November 25, 1835
Died: August 11, 1919
Occupation: Businessman and Philanthropist
Andrew Carnegie (November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was a Scottish-born
American businessman, a major philanthropist, and the founder of the
Carnegie Steel Company which later became U.S. Steel. He is known for
having built one of the most powerful and influential corporations in
United States history, and, later in his life, giving away most of his
riches to fund the establishment of many libraries, schools, and universities
in Scotland, America and worldwide.
The Carnegie family
Carnegie's birthplace, DunfermlineAndrew Carnegie was born on November
25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. He was the son of a hand loom
weaver, William Carnegie. His mother was Margaret, daughter of one Thomas
Morrison, a tanner and shoemaker. Although his family was impoverished,
he grew up in a cultured, political home.
Many of Carnegie's
closest relatives were self-educated tradesmen and class activists.
William Carnegie, although poor, had educated himself and, as far as
his resources would permit, ensured that his children received an education.
William Carnegie was, moreover, politically active, and was involved
with those organising demonstrations against the Corn laws. He was also
a Chartist. He wrote frequently to newspapers and contributed articles
in the radical pamphlet, Cobbett's Register edited by William Cobbett.
Amongst other things, he argued for abolition of the Rotten Boroughs
and reform of the British House of Commons, Catholic Emancipation, and
laws governing safety at work, which were passed many years later in
the Factory Acts. Most radically of all, however, he promoted the abolition
of all forms of hereditary privilege, including all monarchies.
Another great influence
on the young Andrew Carnegie was his uncle, George Lauder, a proprietor
of a small grocer's shop in Dunfermline High Street. This uncle introduced
the young Carnegie to such historical Scottish heroes as Robert the
Bruce, William Wallace, and Rob Roy. He was also introduced to the writings
of Robert Burns, as well as Shakespeare. Lauder had Carnegie commit
to memory many pages of Burns's writings, writings that were to stay
with him for the rest of his life.
George Lauder was
additionally interested in the United States. Lauder saw the U.S.A.
as a country with "democratic institutions". Carnegie would
later grow to consider the U.S. the role model for democratic government.
Another uncle, his
mother's brother, "Ballie" Morrison, was also a radical political
firebrand. A fervent nonconformist, the chief objects of his tirades
were the Church of England and the Church of Scotland. In 1842, the
young Carnegie's radical sentiments were stirred further at the news
of "Ballie" being imprisoned for his part in a "Cessation
of Labour" (strike). At this time, withdrawal of labour by a hireling
was a criminal offense.
direct descendants still live in Scotland today. William Thomson CBE,
the great grandson of Andrew, is Chairman of the Carnegie Trust Dunfermline,
a trust which maintains Andrew Carnegie's legacy.
Migration to America
Andrew Carnegie's father had worked as a jobbing hand loom weaver. This
involved receiving the mill's raw materials at his cottage and weaving
them into cloth on the primitive loom in the cottage. In the 1840s,
a new system was coming into being, the factory system. During this
era, mill owners began constructing large weaving mills with looms powered
at first by water wheels and later by steam engines. These factories
could produce cloth at far lower cost, partly through increased mechanisation
and economies of scale, but partly also by paying mill workers very
low wages and by working them very long hours. The success of the mills
forced William Carnegie to seek work in the mills or elsewhere away
from home. However, the radical views of Andrew Carnegie's father were
well known, and he was not wanted.
He chose to emigrate.
His mother's two sisters had already emigrated, but it was his wife
who persuaded William Carnegie to make the passage. Making the passage
was not easy, however, for they had to find the passage money. They
were forced to sell their meagre possessions and borrow some £20
from friends, a considerable sum in 1848.
That May, his family
emigrated to the United States, sailing on the Wiscasset, a former whaler
that took the family from Broomielaw, in Glasgow to New York. From there
they proceeded up the Hudson River and the Erie Canal to Lake Erie and
then to Allegheny, Pennsylvania (present day Pittsburgh's northside
neighborhoods), where William Carnegie found work in a cotton factory.
Young Andrew Carnegie
found work in the same building as a "Bobbin boy" for the
sum of $1.20 a week. His brother, Thomas, eight years younger, was sent
to school. Andrew Carnegie quickly grew accustomed to his new country:
three years after arriving in the United States, the young Carnegie
began writing to his friends in Scotland extolling the great virtues
of American democracy whilst disparaging and criticising "feudal
British institutions". At the same time, he followed in his father's
footsteps and wrote letters to the newspapers including the New York
Tribune on subjects such as slavery.
