Industrialist and Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie

Industrialist and Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie
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Industrialist and Philanthropist: Andrew Carnegie

Many towns in the United States have a brick or stone building somewhere near the center of the town, with the name "Carnegie Library" over the door. Who is this Carnegie who seems to have been everywhere?

Andrew Carnegie was not born an American. He was the elder of two sons of Will and Margaret Carnegie, owners of a small weaving business in Dunfermline, Scotland. The family lived in two little rooms above the shop, and Andrew was born there on November 25,1835. His mother worked in the shop for a few hours every day, spinning linen thread for the weavers to make into cloth. Will Carnegie did most of the weaving and the selling of the finished material.

But when young Andrew was ten years old, his father had to close the shop and sell his looms. A cloth factory had opened in the town; steam-powered machines made cloth ten times faster than any man could weave. The factory-made cloth was cheap, and the new machines ended the only way the Carnegie family could make a living. Will Carnegie could have worked in the mill that had ruined him. But instead he sold everything he had and took the money, his family, and his hopes to the United States.

After a trip of six weeks across the Atlantic Ocean, they sailed into New York Harbor. It was June 1848.

The Carnegies did not stay in New York. They wanted to reach some relatives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as soon as possible. Andrew was impressed by the large size of the United States, and yet he had seen only a small part of the new country. After three months of travel, they reached Pittsburgh.

During their first years in America, life was very hard for the Carnegies, even though their relatives tried to help them. Will begin to weave cloth as he had done at home, but fewer people wanted handmade cloth in Pittsburgh even than in Dunfermline. Mrs.Carnegie helped the family by making shoes. Andrew, when he was only twelve years old, began to work as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill. He worked from six in the morning until six at night, putting thread on the bobbins that were used on weaving machines. He earned 20 cents a day, or $1.20 a week.

Andrew was determined to become something better than a bobbin boy. He knew that he had to have money, but what he wanted more than money was the comfortable life for his parents that money could buy. He worked hard, and in a few months was given a new job at $1.65 a week. He was responsible for putting coal into the furnace that provided the steam power for the looms. Extra money was needed in the Carnegie home, but the work was hard and dangerous because the boiler might explode and kill him if he were not careful. His mother worried about him and wanted him to go to school like other boys. She knew that he had been a very good student in Scotland, particularly in arithmetic and handwriting.

In those days the telegraph was a new invention; lines were being built all over the country. Businessmen had begun to send telegrams instead of letters. Boys were needed, then, to take messages from the central telegraph office of Pittsburgh to business houses in the city. Andrew Carnegie became a messenger boy for $2.50 a week. This was very good pay for a boy of fourteen, which had been able to go to school for so short a time. Andrew worked hard, and soon he knew just where to find every business office in Pittsburgh. He was smaller than the other four messengers, but he was the fastest of all. Soon he was earning $3.00 a week.

When he was not running around town with messages, Andrew listened to the clicking of the telegraph machine. He soon learned to understand the Morse code — the arrangement of long and short sounds that Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, had made to represent the letters of the alphabet. Sometimes Andrew would send messages to operators in other cities, just to see how fast he could move the telegraph key. Finally, he studied well enough to become a telegraph operator, earning $25 a month. He was then sixteen years old. Now his mother was content. He would meet educated people, and he would be able to buy books.

Andrew loved to read. A generous citizen of Pittsburgh, Colonel Anderson, built a library for boys. Andrew borrowed books from this library, and later from Colonel Anderson himself. He wanted to learn all he could about American history, the telegraph, railroads, and the manufacture of iron.

In 1853 he met Thomas Scott, a young superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Carnegie said that he thought the railroads should have their own telegraph lines to direct the movements of their trains so that they could change routes and directions quickly when storms or any other difficulties made this necessary. Mr. Scott became very interested in his ideas. The railroad acted on Carnegie's suggestions and did build its own telegraph lines. Scott asked Andrew to operate the new telegraph and to be his assistant in the office. Andrew accepted. The pay was $35.00 a month and besides, it offered Andrew a wonderful opportunity to rise in the world.

In 1861, the American Civil War began. Railroads and telegraph lines were important to both armies, and both sides often sent raiders on horseback to capture telegraph stations. Thomas Scott was made the chief of the North's system of communication; his friend, Andrew Carnegie, worked with him. Carnegie was given the job of rebuilding destroyed railroad lines and telegraph poles leading to Washington. He was able to do this in a very short time. Later, he was given complete charge of all the North's telegraph lines, and he kept at work until the fighting was over.

