Andrew Carnegie

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Updated On February 13, 2024
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Andrew Carnegie, a well-known Scottish-American businessman who rose from obscurity to become the second richest man in history, is regarded as the second richest man in history. He made his riches primarily in the steel sector. He was a tremendous visionary who was able to predict and capitalize on economic possibilities ahead of time, propelling him to the top of the American steel industry. In the 1890s, he founded the Carnegie Steel Company, which was the world’s largest and most successful industrial enterprise. He then sold it to J.P. Morgan, who went on to found U.S. Steel. Later in life, he became interested in charity and worked extensively in the fields of education and culture. Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are among the organizations he founded. His kindness may be seen in the donations he made to promote education, the upliftment of the less fortunate, and international peace.

Table of Contents

Childhood and Adolescence

Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, on November 25, 1835, to William Carnegie and Margaret Morrison Carnegie.

His father, a weaver, relocated the entire family to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, in 1848, following an industrialization period that left him jobless and impoverished. He began working in cotton factories but did not stay long and eventually began manufacturing linens at home.

Carnegie finally grasped the need of education after his father died in 1855. He left his employment at the cotton mills to pursue his passions for literature, theater, and music.

Carnegie was able to support his family for a long period on his earnings. He began his career as a messenger boy at a telegraph office in Pittsburg in 1850, and in 1853, he was promoted to secretary to Thomas A. Scott (superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad).

Carnegie also worked for the military telegraph during the Civil War, and at the age of eighteen, he became the superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad. In Washington, D.C., his assistance was visible in the construction of railway lines.

His friendship with Thomas Scott proved to be fruitful. The railroad industry, which was the most profitable in America at the time, aided Carnegie in polishing his management talents.

Career of Andrew

With Scott’s help, Carnegie made his first $500 investment in Adams Express in 1855, and from there he learned to invest and disinvest, resulting in large start-up capital for his business operations.

Carnegie made stakes in tiny iron industries up to 1870. His excursions to England were mostly for the purpose of selling railroad and bridge bonds.

He was instrumental in the merger of Woodruff’s and George M Pullman’s (creator of the sleeping car) companies.
He had the foresight to understand that iron will be replaced by steel, so he founded a steel rail company in 1873, and the Braddock steel furnace began using steel rails in 1874.

He took advantage of a chance to raise finance for his future steel endeavors by investing heavily in Story Farm on Oil Creek in Venango County, Pennsylvania ($40,000). The investment yielded a total return of $1,000,000 in cash plus profits from the selling of petroleum.

Carnegie kept his market dominance by delivering competitive prices, fighting competition, and never floated shares, instead of reinvesting profits and borrowing from banks. In 1878, his company was valued at $1.25 million.

He returned to the ironworks trading company after the Civil War. His tireless efforts in the field led to the establishment of the Keystone Bridge Works and the Union Ironworks, both in Pittsburgh.

Even after leaving the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Carnegie maintained a tight relationship with the company’s management, which helped him obtain a number of rail contracts.

H.C. Frick, the owner of vast coal lands in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, joined with Carnegie and became the Carnegie Company’s chairman in the 1880s.

Frick and Carnegie collaborated closely to propel their enterprise to new heights. Frick was in charge of cost-cutting through mass production in order to provide competitive prices, while Carnegie was in charge of research and development.

Carnegie also bought several iron ore fields near Lake Superior in 1886 for a relatively low price.
His emphasis on low costs and mass production enabled him to grow his company to new heights.

In 1888, he took over a competing company, Homestead Steel Works, which provided him with strategic benefits. To his gains, he added the extensive set up, feeder coal and iron deposits, a 425-mile long railway, and lake steamships.

J. Edgar Thomson Steel Works, Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Works, the Lucy Furnaces, the Union Iron Mills, the Keystone Bridge Works, the Hartman Steel Works, the Frick Coke Company, and the Scotia ore mines were among the firms he owned until 1889.

Using the numerous assets he had collected over the years, he formed the Carnegie Steel Company in 1892. This company went on to become the world’s largest producer of pig iron, steel rails, and coke.

Carnegie sold the Carnegie Steel Company to John Pierpont Morgan (a banker and a prominent financial dealer) and Charles M. Schwab for roughly $500 million in 1901, with Carnegie owning a $225 million portion.

The Carnegie Steel Company was then amalgamated with other steel firms to form a single, powerful entity that would ensure less competition, lower costs, better prices, mass production, and worker satisfaction. It culminated in the formation of the ‘United States Steel Corporation’ on March 2, 1901.

He was also a well-known author. His well-known work, “Triumphant Democracy,” was published in 1886 and received widespread acclaim in the United States. It was widely panned in the United Kingdom because it exposed the poor quality of living in the United States.

Education, he believed, was the driving force behind America’s political and industrial development.
In 1889, he published “Wealth,” an article in which he stressed the wealthier class’s social responsibility to the less fortunate in society.

A philanthropist is a person who helps others.
He became interested in philanthropy after retirement, primarily through trust funds such as the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (1901) and the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust (1913).

He has more than three thousand libraries around the world to his name.
Carnegie gave $2 million to found the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) in Pittsburgh in 1901.
The Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh, which includes an art gallery, a concert hall, and a museum, was founded in 1895.

His contributions to the establishment of technical institutions, which eventually evolved into what is now known as Carnegie Mellon University, were enormous.

He was a strong supporter of research and development, which led to the founding of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, a science research institution.

He established the Endowment for International Peace to prevent violence and anti-social behavior around the world.
To assure the continuation of his interests, the Carnegie Corporation was founded with a $125 million loan.

Life and Legacies

He traveled to the United Kingdom with his family in 1881. They paid a visit to his mother’s old home in Dunfermline, Scotland, where she placed the cornerstone of Carnegie Library, to which he had provided money.
Carnegie had the closest relationship with his mother, who died in 1886. After his mother died, he married Louise Whitfield at the age of 51. He only had one child.

Andrew Carnegie enjoyed traveling and writing in his spare time. Every year, Carnegie and his family spent six months in Scotland to keep a close eye on the company’s operations.

On August 11, 1919, at his summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts, he died of bronchial pneumonia.
He was cremated and buried in North Tarrytown, New York’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Andrew Carnegie’s charitable contributions were roughly $350 million.

Estimated Net worth

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist who oversaw the late-nineteenth-century expansion of the American steel industry.

Andrew Carnegie had a peak net worth of $310 billion, inflation-adjusted, throughout his lifetime. That is enough to make him the 4th richest person in history.