chapter  5
80 Pages

Stewards, Citizens, and Entrepreneurs: Discourses of Philanthropy as Manly Vocation

ByAndrew Herman

This chapter argues that nineteenth-century discourses of philanthropy conjured and mapped a new material space of social engagement for wealthy men and a new practice of directing flows of money and capital that went far beyond those entailed by traditional notions of paternalistic benevolence and charitable beneficence. It explores how philanthropy is the performance of a will to truth that unites wealth and virtue and of a will to power that binds giver and recipient together so that the latter is positioned in the former's "shadow of his name." The chapter examines the emergence of the moral character of the Steward-Citizen in the discourse of philanthropy articulated by the Brahmin elite of nineteenth-century Boston. It presents the emergence of the moral character of the Steward-Entrepreneur in the figure and discourse of Andrew Carnegie. The Niccold Machiavellian uncanny is clearly at work here in the conjuring of the moral identity of Lowell as Steward-Citizen, but in a profoundly ironic way.