Andrew Carnegie - History

Andrew Carnegie - History

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Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, on November 25, 1835. In 1848, he and his family emigrated to Pennsylvania, where worked as a bobbin boy in a textile factory. He worked his way up the ranks, eventually becoming a telegraph operator. With the help of his mentor, Thomas A. Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad, he was appointed a superintendent of military transportation and director of telegraph communications for the US government during the Civil War. At the end of the war, Carnegie resigned from the Pennsylvania Railroad company, having begun a career as an investor and speculator. During the depression of 1873, he invested heavily in steel, and was able to raise the quality of steel while reducing its price by using technological innovations such as the Bessemer process. Gradually, he created a vertical monopoly in the steel industry by obtaining control over every level involved in steel production, from raw materials, transportation and manufacturing to distribution and finance. By 1897, he controlled almost the entire steel industry in the United States.
In 1901, Carnegie Steel merged with US Steel to become the largest company in existence at the time. He left the firm that same year, and devoted the rest of his life to philanthropic efforts. He created several charitable funds, such as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He donated a substantial art collection to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and helped finance many public libraries. His investments He had once written that "the man who dies thus rich, dies disgraced." By the time of his death on August 11, 1919, in Lenox, Massachusetts, he had managed to give away all his money to the "benefaction of all mankind."

Andrew Carnegie - History

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie
Digital History ID 3646

Author: Andrew Carnegie

Annotation: Andrew Carnegie (1835—1919) was a Scottish-born immigrant who built the Carnegie Steel Company from an humble beginning and was the first steel industry in Pittsburgh. He eventually sold his business to J.P. Morgan and dedicated his life to helping others. His charitable organizations built more than 2,500 public libraries around the world. He also gave away more than $350 million during his lifetime.

Document: With the introduction and improvement of steam machinery, trade grew worse and worse in Dunfermline for the small manufacturers, and at last a letter was written to my mother's two sisters in Pittsburgh stating that the idea of our going to them was seriously entertained—not, as I remember hearing my parents say, to benefit their own condition, but for the sake of their two young sons. Satisfactory letters were received in reply. The decision was taken to sell the looms and furniture by auction. And my father's sweet voice sang often to mother, brother, and me:

"To the West, to the West, to the land of the free, Where the mighty Missouri rolls down to the sea Where a man is a man even though he must toil And the poorest may gather the fruits of the soil."

The proceeds of the sale were most disappointing. The looms brought hardly anything, and the result was that twenty pounds more were needed to enable the family to pay passage to America. Here let me record an act of friendship performed by a lifelong companion of my mother—who always attracted stanch friends because she was so stanch herself—Mrs. Henderson, by birth Ella Ferguson, the name by which she was known in our family. She boldly ventured to advance the needful twenty pounds, my Uncles Lauder and Morrison guaranteeing repayment. Uncle Lauder also lent his aid and advice, managing all the details for us, and on the 17th day of May, 1848, we left Dunfermline. My father's age was then forty-three, my mother's thirty-three. I was in my thirteenth year, my brother Tom in his fifth year—a beautiful white-haired child with lustrous black eyes, who everywhere attracted attention.

I had left school forever, with the exception of one winter's night-schooling in America, and later a French night-teacher for a time, and, strange to say, an elocutionist from whom I learned how to declaim….

The arrival at New York was bewildering. I had been taken to see the Queen at Edinburgh, but that was the extent of my travels before emigrating. Glasgow we had not time to see before we sailed. New York was the first great hive of human industry among the inhabitants of which I had mingled, and the bustle and excitement of it overwhelmed me. The incident of our stay in New York which impressed me most occurred while I was walking through Bowling Green at Castle Garden. I was caught up in the arms of one of the Wiscasset sailors, Robert Barryman, who was decked out in regular Jackashore fashion, with blue jacket and white trousers. I thought him the most beautiful man I had ever seen.

He took me to a refreshment stand and ordered a glass of sarsaparilla for me, which I drank with as much relish as if it were the nectar of the gods. To this day nothing that I have ever seen of the kind rivals the image which remains in my mind of the gorgeousness of the highly ornamented brass vessel out of which that nectar came foaming. Often as I have passed the identical spot I see standing there the old woman's sarsaparilla stand, and I marvel what became of the dear old sailor. I have tried to trace him, but in vain, hoping that if found he might be enjoying a ripe old age, and that it might be in my power to add to the pleasure of his declining years. He was my ideal Tom Bowling, and when that fine old song is sung I always see as the "form of manly beauty" my dear old friend Barryman. Alas I ere this he's gone aloft. Well by his kindness on the voyage he made one boy his devoted friend and admirer.

We knew only Mr. and Mrs. Sloane in New York—parents of the well-known John, Willie, and Henry Sloane. Mrs. Sloane (Euphemia Douglas) was my mother's companion in childhood in Dunfermline. Mr. Sloane and my father had been fellow weavers. We called upon them and were warmly welcomed. It was a genuine pleasure when Willie, his son, bought ground from me in 1900 opposite our New York residence for his two married daughters so that our children of the third generation became playmates as our mothers were of Scotland.

