Andrew Carnegie: The man, the legend



In the late 1800's through to the 1920's, , the name Andrew Carnegie was synonymous with one
word and one word only. That word was wealth. The scottish born Carnegie, whose family had
immigrated to the United States when he was 12, rose from rags to riches at a breakneck speed,
later to become the most influential steel magnate of his time.
But who was Andrew Carnegie? Some say that he was a money-driven egomaniac whose only love
was for cold, hard cash. Others argue that Carnegie was a humanitarian, whose only desire was to
use his vast fortune to better the human race.
Born in 1835, in the town of Dunfermline, Scotland, Andrew Carnegie was by no means well
off. His father was a hand weaver, but with the introduction of power looms, Andrew's father was
driven out of business, and later, out of the country. The Carnegie's immigrated to the United
States in 1847, when Andrew was only twelve. Later on, they settled in the quaint municipality
of Alleghany City, Pennsilvania.
Andrew's family struggled to survive, living in conditions bordering upon poverty for the
first few years of their new life as Americans. To help his family survive, young Andrew took a
job at a cotton mill, getting paid sweatshop wages for a slave's work. Soon after, Carnegie quit
his job at the cotton mill, and moved on the higher paying posistion of a telegraph messanger.
Success followed Andrew every step of the way. Rising quickly in the telegraph company,
Carnegie became a telegraph officer at the ripe age of seventeen. Three years later, at the age
of twenty, Andrew transferred his skills over to the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he worked as a
telegraph operator there. Again rising quickly at his chosen place of business, Carnegie became
a railroad superintendant.
Allthough having found a well-paying posistion, Andrew struggled to support his parents, who
had no full-time employment. Andrew's father did odd jobs and repairs for neighbors and fellow
townsman, but that did not generate enough income for his family to survive upon. His son was
the one who had to provide food for the family. Allthough money was tight for the Carnegies,
Andrew managed to put aside some money and invest it into three different iron companies, and an
oil company as well. During this period, Carnegie followed the stock market religously. In
1865, after working for the railroad company for thirteen years, Carnegie left to venture into
the world of self-employment.
In 1872, while travelling abroad to Europe to sell bonds to investors, an idea struck
Carnegie that would change his life forever once it had developed. Andrew, following the markets
even while he was away on business, realized that the demand for steel would drastically increase
in the near future. Carnegie quickly changed gears, giving up his work, and early in the next
year venturing into a tedious partnership with a few other businessmen. Carnegie and Co.
purchased property just on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, and together founded the J. Edgar
Thompson Works. In it's early years, the Works was the largest and most efficent steel mill of
its time.
A slump in business ensued during the late 1970's. Carnegie, proving again to be a shrewd
businessman, expanded his steel company at virtually no cost to himself because of the small cost
of doing business. As demand for steel rose in the 1880's, so did Andrew's fortune, now
entering the millions.
With many groupds jumping onto the steel bandwagon, another slump began in 1883 with there
being too much supply, and not enough demand. Most steel companies suffered, but Carnegie and
Co. prospered. During this time, Andrew expanded his company recklessly at a fraction of the
cost that he would pay normally. By buying Homestead Works, his largest competition, Carnegie
effectively took a monopoly upon the steel industry.
With business booming, in 1982 Carnegie merged his three steel mills into one firm; the
Carnegie Steel Company. Appointing long time friend Henry Frick as the firm's chairman, Carnegie
worked behind the scenes to plan firm's future, while Frick handled day-to-day operation of the
steel mills.
After nine more years of successful business, and twenty-eight in the steel industry, Andrew
Carnegie sold his