There is nothing to running a business by custom – to saying: „I pay the going rate of wages.” The same man would not so easily say: „I have nothing better or cheaper to sell than any one has.” No manufacturer in his right mind would contend that buying only the cheapest materials is the way to make certain of manufacturing the best article. Then why do we hear so much talk about the „liquidation of labour” and the benefits
The employer has to live by the year. The workman has to live by the year. But both of them, as a rule, work by the week. They get an order or a job when they can and at the price they can. During what is called a prosperous time, orders and jobs are plentiful. During a „dull” season they are scarce. Business is always either feasting or fasting and is always either „good” or „bad.” Although there is never a time when everyone read more
No one will deny that if prices are sufficiently low, buyers will always be found, no matter what are supposed to be the business conditions. That is one of the elemental facts of business. Sometimes raw materials will not move, no matter how low the price. We have seen something of that during the last year, but that is because the manufacturers and the distributors were trying to dispose of high-cost stocks before making new engagements. The markets were stagnant, read more
The primary object of a manufacturing business is to produce, and if that objective is always kept, finance becomes a wholly secondary matter that has largely to do with bookkeeping. My own financial operations have been very simple. I started with the policy of buying and selling for cash, keeping a large fund of cash always on hand, taking full advantage of all discounts, and collecting interest on bank balances. I regard a bank principally as a place in which read more
In December, 1920, business the country over was marking time. More automobile plants were closed than were open and quite a number of those which were closed were completely in the charge of bankers. Rumours of bad financial condition were afloat concerning nearly every industrial company, and I became interested when the reports persisted that the Ford Motor Company not only needed money but could not get it. I have become accustomed to all kinds of rumours about read more
Poverty springs from a number of sources, the more important of which are controllable. So does special privilege. I think it is entirely feasible to abolish both poverty and special privilege – and there can be no question but that their abolition is desirable. Both are unnatural, but it is work, not law, to which we must look for results.
By poverty I mean the lack of reasonably sufficient food, housing, and clothing for an individual or a family. There will read more
It is not generally known that our tractor, which we call the „Fordson,” was put into production about a year before we had intended, because of the Allies’ war-time food emergency, and that all of our early production (aside, of course, from the trial and experimental machines) went directly to England. We sent in all five thousand tractors across the sea in the critical 1917-18 period when the submarines were busiest. Every one of them arrived safely, read more
Why should there by any necessity for almsgiving in a civilized community? It is not the charitable mind to which I object. Heaven forbid that we should ever grow cold toward a fellow creature in need. Human sympathy is too fine for the cool, calculating attitude to take its place. One can name very few great advances that did not have human sympathy behind them. It is in order to help people that every notable service is undertaken.
The trouble is that we have been read more
Nothing in this country furnishes a better example of how a business may be turned from its function of service than do the railroads. We have a railroad problem, and much learned thought and discussion have been devoted to the solution of that problem. Everyone is dissatisfied with the railways. The public is dissatisfied because both the passenger and freight rates are too high. The railroad employees are dissatisfied because they say their wages are too low and read more
No man exceeds Thomas A. Edison in broad vision and understanding. I met him first many years ago when I was with the Detroit Edison Company – probably about 1887 or thereabouts. The electrical men held a convention at Atlantic City, and Edison, as the leader in electrical science, made an address. I was then working on my gasoline engine, and most people, including all of my associates in the electrical company, had taken pains to tell me that time spent read more
Perhaps no word is more overworked nowadays than the word „democracy,” and those who shout loudest about it, I think, as a rule, want it least. I am always suspicious of men who speak glibly of democracy. I wonder if they want to set up some kind of a despotism or if they want to have somebody do for them what they ought to do for themselves. I am for the kind of democracy that gives to each an equal chance according to his ability. I think if we give read more
We are – unless I do not read the signs aright – in the midst of a change. It is going on all about us, slowly and scarcely observed, but with a firm surety. We are gradually learning to relate cause and effect. A great deal of that which we call disturbance – a great deal of the upset in what have seemed to be established institutions – is really but the surface indication of something approaching a regeneration. The public point of view read more
It is popularly supposed that a greater prosperity for individuals or nations can only come through a political and social reconstruction. This cannot be true apart from the practice of the moral virtues in the individuals that comprise a nation. Better laws and social conditions will always follow a higher realisation of morality among the individuals of a community, but no legal enactment can give prosperity to, nay it cannot prevent the ruin of, a man or a nation that has become lax and decadent read more
Prosperity rests upon a moral foundation. It is popularly supposed to rest upon an immoral foundation – that is, upon trickery, sharp practice, deception and greed. One commonly hears even an otherwise intelligent man declare that “No man can be successful in business unless he is dishonest,” thus regarding business prosperity – a good thing – as the effect of dishonesty – a bad thing. Such a statement is superficial and thoughtless, and reveals a total lack of knowledge of moral read more
Energy is the working power in all achievement. Inert coal it converts into fire, and water it transmutes into steam; it vivifies and intensifies the commonest talent until it approaches to genius, and when it touches the mind of the dullard, it turns into a living fire that which before was sleeping in inertia.
