Seeking a Measure
At the very time Carnegie was exerting greater control over his men, he witnessed the realization of his greatest benefaction to date and inserted himself as a peacemaker into an international dispute between the United States and Britain. His desire for munificence and peace on a grand scale was to compensate for the Homestead tragedy, the armor scandal, and oppression of the working class; it was, he hoped, to bring him a measure of internal peace as he sought to reconcile himself with his ruthless business tactics. This dichotomy of behavior, which brought public denunciation and praise, would prompt B. C. Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine, to observe of Carnegie, “He has been invested with all the virtues of a saint—and condemned as a bloodstained tyrant and slave-driver.” 1
Saintliness took time to buy. But Carnegie was patient and, over five years, built a cathedral of knowledge that took the public's breath away. On November 5, 1895, he dedicated the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, which included a science wing, an art gallery, and a music hall, all part of what would soon become the Carnegie Institute.
After Pittsburgh had accepted the million-dollar gift in 1890, Carnegie's first order of business was to handpick William N. Frew to lead the Carnegie Free Library Commission, which was to oversee the construction. They then had to settle on a location. Downtown Pittsburgh was too congested, but three miles to the east was Oakland, an outlying village perched on a high plateau of limestone terraces. The city was evolving toward Oakland, connected by cable car and trolley, and it was the best location for creating a center of culture. There, Carnegie's partner Harry Phipps had already built a magnificent and dreamlike conservatory, which, at the time of its dedication in 1893, was the largest enclosed botanical garden in the country. So Carnegie wrested twenty acres of Oakland property from the city, and then his
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Publication information: Book title: Carnegie. Contributors: Peter Krass - Author. Publisher: Wiley. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 323.
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