Andrew Carnegie: A Reluctant Hero
The College of Wooster received a curious, but extremely generous proposal: if the College and town could raise $40,000 in sixty-five days, an unknown benefactor would give $100,000 towards rebuilding efforts.1 On the last day to fulfill the condition, local businesses closed and the town held a jubilee to celebrate getting enough money, although they had also envisioned the event as a last minute fundraiser, if necessary. By working together, the College and town managed to meet the required deadline to acquire the $100,000. This anonymous benefactor was not truly anonymous, because Andrew Carnegie made the proposition to President Holden in person. However, Holden was only allowed to reveal Carnegie’s role if Carnegie’s stipulations were achieved.2 Carnegie originally refused to give to a Christian college, because he was not a member of any church. Yet, even in his first meeting with Holden, Carnegie declared that if he ever gave money to a Christian college, it would go to Wooster, which eventually did come true in 1902.
1 “H.C. Frick Proffer- Willing to Donate Goodly Sum Toward Rebuilding of Wooster University, Destroyed by Fire,” Wayne County Herald, January 9, 1902, Vol. XXIV, No. 2, Whole No. 1244, taken from The Pittsburgh Times, January 1, 1902.
2 Louis E. Holden, “Autobiography”, 1926, Presidents Box 4, College of Wooster Special Collections.