1850–1860: A 'self made man'
Andrew, aged 16, with brother ThomasAndrew Carnegie's education and
passion for reading was given a great boost by Colonel James Anderson,
who opened his personal library of 400 volumes to working boys each
Saturday night. Carnegie was a consistent borrower. He was a "self-made
man" in the broadest sense, insofar as it applied not only to his
economic development but also to his intellectual and cultural development.
His capacity and willingness for hard work, his perseverance, and his
alertness, soon brought forth opportunities.
In 1851, he became
a telegraph messenger boy in the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph
Company, at $2.50 per week. This, to the young Carnegie, seemed a fortune.
In addition to providing him with an increase in income, the job also
provided him with a lifelong love of William Shakespeare's works. He
was frequently required to deliver messages to a theatre, and he often
managed to contrive appearing just as the curtain had been raised on
a performance. Using a charm that was to pay even greater dividends
in the future, Carnegie was then usually able to convince the theatre's
manager to allow him to stay and watch the performance for free. When
Carnegie was not at the theatre or improving his mind with a book, he
would spend time listening to the telegraph instrument itself. The electric
telegraph transmitted its signals along the wires that traversed the
nation. When they were received into the telegraph office, they were
transcribed into readable script on a long paper tape with the aid of
an elaborate machine. He quickly learned to distinguish the differing
sound the incoming signals produced and learned to transcribe it by
ear without having to write it down. At the time, Andrew Carnegie was
one of only two or three persons so gifted in the entire country. Having
learned Telegraphy, he was noted by Thomas A. Scott of the Pennsylvania
Railroad Company, who employed him as a secretary/Telegraph operator
starting in 1853, at the princely salary of $4.00 per week. Carnegie
was eighteen and soon began a rapid advancement through the company,
eventually becoming the Superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division.
Carnegie during the U.S. Civil War
During the pre-war period, Andrew Carnegie had formed a partnership
with a Mr. Woodruff, an inventor. Woodruff's invention was the sleeping
car. The great distances transversed by railways had meant stopping
for the night at hotels and inns by the railside, so that passengers
could rest. The sleeping car sped up travel and helped Americans settle
the American west. The investment proved a great success and a source
of great fortune for Woodruff and Carnegie. The young Carnegie, who
started work at an early age as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill, and,
who was, a few years later, engaged as a telegraph clerk and operator
with the Atlantic and Ohio Company, now became the superintendent of
the western division of the entire line. In this post, Carnegie was
responsible for several improvements in the service. When the American
Civil War opened in 1861, he accompanied Scott, the Assistant United
States Secretary of War, to the front, where he was "the first
casualty of the war" when he pulled up telegraph wires the confederates
had buried. He gained a scar on his cheek from when the wire came up
too fast and cut him. He would tell the story of that scar for years
Following his good
fortune, Carnegie proceeded to increase it still further through fortunate
and careful investments. In 1864, Carnegie invested the sum of $40,000
in Storey Farm on Oil Creek, in Venango County, Pennsylvania. In one
year, the farm yielded over $1,000,000 in cash dividends, and oil from
oil wells on the property sold profitably. Carnegie was subsequently
associated with others in establishing a steel rolling mill.
Aside from Carnegie's
investment successes, he was beginning to figure prominently in the
American cause and in American culture. With the Civil War raging, Carnegie
soon found himself in Washington. Carnegie was selected by his boss
at the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Thomas A. Scott, who was now Assistant
Secretary of War in charge of military transportation, to join him in
Washington. Carnegie was appointed Superintendent of the Military Railways
and the Union Government's telegraph lines in the East and was Scott's
right hand man. Carnegie, himself, was on the foot plate of the locomotive
that pulled the first brigade of Union troops to reach Washington. Shortly
after this, following the defeat of Union forces at Bull Run, he personally
supervised the transportation of the defeated forces. Under his organization,
the telegraph service rendered efficient service to the Union cause
and significantly assisted in the eventual victory. During his work
"in the field", Carnegie fell ill and needed treatment for
The Civil War, as
so many wars before it, brought boom times to the suppliers of war.
The U.S. iron industry was one such. Before the war its production was
of little significance, but the sudden huge demand brought boom times
to Pittsburgh and similar cities and great wealth to the iron masters.
Carnegie had some
investments in this industry before the war and, after the war, left
the railroads to devote all his energies to the ironworks trade. Carnegie
worked to develop several iron works, eventually forming The Keystone
Bridge Works and the Union Ironworks, in Pittsburgh. Although he had
left the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, he did not totally sever his
links with the railroads. These links would prove valuable. The Keystone
Bridge Company made iron train bridges, and, as company superintendent,
Carnegie had noticed the weakness of the traditional wooden structures.
These were replaced in large numbers with iron bridges made in his works.
