Benjamin Soskis

Benjamin Soskis is a research associate at the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and the co-editor of HistPhil.

 

Recent Articles

Gift Horse or Trojan Horse?

The mixed record of America’s new rich as often self-interested philanthropists  

AP Photo/Nati Harnik
The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age by David Callahan Knopf This article appears in the Summer 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . During the first Gilded Age, the public response to the birth of modern philanthropy was intense ambivalence. The nation had long celebrated individual acts of generosity. Many appreciated that the new, enormous industrial fortunes, some of which were channeled into private foundations, could be applied to the pressing social needs brought on by urbanization and mass immigration. But the belief that those piles of wealth threatened the nation’s egalitarian traditions was equally strong. For some of the most astute observers of American society, philanthropy simultaneously represented a social good and a social menace. The Congregational minister Washington Gladden summed up this uncertainty in a 1910 sermon. “Never before have such colossal fortunes been heaped together in so short a time...