Andrew Carnegie: Industrialist and Philanthropist

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Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-born American industrialist who drew a fortune in the steel industry in the early 1870s. Carnegie worked in a Pittsburgh cotton factory as a boy before he was offered a position as Division Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1859. Andrew Carnegie, while working for the railroad, invested in multiple iron and oil companies. After earning a substantial amount of wealth in his 30s, he entered into the steel business; and over the next two decades he would become a dominant force in the industry.

William and Margaret Morrison Carnegie were excited to see Andrew Carnegie born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Scotland. He had one sister and one brother. Will, his brother, worked as a handloom weaver. His sister Margaret, however, did sewing work for the local shoemakers in his town. The Carnegie’s were not a rich family. When they moved to America in 1848, his formal education was over. Settling in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Andrew Carnegie found a job opportunity as a bobbin boy at a cotton factory, earning a mere $1.20 per week. Carnegie was ambitious and a hard worker, as he went on to hold multiple jobs. Some of these jobs include: a messenger in a telegraph office, a secretary, and telegraph operator for the superintendent of the Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Carnegie would go on to succeed his boss, however, in 1859 as the Division Superintendent. While in this position, Carnegie made investments that proved profitable in the coal, iron, and oil companies.

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After leaving his post with the railroad in 1865, Carnegie wanted to ascend further into the business world. He saw his opportunity, as the U.S. railroad industry was in a period of rapid growth. Rising to the occasion he expanded his investments and founded various iron bridge building companies and a telegraph firm. For a man who had to cut his formal education short, Carnegie was a very smart and strategic man. He won most of his insider contracts with connections he had made with working for Pennsylvania Railroad and the companies he had founded. With all these connections and hard work, Carnegie quickly became one of the richest men in America.

In the early 1870s, Carnegie co-founded his first steel company, near Pittsburgh. Carnegie would go on to form a steel empire. He would eliminate inefficiencies and pave the way for making bank in factories with steel. Carnegie was now widely known for his steel. In 1892, he gathered his wealth, and formed the Carnegie Steel Company. Andrew Carnegie was in the clouds. He made more money than he knew what to do with. In 1892, Carnegie took a vacation. Little did he know that his workers wanted one too. While on vacation, his workers went on strike. They argued that they did not make enough money. Carnegie’s general manager, Henry Clay Frick, locked the workers out of the steel mill. He wanted to break the labor strike union by any means necessary. Frick made a call, and about 300 armed guards showed up with no means to play around. The workers, however, were determined to get higher wages. Ten men were killed that night, and five months later the labor strike union was destroyed. It’s leaders were arrested, and new employees were hired.

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