When he was alive, Andrew Carnegie was the second richest man and the founder of the most powerful corporation in the world. Thus, from his humble beginnings in Scotland to his rise to the top of the industrial world in the United States, there is no shortage of information on the biography of Andrew Carnegie.
Born on November 25, 1835, he was the son of a weaver whose family immigrated to America when he was just 13 years old. Immediately upon arrival, he began working as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill, and was soon moving his way through a series of other jobs that dealt with telegraphs, and later railroads. The age of 30 would mark a pivotal turning point in his life.
In 1865, he created the Carnegie Steel Company, which effectively launched the steel industry, first in Pittsburgh, and later, throughout the nation. Thirty years later, another benchmark in his life would come when he sold his company to financier J.P. Morgan for $480 million, creating U.S. Steel, the most powerful corporation of its time. From then on, the Scot would devote his life to more philanthropic efforts and would be single-handedly responsible for the creation of 1,679 libraries in 49 states throughout America.
One year after his death in 1919, the biography of Andrew Carnegie as written by the man himself was published. In “Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie”, he tells the story of his life as if he were recounting it to family and friends. Part business advice and part memoir, this biography serves as a detailed examination into one of greatest success stories in American history. From the important lessons he learned as a child in a “poor but honest” family to setting up pension funds for his steel workers, Andrew Carnegie takes an in-depth look back on his own beginnings, challenges, and achievements.
As one reader comments this story is “practically written for the ambitious young man.” By highlighting the importance of constant self-improvement through education, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and treating people with the same kindness and respect you would expect in return, Carnegie is outlining the steps that must be taken in order to achieve a level of success similar to what he reached in his own time.
This particularly story is also telling of the society and the time in which he lived. For instance, the sale of Carnegie Steel to J.P. Morgan – a billion dollar deal – was completed on a mere handshake. The contract was written up after the fact, but both men knew the deal had already been done. It was a time when reputation and honesty were of extreme significance in the business world, which would go on to lay the foundation for his philosophy of individual responsibility.
The biography of Andrew Carnegie is a must-read for anyone interested in the 19th century history of America, and indeed in understanding the state of the nation today.