Andrew was not able to go to school very much. He made up for his lack of education through energy, hard work, quickness and the courage to follow his own ideas. For example, he borrowed money and put it into the Woodruff Company, owners of the first patents for sleeping and dining cars on railroads. With the money he made from this investment, he bought land near Oil City, Pennsylvania, the first big oil field in the United States. Before almost anyone else knew it, he realized that wooden railroad bridges were old-fashioned. In 1862 he organized the Keystone Bridge Company to build the first iron bridge across the Ohio River.

Now, Andrew was able to take a trip to Scotland. He enjoyed seeing the home of so many childhood memories, but he also noticed new methods of making iron and steel. In London, Carnegie visited Henry Bessemer. He went to the workshop and saw the new converter that Bessemer had made. This new, round kettle could heat iron and carbon together and make five tons of good steel at one time.

Carnegie returned to the United States sure that steel could be used for many more things than knives, needles, and small parts of machinery. Why not make bridges, tracks for trains, and the foundations for buildings of steel? His partners in the iron business did not agree with him. They insisted that steel was too expensive to make, and was really no better than iron in any case. They did not want to change. Carnegie left them and joined a few men who were brave enough to put their money into something new. In 1873 he established the J. Edgar Thomas Steel Mill.

The new mill was a success from the start. In 16 years more steel was made in the United States than in England, where it had been made so much earlier. In 1888 Andrew Carnegie bought a controlling interest in a company almost as large as his, and in seven other steel mills near Pittsburgh. He joined all these different companies into the Carnegie Corporation. This organization included mines, steel mills, ships, and railroad lines to bring materials into Pittsburgh from all over the country and to take the finished steel out again. The Carnegie Corporation owned everything needed to make and distribute steel.

All during the 1890's Andrew Carnegie had talked of retiring from business. He had written in a magazine that all men should leave their work when they became sixty years old. In 1895 Carnegie was sixty; everyone wondered whether or not he would give up his powerful position. He did. In 1901 his company, valued at five hundred million dollars, was sold to the United States Steel Corporation, formed by the famous American banker, John Pierpont Morgan. Mr. Morgan then said that Carnegie was "the richest man in the world." He had come from $1.20 a week to this.

Now, here was his real task. What should he do with his money? Carnegie spent almost all of the twenty years left to him giving his wealth away. He believed that those who became rich should return what they did not need to society. He had said that a rich man "dies disgraced" if he does not use the ability he has shown in gathering money to give away his money for the public good during his own lifetime.

But what is the public good? Rich men receive hundreds of letters every day, asking for money. No man or organization can possibly give to everyone who demands it. Andrew Carnegie solved his problem with the same energy and exactness that he had shown in building his steel company. He remembered how much he had enjoyed the books he had read in Colonel Anderson's library so long ago. He began to use his money to build free public libraries. In 1919 it was said that his money had built almost 3,000 libraries, valued altogether at over sixty million dollars. Most of these were in the United States, but some of them were in Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and even as far away as the Fuji Islands.

A gift of four million dollars was made to Carnegie's hometown, Dunfermine, Scotland. It was used to build parks and playgrounds for the people of the town. Pittsburgh, where he had made his fortune, was given a music hall, a museum, an art gallery, and a public library.

Andrew Carnegie's public gifts, if we do not include personal charity and regular grants of money — mostly to old poets, scholars and writers of novels — amounted to almost three hundred and thirty million dollars. His most important single gift, one hundred and thirty-five million dollars, was made to the Carnegie Corporation of New York City, established in 1911 for the advancement and spread of knowledge. He also established the Carnegie Institution of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., the Carnegie Hero Fund, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advance-ment of Teaching, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

When war began in Europe in 1914, Andrew Carnegie was extremely worried. He had been working on a plan called the league for Peace. This was an organization whose purpose was to arrange an agreement among the most powerful nations in the world with a World Court and an international police force to keep the peace. He gave one million, five hundred thousand dollars to the Peace Palace at The Hague in the Netherlands. This building had a wonderful library of books on international law. But his hopes for international peace were disappointed by the beginning of World War I in 1914. He gave his home, Skibo Castle in Scotland, to the British Government for use as an army hospital, and sailed for the United States, where he lived until his death on August 11, 1919.

Andrew Carnegie received many honors during his life. He was Lord Rector of St Andrew's University and Aberdeen University in Scotland. He was given honorary degrees by many colleges and universities and was an honorary citizen of fifty-four cities. He did not die as happy as he might have, however, because his dreams of bringing peace to the world had failed. But he had helped to establish the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands. From this beginning developed the League of Nations and the present United Nations.

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  • 来源:外教社 2016-06-28