Portrait: Andrew Carnegie, steel magnate and philanthropist

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
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Andrew Carnegie © Library of Congress - Theodore C. Marceau

Andrew Carnegie © Library of Congress – Theodore C. Marceau

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, business magnate, and philanthropist during the Gilded Age. Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and is often identified as one of the richest people (and richest Americans) ever. He became a leading philanthropist in the United States, and in the British Empire. During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away about $350 million to charities, foundations, and universities—almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 article proclaiming The Gospel of Wealth called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, and stimulated a wave of philanthropy.

Carnegie was born in Dunfermline in Scotland, and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1848. Carnegie started work as a telegrapher, and by the 1860s had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, bridges, and oil derricks. He accumulated further wealth as a bond salesman, raising money for American enterprise in Europe. He built Pittsburgh‘s Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million. It became the U.S. Steel Corporation. After selling Carnegie Steel, he surpassed John D. Rockefeller as the richest American for the next couple of years. Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education, and scientific research. With the fortune he made from business, he built Carnegie Hall and the Peace Palace and founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, among others.

Carnegie Hall in New York City © Simeon87/cc-by-sa-3.0 Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh as seen from the 'Cathedral of Learning' © Dllu/cc-by-sa-4.0 Peace Palace in The Hague © Kasteelbeer/cc-by-sa-3.0-nl Birthplace of Andrew Carnegie in Dunfermline, Scotland © kilnburn Carnegie Music Hall at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh © HoboJones/cc-by-sa-3.0 Andrew Carnegie © Library of Congress - Theodore C. Marceau
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Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh as seen from the 'Cathedral of Learning' © Dllu/cc-by-sa-4.0
3,000 public libraries
Among his many philanthropic efforts, the establishment of public libraries throughout the United States, Britain, Canada and other English-speaking countries was especially prominent. In this special driving interest and project of his he was inspired by a visit and tour he made with Enoch Pratt (1808–1896), formerly of Massachusetts but who made his fortune in Baltimore and ran his various mercantile and financial businesses very thriftily. Pratt in turn had been inspired and helped by his friend and fellow Bay Stater, George Peabody, (1795–1869) who also had made his fortune in the “Monumental City” of Baltimore before moving to New York and London to expand his empire as the richest man in America before the Civil War. Later he too endowed several institutions, schools, libraries and foundations in his home commonwealth, and also in Baltimore with his Peabody Institute in 1857, completed in 1866, with added library wings a decade later and several educational foundations throughout the Old South. Several decades later, Carnegie’s visit with Mr. Pratt lasted for several days; resting and dining in his city mansion, then touring, visiting and talking with staff and ordinary citizen patrons of the newly established Enoch Pratt Free Library (1886) impressed the Scotsman deeply – years later he was always heard to proclaim that “Pratt was my guide and inspiration”. The first Carnegie library opened in 1883 in Dunfermline. His method was to build and equip, but only on condition that the local authority matched that by providing the land and a budget for operation and maintenance. To secure local interest, in 1885, he gave $500,000 to Pittsburgh for a public library, and in 1886, he gave $250,000 to Allegheny City for a music hall and library; and $250,000 to Edinburgh for a free library. In total Carnegie funded some 3,000 libraries, located in 47 US states, and also in Canada, the United Kingdom, what is now the Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies, and Fiji. He also donated £50,000 to help set up the University of Birmingham in 1899. In the early 20th century, a decade after Mr. Pratt’s death, when expansion and city revenues grew tight, Carnegie returned the favor and endowed a large sum to permit the building of many Carnegie Libraries in the Enoch Pratt system in Baltimore and enabled EPFL to expand through the next quarter-century to meet the needs of the growing city and supply neighborhood branches for its annexed suburbs. As Van Slyck (1991) showed, the last years of the 19th century saw acceptance of the idea that free libraries should be available to the American public. But the design of the idealized free library was the subject of prolonged and heated debate. On one hand, the library profession called for designs that supported efficiency in administration and operation; on the other, wealthy philanthropists favored buildings that reinforced the paternalistic metaphor and enhanced civic pride. Between 1886 and 1917, Carnegie reformed both library philanthropy and library design, encouraging a closer correspondence between the two.