My father was induced by emigration agents in New York to take the Erie Canal by way of Buffalo and Lake Erie to Cleveland, and thence down the canal to Beaver—a journey which then lasted three weeks, and is made to-day by rail in ten hours. There was no railway communication then with Pittsburgh, nor indeed with any western town. The Erie Railway was under construction and we saw gangs of men at work upon it as we traveled. Nothing comes amiss to youth, and I look back upon my three weeks as a passenger upon the canal-boat with unalloyed pleasure. All that was disagreeable in my experience has long since faded from recollection, excepting the night we were compelled to remain upon the wharf-boat at Beaver waiting for the steamboat to take us up the Ohio to Pittsburgh. This was our first introduction to the mosquito in all its ferocity. My mother suffered so severely that in the morning she could hardly see. We were all frightful sights, but I do not remember that even the stinging misery of that night kept me from sleeping soundly. I could always sleep, never knowing "horrid night, the child of hell."

Our friends in Pittsburgh had been anxiously waiting to hear from us, and in their warm and affectionate greeting all our troubles were forgotten. We took up our residence with them in Allegheny City. A brother of my Uncle Hogan had built a small weaver's shop at the back end of a lot in Rebecca Street. This had a second story in which there were two rooms, and it was in these (free of rent, for my Aunt Aitken owned them) that my parents began housekeeping. My uncle soon gave up weaving and my father took his place and began making tablecloths, which he had not only to weave, but afterwards, acting as his own merchant, to travel and sell, as no dealers could be found to take them in quantity. He was compelled to market them himself, selling from door to door. The returns were meager in the extreme.

As usual, my mother came to the rescue. There was no keeping her down. In her youth she had learned to bind shoes in her father's business for pin-money, and the skill then acquired was now turned to account for the benefit of the family. Mr. Phipps, father of my friend and partner Mr. Henry Phipps, was, like my grandfather, a master shoemaker. He was our neighbor in Allegheny City. Work was obtained from him, and in addition to attending to her household duties—for, of course, we had no servant—this wonderful woman, my mother, earned four dollars a week by binding shoes. Midnight would often find her at work. In the intervals during the day and evening, when household cares would permit, and my young brother sat at her knee threading needles and waxing the thread for her, she recited to him, as she had to me, the gems of Scottish minstrelsy which she seemed to have by heart, or told him tales which failed not to contain a moral.

THE great question now was, what could be found for me to do. I had just completed my thirteenth year, and I fairly panted to get to work that I might help the family to a start in the new land. The prospect of want had become to me a frightful nightmare. My thoughts at this period centered in the determination that we should make and save enough of money to produce three hundred dollars a year—twenty-five dollars monthly, which I figured was the sum required to keep us without being dependent upon others. Every necessary thing was very cheap in those days. The brother of my Uncle Hogan would often ask what my parents meant to do with me, and one day there occurred the most tragic of all scenes I have ever witnessed. Never can I forget it. He said, with the kindest intentions in the world, to my mother, that I was a likely boy and apt to learn and he believed that if a basket were fitted out for me with knickknacks to sell, I could peddle them around the wharves and make quite a considerable sum. I never knew what an enraged woman meant till then. My mother was sitting sewing at the moment, but she sprang to her feet with outstretched hands and shook them in his face.

"What! my son a peddler and go among rough men upon the wharves! I would rather throw him into the Allegheny River. Leave me!" she cried, pointing to the door, and Mr. Hogan went.

She stood a tragic queen. The next moment she had broken down, but only for a few moments did tears fall and sobs come. Then she took her two boys in her arms and told us not to mind her foolishness. There were many things in the world for us to do and we could be useful men, honored and respected, if we always did what was right. It was a repetition of Helen Macgregor, in her reply to Osbaldistone in which she threatened to have her prisoners "chopped into as many pieces as there are checks in the tartan." But the reason for the outburst was different. It was not because the occupation suggested was peaceful labor, for we were taught that idleness was disgraceful but because the suggested occupation was somewhat vagrant in character and not entirely respectable in her eyes. Better death. Yes, mother would have taken her two boys, one under each arm, and perished with them rather than they should mingle with low company in their extreme youth.

…in 1850 I got my first real start in life. From the dark cellar running a steam-engine at two dollars a week, begrimed with coal dirt, without a trace of the elevating influences of life, I was lifted into paradise, yes, heaven, as it seemed to me, with newspapers, pens, pencils, and sunshine about me. There was scarcely a minute in which I could not learn something or find out how much there was to learn and how little I knew. I felt that my foot was upon the ladder and that I was bound to climb.

I had only one fear, and that was that I could not learn quickly enough the addresses of the various business houses to which messages had to be delivered. I therefore began to note the signs of these houses up one side of the street and down the other. At nights I exercised my memory by naming in succession the various firms. Before long I could shut my eyes and, beginning at the foot of a business street, call off the names of the firms in proper order along one side to the top of the street, then crossing on the other side go down in regular order to the foot again.

The next step was to know the men themselves, for it gave a messenger a great advantage, and often saved a long journey, if he knew members or employees of firms. He might meet one of these going direct to his office. It was reckoned a great triumph among the boys to deliver a message upon the street. And there was the additional satisfaction to the boy himself, that a great man (and most men are great to messengers), stopped upon the street in this way, seldom failed to note the boy and compliment him.

What important events was Andrew Carnegie in?

  • 1849 – Andrew Carnegie becomes a messenger boy.
  • 1853 – Andrew Carnegie takes a job at the Pennsylvania Railroad.
  • 1856 – Andrew Carnegie invests in sleeping cars.
  • 1861 – Andrew Carnegie invests in oil.
  • 1865 – Carnegie founds Keystone Bridge Company.
  • 1868 – Carnegie pledges to resign from business.
  • 1875 –
  • 1883 –

Andrew Carnegie—A Fool for Peace

How did a tough businessman like Andrew Carnegie become a pacifist? He read a lot of philosopher Herbert Spencer, which convinced him that through evolution progress was inevitable. Carnegie had lived through the Civil War as a civilian. He recognized that in war there are no winners, only losers. He saw war as backward, barbaric, outmoded. There had to be a better way to settle disputes between nations—which, for Carnegie, was arbitration. Carnegie pledged himself to hasten war’s extinction.

