THE GOSPEL OF WEALTH AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
THAT THEOLOGY OF PROPERTY which Presidents McCosh and Porter elaborated and which Carnegie called the gospel of wealth contained an internal conflict which became increasingly evident as Appomattox receded. When Conwell and Rockefeller united in urging young men to aspire to that success which was symbolized by riches and to that power to do good which wealth brings, they had little to say to the man who, in spite of his best efforts, failed to achieve the mahogany desk. It was clear, however, that they expected the man who failed, as well as his neighbor who succeeded, to acquiesce in the system which they supported. So long as opportunities for individual initiative were plentiful in the early stages of the exploitation of vast natural wealth, the mutterings of underlings could be and were ignored. But in the 1870's and 1880's wealth was magnifying the few, while poverty, widespread and increasing, was abroad in the land. The masters of capital were acquiring power such as Americans had never before possessed. In such a scene the prophets of the gospel of wealth urged the individual to be discontented with his lot, in the sense trying to escape from poverty, and at the same time to accept his fate if he failed to win a competence in the struggle of the market. The rugged individualists urged the citizen to strive to increase his well- being so long as he acted only in the economic realm. But they insisted that he must not attempt to better his lot by political activities. He must accept such position as he achieved in a competitive system, and, if that position happened to be poverty and insecurity, he must not attempt either to change the system or to seek aid through politics.
The social philosophy of the gospel of wealth required of the masses a self-denial which was quite out of harmony with Ameri-