The life story of Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) is a classic example of ‘The American Dream’. Carnegie was born in a simple working class family in Scotland, but migrated to the United States with his family in search of a better life. There he worked his way up from bobbin boy to successful entrepreneur. He soon started his own steel company and eventually managed to create an enormous imperium. In 1901 he sold Carnegie Steel Company for the then astounding amount of 480 million dollars. Carnegie wished to spend the remainder of his life working towards his vision, by responsibly spending his capital. He felt he had an obligation to the society that had offered him so many chances. He saw many opportunities to advance society. According to the philanthropist, science, education and peace were the most important conditions for progress.
Carnegie became convinced of the importance of a palace for peace and offered a donation of no less than 1.5 million dollars. He made his donation under the condition that the Peace Palace would not only house the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but also a public legal library of the highest standard. In 1904 the Carnegie Foundation was founded to administer the funds and manage the construction of the Peace Palace. This foundation today still is owner and manager of the building, a recognized national monument. The foundation also stimulates the organization of seminars and other initiatives that foster the peace ideal and is a member of the international philanthropic network of Carnegie-institutes.
Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize
Horrified by the atrocities of the First World War, the Dutch banker Johan Wateler decided to put his considerable capital at the service of the peace cause. His bequest went to the Carnegie Foundation and was used to award a peace prize every year with the annual revenue. The Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize has been awarded in the Peace Palace since 1931. Prominent laureates are Sir Eric Drummond (1931), first secretary of the League of Nations, Sir Baden-Powell (1934), founder of the Scouting Movement, Jean Monnet (1953), founding father of the European Union, Coretta Scott King (1969), widow of Martin Luther King, and War Child (2012). See here, Laureates Peace Prize, the list of all laureates. The last ceremony took place in 2014, when the prize was awarded to Lakhdar Brahimi for his role as a mediator in conflict areas and his work in the field of peace-keeping. The history of the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize reflects, through the people or organizations to whom it has been awarded, how ideas about peace and war prevention have changed over the past 85 years.