throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland

Andrew Carnegie made his fortune and spent much of his life in the United States, but he came from humble beginnings in the United Kingdom, a country that stayed close to his heart.

In 1913, with a $10 million endowment, the Scottish-American philanthropist founded the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. The goal: to improve the well-being of the people of Great Britain and Ireland “by such means as are embraced within the meaning of the word ‘charitable.’”

Carnegie purposefully left his mission for the Carnegie UK Trust broad, to ensure that the organization remained relevant into the foreseeable future. The Trustees were given the freedom to direct their efforts “as best fitted from age to age.” Carnegie understood that with new times come new challenges and new needs. For more than 115 years, this flexibility has afforded the Carnegie UK Trust the ability to deliver upon its mandate, especially through periods of enormous hardship for the people of the United Kingdom.

For example, during the Great Depression, the Carnegie UK Trust developed a longstanding program to fund social welfare projects, addressing issues of poverty, employment, and urban renewal. As unemployment and poverty levels in the late 1920s and early 1930s grew, the Trust began to support initiatives to help communities most impacted by economic upheaval. The Trust worked closely with the National Council of Social Services to improve the social and cultural life of people in mining communities. It also invested in the innovative Land Settlement Association (1934–39), which resettled thousands of unemployed workers from depressed industrial areas to rural areas, enabling them to achieve livelihoods as small-hold food producers.


Family Tea, February 1939 Unemployed Durham miner Nathan Turner and his family enjoy the first meal in their new home, a cottage homestead in Reading, England, where they have been relocated as part of the Land Settlement Association scheme run by the Ministry of Labour with the support of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. (Photo: Tim Gidal/Picture Post/Getty Images)


As World War II raged across Europe in the following decade, the UK was not spared tremendous loss, suffering, and damages. The Carnegie UK Trust established a number of national Commissions of Inquiry at the time. Trustees and Commission members such as Lord Wolfenden and Dame Eileen Younghusband were among the leading architects of the British welfare state, the social safety net that came into its current mature form in the aftermath of the war. The Trust was also an important advocate of and investor in comprehensive social work and youth and community services.

“Although many people associate the Trust with the building and support of public libraries, the organization has always been involved in a wide variety of initiatives: from better understanding poverty and welfare to promoting participation in the arts and regenerating town centers,” said Douglas White, head of advocacy for the Carnegie UK Trust. “The Carnegie UK Trust has been, and always will be, willing to experiment with new ways of doing things and unafraid to be ahead of its time.”

Remaining focused on both the present and the future, the Carnegie UK Trust continues to develop five-year strategic plans to adapt to the most pressing issues, often electing to take calculated risks, investing in projects that are often seen as not far enough along in development for either the government or smaller organizations to tackle at the time.

Today the Trust’s 2016–2020 Strategic Plan focuses on improving well-being through four key initiatives: Digital Futures, Enabling Wellbeing, Flourishing Towns, and Fulfilling Work. The Carnegie UK Trust is dedicated to investing in evidence-based policy development and translating and applying its findings to real-world issues.

As part of its most recent strategic plan, the Trust has sought to understand why more than 13 million people in the United Kingdom lack credit or have a poor credit history, and to then seek out better options for those individuals. The poor or people with troubled credit histories are all too often excluded from access to mainstream credit, forcing them to resort to high-cost, short-term and often unscrupulous lenders. The question of how to make affordable credit available to people across the UK has long been a complex, contested, and highly fraught public policy issue.

Carnegie UK Trust’s Affordable Credit project seeks to bring new solutions to this area with a focus on identifying alternative options to the commercial high-cost credit market. The Trust recently partnered with Emmy Award-winning actor Michael Sheen to raise awareness of this important issue, which affects millions across the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, its Affordable Credit Action Group works to develop and implement recommendations to overcome some of the structural issues that inhibit the expansion of affordable credit.

Making progress on these and many other issues, the Carnegie UK Trust delivers a clear set of messages to influencers and decision-makers. The Trust’s recommendations continue to bring about change and improve well-being for people across the UK and Ireland — just as Andrew Carnegie envisioned.

Photo (Top): An aerial view of Foxash Estate, Ardleigh, Essex, England, taken in 1967. Faxash Estate is one of a series of Land Settlement Association schemes of cooperative smallholdings set up in the 1930s with the support of the Carnegie UK Trust. (Photo: English Heritage/Getty Images)