But when the most successful banker in America, J. Pierpont Morgan, offered to buy Carnegie out, he finally decided to change his way of life. It was 1901, nine years after the Homestead strike, and Carnegie was sixty-six. The sale would make him one of the richest men in the world. Maybe he remembered the note he wrote at thirty-three. He sold his business interests and began a new careergiving away his money.
Carnegie now said that millionaires had a duty to distribute their wealth while they were still alive . "The man who dies rich dies disgraced," he said. He began by building libraries in towns all across the country3,000 of them, costing nearly $60 million . He gave money to colleges and schools and artists and writers. And he founded three institutesone to promote peace, one to improve teaching, and one to try to make the world better through science. One day he asked his assistant how much he had given away. It was $324,657,399. Carnegie gasped when he heard the number. "Good heavens! Where did I ever get all that money?" he said.