Andrew Carnegie is one of the few millionaires who are really worth writing and talking about. This man has brought for more benefit to the American education system than all the declarations, training tips, guilds and government committees. Andrew Carnegie, in possession of extensive cultural, social and symbolic capital, had the power and authority needed for serving as ‘play-maker’ in the global business. As entrepreneur, Carnegie’s greatest achievement was to mastermind the growth of his steel company from the industrial minnow to industrial mastery. (Gordon, Harvey, and Maclean 17)
Carnegie as one of the leading millionaires of the previous century is the general exception of the list of millionaires who had excellent starting opportunities, income and parent business as well as thieving propensities. Indeed, he is one of the few examples of how an ordinary man from quite an ordinary working family and rather poor had passed a difficult and thorny path from simple handyman with a salary of 1.5 dollars a week to a great millionaire known all over the world.
Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835 in Dunfermline, the medieval capital of Scotland, known for its fabrics and the Royal Castle. He was born in the family of William Carnegie, a textile factory worker and shoemaker’s daughter Margaret Morrison. Carnegie’s family members were well educated and actively engaged in radical politics.
A millionaire began his career at a textile factory. His career has steadily gone up. In addition, he invested in a variety of businesses and projects. When he was 25, Carnegie became the head of the West Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
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Until the age of 33, Andrew Carnegie was already a first-class capitalist. A future millionaire came to New York with a firm intention to retire, enter the Oxford University and publish his own newspaper at leisure. According to his records, though not always sincere, Carnegie felt that wealth corrupts the people and wanted to do the cultivation.
However, during this moment of enlightenment Carnegie was captured by a new idea, very far from self-improvement, but leading him to almost instant wealth. Steel, which few years ago seemed a miraculous material compared to wood, did not satisfy Carnegie with its quality needs of the industrial boom. Carnegie had to go to the UK to study a new converter technology of steel production. Afterwards, he has introduced this technology at his plants.
Carnegie had a strange and inconsistent type of spirituality. He was always torn between two mental aspirations: religiosity and altruism inherent to his father and younger brother on the one hand, and crushing materialism of his mother on the other.
It was the ’70s of the previous century, the gilded age. This was the era of technological discoveries and great fortunes, the era of so-called unregulated business. He clearly understood the peculiarities of the new era. He wrote in his “Gospel of Wealth” that, the problem of the modern age is improper administration of wealth. He claimed that close ties of brotherhood should bind together the rich and poor people in a harmonious relationship.
Carnegie believed that within the past few hundred years, the conditions of human life had been revolutionized, not only changed.
Carnegie spent a lot of money for the purchase, restoration and improvement of the Scottish medieval castle on the coast. In this castle, he used to spend several months in a year, learning aristocratic fun like golf and enjoying the luxury and attention of important people: King Edward VII, Chamberlain, Kipling and so on.
His personal life revolved around his mother Margaret, an extremely overbearing and jealous person. In New York, she lived with Andrew in the same room at the “Windsor” and tried to be with him all the time. It should be said that Carnegie’s business meetings were often accompanied by his mother; Andrew adored her. Margaret had very radical views not only in politics. Carnegie gave two promises to his mother. The first was that someday he will come to his hometown Damfermlin with the triumph, and that he would not marry until her death.
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Andrew Carnegie was an incredibly charming and extremely articulate person. He had no formal education, but paid libraries were his private universities; being young, he spent a large part of the earnings reading there. Indeed, he was a well-read man, full of original ideas and an extremely slim philosophy of life. What is more important, he was a man of brilliant character.
The main ambition of the last years of the Carnegie’s life was an idea of preventing the World War. As a successful person, victorious and confident, Carnegie was convinced that he personally had the strength and money and was influential enough to prevent the war. Carnegie was a pacifist in the international politics and believed that the rulers of states, civilized and enlightened people, can solve any conflicts through diplomacy.
Carnegie once met with President Theodore Roosevelt and twice with the German Kaiser Wilhelm and in 1912 and 1913 years, he convened a conference of peace.
Carnegie did virtually everything he could. Robert L. Heilbroner states that Andrew Carnegie was a kind of a national legend toward the end of his days, at the close of World War I (Heilbroner 5). He put special hope to the peace conference, which took place in Vienna, and by means of which he tried to convene all the leading businessmen in the world. When the war started, Andrew Carnegie took it as a personal defeat. He fell into a deep depression, which Carnegie practically could not overcome until his death in August 11, 1919.
Analyzing Carnegie’s contribution into charity, Nasaw relates: “The total amount of donations spent by Carnegie was about $350 million. $62 million were donated to the British Empire, and $288 million to the US” (Nasaw 42). The basic foundations sponsored by Carnegie are: the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie British Trust, Carnegie Heroes Fund, the Carnegie Trust in Dyunfermline, the Carnegie Foundation for the development of education, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Carnegie Corporation of New York. The last one is his biggest fund, which was founded in 1911. The development and dissemination of knowledge and understanding between the peoples of the United States was its core aim. This organization still helps colleges, as well as universities and libraries. What is more, it funds research and training in the field of law, economics and medicine.
The foundation of free public libraries that passed literally through the whole life of Andrew Carnegie is one of his interests that deserve special respect. He sponsored building of 2811 public libraries, named after him. It should be noted that nowadays, 40% of the US population are educated in his libraries (Nasaw 43). He never forgot that he had to be educated himself. International Court of Justice in The Hague owes its origin to this great man. Moreover, Carnegie donated a lot of money on the creation of the House of Peace. It should be noted that he considered piece as one of the most important things. Andrew Carnegie’s generosity is directly related to his worldview. As philanthropist, Carnegie sought to extend his world-making reach beyond business to encompass society-at-large. This was a natural development (Gordon, Harvey, and Maclean 17).
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Carnegie often wrote about political and social issues:
Humanity, he wrote, is an organism, inherently rejecting all that is deleterious, that is, wrong, and absorbing after trying what is beneficial, that is, right. If so disposed, the Architect of the Universe, we must assume, might have made the world and man perfect, free from evil and from pain, as angels in heaven are thought to be; but although this was not done, man has been given the power of advancement rather than of retrogression. (148)
His most famous article “Wealth” contained the basic idea of his views. These ideas were then presented in his “Gospel of Wealth”. According to his doctrine, a person who accumulates great wealth is obviously an exceptional man who has managed to use his natural talents and energy to move society forward; his duty is further use of his excess wealth for “improvement of mankind” in philanthropic affairs. He proclaimed that those men who die rich die really disgraced.
In conclusion, it should be pointed that the legacy of Andrew Carnegie is used all over the world. It is difficult to assess and estimate his great contribution into the education all over the globe. Charity was spontaneous and random to Carnegie and his great contribution is that it became organized and popular since his idea of charity had infected many rich families in the US. Carnegie’s pervasive influence within the field of entrepreneurial philanthropy stems more than anything from his authorship of the “Gospel of Wealth” (Gordon, Harvey, and Maclean 19). Considering the origin and personal life of Andrew Carnegie, one can say that this man is one of the greatest philanthropists. In 1901, Andrew Carnegie sold “Carnegie Steel” for $480 million and began to spend money on charity. He spent over $350 million on opening more than 2.5 thousand libraries, concert halls constructions, and creation of scientific and educational centers to support students and teachers.