Richest Man in the World, a PBS video published in 1999, was about the life of Andrew Carnegie. The video talks about everything from his childhood to his rise to power and wealth, to his ventures in philanthropy. It presents a balanced view of the man, portraying him in both positive and negative ways.
Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland in the year 1835. His father owned several handlooms and made a good living from his weaving early on. The industrial revolution brought the power loom and put Andrew’s father out of business. For a time, Andrew’s mother provided for the family. She organized the family to move to Pittsburgh in 1848, where they would try to start again. Andrew Carnegie’s family began its life in Pittsburgh in a shantytown. After only five years of education, at age thirteen, Andrew took a job working twelve hours a day stoking boilers. He hated the job. It gave him nightmares. Soon he found a job working for a telegraph office. Then, in 1853 Andrew found work at the Pennsylvania Railroad under Thomas A. Scott. Andrew and Mr. Scott developed a sort of father/son relationship. Once Mr. Scott was out of the office when an emergency took place. A freight train had stopped on the tracks and was blocking the way. Andrew handled the situation by signing Thomas A. Scott’s initials to an order to push the cars out of the way and burn them. The incident brought to Mr. Scott’s attention how useful “his boy Andy,” was. The two invested in several business ventures together and were friends for years. Then when Scott was in financial trouble, Carnegie refused him help. In 1861 Carnegie founded The Freedom Iron Company. The company industrialized the process of making steel, which had been made by craftsmen called puddlers. Carnegie could use his Bessemer converters at his Edgar Thomson Works to make large amounts of steel more quickly and at lower costs than the puddlers ever could. He demanded long hours at low wages from his employees, but he inspired a rivalry between them over which work crew would be the most productive each week. The crew that won was allowed to hang a steel broom over their worksite for the next week. This sense of competition and his good relations with the workers allowed Carnegie to get the most out of laborers. Andrew Carnegie’s mother lived with him through his long bachelorhood, which probably hampered his courtship of the young Louise Whitfield. Carnegie courted her for several years before they married. When strikes in the town of Homestead left the factory there for sale Carnegie bought it. Carnegie brought Henry Clay Frick in as his partner because Frick could supply...