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Andrew Carnegie, a self-made steel tycoon and one of the wealthiest 19th century U.S. businessmen, donated towards the expansion of the New York Public Library.
Andrew Carnegie - Strike (2:30)
Carnegie's great innovation was in the cheap and efficient mass production of steel rails
Although Andrew Carnegie's family was impoverished, he grew up in a cultured, political home.
The Homestead Strike was a bloody labor confrontation lasting 143 days in 1892 and was one of the most serious in U.S. history.
Carnegie felt that his massive steel company's success was due to his selection of great workers. But many of the people who actually suffered in the plants felt differently.
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Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Scotland. After moving to the United States, he worked a series of railroad jobs. By 1889 he owned Carnegie Steel Corporation, the largest of its kind in the world. In 1901 he sold his business and dedicated his time to expanding his philanthropic work, including the establishment of Carnegie-Mellon University in 1904.
"People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents."
"The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced."
"I cannot tell you how proud I was when I received my first week's own earnings. One dollar and twenty cents made by myself and given to me because I had been of some use in the world!"
"I always liked the idea of being my own master, of manufacturing something and giving employment to many men."
"In bestowing charity, the main consideration should be to help those who will help themselves."
"I should as soon leave to my son a curse as the almighty dollar."
"No party is so foolish as to nominate for the presidency a rich man, much less a millionaire. Democracy elects poor men."
"There is always room at the top in every pursuit. Concentrate all your thought and energy upon the performance of your duties. Put all your eggs into one basket and then watch that basket."
"Do not make riches, but usefulness, your first aim."
"I congratulate poor young men upon being born to that ancient and honorable degree which renders it necessary that they should devote themselves to hard work."
"The aim of the millionaire should be, first, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display and extravagances."
Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Although he had little formal education, Carnegie grew up in a family that believed in the importance of books and learning. The son of a handloom weaver, Carnegie grew up to become one of the wealthiest businessmen in America.
At the age of 13, in 1848, Carnegie came to the United States with his family. They settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and Carnegie went to work in a factory, earning $1.20 a week. The next year he found a job as a telegraph messenger. Hoping to advance his career, he moved up to a telegraph operator position in 1851. He then took a job at the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1853. He worked as the assistant and telegrapher to Thomas Scott, one of the railroad's top officials. Through this experience, he learned about the railroad industry and about business in general. Three years later, Carnegie was promoted to superintendent.
While working for the railroad, Carnegie began making investments. He made many wise choices and found that his investments, especially those in oil, brought in substantial returns. He left the railroad in 1865 to focus on his other business interests, including the Keystone Bridge Company.
By the next decade, most of Carnegie's time was dedicated to the steel industry. His business, which became known as the Carnegie Steel Company, revolutionized steel production in the United States. Carnegie built plants around the country, using technology and methods that made manufacturing steel easier, faster and more productive. For every step of the process, he owned exactly what he needed: the raw materials, ships and railroads for transporting the goods, and even coal fields to fuel the steel furnaces.
This start-to-finish strategy helped Carnegie become the dominant force in the industry and an exceedingly wealthy man. It also made him known as one of America's "builders," as his business helped to fuel the economy and shape the nation into what it is today. By 1889, Carnegie Steel Corporation was the largest of its kind in the world.
Some felt that the company's success came at the expense of its workers. The most notable case of this came in 1892. When the company tried to lower wages at a Carnegie Steel plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania, the employees objected. They refused to work, starting what has been called the Homestead Strike of 1892. The conflict between the workers and local managers turned violent after the managers called in guards to break up the union. While Carnegie was away at the time of strike, many still held him accountable for his managers' actions.
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America wasn't discovered, it was built. At the end of the Civil War, America was seen as a failing experiment in democracy; a nation fraying from the inside and at war with itself. Just 50 years later, the United States was the greatest superpower the world had ever seen. This landmark transition was due in no small part to a group of business-savvy, innovative young men: John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan and Thomas Edison. These men constructed a bold vision for a modern America and transformed the greatest industries of our time, including oil, rail, steel, shipping, automobiles and finance; they are unequivocally America's first captains of industry.
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