What inclined him to this point of view? He was as committed to ending war as he had been to making a profit. He often said that he worked harder after his retirement from the steel business than he had as an industrialist. I don’t think Carnegie’s anti-war sentiments had much to do with his Scottish Calvinist upbringing. And I don’t think it fair to say he was just a tycoon who embraced an admirable cause.

Who else influenced Carnegie, and what were some of his pacifist ideas? Until Carnegie, the international peace movement was the province of Quakers and international lawyers. Carnegie brought pacifism into the mainstream through articles, speeches, pamphlets, and conferences he sponsored at, among other venues, Carnegie Hall. The major impetus for a revitalized peace movement may have been the Spanish-American War, notably the American invasion and occupation of the Philippines. For people like Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James, and others, the United States was abandoning its principles and donning the mantle of European imperialism in occupying the Philippines with troops who engaged in torture and deprived a people of their independence.

What was Carnegie’s relationship with Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft? Theodore Roosevelt held Carnegie in contempt. He abhorred Carnegie’s self-righteousness, his unquestioned belief that war was inhumane and wrong. Roosevelt refrained from publicly criticizing Carnegie because he needed the industrialist. Republican businessmen assailed TR as a radical for his trust-busting. The principal industrialist who stood by him was Carnegie, who was admired for his philanthropy. So TR played a double game: in public he feigned friendship and praised Carnegie but in private ridiculed him and opposed his ideas for international arbitration and a world court.

Roosevelt played Carnegie? Yes. After he left the White House, Roosevelt wanted to hunt in Africa. To pay for that expedition, he accepted Carnegie’s donations. In exchange, Carnegie asked TR to broker a peace between the cousins who ruled Germany and Great Britain—Kaiser Wilhelm and King Edward VII. TR agreed, then sabotaged the initiative when he told the kaiser he stood firm in his judgment that war was sometimes necessary, and that no leader should embrace pacifism. When Edward VII died, the peace plan was scuttled for lack of a partner to work with Wilhelm.

How about Taft? Taft was part of the Republican establishment that did not want to alienate Carnegie, a Republican and a donor. Taft admired Carnegie but had little need of him. He invited Carnegie to the White House and listened to him. And Taft worked to get the Senate to agree to treaties binding the United States to arbitrate its differences with selected European nations rather go to war. Those treaties never were ratified.

Carnegie refused to give up. He was a utopian, a visionary. He was not naïve, but he also knew that he’d succeeded at everything he had put his mind to why not international diplomacy? He believed the world was moving away from the barbarism of war and toward greater civilization. It was not absurd to think that the 20th century

Andrew Carnegie envisioned the Palace of Peace at The Hague as a mecca for world leaders to resolve differences without bloodshed.

would be a century of peace through arbitration.

Should Carnegie have taken his case to the people? Carnegie was no populist. He believed, with Spencer, that the “fittest” should and would not only survive but would prosper and lead. And remember: he lived a century ago, when kings, queens, and emperors were alive and well in Europe. Carnegie reached out not to the masses, but to university students, because he believed they were the leaders of tomorrow. He was an adherent of the “great man” theory—that the Roosevelts, the Gladstones, the Carnegies, the emperors and kings, made history.

The Great War devastated him. He was broken by the war and more by national leaders’ enthusiasm and that of the young men following them into war. He hoped President Woodrow Wilson might broker a settlement—he urged Wilson to do so—but when this failed, he retreated into himself. We would say that he had a nervous breakdown. He stopped reading newspapers, ceased writing to dear friends in England, including Liberal Party statesman John Morley, to whom he had corresponded every Sunday for decades. He saw no visitors, stopped talking to his wife and daughter. Only when a truce was signed did he rouse himself, write President Wilson a congratulatory note, offer best wishes on Wilson’s plan for a League of Nations, and propose his Peace Palace at The Hague as a venue for a peace conference.

Was Carnegie’s $25 million-plus outlay for the cause money well spent? His palaces of peace, certainly at The Hague, are living monuments to his dream. So, too, the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. Have these institutions brought peace on earth? Of course not. But have they kept alive a dream have they contributed to the promotion of peace? I think so.

What’s the lesson in Carnegie’s crusade? He was very much a “fool for peace.” His legacy is the notion that civilized people should not consider war inevitable but, rather, an aberration to be abolished. He was a “possibilist,” not a realist. We need more such men, men willing to dream of a better world and to do what they can to bridge the gap between the present and that better future they envision. Andrew Carnegie’s dreams of a world without war are as relevant today, perhaps more so, than they were a century ago.

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew is born in Scotland in 1835. After steam power makes his textile worker father redundant, the family emigrate. He starts work aged 12, and soon his intelligence secures him a PA position to Pittsburgh rail road President, Tom Scott.

When his father dies, Andrew, now 20, becomes the main family breadwinner. Thankfully, he excels at work with innovations such as keeping the telegraph office open 24 hours a day. He’s promoted to manager and oversees railway expansion west.

Like many of the rich, he avoids fighting during the Civil War by paying a replacement to fight for him.

