Andrew Carnegie was born on 25th November 1835 in Scotland’s medieval capital, Dunfermline, Fife. He was the eldest son of William Carnegie and Margaret Morrison Carnegie, a poor Scottish family (Goldin). His father was a handloom linen weaver and a local leader of the Chartists whose main aim was to advocate for improved working-class conditions in the entire Great Britain. His maternal grandfather, Thomas Morrison was a shoemaker, a social and political reformer and apparently worked hand in hand with William Cobbett in his campaigns in support of social reform. His family had embraced a long radical tradition and believed in the power contained in learning and in books. Despite the high esteem for knowledge by his family, Carnegie only had an opportunity to acquire little formal education in his early life.
In 1847, during Carnegie’s young childhood, there was an economic downturn particularly due to the establishment of the steam-powered looms in Dunfermline. This cased many of the hand loom weavers to become expendable. Andrew’s mother decided to work in support of the family. She opened a grocery shop and was also mending shoes. Apparently this was not enough to sustain the family and it induced their immigration in America. They borrowed 20 pounds for their passage. They joined two sister of Margaret who lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when Andrew was 13 years of age.
Once in Pittsburgh, Andrew inaugurated his career in a cotton factory as a bobbin boy where he used to attend night classes in attempt to advance his education and received wages that totaled to $1.20 every week. He followed his family’s liking of books and read voraciously taking advantage of the opened library by Col. James Anderson for the local working boys. Most part of his education was from the books he read in the library. This spearheaded his advancement in job ranks from being a messenger boy in the telegraph office of the city to being the superintendent of the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
During his working period as the Pennsylvania Railroad superintendent, Andrew Carnegie invested in several ventures such as the Woodruff Sleeping Car Company, small iron mills and factories and several oil projects which gave him substantial returns. The most essential investment was with the Keystone Bridge Company, where he owned one fifth of the shares. He resigned from Pennsylvania Railroad in 1865, to focus on his investments. This was after the Civil War which fueled the iron industry. His main attention was the Keystone Bridge Company whose work was to replace the established wooden bridges with irons ones which were stronger and durable. After three years of his venture into the new field, he was earning an income of $50,000 annually (Morris).
He made visits to Britain with an interest of observing the rapid developments that transforming the iron industry. He was greatly drawn by Henry Bessemer’s invention of the converter. He later went back to America with the realization that steel would replace iron for the production of heavy goods. Carnegie thus used Bessemer’s ideas to erect several blast furnaces. He started a steel furnace in 1874 at Braddock. He revolutionized the production of Steel in America, and his business took the name Carnegie Steel Company. Although he integrated several partners in his business including Henry Frick, he held majority of the Shares.
Carnegie used a start-to-finish strategy to enhance his steel production. He owned everything he needed for every single step in the productio0n of steel. He owned all the required raw materials, railroads for the transportation of the raw materials and products, ships and a coal field that facilitated in fueling of the furnaces. His plants were constructed in the latest technology of that time and thus were faster, and more productive. Within time, Carnegie became a dominant force in the steel production industry. He was is referred to be among the builders of America as his business greatly influenced the economic growth of America to the level it is in this day. His company was the largest steel company in the world and a great success for his brave decisions.
He began his philanthropic career as early as around 1870. He started offering gifts to of free library building in his native Dunfermline in 1881. He offered such similar gifts in the English-speaking world to 2,509 communities. A dramatic change in Carnegie’s life was experienced in 1901 when he retired and sold his company to the United States Steel Corporation that had been started by J.P. Morgan for more than $200 million. He launched a mission of distributing his wealth in assisting the community without any expectations of returns or any reward for his actions.
He built many libraries and gave out numerous church organs to local communities. He greatly assisted in the establishment of many schools, colleges and associations in his native land Scotland and his adopted country America and all over the globe. He donated over $5 million for the establishment of branches of the New York Public Library (Michael, 76). His greatest and significant achievement was the founding of institutions bearing his name. His efforts were greatly recognized in the early twentieth century with the establishment of the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. This institution is known as Carnegie-Mellon University as from 1904. The following year, he established the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He was greatly moved and strongly supported peace and for this reason, he founded the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Patterson). It is said that he supported the opening of over 2,800 libraries across the globe.
Andrew Carnegie is basically an embodiment of the famous American Dream. He is among the individuals who literally moved from rags to riches. With his endless hard work and determination he stopped at nothing to achieve his dream. His ambitions are with no doubt the driving force that propelled him from a poor immigrant bobbin boy to the Steel King and lastly to be recognized as the richest man in the world (Morris). When he completed the deal of selling his business, J. P. Morgan broadly refers to him as the richest man in the planet.