As well as having good business sense, Carnegie possessed charm and
literary knowledge. He was invited to many important social functions,
functions that Carnegie exploited to his own advantage and to the fullest
1878Carnegie’s philanthropic inclinations began some time before
retirement. He wrote;
I propose to take
an income no greater than $50,000 per annum! Beyond this I need ever
earn, make no effort to increase my fortune, but spend the surplus each
year for benevolent purposes! Let us cast aside business forever, except
for others. Let us settle in Oxford and I shall get a thorough education,
making the acquaintance of literary men. I figure that this will take
three years active work. I shall pay especial attention to speaking
in public. We can settle in London and I can purchase a controlling
interest in some newspaper or live review and give the general management
of it attention, taking part in public matters, especially those connected
with education and improvement of the poorer classes. Man must have
an idol and the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry!
No idol is more debasing than the worship of money! Whatever I engage
in I must push inordinately; therefore should I be careful to choose
that life which will be the most elevating in its character. To continue
much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts
wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest time, must degrade
me beyond hope of permanent recovery. I will resign business at thirty-five,
but during these ensuing two years I wish to spend the afternoons in
receiving instruction and in reading systematically!
Carnegie the scholar and activist
Whilst Carnegie continued his business career, some of his literary
intentions were fulfilled. During this time, he made many friends in
the literary and political worlds. Among these were such as Matthew
Arnold and Herbert Spencer as well as being in correspondence and acquaintance
with most of the U.S. Presidents, statesmen, and notable writers of
the time. Many were visitors to the Carnegie home. Carnegie greatly
admired Herbert Spencer, the polymath who seemed to know everything.
He did not, however, agree with Spencer's Social Darwinism which held
that philanthropy was a bad idea.
In 1881, Andrew
Carnegie took his family, which included his mother, then aged 70, on
a trip to Great Britain. They toured the sights of Scotland by coach
having several receptions en-route. The highlight for them all was a
triumphal return to Dunfermline where Carnegie's mother laid the foundation
stone of the "Carnegie Library". Andrew Carnegie's criticism
of British society did not point to a dislike of the country of his
birth; on the contrary, one of Carnegie's ambitions was to act as a
catalyst for a close association between the English speaking peoples.
To this end, he purchased, in the first part of the 1880s, a number
of newspapers in England, all of which were to advocate the abolition
of the monarchy and the establishment of "the British Republic".
Carnegie's charm aided by his great wealth meant that he had many British
friends, including Prime Minister Gladstone.
In 1886, tragedy
struck Carnegie when his young brother Thomas died at the early age
of 43. Success in the business continued, however. At the same time
as owning steel works, Carnegie had purchased, at low cost, the most
valuable of the iron ore fields around Lake Superior. The same year
Andrew Carnegie became a figure of controversy. Following his tour of
Great Britain, he wrote about his experiences in a book entitled An
American Four-in-hand in Britain. Although still actively involved in
running his many businesses, Carnegie had become a regular contributor
of articles to numerous serious minded magazines, most notably the Nineteenth
Century, under the editorship of James Knowles, and the North American
Review, whose editor, Lloyd Bryce, oversaw the publication during its
most influential period.
That year, 1886,
Carnegie penned his most radical work to date, entitled Triumphant Democracy.
The work, liberal in its use of statistics to make its arguments, was
an attempt to argue his view that the American republican system of
government was superior to the British monarchical system. It not only
gave an overly-favourable and idealistic view of American progress,
but made some considerable criticism of the British royal family. Most
antagonistic, however, was the cover that depicted amongst other motifs,
an upended royal crown and a broken sceptre. Given these aspects, it
was no surprise that the book was the cause of some considerable controversy
in Great Britain. The book itself was successful. It made many Americans
aware for the first time of their country's economic progress and sold
over 40,000 copies, mostly in the U.S.A.
In 1889, Carnegie
stirred up yet another hornet's nest when an article entitled "Wealth"
appeared in the June issue of the North American Review. After reading
it, Gladstone requested its publication in England, and it appeared
under a new title, "The Gospel of Wealth" in the Pall Mall
Gazette. The article itself was the subject of much discussion. In the
article, the author argued that the life of a wealthy industrialist
such as Carnegie should comprise two parts. The first part was the gathering
and the accumulation of wealth. The second part was to be used for the
subsequent distribution of this wealth to benevolent causes.
Carnegie the industrialist
1885–1900: Building an empire of steel
But all this was only a preliminary to the success attending his development
of the iron and steel industries at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Carnegie
made his fortune in the steel industry, controlling the most extensive
integrated iron and steel operations ever owned by an individual in
the United States. His great innovation was in the cheap and efficient
mass production of steel rails for railroad lines.