In 1868, Carnegie employs James Eads, a designer with no bridge building experience, to span the Mississippi at St Louis, Missouri. It will need to be over a mile long, bigger than anything built before it. But if it succeeds, it will connect East and West like never before. One in four bridges built at the time fail. Carnegie invests everything. But the traditional metal, iron, wouldn’t have the tensile strength to withstand the weight of freight carried over the bridge. Steel, the strongest material ever produced (made by mixing iron with carbon at over 2,000 degrees) is however, difficult to mass produce and extremely expensive. At the time, it’s used in small quantities for designer items such as cutlery and jewellery.

Carnegie spends years searching for an answer and eventually finds an English inventor, Henry Bessemer, in Sheffield. With his mass-production solution the time it takes to make a single rail goes from two weeks to 15 minutes. Even so, Carnegie falls years behind schedule and is nearly buried in debt.

"If you can't embrace failure, you can't be widely successful. It's an axiomatic truth."
Donny Deutsch, Advertising Mogul

But in 1873, aged just 33, Carnegie unites America with the opening of the St Louis bridge. He still needs to convince people it’s safe to traverse and as there’s a myth that elephants won’t cross unstable structures, he has one walk across it on opening day.

Steel orders flood in as the railroad owners seek to replace their tracks with the stronger material. With his old mentor Tom Scott’s help, Carnegie raises $21m in today’s money and builds his first steel plant. The 100 acre steel mill is the country’s largest capable of producing 225 tonnes a day. But when Rockefeller moves his oil off the railroads, he bursts the bubble in the rail road industry. Carnegie suffers in the subsequent stock market crash, but not as much Tom Scott.

Disgruntled workers burn Scott’s business down and help to send him to an early grave. So when, in 1881, Carnegie buries his mentor on a rainy day in April, he blames Rockefeller for Scott’s demise and seeks revenge. He’s now producing 10,000 tons of steel a month and making $1.5 million profits per year.

And Carnegie finds another massive market. Manhattan land is the most expensive in the world. The only way to expand is up, but materials and current technology mean few buildings exceed five floors. Steel solves this. The first Chicago skyscraper is built with Carnegie steel.

"America grew up vertically on steel"
Alan Greenspan, Former Chairman, Federal Reserve

But despite his newfound wealth making him one of the richest men in America, Rockefeller is still worth seven times more than Carnegie. He hires Henry Frick, a self made millionaire by 30, one of the Midwest’s largest coal suppliers and a ruthless businessman. In two years, Frick doubles Carnegie’s profits.

To celebrate, Frick sets up a resort for the super-rich: the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club and his business partner is soon one of its members. It is in a superb location, situated near the South Fork dam. This dam holds 20 million tonnes of water. Fourteen miles downriver sits Johnstown. Frick orders the dam lowered (in order to make it possible for his carriage to travel along the top) and the reservoir water level to be raised. This, combined with one day’s heavy rainfall on 31 May 1899, that pushes the water level up by an inch every ten minutes, these actions prove fatal.

“Prepare for the worst”
South Fork Dam Telegraph to Johnstown

The dam bursts and more than 2,000 people are killed. One in three are so mutilated that they are never identified. 16,000 homes are destroyed and four square miles are levelled. The recently formed Red Cross is called. It’s the worst manmade disaster in American history, prior to 9/11.

Members of The South Fork are sued, unsuccessfully. But Carnegie feels responsible and donates millions to rebuild Johnstown. Despite Rockefeller still being worth three times more than Carnegie, the Scotsman donates ever increasing amounts of his fortune.

Carnegie invests millions to turn around the Homestead Steel Works, a struggling steel mill outside Pittsburgh, to increase the production of structural steel. But to cut costs, Carnegie allows Frick to increase working hours and reduce wages. When the newly formed unions start opposing 12 hour days and six day weeks, and the subsequent workplace injuries and fatalities, Frick writes to Carnegie asking for permission to crush them. In the wake of the Johnstown tragedy, Carnegie has retreated to his homeland, Scotland, and essentially leaves it to Frick.

"Carnegie didn’t enjoy being the bad guy, being the villain. Frick didn’t seem to mind."
DAVID NASAW, Carnegie biographer

Frick stockpiles steel in preparation for a strike. He brings in the Pinkerton Detectives, a private army willing to track down train robbers, guard the President and break strikes. In 1892, two thousand workers barricade themselves inside the Homestead plant, stopping steel production. In the escalating tension, The Pinkertons fire on the unarmed workers. Many are shot in the back as they run for their lives. Nine are killed. The strike is broken, but not until the state governor sends in the state militia. Frick, seen as the cause of the trouble, is shot and stabbed by an anarchist assassin. But three days after this attempted assassination, he’s back at work and moreover, hustling to take the steel plants away from Carnegie. He fails and Carnegie instructs his board to eject Frick.

JP Morgan approaches Carnegie and asks him to sell. At a dinner party, Carnegie writes out four hundred and eighty million on a piece of paper. The equivalent today of four hundred billion dollars, or the entire budget of the US Federal Government. In modern terms Carnegie has amassed a personal fortune of over $310 billion. The largest private fortune the world has ever seen.

Carnegie spends the rest of his life giving away more than 350 million dollars, or 67 billion in today’s money. But despite his charitable efforts, the tragedies of Johnstown and Homestead were associated with his name until his death, from bronchial pneumonia, in 1919.

5. John D. Rockefeller got his start in Cleveland, not New York.

Portrait of John D. Rockefeller by John Singer Sargent.

John D. Rockefeller is remembered for his deep association with the Big Apple, where buildings bear his name and museums exist thanks to his generosity. One of his grandsons, Nelson A. Rockefeller, would one day become governor of New York. But although he was born in the Empire State, the oil tycoon actually cut his teeth in Cleveland, where his family moved during his teenage years. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Trust there in 1870. It wasn’t until the 1880s that he moved his life and business headquarters to New York, establishing his family’s close ties to the city.

