Andrew Carnegie (November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was one of the biggest industrialist in American history who worked principally in the steel industry in the 19th century. He was born in a modest family in Dunfermline, Scotland but in 1848 his parents emigrated to the United States searching for better economic opportunities with Andrew as a child. He is considered one of the richest person in United States history and one of the most important philanthropists in North America, giving an estimated fortune of $350 million dollars to multiple charity foundations, hospitals, libraries, and universities.
Established with his family in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, Andrew started working in a cotton plantation when he was still a boy. Passing years, he worked as a messenger in a telegraph office and later as a secretary for the Pennsylvania Railroad. In a few years, Andrew replaced his boss to work as railroad division supervisor, where he could learn about the railroad and its operation. There he worked for more than five years and in this period he could make some investments in iron, oil, coal and some manufacturer companies growing up his wealthy. Later, Carnegie entered in the steel industry, and after some decades, he consolidates all his business in the Carnegie Steel Company.
The Carnegie Steel Company
The first steel company created by Andrew Carnegie was the Edgar Thompson Steel Works in Braddock, Pennsylvania. This enterprise was very rentable, due to different innovation processes that Carnegie led, like improving technology infrastructure and reducing different operation costs, which produced large utilities and revenues, letting Carnegie and his associates buy other companies. With all these new investments, he consolidates all of them in The Carnegie Steel Company, one of the biggest steel company in the American market for that time.
The Carnegie Steel Company continued making technological innovations; improving constantly its processes, making the steel production faster and reducing manufacturing costs, which was traduced in more profits for the company. Also, with its fast growth, the company created a lot of employees especially for less skilled operators and positioned as the major steel company in the United States.
The United States Steel Corporation (U. S. Steel Corporation)
In 1901 The Carnegie Steel Company was sold to The U.S. Steel Corporation, which was a new holding created by John Pierpont Morgan (J.P. Morgan), who was one of the biggest bankers in America at that time. The company was sold for $480 millions of dollars and the half of this amount went to Andrew Carnegie, making him one of the richest men in the world. The U.S. Steel Corporation was the unification of The Carnegie Steel Company, The Federal Steel Company, and The National Steel Company. This conglomerate of steel companies merged under the name of The United Steel Corporation and was the first billion of dollars company in the globe. Also, it was considered the major steel producer and the biggest company in the world. In its firsts years of operation, the company produced the 67% of all the steel consumed in the United States.
Andrew Carnegie and philanthropy
After the transaction with The U.S. Steel Corporation, Carnegie being one of the richest men in the world, let aside his business life and spent his last years dedicated to philanthropy. He was convinced that the richest men had the obligation to distribute their fortune for the benefit of the community.
Andrew Carnegie dedicated almost all his efforts to build public libraries in many English speaking countries, like United States, Canada, his natal Scotland, among other states. He was able to build 3.000 public libraries around the world with the main idea of promoting the knowledge and education in the society.
Besides public libraries, Carnegie also contributed with more than $2 million dollars for the construction of The Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh in 1900. Two years later, he gave another $2 million dollars to start The Carnegie Institution in Washington D.C. He also contributed for the construction of schools and other education institutions. In 1901, Andrew gave $10 million dollars to build the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland which was a charitable trust to benefit Scotland universities.
In his last years, Andrew Carnegie dedicated more than $350 million dollars of his wealth to philanthropic projects, not only in education but also in science research, church’s, construction, and other initiatives to benefit people of different countries around the globe.
He used to say that “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced”, so he tried to give all his wealth to charity projects in different nations, like United States, Canada, Scotland, South Africa, Fiji, among others.
Andrew Carnegie died at age 83 on August 1919 in Massachusetts of pneumonia. The rest of his wealth was given to charity foundations and pensioners. He was married to Louise Whitfield and they had one daughter called Margaret. Carnegie was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York.