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Andrew Carnegie

by David from Toronto


Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist who led the rapid growth of the American steel industry in the 19th century. His story is one of rags to riches, transforming a poor young man to one of the most prosperous business people of his time. Carnegie was also a philanthropist, and sold his steel company later in his life. He donated his great wealth to establish many libraries and educational institutions.

Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland. His father, William Carnegie worked as a weaver, but the Industrial Revolution had soon put hand loom weavers out of work. In order to sustain the family, Andrew's mother also operated a small grocery store and mended shoes.

In 1848 his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. His first job was as a bobbin boy, at the wage of $1.20 a week. Later, Carnegie obtained work as a messenger boy at the Pittsburgh telegraph office. He was a diligent worker and memorized the important people in Pittsburgh. Since he did not have the time to go to school, Carnegie made use of the private library that was made open to working boys by a local benefactor.

Impressed by his proficiency, Carnegie was hired by Thomas Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as a personal secretary and telegraph operator for $35 a month. Carnegie was soon promoted to superintendent. As the Civil War broke out, Scott was made supervisor of military transportation in the North and Carnegie was made his right-hand man.

The Civil War caused an increase in the demand for iron and Carnegie saw this opportunity. He stepped down from his position at the Pennsylvania Railroad. He saw an opportunity at the Keystone Bridge Company and took a job there. In only three years, his annual income increased to $50,000.

For the next thirty years, Carnegie would continue to succeed in building his fortune. He opened a factory in Pittsburgh, which used the efficient Bessemer process of changing iron to steel. He invested all of his money and borrowed extensively in order to make this factory. In 1901, the Carnegie Steel Company was sold to the financier JP Morgan for the sum of $480 million. This made Andrew Carnegie the richest man in the world.

After retiring from his life as businessman, Carnegie gave away a total of 350 million dollars. Since he disliked charity, he used his money in ways others could help themselves. He founded Carnegie Hall, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University, along with various others. He also led the International Court of Justice and was one of the first to ask for "a league of nations."

Andrew Carnegie is a hero to me because he was able to overcome poverty in his childhood and become one of the most prosperous entrepreneurs in history. He played a leading role in the development of the steel industry in Pittsburgh and the United States. Carnegie was also an innovator, and manufactured his products with the utmost efficiency. Despite his success, he did not fail to help the world. If not for him, we would not have many of the libraries, schools, and universities that we have today.

Carnegie's story told me that anyone can be a successful business person. As I aspire to be an entrepreneur myself, I realized that a large principle investment is not necessary to create a successful enterprise. Carnegie escaped poverty in Scotland to seek the American Dream. He began with almost nothing, and made the most out of the few dollars he earned as a secretary. But over time, his investments paid off, and 1901, the Carnegie Steel Company was a multimillion enterprise.

Carnegie was a forerunner of his trade, effectively revolutionizing the steel industry in the United States. Being the first or largest company gives a significant advantage over others. This motivates me to find a breakthrough that no one else has ever thought of. Carnegie found a way to innovate and expand. His business operated with the utmost proficiency by keeping costs low. Carnegie believed if this was done, there would be no problem with profits. As a result, the Carnegie Steel Company quickly became the largest manufacturer of steel in the United States.

Even though he saw so much success, Carnegie did not forget to give back to the world. Carnegie gave away 350 million out of the 480 million he received for selling his company. Most business magnates would reserve their fortunes to be passed down to the next generation, but to donate the majority of his savings is extremely commendable. Carnegie used this sum to open educational organizations and libraries. Instead of direct charity, Carnegie helped the underprivileged people support themselves through literacy and higher learning.

Page created on 1/11/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/11/2012 12:00:00 AM

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