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Why Andrew Carnegie Was a Hero, But not to All Americans

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Andrew was born in Dunfermline, Scotland on November 25, 1835. He was not wealthy, his parents did sewing work. In 1848 his family moved to America.

Carnegie went through many jobs. He was a messenger in a telegraph office, and secretary and telegraph operator of the Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Finally, he replaced his boss as a superintendent on the railroad. He made very profitable investments in business during this time. He co-founded his first steel company in the 1870s. Over the next few decades, he made an empire off of steel. In 1892, his holdings were consolidated to make Carnegie Steel company.

Carnegie ran his business by maximizing profits, but at the same time making things more efficient through ownership of the infrastructure required to make steel. Carnegie wasn’t a bad guy per se, but his reputation wasn’t great due to the Homestead Strike in 1892 at his Pennsylvania steel mill. Workers were locked out of the plant by Henry Clay Frick who was the general manager of the plant in an attempt to destroy the union. Andrew Carnegie was on vacation at the time, but he put his support in Frick who ended up calling 300 Pinkerton armed guards to “protect” the plant. 10 men died from a fight that broke out between the guards and the workers, plummeting Carnegie’s reputation further. The labor movement at the plant was crippled for the next 4 decades.

After Carnegie’s retirement, he decided to write a book about how the rich have a “moral obligation” to dish out their money in ways that promote wealth and happiness among the common man. He ended up giving away about $350 million dollars, which would be billions of dollars today. That was most of his wealth. He funded libraries, churches, and endowed organizations that dedicated their research to science, world peace, and education.

Carnegie was a Captain of Industry. While his treatment of workers was questionable at best, he gave away nearly all of his fortune in the end and dedicated it all to the betterment of mankind and America.

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