Energy is a moral virtue, its opposing vice being laziness. As a virtue, it can be cultivated, and the lazy man can become energetic by forcibly arousing himself to exertion. Compared with read more
It is said of Nature that she knows on vacuum. She also knows no waste. In the divine economy my Nature everything is conserved and turned to good account. Even excreta are chemically transmitted, and utilized in the building up of new forms. Nature destroys every foulness, not by annihilation, but by transmutation, by sweetening and purifying it, and making it serve the ends of things beautiful, useful and good.
That economy which, in nature is a universal principle, is in man a moral quality read more
There is no striking a cheap bargain with prosperity. It must be purchased, not only with intelligent labor, but with moral force. as the bubble cannot endure, so the fraud cannot prosper. He makes a feverish spurt in the acquirement of money, and then collapses. Nothing is ever gained, ever can be gained, by fraud. It is but wrested for a time, to be again returned with heavy interest. But fraud is not confined to the unscrupulous swindler. All who are getting, or trying to get, money without read more
System is that principle of order by which confusion is rendered impossible. In the natural and universal order everything is in its place, so that the vast universe runs more perfectly than the most perfect machine. Disorder in space would mean the destruction of the universe; and disorder in a man’s affairs destroys his work and his prosperity.
All complex organizations are built up by system. No business or society can develop into large dimensions apart from system, and this principle is read more
The remaining pillars are the four central pillars in the Temple of Prosperity. They gave it greater strength and stability, and add both to its beauty and utility. They contribute greatly to its attractiveness, for they belong to the highest moral sphere, and therefore to great beauty and nobility of character. They, indeed, make a man great, and place him among the comparatively few whose minds are rare, and that shine apart in sparkling purity and bright intelligence.
Sympathy should not be read more
Human society is held together by its sincerity. A universal falseness would beget a universal mistrust which would bring about a universal separation, if not destruction. Life is made sane, wholesome, and happy, by our deep rooted belief in one another. If we did not trust men, we could not transact business with them, could not even associate with them. Shakespeare’s “Timon” shows us the wretched condition of a man who, through his own folly, has lost all faith in the sincerity of human read more
To get rid of prejudice is a great achievement. Prejudices piles obstacles in a man’s way – obstacles to health, success, happiness, and prosperity, so that he is continually running up against imaginary enemies, who, when prejudice is removed, are seen to be friend. Life, indeed, a sort of obstacle race to the man of prejudice, a race wherein the obstacles cannot be negotiated and the goal is not reached; whereas to the impartial man life is a day’s walk in a pleasant country, with refreshment read more
Every young man ought to read Emerson’s essay on ‘Self Reliance’. It is the manliest, most virile essay that was ever penned. It is calculated to cure alike those two mental maladies common to youth, namely, self depreciation and self conceit. It is almost as sure to reveal to the prig the smallness and emptiness of his vanity, as it is to show the bashful man the weakness and ineffectuality of his dividence. It is a new revelation of manly dignity; as much a revelation as any that was vouchsafed read more
The reader who has followed the course of this book with a view to obtaining information on the details of money making, business transactions, profit and loss in various undertakings, prices, markets, agreements, contracts, and other matters connected with the achievement of prosperity, will have noted an entire absence of any instruction on these matters of detail. The reason for this is fourfold, namely:-
First. Details cannot stand alone, but are powerless to build up anything unless intelligently read more
If the story of any man’s life, truly told, must be interesting, as some sage avers, those of my relatives and immediate friends who have insisted upon having an account of mine may not be unduly disappointed with this result. I may console myself with the assurance that such a story must interest at least a certain number of people who have known me, and that knowledge will encourage me to proceed.
A book of this kind, written years ago by my friend, Judge read more
My good Uncle Lauder justly set great value upon recitation in education, and many were the pennies which Dod and I received for this. In our little frocks or shirts, our sleeves rolled up, paper helmets and blackened faces, with laths for swords, my cousin and myself were kept constantly reciting Norval and Glenalvon, Roderick Dhu and James Fitz-James to our schoolmates and often to the older people.