In the late 1880s,
Carnegie Steel was the largest manufacturer of pig-iron, steel-rails,
and coke in the world, with a capacity to produce approximately 2,000
tons of pig-metal a day. In 1888, he bought the rival Homestead Steel
Works, which included an extensive plant served by tributary coal and
iron fields, a railway 425 miles long, and a line of lake steamships.
An agglutination of the assets of he and his associates occurred in
1892 with the launching of the Carnegie Steel Company.
By 1889, the U.S.
output of steel exceeded that of the UK, and Andrew Carnegie owned a
large part of it. Carnegie had risen to the heights he had by being
a supreme organizer and judge of men. He had the talent of being able
to surround himself with able and effective men, while, at the same
time, retaining the control and the direction of the enterprise. Carnegie's
businesses were uniquely organised in that his belief in "democratic
principles" found itself interpreted into these businesses. This
did not mean that Carnegie was not in absolute control, however. The
businesses incorporated Carnegie's own version of profit sharing. Carnegie
wanted his employees to have a stake in the business, for he knew that
they would work best if they saw that their own self interest was allied
to the firm's. As a result, men who had started as labourers in some
cases, eventually ended up millionaires. Carnegie also often encouraged
unfriendly competition between two of his workers and goaded them into
outdoing one another. These rivalries became so important to some of
the workers that they wouldn't talk to each other for years. Carnegie
maintained control by incorporating his enterprises not as joint stock
corporations but as limited partnerships with Carnegie as majority and
controlling partner. Not a cent of stock was publicly sold. If a member
died or retired, his stock was purchased at book value by the company.
Similarly, the other partners could vote to call in stock from those
partners who underperformed, forcing them to resign.
The internal organisation
of his businesses was not the only reason for Andrew Carnegie's rise
to pre-eminence. Carnegie introduced the concept of counter-cyclical
investment. Carnegie's competitors, along with virtually every other
business enterprise across the globe, pursued the conventional strategy
of procyclical investment; manufacturers reinvesting profits in new
capital in times of boom and high demand. Because demand is high, investment
in bull markets is more expensive. In response, Carnegie developed and
implemented a secret tactic. He shifted the purchasing cycle of his
companies to slump times, when business was depressed and prices low.
Carnegie observed that business cycles alternated between "boom"
and "bust". He saw that if he capitalized during a slump,
his costs would be lower and profits higher. During the years 1893 to
1897, there was a great slump in economic demand, and so Carnegie made
his move. At rock bottom prices, he upgraded his entire operation with
the latest and most cost effective steel mills. When demand picked up,
prosperity followed for the Homestead & Edgar Thompson Steel Works,
the Carnegie, Phipps & Company, and Carnegie Bros. & Company
as a flood tide of profit. In 1900, the profits of Carnegie Bros. &
Company alone stood at $40,000,000 with $25,000,000 being Carnegie's
grew to include the J. Edgar Thomson Steel Works, (named for John Edgar
Thomson, Carnegie's former boss and president of the Pennsylvania Railroad),
Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Works, the Lucy Furnaces, the Union Iron Mills,
the Union Mill (Wilson, Walker & County), the Keystone Bridge Works,
the Hartman Steel Works, the Frick Coke Company, and the Scotia ore
mines. Also, Carnegie, through Keystone, supplied the steel for and
owned shares in the landmark Eads Bridge project across the Mississippi
River in St. Louis, Missouri (completed 1874). This project was an important
proof-of-concept for steel technology which marked the opening of a
new steel market.
1901: The formation
of U.S. Steel
In 1901, Carnegie was now 65 years old and was considering retirement.
He reformed his enterprises into conventional joint stock corporations
as preparation to this end. Carnegie, however, wanted a good price for
his stock. There was a man who was to give him his price. This man was
John Pierpont Morgan.
Morgan was a banker
and perhaps America's most important financial deal maker. He had observed
how efficiency produced profit. He envisioned an integrated steel industry
that would cut costs, lower prices to consumers and raise wages to workers.
To this end he needed to buy out Carnegie and several other major producers,
and integrate them all into one company thereby eliminating duplication
and waste. Negotiations were concluded on 2nd March with the formation
of the United States Steel Corporation. It was the first corporation
in the world with a market capitalization in excess of $1,000,000,000.
