Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 and died in 1919 at the age of 84. He was well-known for founding his steel company, as well as many other trusts, corporations, and institutions along the way.
Andrew was also a keen philanthropist, philosopher, and activist who made many achievements throughout his life. In fact, his business history is so vast that when I began my research, I was mind-blown by his story.
Although it has been over a hundred years since Andrew Carnegie passed away, I just had to find out more about his business life, as well as what his missions and values were, and how he became so successful within the steel industry. I was also fascinated to learn more about how he became one of the richest men of his time and one of the wealthiest people to have ever lived.
If, like me, you’re drawn to history, and the people who shaped the world today, then you will find this a fascinating Andrew Carnegie bio.
Andrew Carnegie Bio Facts
|Full Name: Andrew Carnegie|
|Birth Date: 25th November 1835|
|Birth Place: Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland|
|Nick Name: Unknown|
|Siblings: Brother – Thomas M. Carnegie|
|Children: Daughter – Margaret Carnegie Miller|
|Partner / Spouse: Louise Whittfield|
|Profession: Industrialist, Philanthropist, Founder|
|Salary: Today’s equivalent of $8.5 million per year|
|Net Worth: 310 billion|
|Social Media: No social media|
|Companies Associated With: Carnegie Steel Company, Carnegie library|
|Last Updated: September 2022|
Andrew Carnegie Key Facts Summary
- He was a keen reader and frequent borrower from the library at the telegraph and educated himself via books. He swore to repay the favor to help other young boys should he ever become wealthy.
- He was an education advocate and invested significantly in universities and organizations worldwide.
- He pledged $10 million to George Ellery Hale so that he could build the Hooker telescope.
- He founded the Carnegie trust to improve scientific research facilities at Scottish universities.
- Overall he donated over $350 million to various causes and charities.
- He was a millionaire before he was forty years old.
- He has a sister who sadly passed away during infancy.
- There was some controversy surrounding the steel company’s main plant, regarding labor. Andrew left his colleagues and business partners to deal with the situation while he was on a trip to Scotland. The dispute ended with a strike.
- He supported the Republican Party.
- He referred to himself as the champion of evolutionary thought.
- His hero was John Bright.
- His father also worked at the cotton mill where Andrew was a bobbin boy.
Andrew Carnegie Birthplace and Early Life
Andrew was born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, in 1835. His parents, William and Margeret,  bought him and his brother up in a highly modest and humble setting.
The Carnegie family lived in a picturesque cottage, which consisted of only two rooms. The downstairs room was his father’s workshop, where he spent his time weaving clothes. The upstairs room was where the four of them lived together. 
His mother, Margaret, helped to support her husband by selling potted meat products to the locals for extra income.
I don’t think it’s any secret that the family was a bit hard up regarding their finances back in the day. They even ended up having to take a loan from Margaret’s brother. This was right before the family moved to Pennsylvania in 1848 when Andrew was a young teenager.
Once the family was settled in the United States, Andrew got his first job in a cotton mill as a bobbin boy. His job was tough, especially for a young lad, and he often worked 12-14 hour shifts on the factory floor, earning just $1.20 per week. 
He did this for a while before becoming a messenger boy for the Pittsburgh Telegraph Company.
Pittsburgh Telegraph Company
Thanks to his uncle George getting him the job, Andrew was now earning $2.50 per week, which wasn’t a bad little income for his age at the time.
During his time at the telegraph, he began to make many connections that would benefit his career later in life. He was already showing what a hard worker he was and how willing and determined he was to become successful.
He started to progress his skills within his line of work and could even translate the telegraph signals without looking or using paper. This didn’t go unnoticed, and he was soon promoted to an operator.
By the time Andrew was 18 years old, he had landed himself a role with the Pennsylvania company for $4.00 per week. I think that at this point in his life, he had started to see his prospects and knew how far he could go if he worked hard and moved up through the railroad company. 
By 1859, Andrew was made the superintendent of the Western Division, at which point he decided to take on his younger brother as an employee.
During his time working for the railroad company, he learned an awful lot about cost control and management, which would be detrimental to his later career.
It was also during his time working for the railroad company that he began to make investments. For example, in 1855, Thomas A. Scott made it possible for Andrew to invest $500 into the Adams Express.
Over the next few years, Andrew started to accrue capital, which he would later use to fund his own businesses.
During the Civil War
Between 1860 and 1865, during the civil war, Andrew’s role in the railroad company was considered so beneficial to the efforts of the war, that it meant he received a deferment.
The company’s production of building materials and coal was necessary for the army, and an ongoing product line, so even when his deferment had expired, Andrew paid an immigrant $750 to take his place. 
Andrew Carnegie Early Business Success
In 1864, Andrew invested in an oil company in Pennsylvania , and as the demand for products such as armor, cannons, and shells continued to grow, he saw a fantastic revenue model opening up for a steel rolling mill, which he soon established, and was making a massive success.
When the war was over, Andrew saw this as a good time to move away from the railroad company and concentrate solely on the engineering side of things. This is what led to the development of the Keystone Bridge Company, which was based in Pittsburgh.
He used his connections with the likes of Thomas A. Scott and others to acquire contacts for his new venture, and the railroad company became his highest-paying customer.
By this point, Andrew had a clear business strategy in place, and he was soon being recognized and invited to significant social events, which he used for his own personal gain, and to further push his company into growth and success. 