I remember distinctly that in the celebrated dialogue between read more
The great question now was, what could be found for me to do. I had just completed my thirteenth year, and I fairly panted to get to work that I might help the family to a start in the new land. The prospect of want had become to me a frightful nightmare. My thoughts at this period centered in the determination that we should make and save enough of money to produce three hundred dollars a year – twenty-five dollars monthly, which I figured was the sum required read more
With all their pleasures the messenger boys were hard worked. Every other evening they were required to be on duty until the office closed, and on these nights it was seldom that I reached home before eleven o’clock. On the alternating nights we were relieved at six. This did not leave much time for self-improvement, nor did the wants of the family leave any money to spend on books. There came, however, like a blessing from above, a means by which the read more
I had served as messenger about a year, when Colonel John P. Glass, the manager of the downstairs office, who came in contact with the public, began selecting me occasionally to watch the office for a few minutes during his absence. As Mr. Glass was a highly popular man, and had political aspirations, these periods of absence became longer and more frequent, so that I soon became an adept in his branch of the work. I received messages from the public and saw that read more
From the operating-room of the telegraph office I had now stepped into the open world, and the change at first was far from agreeable. I had just reached my eighteenth birthday, and I do not see how it could be possible for any boy to arrive at that age much freer from a knowledge of anything but what was pure and good. I do not believe, up to that time, I had ever spoken a bad word in my life and seldom heard one. I knew nothing of the base and the vile. Fortunately read more
Mr. Scott was promoted to be the general superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1856, taking Mr. Lombaert’s place; and he took me, then in my twenty-third year, with him to Altoona. This breaking-up of associations in Pittsburgh was a sore trial, but nothing could be allowed to interfere for a moment with my business career. My mother was satisfied upon this point, great as the strain was upon her. Besides, „follow my leader” was due to read more
In 1861 the Civil War broke out and I was at once summoned to Washington by Mr. Scott, who had been appointed Assistant Secretary of War in charge of the Transportation Department. I was to act as his assistant in charge of the military railroads and telegraphs of the Government and to organize a force of railway men. It was one of the most important departments of all at the beginning of the war.
The first regiments of Union troops passing through Baltimore had read more
During the Civil War the price of iron went up to something like $130 per ton. Even at that figure it was not so much a question of money as of delivery. The railway lines of America were fast becoming dangerous for want of new rails, and this state of affairs led me to organize in 1864 a rail-making concern at Pittsburgh. There was no difficulty in obtaining partners and capital, and the Superior Rail Mill and Blast Furnaces were built.
In like manner the demand read more
The Keystone Works have always been my pet as being the parent of all the other works. But they had not been long in existence before the advantage of wrought- over cast-iron became manifest. Accordingly, to insure uniform quality, and also to make certain shapes which were not then to be obtained, we determined to embark in the manufacture of iron. My brother and I became interested with Thomas N. Miller, Henry Phipps, and Andrew Kloman in a small iron mill. Miller read more
Our business continued to expand and required frequent visits on my part to the East, especially to New York, which is as London to Britain – the headquarters of all really important enterprises in America. No large concern could very well get on without being represented there. My brother and Mr. Phipps had full grasp of the business at Pittsburgh. My field appeared to be to direct the general policy of the companies and negotiate the important contracts.
