Andrew Carnegie Railroads and Steel

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Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland on November 25, 1835. He went on to be a major industrialist in America. Carnegie has a very typical commoner turned rich story. As a young boy with only a few years of academia to wield, became a ‘bobbin boy’ at a cotton factory - this earned him $1.20 a week which was used to support his struggling family. His formal education had ended when his family moved to the U.S. in search of a better life and the so called American Dream. This would at some point prove true for Carnegie, he eventually came to a massive fortune via the Steel business, and his later love for philanthropy.

The rise to riches led him to consider himself quite the accomplished businessman. He held a variety of odd jobs - involving telegraph messaging, secretary and operator for a superintendent for the Pennsylvania Railroad, Pittsburgh division. He succeeded his former boss, and then eventually left the railroad. Following this point in time he continued rapidly rising into the business world, becoming incredibly wealthy around the time he was 30-years-old. After co-finding his steel company in the 1870s, Carnegie began to increase his steel business and involvement in Carnegie Steel Company where the majority of his holdings were held by 1892.

In 1892 his stature suffered due to a violent protest for wage cuts while he was away in Scotland. The general manager of the mill, Henry Clay Frick locked their workers out of the plantation in a desperate attempt to end the union. Since Carnegie was on vacation he supported Frick by calling the Pinkertons, leading to a bloody battle between the men on strike and the Pinkertons. 10 men died, state militia came in to support and the men were replaced. This wreaked havoc on labor force on the Pittsburgh-area labor forces.

Carnegie had involvement with steel and railroads from the start of one of his first jobs and to the end of his life. He held a firm stance that steel was a key to the industry of the future. He joined the Keystone Bridge Company hoping to replace the wood panels with the metals, like iron and steel. A focus of his was now the power of steel - and mill construction, ways to access the raw materials, and increasing the benefit in transport contracts. Carnegie also held the position of Superintendent of Military Railways during the Civil War. His progress was an astonishing assist for Union efforts in the war, which advanced his stature and allowed for him to make several important connections in Washington. His mills were highly responsible for steel production in this time frame, when Pittsburgh was targeted to replenish iron and fortifications for the war. Carnegie was responsible for the guarantee railways were open to D.C. and defeated troops were transported away.

Andrew Carnegie’s very first steel mill was put strategically between two popular railroads. However, their excessive charges to carry the metals he was so fond of, led him to invest in the building of an alternate railroad route; unfortunately for Carnegie and his fellow investors this route was never finished. Moreso, the setback didn’t stop him from later building the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad for the hauling of Mesabi ore through the upper Great Lakes region down to his Pittsburgh-based steel mills.

A banker, John Pierpont Morgan, bought Carnegie Steel for approximately $480 million in 1901. This made Carnegie one of the world’s richest men at this point in time. The steel company was merged with another U.S. corporation later in this same year, forming the very first billion-dollar corporation. After the purchase of his company, his sole devotion became philanthropy. He began to publish essays critiquing the obligation between rich and commoners, as well as his point of view on the joys of common people. During his philanthropic endeavours he gifted approximately $350 million (close to a billion dollars in today’s money), funded libraries, gave organs to churches, etc. He’s also credited with advancing a multitude of institutions that would advance education and peaceful progression.

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Andrew Carnegie Railroads and Steel. (2019, Aug 05). Retrieved May 22, 2024 , from

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