Autograph Letter Signed about Banker Anthony Drexel Written from Palm Beach’s Historic Royal Poinciana Hotel

Signed by Andrew Carnegie

Item: 19680
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CARNEGIE, ANDREW. (1835-1919). Scottish-born, American industrialist and philanthropist. ALS. (“Andrew Carnegie”). 1½pp. 8vo. On two separate sheets. Palm Beach, February 18, 1896. On Royal Poinciana Hotel stationery. To Mr. Eaton.

“I wish so much to do anything I can for Drexel – the work of my friend now gone, that I should certainly deliver the desired lecture were I to be North in time but we shall not be until about sixth April. May be at some future time I can be of service. Truly yours…

A Scottish immigrant and self-made man, Andrew Carnegie was already wealthy by age 40. However, in his 1889 article Wealth, he set forth his philosophy that one who had amassed great wealth had an obligation to use it for “the improvement of mankind,” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). It was to this altruistic pursuit that Carnegie devoted himself and his fortune beginning in 1901 when he sold his company, Carnegie Steel, to J.P. Morgan for $250,000,000.

Listen to Andrew Carnegie speak about the duty of wealthy individuals (starting at 8’23”).

Andrew Carnegie

American banker Anthony Drexel (1826-1893), a native of Philadelphia, made his fortune in banking and, with Morgan, founded Drexel, Morgan & Co., which became the investment banking giant J.P. Morgan & Co. In 1891, he founded Philadelphia’s Drexel University; Carnegie was among the esteemed guests at the university’s convocation, and in 1900, Carnegie followed his departed friend’s example and founded Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Technical Schools, which later merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to become Carnegie Mellon University.

Our letter was written while Carnegie was vacationing at the Royal Poinciana Hotel, founded by oil magnate Henry Flagler in 1894. Built as a holiday retreat for the wealthy, it featured electric lighting, a novelty at the time, and allowed private rail cars to stop directly in front of the hotel’s entrance. “The Royal Poinciana eventually became the world’s largest hotel, stretching more than 1,800 feet along Lake Worth, its 1,100 rooms accommodated 1,750 guests. The hallways were so extensive – more than three miles in length – that bellhops delivered messages and packages from the front desk to guest rooms by bicycle,” (“A Look Back on More Than a Century of History at The Breakers Palm Beach,” Written on two separate sheets, the second one of which has been trimmed along the upper edge and bears a tear, not affecting the text. The first page is irregularly toned with some light staining. Both sheets are folded once. Mounting traces on the verso and in very good condition.

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