The Memoirs Of Frederick T. Gates


“Mr. Rockefeller has always said that he held his wealth simply as a trustee for humanity. As such trustee he has been a large and continuously increasing giver to nearly every form of philanthropy at home and abroad. He is advancing in years. He must provide for that personal release from trusteeship which time will render inevitable. He must place a portion of his remaining fortune in a trusteeship which shall be endowed by law with the same liberty of action in aiding philanthropy at home and abroad as he has himself personally exercised hitherto.

“In other words, it will be necessary to incorporate a fund which, passing on from generation to generation, may do for the philanthropies of each generation, so long as organized society shall exist, what he has tried personally to do in his own life for the philanthropies of his own generation . . .

“It is true that there are lines of philanthropy which must be permanent, and we may safely treat them as such. Education will improve in method, while it must be permanent in essence. Scientific and philosophical research, with new directions and ever improving methods, will be permanent. Medical research will undoubtedly be permanent. Indeed, all the elements of civilization are, as we hope, permanent. But while this is true, there will be convenience and safety in establishing at least one great fund so flexible and elastic as to meet the varying needs of advancing humanity from decade to decade, from generation to generation, from century to century, as those needs shall disclose themselves to wise and thoughtful men then living.”


Our bill easily passed the House, but hung fire in the Senate for discreditable reasons I will not rehearse. We preferred to withdraw our bill after it had passed the House, rather than yield personal and local advantages to certain Senators and their party leaders, secretly demanded. We presented it to the legislature of New York where, with all its powers and privileges unimpaired, it was readily passed without amendment.

The administration of the foundation, while not wholly faultless, has been marked by circumspection, insight, and wisdom. It has merited and received general praise. I cannot forebear reproducing here an editorial which appeared in the London Times in its issue of September 12, 1921.

“The United States has no more effective ambassadors than the representatives of the Rockefeller Foundation, who, year after year, afford their guidance and help in the great fight against disease. The foundation itself, as the report of its work during 1920 shows, is an inspiration. Planned on international lines and possessed of great resources, it has come to occupy a position of universal trust.

“Wherever the struggle with the enemies of our species is most severe, there its assistance is given freely, no matter under what flag the victims of pestilence may live. More than that, preparations to ward off disease, to prevent its coming, and to destroy its breeding places are part of the work of this body.

“Last year we recorded a gift of one million pounds to our own University College Hospital. Canada has recently benefited by a sum no less munificent. At the same time surveys have been carried out in West Indian islands and other British possessions with the object of attacking the dreaded hookworm disease. Nor is our country alone in fee to the foundation. France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, the smaller nations of Europe and China, have all received assistance.

“The foundation, indeed, is one of the strong places of the new commonwealth of science. In addition it reveals the depth and sincerity of American good will towards ourselves and all peoples. Not with words of comfort only, but with rich and lasting benefit have these emissaries of the New World set out upon their great mission.”