Decoding the Myths of Asa Packer, 1805?-1879

Asa Packer's Philosophy Part II: Philanthropy

“Asa Packer, a native of Connecticut, whose name and fame belong to the state of Pennsylvania, as well as this locality, came here in 1833. His name has been connected with almost every important enterprise of the valley, and will ever be revered as that of the founder of Lehigh University, and the doer of other great and good deeds"

Asa Packer was known for his philanthropy. He funded many organizations including St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem, PA, Muhlenberg College, Saint Mark's Episcopal Church, and of course, Lehigh University.

During Packer's time, philanthropy in the United States underwent drastic changes. The Industrial Revolution produced many wealthy people who were capable of funding institutions of higher learning, churches and hospitals. Other notable philanthropists during this time were Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, John Rockefeller Sr., and Saint Katharine Drexel.

Upper class Victorians viewed philanthropy as their moral obligation to better society. During this time wealth equated with moral superiority, so the wealthy viewed the rest of society paternalistically. They saw it as their duty to symbolically govern the lower classes through philanthropy.


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