Doran Ford Exam 2 Video Essay Carnegie Video 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 handloom's 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 puddles. 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 puddles 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 work site 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 him with coke, an ingredient in making steel. Carnegie began taking long vacations back to Scotland and leaving Frick in charge. Though he wrote essays in support of labor and its rights, Andrew was tough on labor himself.
During a long vacation in 1892 during which Frick was in charge of Homestead a strike broke into a battle between hired guns and factory workers. The battle left twelve dead and many more injured. Rioters seized the plant until the state militia was brought in to clear them out. Frick and Carnegie grew to dislike each other after that.
In 1901 Carnegie sold his company to J.P. Morgan for 480 million dollars. Carnegie spent his retirement writing an autobiography and in philanthropic efforts. He donated libraries to communities all over. He tried to use his influence to help keep world peace.
When Theodore Roosevelt was planning a trip to Africa on a safari, Andrew Carnegie offered to pay for the vacation if Roosevelt would visit Kaiser Wilhelm on the return trip. In the year 1919 Andrew Carnegie died at Shadow brook and was buried in Lenox, Massachusetts. The video is edited so that it brings out both the best and the worst in Andrew Carnegie. It does a good job of presenting both sides of a few aspects of his life.
The introduction begins to point out how he was divided over how to deal with money when the historian Joseph F. Wall quotes Carnegie as having said of philanthropy, "and besides, it provides a refuge from self questioning". The quote sums up the division Carnegie felt between his mother's and his father's influence. The video highlights the differences in his parents over and over as it portrays his mother as being somewhat greedy both for money and for the company of her son. His father is contrasted as being an idealist who may not have approved of Andrew's harsh treatment of workers. The video sets up another conflict of interest in Carnegie's life occurring between his treatment of labor and his essays.
He wrote essays championing labor and supporting it's writes and then turned around and crushed the steel industry's biggest union. The editors of the video chose to include details of Carnegie's relationship with Thomas. A. Scott which show that Carnegie would put good business above one of his closest friendships. Even Carnegie's philanthropy was questioned as if it might be wholly out of self interest by that quote about "refuge from self questioning". The video inspires admiration for Carnegie's business skill while at the same time questioning the morality of how he became so rich and presenting a sad view of his personal life. The contrasts between success and the occasional unhappiness made the video interesting and kept it from seeming too one sided.