Who is Andrew Carnegie? - Biography, Facts & Quotes

Instructor: Deanna Reid

Deanna has taught at the elementary and middle school level and has a Master's degree in Elementary Education K-8.

Andrew Carnegie, a 19th-century tycoon, was one of the most shrewd and innovative businessmen of all time. In this lesson, you will learn about his life, businesses, and famous quotes.

Andrew Carnegie: An American Business Legend

Portrait of Andrew Carnegie
Portrait of Andrew Carnegie

Although American history is filled with stories of individuals who have amassed great wealth, few have had as great an impact as Andrew Carnegie. A Scottish immigrant who arrived in the United States with nothing, Carnegie made a huge fortune and, at one point, was believed to be the richest man in the world. Carnegie's success was due largely to his strong work ethic and astute business investments.

The Carnegie Mansion
The Carnegie Mansion

Early Experiences and Education

Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835, in Dunfermline, Scotland, where his family ran a small, manpowered weaving shop. When the Industrial Revolution hit Scotland, mechanized looms drove the handloom weavers out of business. Hoping to start a new life, the Carnegies and their two young sons, Andrew, 13, and Thomas, 5, immigrated to the United States and settled outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Although his parents believed strongly in education, Carnegie attended school for only four years before he was forced to find a job to help support the family. He became an avid reader and developed a lifelong habit of learning and self-education.

The Beginning of a Dynasty

Carnegie began his long career as a bobbin boy in a textile factory where he earned $1.20 a week. He was 14 when he took a job as a telegraph messenger and quickly rose through the ranks to become a telegraph operator. Carnegie's training and telegraphic skills soon led to a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Under the supervision of Thomas Scott, a high-ranking railroad executive, he learned the ins and outs of the railroad industry. When Scott moved to a new position in Philadelphia, Carnegie was promoted to Scott's former position as superintendent.

Scott advised Carnegie to invest his savings in a variety of profitable business ventures such as the railroad industry, oil wells and iron bridges. However, Carnegie found his greatest opportunities in the steel industry. Using new technology developed by Henry Bessemer and a new approach to management, he developed a network of steel plants that supplied the nation's growing demand for steel. Bessemer's method of steel manufacturing simplified what was once a very complicated process by increasing the temperature in the vats used in production. Before this process was used, it was a tedious process to produce steel and only small steel items were fabricated. By implementing this new process, Carnegie's steel plants prospered. Carnegie spent 26 years as a steel tycoon who built an empire and amassed a tremendous fortune. In 1901, he sold his steel companies to J.P. Morgan. This sale made him one of the world's wealthiest men, and he then considered himself retired from the business world.

Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to supporting a variety of educational, social and political programs and causes, and to his family. He was 55 years old when he married Louise Whitfield, and 61 when their only child, a daughter, was born. Carnegie died in 1919 at the age of 83.

Andrew and Louise Carnegie
Andrew and Louise Carnegie

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