In the 19th century, America was significantly changed by a progressive movement which strived to gain an economic opportunity, religious morality, political honesty and social stability. The efforts of the famous progressives have shaped one of the most powerful nations in this world.
The United States is ahead of most of other countries in the business world and continues to make the better products. Nevertheless, America wouldn’t be so economically strong without the contributions of Andrew Carnegie, the wealthy industrialist who showed the world a profitable and proper way to operate a business. Andrew Carnegie is the real reason why American business and economy had become so dominant in the 20th century. Carnegie was born in November 25, 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland. His parents were handloom weavers who barely had enough money for food. Carnegies were radicals who never feared to demonstrate for their rights.
Andrew’s father, Will, was a follower of Chartism, a popular movement of the British working class that called for the masses to vote and to run for Parliament in order to help improve conditions for workers. Such exposure to political beliefs made a lasting expression on young Andrew Carnegie and played a significant role in his life. By 1835, the invention of the Cotton Gin and the development of power looms meant that the days of the handloom weaver were numbered. Finally, in 1847 a large steam power weaving factory opened in Dunfermline ending the handloom weaving business for good.
Carnegie family was out of work and decided to immigrate to the United States in search of better life. They came to the United States in 1848 and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Andrew was only twelve years old but already envisioned glorious promises for himself in the New World. He started work at the age of 13 as a bobbin boy in local textile mill and made $1.20 a week. He then moved rapidly through a succession of jobs with Western Union and the Pennsylvania Railroad.
In 1865, he established his own business enterprises and eventually organized the Carnegie Steel Company, which launched the steel industry in Pittsburgh. At age sixty-five, he sold his company to J.P. Morgan and devoted the rest of his life to his philanthropic activities and writing. Carnegie argued that hard work was the main reason a person could succeed in anything.
He said, ‘Unless a person works hard on a project; it will not succeed.’; Andrew was taught by his mother that he could only eat only what he could buy with the money he earned through hard work. He shut his eyes on the reality of his early life and worked hard to become the wealthiest man in the world. Young Carnegie published his first article in February 1882 issue of the “Fortnightly Review” British magazine in which he argued the importance of hard work. He had a little sympathy and understanding for those who failed in their goals. Carnegie didn’t engage in any social activities in the early parts of his life and devoted most of his time to work. Andrew Carnegie’s management of his companies reshaped the way business was performed in the 19th century.
His treatment of workers was completely different from all other businesses’ at that time. His true genius was his ability to work closely with other men. Carnegie thought of himself as a man of the people and a hero of workers. His workers got the higher salaries and shorter shifts. Carnegie used a ‘sliding scale’; in wages. The pay of the workers would increase if profits went up, and the pay would decrease if profits went sown.
This was an initiative for workers to work harder if they wanted higher wages. Carnegie had an impressive way of dealing with workers who went on a strike. He didn’t hire new workers, but instead shut the business down completely and made the strikers to eventually give in and agree to his terms. Carnegie had enough money to shut down his business if he wished to do so.
Carnegie’s goals were to have a good cost accounting system and to speed the flow of traffic through the system and increase its volume once the costs were known. Carnegie always wanted to cut the costs of his products. His motto was: Watch the costs, and the profits will take care of themselves! The production of cheap steel and iron greatly increased the productivity of railroads and many other industries. Once he got his profits back, Carnegie immediately put them back into business. Carnegie also used vertical integration to keep his company strong. All aspects of production from acquisition of raw materials to final delivery of finished products were controlled by the Carnegie Steel Company.
These financial practices kept his companies very strong. During the 1870 and 1893 economic depressions in the Unites States, most businesses went bankrupt. However, Carnegie’s company was so strong that it kept buying, building, and expanding while other companies were out of business. Carnegie’s steel and iron were used all over the United States to build subways, elevated railroads, tractors, barbed wires, tools for all trades, irrigation pipes, machines and vehicles. Some of his strategies are adopted by the most powerful companies today.
Carnegie changed the way the business was operated before. Carnegie’s total profits from his business equaled to $300,000,000 when he retired at the age of sixty-five. At first, he wasn’t sure of what to do with all of his money. He said that it was a disgrace to die with so much money not spent for good causes.
Carnegie established an idea that wealthy Americans had an obligation to do something beneficial to others. In 1889, Carnegie published an article ‘ the Gospel of Wealth’; in The North American Review arguing what people should do with their money. Carnegie was against giving the money to children who would become too soft and dependent. He was also against giving it to trustees to give away for good causes. His final decision was that the individual who owned money should rely on his own intelligence and personality to distribute the money.
Carnegie decided to give money to improve education in the United States. He considered the main enemy of a person to be ignorance and thought that building libraries would help to solve that problem. Andrew Carnegie financed 2, 811 libraries and other educating institutions such as colleges and universities. He only wanted to help those people who could help themselves. Libraries were the main gifts Carnegie gave to our nation. After Carnegie retired from business, he also got involved in world politics.
His two main wishes were to abolish the British monarchy and make it adopt the American system, and promote peace throughout the world. Carnegie wrote various articles and books and soon became an ‘unofficial diplomat’; in the cause of reducing differences and promoting peace. He thought that countries had to resolve their differences by nonviolent methods. Carnegie was one of the first to call for ‘League of Nations’;. In 1900, he donated $1,500,000 to build Palace of Peace which serves today at International Court of Justice, an arm of the United Nations.
In 1910, he set up an Endowment for International Peace to stop all the war conflicts in the world. Business, education and world peace all progressed thanks to the hard work and well earned money of Andrew Carnegie.