The Atlantic

Is Big Philanthropy Compatible With Democracy?

A Stanford professor argues that it’s largely not—but that it could be reformed to promote equality, rather than undermine it.
Source: Library of Congress

In 1912, John D. Rockefeller went to Congress with a simple request. He wanted permission to take the vast wealth he’d accumulated, and pour it into a charitable foundation.

Many were outraged.

John Haynes Holmes, a Unitarian minister and a cofounder of the NAACP and ACLU, told the Senate that from the standpoint of the leaders of democracy, “this foundation, the very character, must be repugnant to the whole idea of a democratic society.” Rockefeller’s effort failed. He ultimately chartered it in the state of New York

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