Andrew Carnegie

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Andrew Carnegie : biography

November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919

On July 6, the arrival of a force of 300 Pinkerton agents from New York City and Chicago resulted in a fight in which 10 men—seven strikers and three Pinkertons—were killed and hundreds were injured. Pennsylvania Governor Robert Pattison ordered two brigades of state militia to the strike site. Then, allegedly in response to the fight between the striking workers and the Pinkertons, anarchist Alexander Berkman shot at Frick in an attempted assassination, wounding Frick. While not directly connected to the strike, Berkman was tied in for the assassination attempt. According to Berkman, "…with the elimination of Frick, responsibility for Homestead conditions would rest with Carnegie."Alexander Berkman Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist, p. 67, Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1912 Afterwards, the company successfully resumed operations with non-union immigrant employees in place of the Homestead plant workers, and Carnegie returned to the United States. However, Carnegie’s reputation was permanently damaged by the Homestead events.

Philosophy

Andrew Carnegie Dictum

In his final days, Carnegie suffered from bronchial pneumonia. Before his death on August 11, 1919, Carnegie had donated $350,695,654 for various causes. The "Andrew Carnegie Dictum" was:

  • To spend the first third of one’s life getting all the education one can.
  • To spend the next third making all the money one can.
  • To spend the last third giving it all away for worthwhile causes.

Carnegie was involved in philanthropic causes, but he kept himself away from religious circles. He wanted to be identified by the world as a "positivist". He was highly influenced in public life by John Bright.

On wealth

As early as 1868, at age 33, he drafted a memo to himself. He wrote: "…The amassing of wealth is one of the worse species of idolatry. No idol more debasing than the worship of money."Maury Klein The Change Makers, p. 57, Macmillan, 2004 ISBN 978-0-8050-7518-2 In order to avoid degrading himself, he wrote in the same memo he would retire at age 35 to pursue the practice of philanthropic giving for "…the man who dies thus rich dies disgraced." However, he did not begin his philanthropic work in all earnest until 1881, with the gift of a library to his hometown of Dunfermline, Scotland.Dwight Burlingame Philanthropy in America, p. 60, ABC-CLIO, 2004 ISBN 978-1-57607-860-0

Carnegie wrote "The Gospel of Wealth", pp. 255–67 an article in which he stated his belief that the rich should use their wealth to help enrich society.

The following is taken from one of Carnegie’s memos to himself:

Intellectual influences

Carnegie claimed to be a champion of evolutionary thought particularly the work of Herbert Spencer, even declaring Spencer his teacher.Carnegie, Andrew (2009-12-14).The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and The Gospel of Wealth(p. 165). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition. Though Carnegie claims to be a disciple of Spencer many of his actions went against the ideas espoused by Spencer.

Andrew Carnegie’s political and economic focus of during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was the defense of laissez faire economics. Carnegie emphatically resisted government intrusion in commerce, as well as government-sponsored charities. Carnegie believed the concentration of capital was essential for societal progress and should be encouraged.Carnegie, Andrew 1901 The Gospel of Wealth and Other Timely Essays (Popular Illusions about Trusts). (Kindle Locations 947-954). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition. Carnegie was an ardent supporter of commercial “survival of the fittest” and sought to attain immunity from business challenges by dominating all phases of the steel manufacturing procedure.Nasaw, David (2007-10-30). Andrew Carnegie (Kindle Locations 4762-4767). Penguin. Kindle Edition. Carnegie’s determination to lower costs included cutting labor expenses as well.Carnegie, Andrew (2009-12-14). The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and The Gospel of Wealth (pp. 118-121). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition. In a notably Spencerian manner, Carnegie argued that unions impeded the natural reduction of prices by pushing up costs, which blocked evolutionary progress.Carnegie, Andrew 1901 The Gospel of Wealth and Other Timely Essays (Popular Illusions about Trusts). (Kindle Locations 1188-1195). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition. Carnegie felt that unions represented the narrow interest of the few while his actions benefited the entire community.