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36c. The New Tycoons: Andrew Carnegie

By the time he died in 1919, Carnegie had given away $350,695,653. At his death, the last $30,000,000 was likewise given away to foundations, charities and to pensioners.

Oil was not the only commodity in great demand during the Gilded Age. The nation also needed steel.

The railroads needed steel for their rails and cars, the navy needed steel for its new naval fleet, and cities needed steel to build skyscrapers. Every factory in America needed steel for their physical plant and machinery. Andrew Carnegie saw this demand and seized the moment.

Humble Roots

Like John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie was not born into wealth. When he was 13, his family came to the United States from Scotland and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, a small town near Pittsburgh. His first job was in a cotton mill, where he earned $1.20 per week.

His talents were soon recognized and Carnegie found himself promoted to the bookkeeping side of the business. An avid reader, Carnegie spent his Saturdays in the homes of wealthy citizens who were gracious enough to allow him access to their private libraries. After becoming a telegrapher for a short while, he met the head of a railroad company who asked his services as a personal secretary.

Millionaire Andrew Carnegie spoke against irresponsibility of the wealthy and sharply criticized ostentatious living.

During the Civil War, this man, Thomas Scott , was sent to Washington to operate transportation for the Union Army. Carnegie spent his war days helping the soldiers get where they needed to be and by helping the wounded get to hospitals. By this time, he had amassed a small sum of money, which he quickly invested. Soon iron and steel caught his attention, and he was on his way to creating the largest steel company in the world.

Vertical Integration: Moving on Up

The Bessemer Process

When William Kelly and Henry Bessemer perfected a process to convert iron to steel cheaply and efficiently, the industry was soon to blossom.

Carnegie became a tycoon because of shrewd business tactics. Rockefeller often bought other oil companies to eliminate competition. This is a process known as horizontal integration . Carnegie also created a vertical combination , an idea first implemented by Gustavus Swift . He bought railroad companies and iron mines. If he owned the rails and the mines, he could reduce his costs and produce cheaper steel.

Carnegie was a good judge of talent. His assistant, Henry Clay Frick , helped manage the Carnegie Steel Company on its way to success. Carnegie also wanted productive workers. He wanted them to feel that they had a vested interest in company prosperity so he initiated a profit-sharing plan.

All these tactics made the Carnegie Steel Company a multi-million dollar corporation. In 1901, he sold his interests to J.P. Morgan, who paid him 500 million dollars to create U.S. Steel.

Giving Back

Retirement did not take him out of the public sphere. Before his death he donated more than $350 million dollars to public foundations. Remembering the difficulty of finding suitable books as a youth, he helped build three thousand libraries. He built schools such as Carnegie-Mellon University and gave his money for artistic pursuits such as Carnegie Hall in New York.

Andrew Carnegie was also dedicated to peace initiatives throughout the world because of his passionate hatred for war. Like Rockefeller, critics labeled him a robber baron who could have used his vast fortunes to increase the wages of his employees. Carnegie believed that such spending was wasteful and temporary, but foundations would last forever. Regardless, he helped build an empire that led the United States to world power status.

Arrival of the Pinkertons and Outbreak of Violence

Early on the morning of July 6, around 300 Pinkerton detectives arrived on barges pulled by tugboats along the Monongahela River. When word arrived of their approach, thousands of striking workers and their families rushed to the river to keep them from coming ashore at Homestead. The two groups exchanged gunfire, with the Pinkertons armed with Winchester repeating rifles and the workers on higher ground firing down on the barges with ancient guns and even an old cannon.

After the Pinkertons repeatedly raised a white flag, the workers finally accepted their surrender by early evening. Nearly a dozen people had been killed by then, and a crowd of men, women and children brutally beat the Pinkertons who came ashore after their surrender. At Frick’s request, the governor of Pennsylvania soon sent 8,500 National Guard forces to Homestead, who quickly secured the steel mill and placed the plant and the surrounding town under martial law.

While the conflict at Homestead was playing out, Carnegie was vacationing at a remote castle in Scotland, where he spent much of each year. Though workers and members of the press tried to reach him, he remained inaccessible but stayed in communication with Frick, whose actions he endorsed.


Listed individuals are thought to have had a net worth of at least the equivalent of 100 billion United States dollars. Therefore, it excludes Andrew Mellon, Richard B. Mellon, Stephen Van Rensselaer, Alexander Turney Stewart, Heshen, J. P. Morgan, and others.

Absolute rulers or conquerors are sometimes listed for the territory they controlled rather than for their immediate personal wealth. [27] Davidson (2015) for listed the four Mughal Emperors (Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb) and their ancestors Genghis Khan and Timur as being the wealthiest historical figures based on their imperial possessions, while Alan Rufus is listed as one of the wealthiest historical figures for his immediate possessions within the feudal system of Norman England. [10]

For Classical Antiquity, even more than for the High Middle Ages, the definition of personal wealth becomes difficult to compare with the modern period especially in the case of divine kings such as the pharaohs and Roman Emperors, where an entire empire might be considered the personal property of a deified emperor.

