This book examines the interplay between entrepreneurship and philanthropy, on the one hand, and wealth creation and opportunity, on the other. Using historical and institutional evidence, it traces the story of American philanthropy through the centuries. It shows that many philanthropists had humble beginnings, worked hard to make something of themselves, and later used their money to help improve the world. It also demonstrates how most Americans, wealthy and otherwise, historically have exemplified an unstated principle that lies at the heart of American-style capitalism: that those who amass wealth must continually create opportunities by investing in society. The book makes a distinction between philanthropy and charity and argues that philanthropy has the potential to mitigate inequalities as it softens the hard edges of the free market. Finally, it describes philanthropy as consistent with the self-made American values of individual freedom.
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