Analyzing "The Gospel of Wealth"

Scottish-American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, became one of the world’s richest people by expanding his steel business in the late 1800s. At a time when the wealth gap in America was severe, Carnegie encouraged wealthy people to give back in order to help their communities, a practice he himself became famous for doing. His opinions about wealth are recorded in “The Gospel of Wealth” which Carnegie wrote in 1889. 

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Analyze how point of view and/or author purpose requires distinguishing what is directly stated in texts and what is implied.
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw inferences; support an interpretation of a text by citing and synthesizing relevant textual evidence from...
Initiate and participate effectively with varied partners in a range of collaborative discussions on appropriate 11th - 12th grade topics, texts, and...
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning supported by relevant and sufficient evidence.
Describe the changes in American life that resulted from the inventions and innovations of business leaders and entrepreneurs of the period:
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Learning objectives: 

The student will:

  • Research and share background knowledge about Andrew Carnegie
  • Analyze excerpts from “The Gospel of Wealth”
  • Integrate Carnegie’s ideas into the context of the Progressive Era
  • Participate in a class discussion applying Carnegie’s ideas to society today
Essential and guiding questions: 
  • What responsibility, if any, do the wealthy have to the rest of society? 
  • What can “The Gospel of Wealth” tell us about Andrew Carnegie and his views on wealth?  

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 

Have your students choose a modern-day organization or charity to research. Ask them to determine its origins, leaders, purpose, goals, and from where they receive funding. Consider hosting a bake sale or collecting donations to give back. Students could then create a presentation to share their experience with the class. 

Helpful Hints


  • “The Gospel of Wealth” excerpt, Pg. 1-2
  • Post-its