Crassus has often been listed among the "wealthiest individuals in history", although depending on the estimate of the "adjusted value" of a Roman sesterce, his net worth may also be placed in the range of US$200 million to US$20 billion. [35]


Founding and early years Edit

By 1911 Andrew Carnegie had endowed five organizations in the US and three in the United Kingdom, and given more than $43 million to build public libraries and given another almost $110 million elsewhere. But ten years after he sold the Carnegie Steel Company, more than $150 million remained in his accounts and at 76, he wearied of philanthropic choices. Long-time friend Elihu Root suggested he establish a trust. Carnegie transferred most of his remaining fortune into it, and made the trust responsible for distributing his wealth after he died. Carnegie's previous charitable giving had used conventional organizational structures, but he chose a corporation as the structure for his last and largest trust. Chartered by the State of New York as the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the corporation's capital fund, originally worth about $135 million, had a market value of $1.55 billion on March 31, 1999.

In 1911-1912, Carnegie gave the corporation $125 million. At that time the corporation was the largest single philanthropic charitable trust ever established. He also made it a residual legatee under his will so it therefore received an additional $10 million, the remainder of his estate after had paid his other bequests. Carnegie reserved a portion of the corporation's assets for philanthropy in Canada and the then-British Colonies, an allocation first referred to as the Special Fund, then the British Dominions and Colonies Fund, and later the Commonwealth Program. Charter amendments have allowed the corporation to use 7.4 percent of its income in countries that are or once were members of the British Commonwealth. [ clarification needed ]

In its early years Carnegie served as both president and trustee. His private secretary James Bertram and his financial agent, Robert A. Franks, acted as trustees as well and, respectively, corporation secretary and treasurer. This first executive committee made most of the funding decisions. Other seats on the board were held ex officio by presidents of five previously-established US Carnegie organizations:

  • Carnegie Institute (of Pittsburgh) (1896), (1902),
  • Carnegie Hero Fund Commission (1904),
  • Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) (1905),
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) (1910).

After Carnegie died in 1919, the trustees elected a full-time salaried president as the trust's chief executive officer and ex officio trustee. For a time the corporation's gifts followed the patterns Carnegie had already established. Grants for public libraries and church organs continued until 1917, and also went to other Carnegie organizations, and universities, colleges, schools, and educational agencies. Carnegie's letter of gift to the original trustees making the endowment said that the trustees would "best conform to my wishes by using their own judgement." [5] Corporation strategies changed over the years but remained focused on education, although the trust did also increasingly fund scientific research, convinced that the nation needed more scientific expertise and "scientific management". It also worked to build research facilities for the natural and social sciences. The corporation made large grants to the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the National Bureau of Economic Research, Stanford University's now-defunct Food Research Institute [6] and the Brookings Institution, then became interested in adult education and lifelong learning, an obvious follow-on to Carnegie's vision for libraries as "the university of the people". In 1919 it initiated the Americanization Study to explore educational opportunities for adults, primarily for new immigrants.

Frederick P. Keppel Edit

With Frederick P. Keppel as president (1923-1941), the Carnegie Corporation shifted from creating public libraries to strengthening library infrastructure and services, developing adult education, and adding arts education to the programs of colleges and universities. The foundation's grants in this period have a certain eclectic quality and remarkable perseverance in its chosen causes. [7] His vision for adult education drew from both Victorian values of character as well as democratic ideals of freedom of thought and reasoning. [8] Through the Carnegie Corporation, he established the American Association of Adult Education, which focused on grant funding for adult education programs. The creation of an outside organization helped shield the Carnegie Corporation from accusations of political involvement in education, which would be viewed as private influence over public education. The corporation was aiming to prevent accusations of social-engineering of citizens by creating a separate organization. [8] The AAAE’s primary focus in the 1930’s was promoting a more democratic society through the education of adults. The AAAE’s most notable contribution was the Harlem Experiment, an initiative to provide adult education to African Americans in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance that began in 1926.

Keppel initiated a famous 1944 study of race relations in the United States by the Swedish social economist Gunnar Myrdal in 1937 by naming a non-American outsider as manager of the study. His theory that this task should be done by someone unencumbered by traditional attitudes or earlier conclusions led to Myrdal's widely heralded book American Dilemma (1944). The book had no immediate effect on public policy, but was later much cited in legal challenges to segregation. Keppel believed foundations should make facts available and let them facts speak for themselves. His cogent writings on philanthropy made a lasting impression on field and influenced the organization and leadership of many new foundations. [9]

In 1927 Keppel toured sub-Saharan Africa and recommended a first set of grants to establish public schools in eastern and southern Africa. Other grants went to for municipal library development in South Africa. During 1928 the corporation initiated the Carnegie Commission on the Poor White Problem in South Africa. Better known as the "Carnegie Poor White Study", it promoted strategies to improve the lives of rural Afrikaner whites and other poor whites in general. A memorandum sent to Keppel said there was "little doubt that if the natives were given full economic opportunity, the more competent among them would soon outstrip the less competent whites" [10] Keppel endorsed the project that produced the report, motivated by his concern with maintaining existing racial boundaries. [10] The corporation's concern for the so-called "poor white problem" in South Africa stemmed at least in part from similar misgivings about poor whites in the American South. [10]

White poverty defied traditional understandings of white racial superiority and thus became the subject of study. The report recommended that "employment sanctuaries" be established for poor white workers and that poor white workers replace "native" workers in most skilled aspects of the economy. [11] The authors of the report suggested that white racial deterioration and miscegenation would be the outcome [10] unless something was done to help poor whites, endorsing the necessity of the role of social institutions to play in the successful maintenance of white racial superiority. [11] [12] The report expressed trepidation concerning the loss of white racial pride, with the implicit consequence that poor whites would not successfully resist "Africanisation." [10] The report sought, in part, to forestall the historically inevitable accession of a communal, class based, democratic socialist movement aimed at uniting the poor of each race in common cause and brotherhood. [13]

Charles Dollard Edit

World War II and its immediate aftermath were a relatively inactive period for the Carnegie Corporation. Charles Dollard had joined the staff in 1939 as Keppel's assistant and became president in 1948. The foundation took greater interest in the social sciences, and particularly the study of human behavior. The trust also entered into international affairs. Dollard urged it to fund quantitative, "objective" social science research like research in physical sciences, and help to diffuse the results through major universities. The corporation advocated for standardized testing in schools to determine academic merit regardless of the student's socio-economic background. Its initiatives have also included helping to broker the creation of the Educational Testing Service in 1947.

