America, Philanthropy and the Moral Order

Author: Hamer, John H.
A sample of wealthy American philanthropists and non-philanthropists is explored seeking to understand why some gave of their wealth and others did not. It also focuses on the differences in the moral basis for wealth distribution between Americans and peoples in non-industrial societies, using examples from Native Americans, Oceanic, and African peoples. It compares earlier philanthropists with a small group of well-known American givers in the late 20th century. Figures examined include: John Crozer, John Wanamaker, John D. Rockefeller, John Pierpont Morgan; Andrew Mellon; Andrew Carnegie; Hetty Green, Collis Huntington, Jay Gould, Russell Sage, James Fisk, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Grenville Dodge, John Templeton, Ted Turner, and Bill Gates


“His carefully contextualized and insightful answers will interest not just fundraisers but any student of American history or indeed human nature. . . . interweaves anthropology, history and philosophy with great skill. Anthropology contributes a cross-cultural backdrop as well as the theories that guide the comparison. . . A cardinal strength of the narrative is how the biographical synopses of philanthropists and non-philanthropists alike progressively build on each other. . . By this method the nuances of each new case are discussed in relation to all earlier cases. . . . the resulting matrix not only promises insights quite beyond the book’s specific theories, but it also equips the reader to reflect on further cases and future possibilities.” – Richard A. O’Connor

“… he tells an interesting story about what he perceives as the decline of the community-oriented philanthropy of the great era of philanthropy a century or more ago in comparison with the business-dominated and self-interested philanthropy of the present day. He also provides brief but interesting comparisons of US philanthropy with the somewhat comparable practices of nonindustrialized peoples….well written and will interest those who want to see an alternative view of the subject.” - CHOICE