Last Updated 11 Nov 2022

Were the Actions of Andrew Carnegie Heroic

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In the middle of the 1800s, immigration into the United States began to rise exponentially. People from all over the world came to America to start a new life and to become somebody. Andrew Carnegie, one of these numerous immigrants, grew from a poor bobbin boy into an extremely wealthy man, when he started investing in the steel industry. Carnegie's multibillion dollar steel corporation made him the wealthiest man during that time period, and it took a lot of hard work and sacrifices-not necessarily from him—to make it big. Even though from Andrew Carnegie's perspective what he did might look heroic, Carnegie could not be considered a hero one hundred percent of the time. He purposefully sabotaged his competition and made his workers' job dangerous and difficult.

First of all, in order to make it in the steel business Carnegie had to be extra careful with how much production of the steel cost. If he did not make sure that the selling price stayed higher than the production price, then, instead of making a profit, he would just lose money. Then, when the price of production became low enough, Carnegie could just sell more steel and make more money. Even though this process raised the steel production in America and in other countries, it had negative attributes that came with it. In order for Carnegie to lower the cost of steel production and help his monopoly grow, he had to eliminate competition and buy out all the companies that help the process. In 1889, the Allegheny Bessemer Steel Company competed against Carnegie's company, the J. Edgar Thompson Works, for more consumers and therefore more profit. The Allegheny Company had just come out with a new steel making technique that became both affordable and efficient, called "the direct rolling process." Carnegie, feeling threatened by this new process, hatched a plan to slander the Allegheny Company's name and new process. Soon, since Carnegie had much influence and many resources, his competitor company's sales dropped drastically. Coming in as a “hero,” Carnegie purchased the company and stole their method for his own company. This shows how Social Darwinism during that time period flourished, especially in monopolies such as Carnegie's, because Carnegie used devious means to do anything to "survive."

Also, when Andrew Carnegie started his steel business, he paid other companies to help produce and transport it. Since he did not own these companies, he could not control how much they charged him to transport his materials. This price made it harder for Carnegie to make the steady profit he strived for. So he purchased all of the companies that supported the steel making

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Association ($1,000,000), Dunfermline Trust ($4,000,000), and Teacher's Pension Fund ($15,000,000). In all, Carnegie donated a total of $350,695,653 to different organizations. These contributions helped make Carnegie seem heroic, if one disregards all the other villainous deeds Carnegie committed.

In conclusion, if life compared to a game of Monopoly, then Andrew Carnegie definitely

would have won in no time at all. But instead of playing fairly, he would have tricked the other

players into selling him their property while only paying them half the price; the whole time saying "And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for

the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.” P

rocess, including many mills, Messabi Iron ore fields, ore boats, the ports, and the Frick Coke fields. Through these procurements Carnegie created the process of Vertical Integration. Since he then owned all of the companies used to make steel, Carnegie authorized how much money it cost to make steel and raise the price of steel itself to make more profit. This has a negative impact, because even though Carnegie made more money, consumers had to pay higher prices since Carnegie controlled the steel industry.

Another example of why Carnegie could be considered more villainous than heroic is because of how he treated his workers. Since his company became a huge success, he needed a very large amount of workers to make production happen. One would think that because Carnegie made approximately $92,000 dollars a day, his workers would have a considerable paycheck. Think again. During 1892, at the peak of his steel company's success, Carnegie paid his workers an average of $1.81 a day. While it rose above the average industrial worker's wage, they had to work more than ten hours a day. Six or more people made up the average family in that time period, and in order to feed the whole family, the father had to work seven days a week. But even then, working everyday for half the day, the family would not have enough money to survive. In order to compensate, the father had to work longer hours, so the children did not have to work too. Not only did the company pay the workers exceedingly low wages, but the working conditions became dangerous and even deadly. Much evidence exists showing the working environment for the steel workers, including one from the Homestead mill. Often people called the mill "the deathtrap" because of all the danger included. In a magazine article describing the conditions of the Homestead steel mill in Pittsburgh, workers said that it could be compared to "the mouth of hell.” All of this happened while Carnegie made more and more money off of the worker's pain, spending it on things like a castle in Scotland.

Finally, although Carnegie made bad decisions while building his monopoly, he had his redeeming qualities. Carnegie's moral that he stuck to during his climb to the top of the business ladder remained that he would donate all of the money that he made so he did not have any left over for his children, when he died. This thought could be considered heroic, because he wanted his children to work as hard as he did to achieve their goals, instead of being born into a wealthy lifestyle; for he believed that being born wealthy made one indolent and spoiled. Also, he donated a good portion of his money that he made to a plethora of charities and organizations. Some examples of places he gave money to include the Teachers' Insurance & Annuity

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