Andrew Carnegie (properly , but commonly /ˈkɑrnɨgi/ or /kɑrˈnɛgi/) (25 November 1835 – 11 August 1919) was a Scottish-born American industrialist, businessman, and a major philanthropist. He was an immigrant as a child with his parents. He built Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company, which was later merged with Elbert H. Gary's Federal Steel Company and several smaller companies to create U.S. Steel. With the fortune he made from business, he turned to philanthropy and interests in education, founding the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. While Carnegie paid his employees the low wages typical of the time, he later gave away most of his money to fund the establishment of many libraries, schools, and universities in America, the United Kingdom and other countries, as well as a pension fund for former employees. He is often regarded as the second richest man in history. Carnegie started as a telegrapher and by the 1860s had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, bridges and oil derricks. He built further wealth as a bond salesman raising money for American enterprise in Europe.
Steel was where he made his fortune. In the 1870s, he founded the Carnegie Steel Company, a step which cemented his name as one of the “Captains of Industry”. By the 1890s, the company was the largest and most profitable industrial enterprise in the world. Carnegie sold it to J.P. Morgan in 1901, who created US Steel. Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, and education and scientific research.
The son of a weaver, Carnegie immigrated as a child with his family from Dunfermline in Scotland to the United States in 1848 and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. His first job at age 13 in 1848 was as a bobbin boy, changing spools of thread in a cotton mill twelve hours a day, six days a week. His wages were $1.20 per week, plus another 80 cents for firing the furnace. In 1851, Carnegie became a telegraph messenger boy in the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph Company, at $2.20 per week. 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 theater, and often managed to arrive 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 usually able to convince the theater's manager to allow him to stay and watch the performance for free.
Carnegie quickly taught himself to distinguish the differing sounds the incoming signals produced and learned to transcribe signals by ear, without having to write them down. Thomas A. Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company employed him as a secretary/telegraph operator starting in 1853, at a salary of $4.00 per week. At age eighteen, Carnegie began a rapid advancement through the company, becoming the superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division. Scott also helped him with his first investments. In 1855 Carnegie invested $600 in a successful firm called Adams Express. Later he invested money in sleeping cars for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and bought part of the company making the wagons. This turned out to be a very profitable investment. Reinvesting his money in railroad-related industries: (iron, bridges, and rails), Carnegie slowly accumulated capital, the basis for his later success.
Before the Civil War, Carnegie had formed a partnership with George M Pullman , an inventor of a sleeping car for first-class travel. The sleeping car facilitated business travel at distances over . The investment proved a great success and a source of profit for Woodruff and Carnegie. The young Carnegie became the superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Western Division, and introduced several improvements in the service.
In spring 1861 Carnegie was appointed by Scott, who was now Assistant Secretary of War in charge of military transportation, as Superintendent of the Military Railways and the Union Government's telegraph lines in the East. Carnegie helped open the rail lines into Washington that the rebels had cut; he rode the locomotive pulling the first brigade of Union troops to reach Washington. 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. Carnegie later boasted he was "the first casualty of the war" when he gained a scar on his cheek from working with telegraph wire.
Defeat of the Confederacy required vast supplies of munitions, as well as railroads (and telegraph lines) to deliver the goods. The war demonstrated how integral the industries were to American success.
In 1864, Carnegie invested $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 petroleum from oil wells on the property sold profitably. The demand for iron products, such as armor for gunboats, cannon, and shells, as well as a hundred other industrial products, made Pittsburgh a center of wartime production. Carnegie worked with others in establishing a steel rolling mill and steel production and control of industry became the source of his fortune. Carnegie had some investments in the iron industry before the war.
After the war, Carnegie 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. As the Keystone Bridge Company's 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.
Carnegie believed in using his fortune for others and doing more than making money. 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 continued his business career; some of his literary intentions were fulfilled. He befriended English poet Matthew Arnold and English philosopher Herbert Spencer as well as being in correspondence and acquaintance with most of the U.S. Presidents, statesmen, and notable writers. Carnegie greatly admired Spencer. However Spencer's Social Darwinism held philanthropy as unwise.
Carnegie erected commodious swimming-baths for the people of his hometown in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1879. In the following year, Carnegie gave $40,000 for the establishment of a free library in Dunfermline. In 1884, he gave $50,000 to Bellevue Hospital Medical College (now part of New York University Medical Center) to found a histological laboratory, now called the Carnegie Laboratory.
In 1881, Carnegie took his family, including his mother at age 70, on a trip to the United Kingdom. They toured Scotland by coach, and enjoyed several receptions en-route. The highlight for them all was a triumphal return to his native town of Dunfermline, where Carnegie's mother laid the foundation stone of a Carnegie Library for which he donated the money. Carnegie's criticism of British society did not mean dislike; 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, in the early 1880s, he purchased numerous 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 William Ewart Gladstone.
