Mini Biography: Andrew Carnegie, Steel Magnate, Philanthropist

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Mini Biography of Andrew Carnegie

Name: Andrew Carnegie
Birth Date: November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919
Job Functions: Financier, Steel Magnate, Philanthropist
Fields: Steel, Financial Services
Mentor: Thomas A. Scott


Napoleon Hill who wrote the timeless classic, Think and Grow Rich, had nine men that he used as invisible mentors, one of which was Andrew Carnegie. For this month, every Wednesday, we will feature one of the nine invisible mentors. Hill studied these nine men very closely, and as a result, was able to anticipate how they would respond when he faced a problem. Get to know these nine men.Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie, the son of William Carnegie, a weaver, and Margaret Morrison Carnegie was born in Scotland in 1835. The family immigrated to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania to pursue a better life. In this mini biography of Andrew Carnegie, you will learn how he became a steel magnate. After he sold his company to US Steel Corporation, he spent $350 million on philanthropic endeavors.

Andrew Carnegie’s Steps to Success

  1. Although Andrew Carnegie had little formal education, his family believed in the importance of books and learning.
  2. At aged 13, worked as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill.
  3. He self-educated by reading voraciously and attending night school, where he learned double entry book-keeping.
  4. In 1849, became a telegraph messenger for the Pittsburgh telegraph office, and was subsequently promoted to the telegraph operator in 1851.
  5. At 18, in 1853, he was secretary and the personal telegrapher to Thomas A. Scott, superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Pittsburgh division.
  6. In 1859, when Scott was promoted to Vice President of the company, Carnegie was promoted to Superintendent.
  7. During the American Civil War, Thomas A. Scott was named Assistant Secretary of War in charge of transportation. Carnegie was tasked with organizing the military telegraph system.
  8. Worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad for 12 years which prepared him for the business ventures. His mentor, Thomas Scott taught him about financial investing.
  9. Invested in small iron mills and factories, the oil business, railroad sleeping car, and a bridge manufacturer. His entrepreneurial endeavors led him to England, where he sold the bonds of small United States railroads and bridge companies.
  10. While he was Superintendent of the railroad, he introduced the first successful sleeping car on American railroads.
  11. Aware of what was going on around him, Carnegie realized that steel was going to replace iron in the manufacture of rails, structural shapes, pipe, and wire, so in 1873, he founded J. Edgar Thomson steel rail company, which was subsequently launched into the Carnegie Steel Company in 1892 by combining all his assets.
  12. The company built the first steel plants in the United States.
  13. Carnegie was a shrewd businessman, undercutting prices, forcing his competitors out of the market. He reinvested his earnings into the company, and if he needed capital, he borrowed from local banks, never taking his company public.
  14. In five years, in 1878, the company was valued at $1.25 million.
  15. In 1880, he purchased majority shares in H. C. Frick Company. He made Henry Clay Frick his partner who subsequently became chairman of the Carnegie Company. Carnegie also relocated to New York City so that he could be close to the marketing centers for his steel products.
  16. Spent time planning new projects, finding ways to cut costs, and the improving the plants while Frick monitored mass-production programs to control prices.
  17. Carnegie married Louise Whitfield later in his life, in 1887, a year after his mother’s death.
  18. Started traveling more, spending six months each year in Scotland. In 1892, while away there was a strike at Homestead mill. The way Frick dealt with the dispute, and Carnegie’s inaction, tarnished the reputation the steel magnate had built and jeopardized the relationship he had with the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers.
  19. At age 65, Carnegie sold his company for $400 million to US Steel Corporation, headed by J P Morgan.

Biggest Accomplishments – Why Andrew Carnegie’s Contribution Matters

Andrew Carnegie donated $350 million toward the public good:

  1. Built 2,509 public libraries all over the English-speaking world.
  2. In 1895, the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh was opened. It housed an art gallery, a natural history museum, and a music hall.
  3. Built Carnegie Institute of Technology which became Carnegie Mellon University.
  4. Established the Carnegie Institution of Washington to encourage research in the natural and physical sciences.
  5. Built Carnegie Hall in New York City.
  6. Created the Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to provide pensions for university professors.
  7. Established the Endowment for International Peace to seek an end to war.
  8. Founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York. 

Lessons from Andrew Carnegie

  1. Give back to humanity to improve the well-being of the members. After he retired, Andrew Carnegie donated $350 million to various causes.
  2. Feed your mind. Carnegie was a voracious reader, and he formed relationships with intellectuals such as Mark Twain, English poet Matthew Arnold and philosopher Herbert Spence.
  3. Improve systems. Introduced sophisticated cost-accounting systems and kept detailed records of operations. Records enabled him to identify inefficiencies. He was able to lower production cost while increasing output.
  4. Control the production process: An early adopter of vertical integration. The raw materials came from his mills, which were turned into finished goods that were transported on his fleet of ships. 

Why would Andrew Carnegie make a good invisible mentor?

An invisible mentor is a unique leader that you can learn things from by observing them from a distance. Andrew Carnegie was always improving himself and his company. He had the ability to identify the events and activities that would transform his industry.


  1. Triumphant Democracy (1886)
  2. The Gospel of Wealth Essays and Other Writings (Penguin Classics) (1889)
  3. An American Four-In-Hand in Britain (1883)
  4. Round the World. (1884)
  5. The Empire of Business (1902)
  6. The Secret of Business is the Management of Men (1903)
  7. James Watt (1905)
  8. Problems of To-Day Wealth-Labor-Socialism(1907) 

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Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

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Works Referenced/Cited:

Encyclopedia of World Biography
UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography
Science and its Times
Gale Encyclopedia of US Economic History
Dictionary of American History
Industrial Revolution Reference Library