Andrew Carnegie's life embodied the American dream:
the immigrant who went from rags to riches, the
self-made man who became a captain of industry, the
king of steel. He preached the obligation of the
wealthy to return their money
to the societies where they made it
Carnegie, the son of a handloom weaver, was born in
Dunfermline, Scotland, on 25th November, 1835. The
family had a long radical tradition and his father,
William Carnegie, was an active Chartist. His material
grandfather, Thomas Morrison, had worked with William
Cobbett during his campaign for social reform.
depression of 1848 convinced the Carnegie family to
emigrate to the United States
where they joined a Scottish colony at Allegheny near
began work at 12 in a local cotton factory but
continued his education by
attending night school.
At 14 Carnegie
became a messenger boy in the local Pittsburgh
Telegraph Office. His abilities were noticed by Thomas
A. Scott, the superintendent of the western division
of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He made Carnegie his
secretary. During the Civil War Scott was appointed
assistant secretary of war and Carnegie went to
Washington to work as his right-hand man. Carnegie's
work included organizing the military telegraph
After the war
Carnegie succeeded Scott as superintendent of the
western division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Carnegie shrewdly invested in several promising
ventures including the Woodruff Sleeping Car Company
and several small iron mills and factories. The most
important of these was Keystone Bridge, a company
which he owned a one-fifth share.
regular visits to Britain where he observed the rapid
developments in the iron industry. He was especially
impressed by the converter invented by Henry Bessemer.
Carnegie realised that steel would now replace iron
for the manufacture
of heavy goods.
erected his first blast furnace where he used the
ideas being developed
by Bessemer in England. Others followed and by 1874 he
opened his steel
furnace at Braddock. He took several partners,
including Henry Frick, but
he always insisted in retaining the majority holding
in his various ventures.
a keen interest in social and political issues and
wrote a series of books including Round the World
(1881), An American Four-in-Hand in Britain (1883) and
Triumphant Democracy (1886), where he compared the
egalitarianism of America
with the class-based inequalities of Britain and other
He praised America's educational system arguing that:
"Of all its boasts,
of all its triumphs, this is at once its proudest and
In June, 1889,
North American Review published an article by Carnegie
on what he called
the "Gospel of Wealth". In the article Carnegie argued
that it was the
duty of rich men and women to use their wealth to
benefit the welfare of
the community. He wrote that a "man who dies rich dies
Carnegie decided to allow Henry Frick to become
chairman of the Carnegie Companywhile he
moved to New York to deal with the growing importance
of research and development. Carnegie also spent six
months of the year in Scotland with his family.
took control the firm consisted of various mills and
furnaces in the Pittsburgh area. Frick was concerned
that there was no centralized management structure and
so in 1892 all productive units were integrated to
form the Carnegie Steel Company. Valued at $25 million
it was now the largest steel company in the world.
In an effort
to increase profits, Henry Frick decided to lower the
piecework wage rate of his employees. In 1892 the
Amalgamated Iron and Steel Workers Union called out
its members at the Carnegie's Homestead plant. Frick
now took the controversial decision to employ 300
strikebreakers from outside the area. The men were
brought in on armed barges down the Monongahela River.
The strikers were waiting
for them and a day long battle took place. Ten men
were killed and 60 wounded before the governor
obtained order by placing Homestead under martial law.
was in Scotland during the strike, was furious with
Frick as he had instructed
him not to use strikebreakers. In public Carnegie did
not criticize Frick
and as a result had to take responsibility for what
had happened. He later
wrote: "I was the controlling owner. That was
sufficient to make my name
a by-word for years".
Steel Company continued to expand and between 1889 and
1899 annual production of
steel rose from 332,111 to 2,663,412 tons, and profits
increased from $2
million to $40 million. There was growing conflict
between Carnegie and Henry
Frick during this period. This came to a head in 1899
and Carnegie bought
out Frick for $15 million.
In 1901 Frick
joined with J. Pierpont Morgan to purchase the
Carnegie Company for $500,000,000 and established the
U.S. Steel Corporation that was valued at $1.4
billion. Carnegie himself now had a personal fortune
up a trust fund "for the improvement of mankind." This
included the building of 3,000 public libraries (380
in Britain), the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh, the
Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Carnegie
Institution of Washington for research into the
natural and physical sciences. Carnegie also
established the Endowment for International Peace in
an effort to prevent future wars.
By the time
Carnegie died in August, 1919, he had given away
$350,000,000. A further
$125 million was placed with the Carnegie Corporation
to carry on his good
Andrew Carnegie was one of the richest
men in the world. But he was more famous for
his philanthropist activities. Andrew Carnegie had
a humble beginning. His
rags to riches story fuels passion and admiration
from people all over the
Read these Andrew Carnegie quotes and gain wisdom.
Aim for the highest.
As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men
say. I just watch what they do.
No amount of ability is of the slightest avail
People who are unable to motivate themselves must
be content with mediocrity, no matter how
impressive their other talents.
There is no use whatever trying to help people who
do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up
a ladder unless he be willing to climb himself.
Think of yourself as on the threshold of
unparalleled success. A whole clear, glorious life
lies before you. Achieve! Achieve