In 1886, Andrew Carnegie's younger brother Thomas died at age 43. Success in the business continued, however. While owning steel works, Carnegie had purchased at low cost the most valuable of the iron ore fields around Lake Superior. The same year Carnegie became a figure of controversy. Following his tour of the UK, 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 to numerous magazines, most notably the Nineteenth Century, under the editorship of James Knowles, and the influential North American Review, led by editor Lloyd Bryce.
In 1886 Carnegie wrote his most radical work to date, entitled Triumphant Democracy. Liberal in its use of statistics to make its arguments, the book argued his view that the American republican system of government was superior to the British monarchical system. It gave a highly favorable and idealized view of American progress and criticized the British royal family. The cover depicted an upended royal crown and a broken scepter. The book created considerable controversy in the UK. The book made many Americans appreciate their country's economic progress and sold over 40,000 copies, mostly in the U.S.
In 1889, Carnegie published "Wealth" in the June issue of the North American Review. After reading it, Gladstone requested its publication in England, where it appeared as "The Gospel of Wealth" in the Pall Mall Gazette. The article was the subject of much discussion. Carnegie argued that the life of a wealthy industrialist should comprise two parts. The first part was the gathering and the accumulation of wealth. The second part was for the subsequent distribution of this wealth to benevolent causes. The philanthropy was key to making the life worthwhile.
In 1898, Carnegie tried to arrange for independence for the Philippines. As the end of the Spanish American War neared, the United States bought the Philippines from Spain for $20 million USD. To counter what he perceived as imperialism on the part of the United States, Carnegie personally offered $20 million USD to the Philippines so that the Filipino people could buy their independence from the United States. However, nothing came of this gesture and the Philippine-American War ensued.
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. One of his two great innovations was in the cheap and efficient mass production of steel rails for railroad lines. The second was in his vertical integration of all suppliers of raw materials. 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 per day. In 1888, Carnegie bought the rival Homestead Steel Works, which included an extensive plant served by tributary coal and iron fields, a 425-mile (685 km) long railway, and a line of lake steamships. Carnegie combined his assets and those of his associates in 1892 with the launching of the Carnegie Steel Company.
By 1889, the U.S. output of steel exceeded that of the UK, and Carnegie owned a large part of it. Carnegie's empire 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. Carnegie, through Keystone, supplied the steel for and owned shares in the landmark Eads Bridge project across the Mississippi River at 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.
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 Morgan, and Carnegie retired from business. His steel enterprises were bought out at a figure equivalent to twelve times their annual earnings—$480 million (approximately $297 billion in 2007 dollars using the relative share of GDP)—which at the time was the largest ever personal commercial transaction.
Carnegie's share of this amounted to $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 26 February 1901. On 2 March, the circular formally filing the organization and capitalization (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...."
Carnegie spent his last years as a philanthropist. From 1901 forward, public attention was turned from the shrewd business acumen which had enabled Carnegie to accumulate such a fortune, to the public-spirited way in which he devoted himself to utilizing it on philanthropic projects. He had written about his views on social subjects and the responsibilities of great wealth in Triumphant Democracy (1886) and Gospel of Wealth (1889). Carnegie bought Skibo Castle, in Sutherland, Scotland, and made his home partly there and partly in New York. He then devoted his life to providing the capital for purposes of public interest and social and educational advancement.
Among his many philanthropic efforts, the establishment of public libraries throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and other English-speaking countries was especially prominent. Carnegie libraries, as they were commonly called, were built in many places. The first was opened in 1883 in Dunfermline, Scotland. His method was to build and equip, but only on condition that the local authority matched that by providing a site and operating 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 47 states. Carnegie also built libraries in Canada and overseas in the United Kingdom including the Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, and Fiji. He also donated £50,000 to help set up the University of Birmingham in 1899.
As VanSlyck (1991) showed, the last years of the 19th century saw acceptance of the idea that free libraries should be available to the American public. But the design of the idealized free library was the subject of prolonged and heated debate. On one hand, the library profession called for designs that supported efficiency in administration and operation; on the other, wealthy philanthropists favored buildings that reinforced the paternalistic metaphor and enhanced civic pride. Between 1886 and 1917, Carnegie reformed both library philanthropy and library design, encouraging a closer correspondence between the two.
The Broome County Public Library in New York opened in October 1904. Originally called the Binghamton Public Library, it was created with a gift of $75,000 from Andrew Carnegie. The building was designed to serve as both a public library and a community center.
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 later contributed more to these and other schools. CIT is now part of Carnegie Mellon University. Carnegie served on the Board of Cornell University.
In Scotland, he gave $2 million in 1901 to establish a trust to assist education at Scottish universities, which resulted in his being elected Lord Rector of University of St. Andrews. He also donated large sums of money to Dunfermline, the place of his birth. In addition to a library, Carnegie also bought what is known as Pittencrief Park and opened it to all members of the public. It had previously been closed to the public. A statue of him stands there to this day.Carnegie was a large benefactor of the Tuskegee Institute under Booker Washington for African-American education. He helped Booker T. Washington create the National Negro Business League.