The buyout, which
was negotiated in secret by Charles M. Schwab (no relation to Charles
R. Schwab, the brokerage house founder), was the largest such industrial
takeover in United States history to date. The holdings were incorporated
in the United States Steel Corporation, a trust organized by J. P. Morgan,
and Carnegie himself retired from business. His steel enterprises were
bought out at a figure equivalent to twelve times their annual earnings;
$480 million , which at the time was the largest ever personal commercial
transaction. Andrew Carnegie's share of this amounted to a massive $225,639,000
which was paid to Carnegie in the form of 5%, 50 year gold bonds. The
letter agreeing to sell his share was signed on the 26th February, 1901.
On the 2nd March 1901, the circular formally filing the organisation
and capitalisation (at $1,400,000,000 - 4% of U.S national wealth at
the time) of the United States Steel Corporation actually completed
the contract. The bonds were to be delivered within two weeks to the
Hudson Trust Company of Hoboken, New Jersey in trust to Robert A. Franks,
Carnegie's business secretary. There, a special vault was built to house
the physical bulk of nearly $230,000,000 worth of bonds. It was said
that "....Carnegie never wanted to see or touch these bonds that
represented the fruition of his business career. It was as if he feared
that if he looked upon them they might vanish like the gossamer gold
of the leprechaun. Let them lie safe in a vault in New Jersey, safe
from the New York tax assessors, until he was ready to dispose of them...."
As they signed the
papers of sale, Carnegie remarked, "Well, Pierpont, I am now handing
the burden over to you." In return, Andrew Carnegie became one
of the world's wealthiest men. Retirement was a stage in life that many
men dreaded. However, Carnegie was not one of them. He was looking forward
to retirement, for it was his intention to follow a new course from
Besides steel, Carnegie's
companies were involved in other areas of the railroad industry. His
company, Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works, was noted for its building
of large steam locomotives at the turn of the 20th century. His associates
and partners included Henry Clay Frick and F. T. F. Lovejoy.
He owned 18 English
newspapers, which he controlled to censor Radicalist views[citation
At the height of
his career, he was the second richest person in the world, behind only
John D. Rockefeller.
Carnegie the philanthropist
A Carnegie library,
Macomb, IllinoisAndrew Carnegie spent his last years as a philanthropist.
From 1901 forward, public attention was turned from the shrewd business
capacity which had enabled Carnegie to accumulate such a fortune, to
the public-spirited way in which he devoted himself to utilizing it
on philanthropic objects. His views on social subjects and the responsibilities
which great wealth involved were already known from Triumphant Democracy
(1886), and from his Gospel of Wealth (1889). He acquired Skibo Castle,
in Sutherland, Scotland, and made his home partly there and partly in
New York and then devoted his life to the work of providing the capital
for purposes of public interest and social and educational advancement.
In all his ideas,
he was dominated by an intense belief in the future and influence of
the English-speaking people, in their democratic government and alliance
for the purpose of peace and the abolition of war, and in the progress
of education on nonsectarian lines. He was a powerful supporter of the
movement for spelling reform as a means of promoting the spread of the
Among all of his
many philanthropic efforts, the establishment of public libraries in
the United States, the United Kingdom, and in other English-speaking
countries was especially prominent. Carnegie libraries, as they were
commonly called, sprang up on all sides. The first of which was opened
in 1883 in Dunfermline, Scotland. His method was to build and equip,
but only on condition that the local authority provided site and maintenance.
To secure local interest, in 1885, he gave $500,000 to Pittsburgh for
a public library, and in 1886, he gave $250,000 to Allegheny City for
a music hall and library, and $250,000 to Edinburgh, Scotland, for a
free library. In total Carnegie funded some 3,000 libraries, located
in every U.S. state except Alaska, Delaware, and Rhode Island. Carnegie
also built libraries in Canada and overseas in Britain, Ireland, Australia,
New Zealand, the West Indies, and Fiji.
He gave $2 million
in 1901 to start the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) at Pittsburgh
and the same amount in 1902 to found the Carnegie Institution at Washington,
D.C.. He would later contribute more to these and other schools. CIT
is now part of Carnegie Mellon University.
In Scotland, he
gave $2 million in 1901 to establish a trust for providing funds for
assisting education at the Scottish universities, a benefaction which
resulted in his being elected Lord Rector of University of St. Andrews.
He was a large benefactor of the Tuskegee Institute under Booker Washington
for African American education. He also established large pension funds
in 1901 for his former employees at Homestead and, in 1905, for American
college professors. He also funded the construction of 7,000 church
Also, long before
he sold out, in 1879, he erected commodious swimming-baths for the use
of the people of his hometown of Dunfermline, Scotland. In the following
year, Carnegie gave $40,000 for the establishment of a free library
in the same city. In 1884, he gave $50,000 to Bellevue Hospital Medical
College to found a histological laboratory, now called the Carnegie
He owned Carnegie
Hall in New York City from its construction in 1890 until his widow
sold it in 1924.