The corporation determined that the US increasingly needed policy and scholarly expertise in international affairs, and so tied into area studies programs at colleges and universities as well as the Ford Foundation. In 1948 the trust also provided the seed money to establish the Russian Research Center at Harvard University, today known as the Davis Center for Russia and Eurasian Studies, [14] as an organization that could address large-scale research from both a policy and educational points of view.

In 1951 the Group Areas Act took effect in South Africa and effectively put the apartheid system into place, leading to political ascendancy for Afrikaners and dispossession for many Africans and colored people suddenly required to live in certain areas of the country only, on pain of imprisonment for remaining in possession of homes in areas designated for whites. The Carnegie corporation pulled its philanthropic endeavors from South Africa for more than two decades after this political change, turning its attention from South Africa to developing East African and West African universities instead.

John Gardner Edit

John W. Gardner was promoted from a staff position to the presidency in 1955. Gardner simultaneously became president of the CFAT, which was housed at the corporation. During Gardner's time in office the Carnegie Corporation worked to upgrade academic competence in foreign area studies and strengthened its liberal arts education program. In the early 1960s it inaugurated a continuing education program and funded development of new models for advanced and professional study by mature women. Important funding went to the key early experiments in continuing education for women, with major grants to the University of Minnesota (1960, co-directors Elizabeth L. Cless and Virginia L. Senders), Radcliffe College (1961, under President Mary Bunting), and Sarah Lawrence College (1962, under Professor Esther Raushenbush). [15] Gardner's interest in leadership development led to the White House Fellows program in 1964.

Notable grant projects in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa include the 1959-60 Ashby Commission study of Nigerian needs in postsecondary education. This study stimulated aid increases from the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States to African nations' systems of higher and professional education. Gardner had a strong interest in education, but as a psychologist he believed in the behavioral sciences and urged the corporation to funded much of the US' basic research on cognition, creativity, and the learning process, particularly among young children, associating psychology and education. Perhaps its most important contribution to reform of pre-college education at this time was the series of education studies done by James B. Conant, former president of Harvard University in particular, Conant's study of comprehensive American high schools (1959) resolved public controversy concerning the purpose of public secondary education, and made the case that schools could adequately educate both average students and the academically gifted.

Under Gardner, the corporation embraced strategic philanthropy—planned, organized, and deliberately constructed to attain stated ends. Funding criteria no longer required just a socially desirable project. The corporation sought out projects that would produce knowledge leading to useful results, communicated to decision-makers, the public, and the media, in order to foster policy debate. Developing programs that larger organizations, especially governments, could implement and scale in size became a major objective. The policy shift to institutional knowledge transfer came in part as a response to relatively diminished resources that made it necessary to leverage assets and "multiplier effects" to have any effect at all. [ citation needed ] The corporation considered itself a trendsetter in philanthropy, often funding research or providing seed money for ideas while others financed more costly operations. For example, ideas it advanced resulted in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, later adopted by the federal government. [ citation needed ] A foundation's most precious asset was its sense of direction, Gardner said, [16] gathering a competent professional staff of generalists that he called his "cabinet of strategy," and regarded as a resource as important to the corporation as its endowment.

Alan Pifer Edit

While Gardner's opinion of educational equality was to multiply the channels through which an individual could pursue opportunity, it was during the term of long-time staff member Alan Pifer, who became acting president during 1965 and president during 1967 (again of both Carnegie Corporation and the CFAT), that the foundation began to respond to claims by various groups, including women, for increased power and wealth. The corporation developed three interlocking objectives: prevention of educational disadvantage equality of educational opportunity in the schools and broadened opportunities in higher education. A fourth objective cutting across these programs was to improve the democratic performance of government. Grants were made to reform state government as the laboratories of democracy, underwrite voter education drives, and mobilize youth to vote, among other measures. [ citation needed ] Use of the legal system became a method for achieving equal opportunity in education, as well as redress of grievance, and the corporation joined the Ford and Rockefeller foundations and others in funding educational litigation by civil rights organizations. It also initiated a multifaceted program to train black lawyers in the South for the practice of public interest law and to increase the legal representation of black people. [ citation needed ]

Maintaining its commitment to early childhood education, the corporation endorsed the application of research knowledge in experimental and demonstration programs, which subsequently provided strong evidence of the long-term positive effects of high-quality early education, particularly for the disadvantaged. A 1980 report on an influential study, the Perry Preschool Project of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, on the outcomes for sixteen-year-olds enrolled in the experimental preschool programs provided crucial evidence that safeguarded Project Head Start in a time of deep cuts to federal social programs. The foundation also promoted educational children's television and initiated the Children's Television Workshop, producer of Sesame Street and other noted children's programs. Growing belief in the power of educational television prompted creation of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, whose recommendations were adopted into the Public Broadcasting Act of 1968 that established a public broadcasting system. Many other reports on US education the corporation financed at this time, included Charles E. Silberman's acclaimed Crisis in the Classroom (1971), and the controversial Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America by Christopher Jencks (1973). This report confirmed quantitative research, e.g. the Coleman Report, showed that in public schools resources only weakly correlated with educational outcomes, which coincided with the foundation's burgeoning interest in improved school effectiveness. [ citation needed ]

Becoming involved with South Africa again during the mid-1970s, the corporation worked through universities to increase the legal representation of black people and increase the practice of public interest law. At the University of Cape Town, it established the Second Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in Southern Africa, this time to examine the legacies of apartheid and make recommendations to nongovernmental organizations for actions commensurate with the long-run goal of achieving a democratic, interracial society.