Carnegie also established large pension funds in 1901 for his former employees at Homestead and, in 1905, for American college professors. The latter fund evolved into TIAA-CREF. One critical requirement was that church-related schools had to sever their religious connections to get his money.
He founded the Carnegie Hero Fund for the United States and Canada in 1904 (a few years later also established in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany) for the recognition of deeds of heroism. Carnegie contributed $1,500,000 in 1903 for the erection of the Peace Palace at The Hague; and he donated $150,000 for a Pan-American Palace in Washington as a home for the International Bureau of American Republics.
Carnegie was honored for his philanthropy and support of the arts by initiation as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity on October 14, 1917 at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. The fraternity's mission reflects Carnegie's values by developing young men to share their talents to create harmony in the world.
By the 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.
At the suggestion of his friend Benjamin Ruff, Carnegie's partner Henry Clay Frick had formed the exclusive South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club high above Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The charter members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club were: Benjamin Ruff; T. H. Sweat; Charles J. Clarke; Thomas Clark; Walter F. Fundenberg; Howard Hartley; Henry C. Yeager; J. B. White; Henry Clay Frick; E. A. Myers; C. C. Hussey; D. R. Ewer; C. A. Carpenter; W. L. Dunn; W. L. McClintock; and A. V. Holmes.
The sixty-odd club members were the leading business tycoons of Western Pennsylvania and included among their number Frick’s best friend, Andrew Mellon, his attorneys Philander Knox and Clayton Kirk, as well as Frick's business partner Andrew Carnegie. The Club members created what would then be the world's largest earthen dam, behind which formed a private lake called Lake Conemaugh. Less than 20 miles downstream from the dam sat the city of Johnstown, and Carnegie Steel's chief competitor (from whom Carnegie had hired away steelmaking expert Bill Jones), the Cambria Iron and Steel Company, which boasted the world's largest annual steel production.
Poor maintenance, unusually high snowmelt and heavy spring rains combined to cause the dam to give way on May 31, 1889 resulting in the Johnstown Flood. When word of the dam's failure was telegraphed to Pittsburgh, Frick and other members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club gathered to form the Pittsburgh Relief Committee for assistance to the flood victims as well as determining never to speak publicly about the club or the flood. This strategy was a success, and Knox and Reed were able to fend off all lawsuits that would have placed blame upon the club’s members.
Although Cambria Iron and Steel's facilities were heavily damaged by the flood, they returned to full production within a year and a half. By that time, Carnegie's steel production had outstripped Cambria's. After the flood, Carnegie built Johnstown a new library to replace the one built for the city by Cambria's chief legal counsel Cyrus Elder. That library was swept away in the flood. The Carnegie-donated library is now owned by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association and is used to house the Flood Museum.
The Homestead Strike was a bloody labor confrontation lasting 143 days in 1892, one of the most serious in U.S. history. The conflict was centered 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 Steel Company.
Carnegie left 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 for maintaining staunch anti-union sensibilities.
The company had attempted to cut the wages of the skilled steel workers. 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. As such, the workers would have been well within their rights to protest, and subsequent government action would have been a set of criminal procedures designed to crush what was seen as a pivotal demonstration of the growing labor rights movement, strongly opposed by management. Frick brought in thousands of strikebreakers to work the steel mills and Pinkerton agents to safeguard them.
On 6 July, the arrival 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 Governor Robert Pattison ordered two brigades of state militia to the strike site. Then, allegedly in response to the fight between the striking workers and the Pinkertons, anarchist Alexander Berkman shot at Frick in an attempted assassination. He only wounded Frick. While not directly connected to the strike, Berkman was tied in for the assassination attempt. Afterwards, the company successfully resumed operations with non-union immigrant employees in place of the Homestead plant workers, and Carnegie returned to the United States. However, Carnegie's reputation was permanently damaged by the Homestead events.
Carnegie wrote "The Gospel of Wealth", an article 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:
In 1908, he commissioned (at no pay) Napoleon Hill, then a journalist, to interview more than 500 wealthy achievers to find out the common threads of their success. Hill eventually became a Carnegie collaborator. Their work was published in 1928 after Carnegie's death in Hill's book The Law of Success (ISBN 0-87980-447-5) and in 1937, Think and Grow Rich (ISBN 1-59330-200-2). The latter has not been out of print since it was first 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 (Second Printing 2007), which restored the book to its original content, with slight revisions, and added comprehensive endnotes, an index, and an appendix.
Carnegie eventually came to identify himself as a positivist. He held much hope for humanity in what may be termed a humanistic view on life, shaped also by the Scottish values with which he was raised. After the outbreak of the First World War and its slaughter, Carnegie underwent a crisis of ideology in his positivist views.
In addition to Triumphant Democracy (1886), and The Gospel of Wealth (1889), he also wrote An American Four-in-hand in Britain (1883), Round the World (1884), The Empire of Business (1902), James Watt (1905), Problems of Today (1907), and his posthumously published autobiography Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie (1920).