Representing the two sides of Andrew Carnegie. His side during his rise in business and his other side of philanthropic work. 1892
Andrew Carnegie giving to colleges. 1901
Andrew Carnegie a name infamous with big business. He is seen as one of the great business moguls of America. He came from rags to riches, and eventually dominated the steel industry. Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 in Scotland, where he spent much of his childhood tell his early teens. He then immigrated to America and began working for $1.20 a week. He rose up in business fairly quickly after meeting Thomas Scott a leading member of the Pennsylvania Railroad. With Scott he ventured into different aspects of business instead of just working as a hired hand. He invested a good sum of money into the steel industry. Which eventually would pay off greatly.
Once he did make it into the steel industry he adapted the style of vertical integration. This this business style can be seen as a monopoly due to its control of the complete process of a product. This meant that he controlled every aspect from the barges, steel mills, the mines, and the transportation of the product. This created a vast network for Carnegie’s industry as well as a guarantee for his product.
With his company being a monopoly there are many negative aspects that people see about. One can begin treatment of the workers, this due to the time when the mass amounts of people who immigrated to the United States. At the height of his business Carnegie employed 40,000 men. These men worked in all aspects of the business process. Not all of them were happy about the conditions that they worked in, which can be seen in the Homestead strike of 1892. This strike put the workers of one of his steel mill against the steel mill’s foreman. The workers wanted to unionize while Andrew Carnegie and the foreman or against the unionization of their workers. This led to a large-scale conflict between the workers and those who the foreman, Henry Clay Frick, called in such as the Pinkerton Detective Agency. However the strike did not end well for the workers nor for their trade union ally the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. Although this paints Carnegie and his company with distrust there was still a light at the end of the tunnel for Carnegie.
This light at the end of the tunnel was his philanthropy work. Carnegie created the Gospel of Wealth. This was a book that documented how the rich should not die rich and that they should give back to those that help them. Over the course of his business he gained a vast amount of money that he eventually gave back to those who helped him. He reportedly gave away 90% of his wealth towards the end of his life. He gave back to those who helped him throughout the years specifically workers. He also gave back to those who served in war with his Hero Fund. Lastly he gave generously to public libraries. Which he believed that you must be educated, in total he gave 2,811 libraries to communities. As well as countless other donations he gave during the end of his life.
Andrew Carnegie can be seen as a peculiar figure in business history. The first came from nothing to be one of the biggest businessman of the time. One that revolutionized business industry as well as caused many changes to business. In this he can be seen as almost a villain for his treatment of workers as well as the lower class. Yet towards the end of his life he is seen as a generous man gave away almost all his wealth. This two different people from all walks of life. He also repaid those that he wrong so much, the workers. Carnegie can be seen as a giant contradiction due to his early life being so drastically different to that of the later course of his life.
Krass, Peter. Carnegie. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. 22-23
Andrew Carnegie: The Gospel of Wealth. Learning Corp. of America, 1974.
Wolff. Lockout : The Story of the Homestead Strike of 1892 : A Study of Violence, Unionism and the Carnegie Steel Empire. 135
Wall, Joseph Frazier. Andrew Carnegie. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. 829