He also founded
the Carnegie Hero Fund commissions in America (1904) and in the United
Kingdom (1908) for the recognition of deeds of heroism, contributed
$500,000 in 1903 for the erection of a Peace Palace at The Hague, and
donated $150,000 for a Pan-American Palace in Washington as a home for
the International Bureau of American Republics.
By the rough and
ready standards of 19th century tycoons, Carnegie was not a particularly
ruthless man, but the contrast between his life and the lives of many
of his own workers and of the poor, in general, was stark. "Maybe
with the giving away of his money," commented biographer Joseph
Wall, "he would justify what he had done to get that money."
By the time he died
in Lenox, Massachusetts, on August 11, 1919, Carnegie had given away
$350,695,653. At his death, the last $30,000,000 was likewise given
away to foundations, charities, and to pensioners.
He is interred in
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
In an era in which financial capital was consolidated in New York City,
Carnegie famously stayed aloof from the city, preferring to live near
his factories in western Pennsylvania and at Skibo Castle, Scotland,
which he bought and refurbished. However, he also built (in 1901) and
resided in a townhouse on New York City's Fifth Avenue that later came
to house Cooper-Hewitt's National Design Museum.
Louise Whitfield in 1887 and had one daughter, Margaret, who was born
in 1897. His brother, Thomas M. Carnegie, also born in Dunfermline,
Scotland, was born on October 2, 1843. He was associated with Andrew
in his business enterprises, but died in Homewood, Pennsylvania, on
October 19, 1886.
of Carnegie's life
1892: The Homestead Strike
The Homestead StrikeThe Homestead Strike was a bloody labor confrontation
lasting 143 days in 1892 and was one of the most serious in U.S. history.
The conflict was situated around Carnegie Steel's main plant in Homestead,
Pennsylvania and grew out of a dispute between the National Amalgamated
Association of Iron and Steel Workers of the United States and the Carnegie
Carnegie, who had
cultivated a pro-labor image in his dealings with company mill workers,
departed the country for a trip to his Scottish homeland before the
unrest peaked. In doing so, Carnegie left mediation of the dispute in
the hands of his associate and partner Henry Clay Frick. Frick was well
known in industrial circles as maintaining staunch anti-union sensibilities.
The company had
attempted to cut the wages of the skilled steel workers, and when the
workers refused the pay cut, management locked the union out (workers
considered the stoppage a "lockout" by management and not
a "strike" by workers). Frick brought in thousands of strikebreakers
to work the steel mills and Pinkerton agents to safeguard them.
The arrival, on
July 6, of a force of 300 Pinkerton agents from New York City and Chicago
resulted in a fight in which 10 men - seven strikers and three Pinkertons
- were killed and hundreds were injured. Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Pattison
discharged two brigades of the state militia to the strike site. Then,
allegedly in response to the fight between the striking workers and
the Pinkertons, anarchist Alexander Berkman tried to kill Frick with
a gun provided by Emma Goldman. However, Frick was only wounded, and
the attempt turned public opinion away from the striking workers. Afterwards,
the company successfully resumed operations with non-union immigrant
employees in place of the Homestead plant workers, and Carnegie returned
Carnegie was one
of more than 50 wealthy members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting
Club, which was blamed for the Johnstown Flood that killed more than
2,200 people in 1887.
Andrew Carnegie at Skibo Castle, 1914Carnegie wrote The Gospel of Wealth,
in which he stated his belief that the rich should use their wealth
to help enrich society.
The following is
taken from one of Carnegie's memos to himself:
Man does not live
by bread alone. I have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment
which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen,
and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power
of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the body rich.
There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money
and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably
higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains
Caliban still and still plays the beast. My aspirations take a higher
flight. Mine be it to have contributed to the enlightenment and the
joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to
bring into the lives of the toilers of Pittsburgh sweetness and light.
I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth.
Carnegie also believed
that achievement of financial success could be reduced to a simple formula,
which could be duplicated by the average person. In 1908, he commissioned
(at no pay) Napoleon Hill, then a journalist, to interview more than
500 high and wealthy achievers to find out the common threads of their
success. Hill eventually became a Carnegie collaborator, and their work
was published in 1928, after Carnegie's death, in Hill's book The Law
of Success (ISBN 0879804475) and in 1937 in Hill's most successful and
enduring work, Think and Grow Rich (ISBN 1593302002). The latter has
not been out of print since the day it was published and has sold more
than 30 million copies worldwide. In 1960, Hill published an abridged
version of the book containing the Andrew Carnegie formula for wealth
creation. For years it was the only version generally available. In
2004, Ross Cornwell published Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version,
Restored and Revised, which restored the book to its original form,
with slight revisions, and added the first comprehensive endnotes, index,
and appendix the book had ever contained.
