UnitedLife 04

Andrew Carnegie. Man who changed the world.

Andrew Carnegie


   Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835, to the family of later Scottish emigrants in a small village Dunfermline in Scotland. At that time little Andrew had an opportunity to meet with a big new world, the USA, however his viewpoint was not exactly positive. In regard of the poor conditions and weak family background he had to work actually as 12 years old, what was not so exceptional at that time. Reportedly he worked to 12 hours every day from Monday to Saturday, whereupon for one such week of work he earned one or two American dollars. Of course at that time it was concerned entirely different value as it is today, however for still young Andrew this sum did not give him a chance to get out of the poor environment.

   In spite of the poverty and ever-present saving on everything possible and impossible, the Carnegie family decided to provide their son at least the rough basis for the future professional and perhaps also personality growth. Therefore Andrew started to attend an evening school what later showed itself as the right step. From the position of worker, for which was the rough manual work typical, Andrew shifted to the position of director’s callboy who took care for first and foremost an administrative and field work. He still worked for the same company, however now directly under the boss.

   „Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!“

   The following career progress of young Andrew was very quickly. Sooner than he was 18 years old he went through some administrative positions in several companies, he occupied the important work positions also in railroad, in telegraph company (of that time analogy to todays mobile operators) and already in his 18 he became even the Pittsburg’s railroad company division leader. Just the work in the railroad environment became so interesting and valuable for him that he devoted all his time to it.

   carnegleWith the gained knowledges of the local legislation, finance processes and a meaningful amount of an internal motivation, Andrew decided later to invest his money in a firm’s stocks, what was a right step. Thanks to payed out dividends he obtained a capital for his later activity which we can compare probably only with J.D. Rockefeller.

   Similar to „our“ Tomáš Baťa so Andrew Carnegie gained a meaningful part of his wealth already during a war. Many consider this success as Carnegie’s transgression, however in real, not the civil war itself, but demand for a certain commodity in its course became a basis for the rise of his property and business activity too. The steel was in 19th century a meaningful innovation in heavy industry, till then mainly the iron was used. The steel had a great potential and it is used in large amounts also today thanks to its technical qualities and adequate cost of acquisition. Carnegie invested his money and also time to already developing steel industry and just this step earned him his spectacular wealth.

   „Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.“

   In 1901 Carnegie made a dramatic change in his life. He sold his firm to company US Steel Corporation started by the legendary financier J.P. Morgan. The sale of his firm earned him more than 200 million dollars and 65 years old Carnegie decided to spend a rest of his life by altruism. He invested much of his resources to educational initiatives, he was building up the libraries and supported different independent projects, whereupon he even radically grossed up these investments in the beginning of 20th century. He gave approximately 5 million dollars to a library in New York, thanks to that it was able to open several other smaller libraries and it is rumoured, that thanks to his financial gifts together 2 800 libraries were opened. He did not deny a passionate reader in himself. He founded the famous Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a bit later the Carnegie Foundation and The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

   Besides his business and charitable interests, Carnegie enjoyed travelling and meeting the important leading personages from different fields. He knew for example Mark Twain and American president Theodor Roosevelt. Carnegie also wrote several books and numerous articles, his contribution from 1889 called „Wealth“ confirmed his belief that people with great wealth are socially responsible and they should use their money to help others.

   Andrew Carnegie died of pneumonia in 1919 in the state Massachusetts. Interesting is, that on the basis of the testament he donated almost all his property to charity, what was at that time approximately 350 million of American dollars.

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