Investing in education
In 1900, Carnegie gave $2 million to start the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) at Pittsburgh and the same amount in 1902 to found the Carnegie Institution at Washington, D.C. He later contributed more to these and other schools. CIT is now known as Carnegie Mellon University after it merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. Carnegie also served on the Boards of Cornell University and Stevens Institute of Technology. In 1911, Carnegie became a sympathetic benefactor to George Ellery Hale, who was trying to build the 100 inches (2.5 m) Hooker Telescope at Mount Wilson, and donated an additional ten million dollars to the Carnegie Institution with the following suggestion to expedite the construction of the telescope: “I hope the work at Mount Wilson will be vigorously pushed, because I am so anxious to hear the expected results from it. I should like to be satisfied before I depart, that we are going to repay to the old land some part of the debt we owe them by revealing more clearly than ever to them the new heavens.” The telescope saw first light on November 2, 1917, with Carnegie still alive. In 1901, in Scotland, he gave $10 million to establish the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. It was created by a deed which he signed on June 7, 1901, and it was incorporated by Royal Charter on August 21, 1902. The establishing gift of $10 million was, then, an unprecedented sum: at the time, total government assistance to all four Scottish universities was about £50,000 a year. The aim of the Trust was to improve and extend the opportunities for scientific research in the Scottish universities and to enable the deserving and qualified youth of Scotland to attend a university. He was subsequently elected Lord Rector of University of St. Andrews in December 1901. He also donated large sums of money to Dunfermline, the place of his birth. In addition to a library, Carnegie also bought the private estate which became Pittencrieff Park and opened it to all members of the public, establishing the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust to benefit the people of Dunfermline. A statue of him stands there today. He gave a further $10 million in 1913 to endow the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, a grant-making foundation. He transferred to the trust the charge of all his existing and future benefactions, other than university benefactions in the United Kingdom. He gave the trustees a wide discretion, and they inaugurated a policy of financing rural library schemes rather than erecting library buildings, and of assisting the musical education of the people rather than granting organs to churches. In 1901, Carnegie also established large pension funds for his former employees at Homestead and, in 1905, for American college professors. The latter fund evolved into TIAA. One critical requirement was that church-related schools had to sever their religious connections to get his money. His interest in music led him to fund construction of 7,000 church organs. He built and owned Carnegie Hall in New York City. Carnegie was a large benefactor of the Tuskegee Institute for African-American education under Booker T. Washington. He helped Washington create the National Negro Business League. In 1904, he founded the Carnegie Hero Fund for the United States and Canada (a few years later also established in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany) for the recognition of deeds of heroism. Carnegie contributed $1,500,000 in 1903 for the erection of the Peace Palace at The Hague; and he donated $150,000 for a Pan-American Palace in Washington as a home for the International Bureau of American Republics. Carnegie was honored for his philanthropy and support of the arts by initiation as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity on October 14, 1917, at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. The fraternity’s mission reflects Carnegie’s values by developing young men to share their talents to create harmony in the world. By the standards of 19th century tycoons, Carnegie was not a particularly ruthless man but a humanitarian with enough acquisitiveness to go in the ruthless pursuit of money. “Maybe with the giving away of his money,” commented biographer Joseph Wall, “he would justify what he had done to get that money.” To some, Carnegie represents the idea of the American dream. He was an immigrant from Scotland who came to America and became successful. He is not only known for his successes but his enormous amounts of philanthropist works, not only to charities but also to promote democracy and independence to colonized countries.

Read more on carnegie.org – Meet the Father of Modern Philanthropy and Wikipedia Andrew Carnegie (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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