Carnegie was a frequent contributor to periodicals on labour issues.
In addition to Triumphant
Democracy (1886), Gospel of Wealth (1900) and The Law of Success (1928),
other publications by him were An American Four-in-hand in Britain (1883),
Round the World (1884), The Empire of Business (1902), a Life of James
Watt (1905) and Problems of To-day (1908).
Various sources quote Carnegie's height at between 5' (1.524m) and 5'
3" (1.6m); a claim that he was 5' 6" (1.676m) is incorrect.
Two municipalities in the United States are named after Andrew Carnegie:
Carnegie, PA and Carnegie, OK.
The dinosaur Diplodocus carnegiei (Hatcher) was named for Andrew Carnegie
after he sponsored the expedition that discovered its remains in the
Morrison Formation (Jurassic) of Utah. Carnegie was so proud of “Dippi”
that he had casts made of the bones and plaster replicas of the whole
skeleton donated to several museums in Europe. The original fossil skeleton
is assembled and stands in the Hall of Dinosaurs at the Carnegie Museum
of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA.
American Anti-Imperialist League, an organization to which Carnegie
Carnegie libraries image gallery
Robber baron (industrialist)
List of universities named after people
Carnegie, Andrew. Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie (1920, 2006). ISBN
Carnegie, Andrew. "Gospel of Wealth" (1888, 1998). ISBN 1557094713.
Wall, Joseph Frazier, ed. The Andrew Carnegie Reader (1992). ISBN 0822954648
Hill, Napoleon. Think and Grow Rich (1937, 2004). ISBN 1593302002. (Contains
Hill's reminiscences about his long relationship with Carnegie and extensive
endnotes about him.)
Josephson; Matthew. The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists,
1861-1901 (1938, 1987). ISBN 9991847995.
Morris, Charles R. The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller,
Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy (2005).
Krass, Peter. Carnegie (2002). ISBN 0471386308.
Livesay, Harold C. Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business, 2nd
Edition (1999). ISBN 0321432878.
Ritt Jr., Michael J., and Landers, Kirk. A Lifetime of Riches. ISBN
Wall, Joseph Frazier. Andrew Carnegie (1989). ISBN 0822959046.
Whaples, Robert. "Andrew Carnegie", EH.Net Encyclopedia of
Economic and Business History.
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Andrew CarnegieWikisource has original works written by or about:
Andrew CarnegieAt the top 10 richest of all time
Andrew Carnegie: Evaluating a capitalist icon
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: Andrew Carnegie: A Tribute
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Carnegie Birthplace Museum website
Andrew Carnegie - His Scottish Connections
Deconstructing the Philanthropic Library
Online Books by Andrew Carnegie
Works by Andrew Carnegie at Project Gutenberg
Andrew Carnegie - His Relationship with Napoleon Hill and Think and
The Homestead Strike 1892 by Cheri Goldner
Andrew Carnegie - Important Scots
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica
Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
This article incorporates text from the public domain Appleton's Cyclopedia
of American Biography.
Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Carnegie
One of the captains of industry of 19th century America, Andrew Carnegie
helped build the formidable American steel industry, a process that
turned a poor young man into one of the richest entrepreneurs of his
age. Later in his life, Carnegie sold his steel business and systematically
gave his collected fortune away to cultural, educational and scientific
institutions for "the improvement of mankind."
Carnegie was born
in Dunfermline, the medieval capital of Scotland, in 1835. The town
was a center of the linen industry, and Andrew's father was a weaver,
a profession the young Carnegie was expected to follow. But the industrial
revolution that would later make Carnegie the richest man in the world,
destroyed the weavers' craft. When the steam-powered looms came to Dunfermline
in 1847 hundreds of hand loom weavers became expendable. Andrew's mother
went to work to support the family, opening a small grocery shop and
"I began to
learn what poverty meant," Andrew would later write. "It was
burnt into my heart then that my father had to beg for work. And then
and there came the resolve that I would cure that when I got to be a
An ambition for
riches would mark Carnegie's path in life. However, a belief in political
egalitarianism was another ambition he inherited from his family. Andrew's
father, his grandfather Tom Morrison and his uncle Tom Jr. were all
Scottish radicals who fought to do away with inherited privilege and
to bring about the rights of common workers.
