Read the book and find out why. Andrew Carnegie (1835 1919) was born in Dunfermline, Scotland. The father having little ambition and the family meagre income, Andrew, being the oldest son, began work as a bobbin boy. Self-made, he became a steel tycoon and robber baron, a man of letters and at the age of 66 after retiring Andrew had become the worlds wealthiest man. Following the doctrine of philosopher Herbert Spencer, he dedicated the remaining years of his life to philanthropy and peace. While others are slaving away, he (Andrew) who is so intelligent, clever and wise worked only a few hours a day! This book shows you the whole man. Andrew Carnegie Is not your normal person.
Throughout we are given a lively picture of the era and the personalities from Andrew Carnegie, his mother, wife and daughter, his several business partners (such as Henry Clay Frick), and to the Presidents he sought to influence. Part of what I am trying to point out is that the guy, who was a millionaire several times over and would be quite ruthless in his business dealings did not want to unsettle the relationship he had with his mother, by marrying the woman he loved. Carnegie always seemed to be flying at a very high altitude above his factories - especially his iron and steel workers. He himself was very careful to not overwork himself and was perpetually on vacations, whether in Europe or in the U.S. Carnegie was a traveling phenomenon - and crossed the Atlantic several times and did one world tour. Carnegie then proceeded to crush the unions and it was back to lower salaries and a 12 hour day. After he retired in the 1890s (J.P. Morgan bought off his iron and steel companies) Andrew Carnegie became a tireless crusader for world peace.
His conscience his fickle relationship with it when it came to his business affairs.
David Nasaw's authoritative new biography goes a long way toward answering the question, even if he cannotperhaps no biographer canultimately fathom Carnegie's complex motives and temperament. Mr. Nasaw's probes Carnegie's personality and philosophy which Carnegie wrote up as "The Gospel of Wealth" to describe an individual who believed he owed his good fortune to his community, a key term in the Carnegian lexicon. What Mr. Nasaw dubs "crony capitalism" formed the basis of Carnegie's success. But the ebullient Carnegie one associate called him the happiest man he had ever met had literary aspirations and quoted Shakespeare liberally. Herbert Spencer, Mr. Nasaw believes, is the key to Carnegie's decision to give away his money. Spencer believed in evolutionary progress and that the "apogee of human achievement was industrial society," Mr. Nasaw writes. For him, Spencer's notions were laws, and so in "The Gospel of Wealth," Carnegie refers to the "Law of Accumulation of Wealth" and the "Law of Competition." In this positivist reading of history, Carnegie met the world head-on very much as he does in the evocative photograph on the cover of Mr. Nasaw's biography. Unions, Carnegie concluded, did not understand that the Spencerian world, had periods of downs as well as upsas Mr. Nasaw's illustrates in his redaction of the philosopher: "It seems hard than an unskillfulness which with all his efforts he cannot overcome, should entail hunger upon the artisan," Herbert Spencer had written, almost as if he were advising Carnegie not to give in to the demands of employees. Or as Carnegie himself notes in the social Darwinist "The Gospel of Wealth" (included in a new Penguin paperback edited by Mr. Nasaw): "While the law may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department." As you may already have gathered, Carnegie was a better stylist than Spencer.
Andrew Carnegies parents left Scotland due to a severe economic slump when America slid into recession and stopped buying imported Scottish Linen. With a father who still failed to get work, Andrew looked for his own job. But his intellect helped launch him into a promotion as the telegraphic operator, interpreting Morse coded messages. This experience landed him a job as a telegraphic operator and assistant to Thomas Scott, one of the powerful Pennsylvania Railroad heads. Scott let Andrew into one of the best kept secrets of the rich in the late 1800s the stock market. Scott knew the best publicly held companies and always offered Andrew a piece of the pie. He knew that Steel would become one of worlds greatest assets so he created Edgar Thomas Steel works in Braddock, PA. In the 1860s steel work was commanded by skilled workman who knew exactly how to mix the components to eradicate impurities. Andrew heard of a new way which would strip this power from these skilled workmen. Andrew learned that he could keep tract of his businesses by accurate accounting. He not only wanted sophisticated friendships with these aristocrats but also knew these people could provide profitable business. But he was hard working and always fighting for the cheapest way to produce steel.
He wanted to read widely because that was what a man and a citizen did, whether artisan or mechanic, clerk or merchant, Scottish or American. 172 Andrew Carnegie started from a very poor background and became one of the richest people in the world, and he had to be the father of the family (oldest son) making money at an early age. He invested with his partners (and mentor) when he had an edge in ways that are by completely legit today.
and, even though he did give away millions to those less fortunate, he had a general disdain for the poor, even those who wored in his steel mills!
Rags to riches stories, Carnegie's life being a perfect example, are not to be laughed at. This is not fiction, though it is hardly the rule that most wealthy people would like to believe it is. Author David Nasaw provides the perfect amount of commentary in this epic account of the fascinating life and times of a tiny (5 feet tall) but wonderfully personable man who was a giant of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Though already wealthy before getting involved with steel, it was in steel that he became the wealthiest man in the world, due to his own excellent management that always poured earnings back into the company and kept his factories running to keep and win customers even when the market dropped and competitors stopped production. His relationship with Henry Clay Frick, who ran his steel and coke works while Carnegie spent the better part of each year, year after year, enjoying his estate in Scotland or traveling the world is almost a book within the book. Frick endured the sweat and stress and drew the hatred of working men during the infamous company vs labor confrontation at the Homestead mill, while Carnegie enjoyed the profits and gave the impression (a wrong one) that he was removed from the day to day decisions. Instead, he felt that his wealth was better spent (after he personally had all he wanted) on what he considered the public good (libraries, institutes, etc.). From his birth well before the Civil War to his death shortly after the First World War, Carnegie's life was exactly the one he wanted to live.
Unlike other men of wealth, Carnegie did not preach the virtues of "hard work." In fact, as he earned money, climbed the economic ladder, and took more and more managerial roles, he worked less and less hours and made more and more money in a reverse ratio. He was a philanthropist, donating funds particularly for public libraries and theaters with the idea that high culture and learnedness should be offered to the lower classes for free that they might benefit therefrom. He benefitted tremendously from wartime demands for steel, oil, and other investment returns during the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian war, but he traveled and promoted his peace program in an attempt to prevent world war.
He is cited extensively in the US and British media as an expert on the history of popular entertainment and the news media, and as a critic of American philanthropy.