My read more
Complete success attended a negotiation which I conducted about this time for Colonel William Phillips, president of the Allegheny Valley Railway at Pittsburgh. One day the Colonel entered my New York office and told me that he needed money badly, but that he could get no house in America to entertain the idea of purchasing five millions of bonds of his company although they were to be guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. The old gentleman felt sure read more
Looking back to-day it seems incredible that only forty years ago (1870) chemistry in the United States was an almost unknown agent in connection with the manufacture of pig iron. It was the agency, above all others, most needful in the manufacture of iron and steel. The blast-furnace manager of that day was usually a rude bully, generally a foreigner, who in addition to his other acquirements was able to knock down a man now and then as a lesson to the other unruly read more
When Mr. Kloman had severed his connection with us there was no hesitation in placing William Borntraeger in charge of the mills. It has always been with especial pleasure that I have pointed to the career of William. He came direct from Germany – a young man who could not speak English, but being distantly connected with Mr. Kloman was employed in the mills, at first in a minor capacity. He promptly learned English and became a shipping clerk at six dollars read more
The Freedom of my native town (Dunfermline) was conferred upon me July 12, 1877, the first Freedom and the greatest honor I ever received. I was overwhelmed. Only two signatures upon the roll came between mine and Sir Walter Scott’s, who had been made a Burgess. My parents had seen him one day sketching Dunfermline Abbey and often told me about his appearance. My speech in reply to the Freedom was the subject of much concern. I spoke to my Uncle Bailie Morrison, read more
The one vital lesson in iron and steel that I learned in Britain was the necessity for owning raw materials and finishing the completed article ready for its purpose. Having solved the steel-rail problem at the Edgar Thomson Works, we soon proceeded to the next step. The difficulties and uncertainties of obtaining regular supplies of pig iron compelled us to begin the erection of blast furnaces. Three of these were built, one, however, being a reconstructed blast read more
While upon the subject of our manufacturing interests, I may record that on July 1, 1892, during my absence in the Highlands of Scotland, there occurred the one really serious quarrel with our workmen in our whole history. For twenty-six years I had been actively in charge of the relations between ourselves and our men, and it was the pride of my life to think how delightfully satisfactory these had been and were. I hope I fully deserved what my chief partner, Mr. read more
I should like to record here some of the labor disputes I have had to deal with, as these may point a moral to both capital and labor.
The workers at the blast furnaces in our steel-rail works once sent in a „round-robin” stating that unless the firm gave them an advance of wages by Monday afternoon at four o’clock they would leave the furnaces. Now, the scale upon which these men had agreed to work did not lapse until the end of the year, several read more
After my book, „The Gospel of Wealth,” was published, it was inevitable that I should live up to its teachings by ceasing to struggle for more wealth. I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution. Our profits had reached forty millions of dollars per year and the prospect of increased earnings before us was amazing. Our successors, the United States Steel Corporation, soon after the read more
The fifteen-million-dollar pension fund for aged university professors (The Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Learning), the fourth important gift, given in June, 1905, required the selection of twenty-five trustees from among the presidents of educational institutions in the United States. When twenty-four of these – President Harper, of Chicago University, being absent through illness – honored me by meeting at our house for organization, I read more
Peace, at least as between English-speaking peoples, must have been early in my thoughts. In 1869, when Britain launched the monster Monarch, then the largest warship known, there was, for some now-forgotten reason, talk of how she could easily compel tribute from our American cities one after the other. Nothing could resist her. I cabled John Bright, then in the British Cabinet (the cable had recently been opened):
The most charming man, John Morley and I agree, that we ever knew was Matthew Arnold. He had, indeed, „a charm” – that is the only word which expresses the effect of his presence and his conversation. Even his look and grave silences charmed.
He coached with us in 1880, I think, through Southern England – William Black and Edwin A. read more
In London, Lord Rosebery, then in Gladstone’s Cabinet and a rising statesman, was good enough to invite me to dine with him to meet Mr. Gladstone, and I am indebted to him for meeting the world’s first citizen. This was, I think, in 1885, for my „Triumphant Democracy” appeared in 1886, and I remember giving Mr. Gladstone, upon that occasion, some startling figures which I had prepared for it.
Mr. Gladstone paid my „American Four-in-Hand in Britain” quite a compliment when Mrs. Carnegie and I were his guests at Hawarden in April, 1892. He suggested one day that I should spend the morning with him in his new library, while he arranged his books (which no one except himself was ever allowed to touch), and we could converse. In prowling about the shelves I found a unique volume and called out to my host, then on top of a library ladder far from me handling heavy volumes:
Herbert Spencer, with his friend Mr. Lott and myself, were fellow travelers on the Servia from Liverpool to New York in 1882. I bore a note of introduction to him from Mr. Morley, but I had met the philosopher in London before that. I was one of his disciples. As an older traveler, I took Mr. Lott and him in charge. We sat at the same table during the voyage.
One read more
While one is known by the company he keeps, it is equally true that one is known by the stories he tells. Mr. Blaine was one of the best story-tellers I ever met. His was a bright sunny nature with a witty, pointed story for every occasion.
Mr. Blaine’s address at Yorktown (I had accompanied him there) was greatly admired. It directed special attention read more
President Harrison had been a soldier and as President was a little disposed to fight. His attitude gave some of his friends concern. He was opposed to arbitrating the Behring Sea question when Lord Salisbury, at the dictation of Canada, had to repudiate the Blaine agreement for its settlement, and was disposed to proceed to extreme measures. But calmer counsels prevailed. He was determined also to uphold the Force Bill against the South.