The influx of nontraditional students and "baby boomers" into higher education prompted formation of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education (1967), funded by the CFAT. (During 1972, the CFAT became an independent institution after experiencing three decades of restricted control over its own affairs.) In its more than ninety reports, the commission made detailed suggestions for introducing more flexibility into the structure and financing of higher education. One outgrowth of the commission's work was creation of the federal Pell grants program offering tuition assistance for needy college students. The corporation promoted the Doctor of Arts "teaching" degree as well as various off-campus undergraduate degree programs, including the Regents Degree of the State of New York and Empire State College. The foundation's combined interest in testing and higher education resulted in establishment of a national system of college credit by examination (College-Level Entrance Examination Program of the College Entrance Examination Board). Building on its past programs to promote the continuing education of women, the foundation made a series of grants for the advancement of women in academic life. Two other study groups formed to examine critical problems in American life were the Carnegie Council on Children (1972) and the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting (1977), the latter formed almost ten years after the first commission.

David A. Hamburg Edit

David A. Hamburg, a physician, educator, and scientist with a public health background, became president in 1982 intending to mobilize the best scientific and scholarly talent and thinking on "prevention of rotten outcomes" - from early childhood to international relations. The corporation pivoted from higher education to the education and healthy development of children and adolescents, and the preparation of youth for a scientific and technological, knowledge-driven world. In 1984 the corporation established the Carnegie Commission on Education and the Economy. Its major publication, A Nation Prepared (1986), reaffirmed the role of the teacher as the "best hope" for quality in elementary and secondary education. [ citation needed ] That report led to the establishment a year later of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, to consider ways to attract able candidates to teaching and recognize and retain them. At the corporation's initiative, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued two reports, Science for All Americans (1989) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993), which recommended a common core of learning in science, mathematics, and technology for all citizens and helped set national standards of achievement.

A new emphasis for the corporation was the danger to world peace posed by the superpower confrontation and weapons of mass destruction. [ citation needed ] The foundation underwrote scientific study of the feasibility of the proposed federal Strategic Defense Initiative and joined the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support the analytic work of a new generation of arms control and nuclear nonproliferation experts. After the end of the USSR, corporation grants helped promote the concept of cooperative security among erstwhile adversaries and projects to build democratic institutions in the former Soviet Union and Central Europe. The Prevention of Proliferation Task Force, coordinated by a grant to the Brookings Institution, inspired the Nunn-Lugar Amendment to the Soviet Threat Reduction Act of 1991, intended to help dismantle Soviet nuclear weapons and reduce proliferation risks. [ citation needed ] More recently, the corporation addressed interethnic and regional conflict and funded projects seeking to diminish the risks of a wider war resulting from civil strife. Two Carnegie commissions, Reducing the Nuclear Danger (1990), the other Preventing Deadly Conflict (1994), addressed the dangers of human conflict and the use of weapons of mass destruction. The corporation's emphasis in Commonwealth Africa, meanwhile, shifted to women's health and political development and the application of science and technology, including new information systems, to foster research and expertise in indigenous scientific institutions and universities.

During Hamburg's tenure, dissemination achieved even greater primacy with respect to strategic philanthropy. [ citation needed ] [ clarification needed ] Consolidation and diffusion of the best available knowledge from social science and education research was used to improve social policy and practice, as partner with major institutions with the capability to influence public thought and action. If "change agent" was a major term during Pifer's time, "linkage" became a byword in Hamburg's. The corporation increasingly used its convening powers to bring together experts across disciplinary and sectoral boundaries to create policy consensus and promote collaboration.

Continuing tradition, the foundation established several other major study groups, often directed by the president and managed by a special staff. Three groups covered the educational and developmental needs of children and youth from birth to age fifteen: the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development (1986), the Carnegie Task Force on Meeting the Needs of Young Children (1991), and the Carnegie Task Force on Learning in the Primary Grades (1994). Another, the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government (1988), recommended ways that government at all levels could make more effective use of science and technology in their operations and policies. Jointly with the Rockefeller Foundation, the corporation financed the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, whose report, What Matters Most (1996), provided a framework and agenda for teacher education reform across the country. These study groups drew on knowledge generated by grant programs and inspired follow-up grantmaking to implement their recommendations.

Vartan Gregorian Edit

During the presidency of Vartan Gregorian the corporation reviewed its management structure and grants programs. [ citation needed ] In 1998 the corporation established four primary program headings: education, international peace and security, international development, and democracy. In these four main areas, the corporation continued to engage with major issues confronting higher education. Domestically, it emphasized reform of teacher education and examined the current status and future of liberal arts education in the United States. Abroad, the corporation sought to devise methods to strengthen higher education and public libraries in Commonwealth Africa. As a cross-program initiative, and in cooperation with other foundations and organizations, the corporation instituted a scholars program, offering funding to individual scholars, particularly in the social sciences and humanities, in the independent states of the former Soviet Union.

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