Andrew Carnegie


Andrew Carnegie is one of the greatest immigrants into the United States who entered the country as job seekers and ended up being one of the most significant business person of his time. The struggle to the top was not an easy one for young Carnegie, as an immigrant he faced challenges, but his dreams oversaw them. The paper takes a look at his life, activities that propelled him to the top and some the impacts he had on the labor industry.

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Early life

Andrew Cranage had a tough life both in his home country and in the United States as a young boy. He was born in the city of Dunfermline. The town relied on woolen as an economic activity. Things got harsh for the family when handmade weavings were made obsolete by industrialism hence leaving home workers with nothing to earn. The move affected Andrew as his father was a weaver. After hoping for better changes that did not seem to come, Carnegie’s father Will sold their belongings and moved with his wife and two sons into the United States.

Arriving in the USA, the family settled in Allegheny Pennsylvania where they had relatives. The family stayed above a relatives weaving shop and later took over the business which then failed leaving the family in financial shambles again. Carnegie started work as a bobbin boy at a local cotton mill where he used to carry bobbins to fellow workmates and was paid $1.2 every week. His early life was a difficult one indeed as the parents tried to make ends meet with little money. Life in the United States was not a bed of roses either. When the business fell, Andrew as young as 13 years had to work from dusk till dawn for a small wage.

The Game Changer

Although Andrew Carnegie moved into the United States as an immigrant trying to survive and make ends meet, he later turned into a titan of the steel industry a sporadic thing. His rise can be linked to two notions.


Andrew worked as a telegraph messenger, and his skills landed him a job with the Pennsylvania railroad. At the railroad, Andrew learned of potential investments even before he had the wealth to help him establish one. While still working for the company, his boss Thomas Scott informed him of a company Adams Express selling shares and Andrew convinced his parents of an excellent opportunity that they sold a house to raise money for share purchase. Years later the company thrived, and the family enjoyed dividends. Due to the right connection and friends who passed valuable information, Andrew managed to get informed on opportunities. Carnegie also used is connections at the Railroad in Pennsylvania to win contracts which added to his wealth.

Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Andrew demonstrated a spirit of entrepreneurship by risking their family house to invest in a business venture; he did not know how it would ultimately end, i.e., makes losses or profits. Theodore Woodruff approached Andrew with the idea of sleeping trains and with an entrepreneurial heart Carnegie secured a loan to invest in the business. Two years afterward, the family started earning around $5000 annually from the dividends.

The Homestead Strike

The Homeland strike was a conflict between Andrew’s company Carnegie Steel Company and a labour union. The dispute involved a move by the company’s CEO Henry Frick offering the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers a contract with reduced payments. Being an ignorant person, Frick declined all possible approaches to negotiations and when the workers threatened to strike, the CEO constructed a wall around the firm and closed down all operations and sacked hundreds of employees.

Frick then hired non-union workers who could work as per his terms and this escalated violence as the union workers took over the mill shutting all operations. Frick then hired a private security agency to protect the non-union workers and property. Pinkerton the security firm started operations which escalated violence further leading to the use of bullets which led to death tolls.

A clear issue of bias after the story of Carnegie’s life is that however how hard he had struggled through life from running his home country to seeking opportunities to working for a low wage per week, Andrew Carnegie does not feel the agony of the striking workers. He allows his CEO to use brutal measures against workers who were only fighting for their rights.

A person who goes through a particular agony will shield people from suffering through the problem he or she went through. It is therefore ironical for Andrew Carnegie to see his workers die as they protest for wage decreases. He says, “I believe that higher wages to men who respect their employers and are happy and contented are a good investment, yielding, indeed, big dividends.” His actions do not match his words though.

Gospel of Wealth

Andrew Carnegie’s gospel of wealth states illustrates that the best way to make use of wealth is to inspire social impacts among society members. Andrew states that “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.” He illustrated this by selling off his company and retiring from business then started to run church contributions in the United States and globally, established schools and colleges in his home country and adopted nation and also set numerous trusts such as the Carnegie museums of Pittsburg, Carnegie Institution for Science and the Carnegie Foundation which supported the peace palace.

Andrew saw the idea of Gospel of Wealth as important for the United States as he believed that any person who gets access to books with the motive to learn could educate him or herself into getting successful just like him. Andrew also felt that the idea was necessary for America as he wanted to provide for the high number of immigrants who needed knowledge; hence he offered to build several libraries in the nation. I agree with his sentiments as several immigrants in the USA today may not all afford education, but libraries can help educate them.


Achievements in life are mainly nurtured by the desire to achieve a goal. However current conditions may hold us back. Determination and self-belief is an ingredient needed to accomplish the most improbable dreams just like Andrew Carnegie did.



Carnegie, Andrew. The autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and the gospel of wealth. Penguin, 2006.

Franky Abbott. The Homestead Strike. 2016. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, (Accessed March 11, 2019.)

Humphreys, John, Mario Joseph Hayek, Milorad Novicevic, Jared Pickens, and Stephanie Pane. “The Narrative Cleansing of Andrew Carnegie: Entrepreneurial Generativity as Identity Capital.” In Academy of Management Proceedings, vol. 2018, no. 1, p. 10033. Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management, 2018.