The Steel Empire
Of course, Andrew’s leading fortune came from the steel industry, and by 1875, he owned the most extensive steel and iron operation in the history of the United States.
One of the things he was most well-known for in the industry was mass-producing low-cost, efficient steel. This steel was soon being used for railways around the world, but wasn’t sufficient enough in quality to be used for structural work on things like bridges or buildings. 
This led to the next thing he became so well known for, which was the vertical integration of raw materials, and in 1883, he acquired the Homestead Steel Works.
By the end of the 1880s, Carnegie Steel was the biggest manufacturer of pig iron and steel rails in the entire world.
By the time he reached 65 years old and was thinking about retirement, Andrew started to consider how he would distribute the shares of his company and funds, and soon, negotiations were secretly underway.
The company was sold for more than $303 million, the biggest industrial company takeover in the history of America. 
Andrew Carnegie Videos
Now, as you can imagine, I wasn’t able to capture the latest press conference with Andrew because, let’s face it, video cameras had only just been invented when he was at the peak of his career. But, let’s look at what others have had to say about the life of Andrew and his steel industry.
Check out this docu-video which goes into more detail about how Andrew became one of the world’s wealthiest businessmen.
Listen to the secrets and successes of Andrew Carnegie, and find out the truth behind his fortune.
Here, find out what it was like growing up in the 1800s, the factories that Andrew and his family worked at, and the poverty they faced daily, and listen to the fascinating history behind his successful lifestyle.
Andrew Carnegie Business Failures
In 1889, there was controversy surrounding the Johnstown Flood, which tragically saw the loss of 2,209 people.
The South Fork Dam was initially built during the 1830s and early 1850s but had been neglected by the commonwealth that formed it.
The dam was sold to and from various buyers over the years before being sold to the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, of which Andrew was a member.
The dam had undergone many questionable repairs and often sprung leaks that were then patched back together with straw and mud, but in 1889, the dam finally gave way, causing thousands to lose their lives. Twenty million tonnes of water flooded Johnstown.
Somehow, members of the fishing and hunting club managed to keep quiet the flaws behind the company’s ownership of the dam and details of the flood and, in turn, dodged any lawsuits against them.
Andrew Carnegie Philanthropy
Andrew was a keen writer and philanthropist throughout his years as a businessman and industrialist. He donated a lot of money to establishments such as the Dunfermline Carnegie Library, which was located in his hometown in Scotland.
He also had a hand in establishing the Carnegie Lab at NYU and contributed generously to magazines such as North American Review  and The Nineteenth Century. 
He published many of his books, including biographies such as “Wealth” and “Triumphant Democracies.” 
Andrew continued to help others and share his wealth even after his retirement. In fact, he took to Philanthropy full-time and helped over 3000 libraries.
Andrew Carnegie Family
Probably because of how long ago Andrew and his family were in the limelight, there isn’t a tonne of information out there about his personal life with his wife and children. Of course, there weren’t the social media platforms there are today to give us access to their personal lives.
But one interesting piece of information I did find out is that he had made the decision not to marry his partner while his mother was still alive. This is because, as a loving son, he felt obliged to take care of her and give her his undivided attention during her illness. He stuck to his word and didn’t marry his wife until the year after his mother passed.
When Andrew married Louise, she was twenty years younger than he was. He was 51 years old at the time. 
The couple had one child together, who was born in 1897. Her name was Margaret Carnegie Miller.
Andrew Carnegie’s Net Worth and Career Earnings
Andrew’s main wealth came from his time in the steel industry, and at his highest peak, he was worth the equivalent of $325 billion if we’re looking at inflation in 2022. This net worth means that he is the fourth wealthiest man in history.
He was an extremely generous man with his wealth and donated over 90% of his fortune to charities and organizations before he passed away, including his homes.
Andrew Carnegie Real Estate Holdings
Once again, because we are going back to the 1800s, it’s difficult to know what holdings Andrew had throughout his whole life and even harder to understand what they were all worth, but I found some information.
Andrew had two primary residences. One of which was a castle in Scotland, Skibo Castle . He spent half of his time living at the castle, and the other half he spent at his mansion in New York.
He remained at his home on East 91st Street, Fifth Ave, until he passed away in 1919, and the house is now the Smithsonian Design Museum and is now a registered National Historic Landmark. 
Andrew Carnegie Quotes
Andrew was a genuinely motivational man and an influential person in the business world, so it goes without saying that during his time, he had some insightful points of view.
Let’s take a look at just a couple of them.
“Don’t look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.”
“The older I get, the less I listen to what people have to say, and the more I look at what they do.”
“The secret of success lies not in doing your work, but in recognizing the best person to do it.”
“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all for himself or get all the credit.”
“You can’t push anyone up a ladder unless they are willing to climb a little.”
“People who cannot motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”
FAQs – Andrew Carnegie Bio
Question: How Old Was Andrew Carnegie When He Died?
Answer: Andrew died on 11th August 1919. He was 83 years old.
Question: What Was Andrew Carnegie’s Job?
Answer: Andrew Carnegie was a businessman in the steel industry. He founded the most prominent iron and steel works in history.
Question: How Did Andrew Carnegie Die?
Answer: Andrew Carnegie passed away in August 1919, but the cause of his death isn’t entirely known. He did develop pneumonia in the days right before his death.
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