But Andrew's mother,
fearing for the survival of her family, pushed the family to leave the
poverty of Scotland for the possibilities in America. She borrowed 20
pounds she needed to pay the fare for the Atlantic passage and in 1848
the Carnegies joined two of Margaret's sisters in Pittsburgh, then a
sooty city that was the iron-manufacturing center of the country.
secured work in a cotton factory and his son Andrew took work in the
same building as a bobbin boy for $1.20 a week. Later, Carnegie worked
as a messenger boy in the city's telegraph office. He did each job to
the best of his ability and seized every opportunity to take on new
responsibilities. For example, he memorized Pittsburgh's street lay-out
as well as the important names and addresses of those he delivered to.
Carnegie often was
asked to deliver messages to the theater. He arranged to make these
deliveries at night--and stayed on to watch plays by Shakespeare and
other great playwrights. In what would be a life-long pursuit of knowledge,
Carnegie also took advantage of a small library that a local benefactor
made available to working boys.
One of the men Carnegie
met at the telegraph office was Thomas A. Scott, then beginning his
impressive career at Pennsylvania Railroad. Scott was taken by the young
worker and referred to him as "my boy Andy," hiring him as
his private secretary and personal telegrapher at $35 a month.
imagine," Carnegie said many years later. "what I could ever
do with so much money." Ever eager to take on new responsibilities,
Carnegie worked his way up the ladder in Pennsylvania Railroad and succeeded
Scott as superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division. At the outbreak
of the Civil War, Scott was hired to supervise military transportation
for the North and Carnegie worked as his right hand man.
The Civil War fueled
the iron industry, and by the time the war was over, Carnegie saw the
potential in the field and resigned from Pennsylvania Railroad. It was
one of many bold moves that would typify Carnegie's life in industry
and earn him his fortune. He then turned his attention to the Keystone
Bridge Company, which worked to replace wooden bridges with stronger
iron ones. In three years he had an annual income of $50,000.
expressed his uneasiness with the businessman's life. In a letter to
himself at age 33, he wrote: "To continue much longer overwhelmed
by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to
make more money in the shortest time, must degrade me beyond hope of
permanent recovery. I will resign business at thirty-five, but during
the ensuing two years I wish to spend the afternoons in receiving instruction
and in reading systematically."
Carnegie would continue
making unparalleled amounts of money for the next 30 years. Two years
after he wrote that letter Carnegie would embrace a new steel refining
process being used by Englishman Henry Bessemer to convert huge batches
of iron into steel, which was much more flexible than brittle iron.
Carnegie threw his own money into the process and even borrowed heavily
to build a new steel plant near Pittsburgh. Carnegie was ruthless in
keeping down costs and managed by the motto "watch costs and the
profits take care of themselves."
"I think Carnegie's
genius was first of all, an ability to foresee how things were going
to change," says historian John Ingram. "Once he saw that
something was of potential benefit to him, he was willing to invest
enormously in it."
Carnegie was unusual
among the industrial captains of his day because he preached for the
rights of laborers to unionize and to protect their jobs. However, Carnegie's
actions did not always match his rhetoric. Carnegie's steel workers
were often pushed to long hours and low wages. In the Homestead Strike
of 1892, Carnegie threw his support behind plant manager Henry Frick,
who locked out workers and hired Pinkerton thugs to intimidate strikers.
Many were killed in the conflict, and it was an episode that would forever
hurt Carnegie's reputation and haunt the man.
steel juggernaut was unstoppable, and by 1900 Carnegie Steel produced
more of the metal than all of Great Britain. That was also the year
that financier J. P. Morgan mounted a major challenge to Carnegie's
steel empire. While Carnegie believed he could beat Morgan in a battle
lasting five, 10 or 15 years, the fight did not appeal to the 64-year
old man eager to spend more time with his wife Louise, whom he had married
in 1886, and their daughter, Margaret.
Carnegie wrote the
asking price for his steel business on a piece of paper and had one
of his managers deliver the offer to Morgan. Morgan accepted without
hesitation, buying the company for $480 million. "Congratulations,
Mr. Carnegie," Morgan said to Carnegie when they finalized the
deal. "you are now the richest man in the world."
Fond of saying that
"the man who dies rich dies disgraced," Carnegie then turned
his attention to giving away his fortune. He abhorred charity, and instead
put his money to use helping others help themselves. That was the reason
he spent much of his collected fortune on establishing over 2,500 public
libraries as well as supporting institutions of higher learning. By
the time Carnegie's life was over, he gave away 350 million dollars.
Carnegie also was
one of the first to call for a "league of nations" and he
built a "a palace of peace" that would later evolve into the
World Court. His hopes for a civilized world of peace were destroyed,
though, with the onset of World War I in 1914. Louise said that with
these hostilities her husband's "heart was broken." Carnegie
lived for another five years, but the last entry in his autobiography
was the day World War I began.