Andrew Carnegie was a well-known self-made steel mogul and one of the richest businessmen of the nineteenth century. Later, he devoted his life to various philanthropic activities.
He was born on Nov. 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. After relocating to the US, he managed a series of railroad works. By 1889, Andrew was the owner of Carnegie Steel Corporation, the biggest of its kind worldwide.
In 1901, he decided to his business and devoted his time to grow his charitable works, including the launch of Carnegie-Mellon University in 1904.
Carnegie gave away a significant amount of his cash to build several libraries, schools, and universities in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Even though he had little formal education, Andrew was brought up in a family that believed in the importance of learning and books.
In 1848, when he was 13 years old, Andrew came to the US with his family. They lived in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and he got a job in a nearby factory, where he earned $1.20 per week. The following year, he landed a job as a telegraph messenger. Hoping to boost his career, he was promoted to a telegraph operator position in 1851. He then found a job at the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1853.
He worked as the telegrapher and an assistant to Thomas Scott, one of the top officials of the railroad. Through this experience, Carnegie learned a lot about the railroad industry and business at large.
After three years, he moved to the position of superintendent. It’s amazing to know that a son of a handloom weaver grew up to become one of the successful businessmen in America. That makes us curious to learn about his life.
Without further ado, here are more interesting facts about the industrialist and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. Enjoy.
1. Being the king of steel, Andrew was a talented and ruthless businessman. By 1899, his companies controlled 25% of the American steel production at the time when the need for the building material was increasing at unprecedented rates.
The subsequent incorporation in 1901 of the four large American steel firms made Andrew the wealthiest person in the world and even gave him an opportunity to donate over $350 million dollars – half a billion in the current money – in his lifetime.
2. Diplodocus Carnegie was named after Andrew Carnegie in 1901. He funded an expedition headed by John Bell Hatcher that discovered the near full skeleton in the Morrison Formation in Utah. Andrew paid for the dinosaur casts to be displayed at the museums all over the world, including the Natural History Museum in the UK.
3. One of the steel mills of Carnegie at Homestead, western Pennsylvania was the scene of one most infamous labor disputes in the American industrial history. In 1892, the National Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers demanded an increase in wages in line with the increased profits of the company. Andrew left for a journey to Scotland at the peak of the dispute, leaving Henry Clay Frick, his business partner, to take charge.
Frick decided to bring in several strikebreakers to operate the mill while the employees were left out and the Pinkerton agents to protect them. On July 6th, a huge fight broke out between the strikers and the agents that left ten men dead – three Pinkertons and seven workers – and several injured. The mill resumed operations successfully utilizing non-unionized immigrant labor, but the episode significantly ruined the reputation of the Carnegie Company.
4. Andrew Carnegie famously wrote that “the man who dies rich dies disgraced.” He further described his philanthropy theory, referred to as the Carnegie dictum. It called for people to spend the first third of their life acquiring all the education they can, then the next third making all the cash one can, and spend the last third sharing it all through worthwhile causes.
5. Towns across Ireland and the United Kingdom significantly benefited from the public libraries and other charitable trusts sponsored by Carnegie. Among the other institutions established in his name is famous Carnegie Hall of New York, a venue classified as one of the most prestigious in the world.
A more modest venue with similar name stands in Dunfermline, his hometown allowing other generations of local school children and less well-known performers to claim that they also have performed at the Carnegie Hall.