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Andrew Carnegie's Welcoming Words to Gathering of the Trustees of the CHURCH PEACE UNION [now Carnegie Council] at his Home, February 10, 1914

From our Archives: 100 for 100

February 10, 1914

Andrew Carnegie, 1913. Library of Congress via Wikipedia

Trustees of The Church Peace Union, Gentlemen:

We meet today under wholly exceptional conditions, for never in the history of man has such a body assembled for such a purpose; no less than twelve of the chief religious bodies of the civilized world being here represented by their prominent official leaders, Bishop Greer, Dr. Walsh, Bishop Wilson, Dean Matthews, Dr. Remensnyder, Dr. Jefferson, Dr. Brown, Dr. Ainslie, Rev. Mr. Jones, Mr. Marks, Rev. Mr. Hall and Professor Hull, and many of their chief laymen, representing Episcopalians, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Church of the Disciples, Unitarians, Jewish, Universalists, and Quakers, sit before me anxious to cooperate as one body in the holy task of abolishing war, a fulfillment of the prophecy that "Men shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more"; perhaps these might prove words for the Union to adopt.

I cannot refrain from telling you that nothing has surprised me so much as the enthusiastic response made by one and all to the suggestion that there should be formed a Church Union devoted to the abolition of war. Not one has declined to serve; all have responded from both head and heart, and accepted the task as a divine mission. Truly, gentlemen, you are making history, for this is the first union of the churches in advocacy of international peace, which I fondly hope, and strongly believe, is certain to hasten the coming of the day when men, disgracing humanity, shall cease to kill each other like wild beasts.

I entrust this great mission to you, believing that the voice which goes forth in favor of peace is to prove the most powerful voice of all.

After the Trustees had organized themselves, Mr. Carnegie then presented it with Two Million Dollars in five percent bonds, in the following words:

Gentlemen of many religious bodies, all irrevocably opposed to war and devoted advocates of peace:

We all feel, I believe, that the killing of man by man in battle is barbaric and negatives our claim to civilization. This crime we wish to banish from the earth. Some progress has already been made in this direction, but recently men have shed more of their fellows' blood than for years previously. We need to be aroused to our duty and banish war.

Certain that the strongest appeal that can be made is to members of the religious bodies, to you I hereby appeal, hoping that you will feel it to be not only your duty but your pleasure to undertake the administration of Two Millions of Dollars five percent bonds, the income to be so used as in your judgment will most successfully appeal to the people in the cause of peace thru arbitration of international disputes; that as man in civilized lands is compelled by law to submit personal disputes to courts of law, so nations shall appeal to the Court at the Hague or to such tribunals as may be mutually agreed upon, and bow to this verdict rendered, thus insuring the reign of national peace thru international law. When that day arrives, either thru such courts of law or thru other channels, this Trust shall have fulfilled its mission.

After the arbitration of International disputes is established and war abolished, as it certainly will be some day, and that sooner than expected, probably by the Teutonic nations, Germany, Britain and the United States first deciding to act in unison, other powers joining later, the Trustees will divert the revenue of this fund to relieve the deserving poor and afflicted in their distress, especially those who have struggled long and earnestly against misfortune and have not themselves to blame for their poverty. Members of the various churches will naturally know sufferers well, and can therefore the better judge; but this does not debar them from going beyond membership when that is necessary or desirable. As a general rule, it is best to help those who help themselves, but these are unfortunates from whom this cannot be expected.

After war is abolished by the leading nations, the Trustees by a vote of two-thirds may decide that a better use for the funds than that named in the preceding paragraph has been found and are free according to their own judgment to devote the income to the best advantage for the good of their fellow men.

Trustees shall be reimbursed for all expenses incurred in connection with their duties as Trustees, including traveling expenses, and to each annual meeting, expenses of wife or daughter.

Happy in the belief that the civilized world will not, cannot, long tolerate the killing of man by man as a means of settling its international disputes, and that civilized men will not, cannot, long enter a profession which binds them to go forth and kill their fellow men as ordered, although they will continue to defend their homes if attacked, as a duty, which always involves the duty of never attacking the homes of others, I am,

Cordially yours,
signature of Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie