Andrew Carnegie

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Andrew Carnegie : biography

November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919

The buyout, secretly negotiated by Charles M. Schwab (no relation to Charles R. Schwab), was the largest such industrial takeover in United States history to date. The holdings were incorporated in the United States Steel Corporation, a trust organized by Morgan, and Carnegie retired from business. His steel enterprises were bought out at a figure equivalent to 12 times their annual earnings—$480 million (presently, $) which at the time was the largest ever personal commercial transaction.

Carnegie’s share of this amounted to $225,639,000 (presently, $), which was paid to Carnegie in the form of 5%, 50-year gold bonds. The letter agreeing to sell his share was signed on February 26, 1901. On March 2, the circular formally filing the organization and capitalization (at $1,400,000,000—4% of U.S. national wealth at the time) of the United States Steel Corporation actually completed the contract. The bonds were to be delivered within two weeks to the Hudson Trust Company of Hoboken, New Jersey, in trust to Robert A. Franks, Carnegie’s business secretary. There, a special vault was built to house the physical bulk of nearly $230,000,000 worth of bonds. It was said that "…Carnegie never wanted to see or touch these bonds that represented the fruition of his business career. It was as if he feared that if he looked upon them they might vanish like the gossamer gold of the leprechaun. Let them lie safe in a vault in New Jersey, safe from the New York tax assessors, until he was ready to dispose of them…"

Scholar and activist

1880–1900

Carnegie continued his business career; some of his literary intentions were fulfilled. He befriended English poet Matthew Arnold, English philosopher Herbert Spencer, and American humorist Mark Twain, as well as being in correspondence and acquaintance with most of the U.S. Presidents,John K. Winkler Incredible Carnegie, p. 172, Read Books, 2006 ISBN 978-1-4067-2946-7 statesmen, and notable writers.John K. Winkler Incredible Carnegie, p. 13, Read Books, 2006 ISBN 978-1-4067-2946-7

Carnegie erected commodious swimming-baths for the people of his hometown in Dunfermline in 1879. In the following year, Carnegie gave $40,000 for the establishment of a free library in Dunfermline. In 1884, he gave $50,000 to Bellevue Hospital Medical College (now part of New York University Medical Center) to found a histological laboratory, now called the Carnegie Laboratory.

In 1881, Carnegie took his family, including his 70 year-old mother, on a trip to the United Kingdom. They toured Scotland by coach, and enjoyed several receptions en route. The highlight for them all was a triumphal return to Dunfermline, where Carnegie’s mother laid the foundation stone of a Carnegie library for which he donated the money. Carnegie’s criticism of British society did not mean dislike; on the contrary, one of Carnegie’s ambitions was to act as a catalyst for a close association between the English-speaking peoples. To this end, in the early 1880s in partnership with Samuel Storey, he purchased numerous newspapers in England, all of which were to advocate the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of "the British Republic". Carnegie’s charm aided by his great wealth meant that he had many British friends, including Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.

In 1886, Carnegie’s younger brother Thomas died at age 43. Success in the business continued, however. While owning steel works, Carnegie had purchased at low cost the most valuable of the iron ore fields around Lake Superior. The same year Carnegie became a figure of controversy. Following his tour of the UK, he wrote about his experiences in a book entitled An American Four-in-hand in Britain. Although still actively involved in running his many businesses, Carnegie had become a regular contributor to numerous magazines, most notably the Nineteenth Century, under the editorship of James Knowles, and the influential North American Review, led by editor Lloyd Bryce.