Jocelyn Ruiz Dr. CoffmanHIS 2366 07 (TR 11AM)20 January 2018The Steel SuperheroA Scottish immigrant in a new country, going from poor to a highly prosperous businessman, Andrew Carnegie became one of the most important historical figures of the United States. His journey began by taking out a loan, working and investing, learning about the economy and having experience with other businessmen, achieving wealth, and finally leaving behind that wealth in a way of philanthropy for the coming generations in his footsteps. But everything accomplished by him was not effortless in any way. While many worked for him and some alongside him, others were barely making enough money to put food on the table, just barely. Aspects of Carnegie’s story testified to the promise of the American dream in the late nineteenth century, while other aspects showed why the reality of the dream would be a harsh awakening to something that would be out of reach for the majority of American workers.Andrew Carnegie himself was in the same shoes as many other immigrants in America during his time period because his family background was not financially successful and he took the risk of taking out a loan that would make him one of the most rich business owners to this day (Livesay, 32). Anyone could have taken out a loan, sure, but not just anyone could have the same work ethic as Carnegie did in his time period given his family and monetary past,”In himself Carnegie knew kindness and cruelty, vanity and shame, generosity and greed, doubt and confidence. Somehow this added up to optimism about himself and his new country” (Livesay 30). At this point, Carnegie was very much like a hero sent to accomplish a mission. He had first hand experienced the economic struggle his parents went under before leaving for America, a country that had promising hopes and upheld success stories for those who strongly put in the effort necessary. Unfortunately in business, it’s not entirely what you know but who you know, and that happened to be the conditions that led Carnegie to his success. The Carnegie family came from Scotland and when they were beginning their lives in the new world, they immediately sought work to earn a living and this happened to be the same narrative for most of the European immigrants that were leaving their homes to come start a new journey full of prosper and wealth during the birth of America (Livesay, 16). As young Carnegie began to explore a job that was something other than simply labor in a factory, he took out a loan in order to be able to pursue his interest for business and investment opportunities in the telegraph industry, that would shortly after transform and morph into steel production and the railroad empire that conquered America (Livesay, 23). Now, this is a point in the story where his life is inconsistent with the American dream due to the abnormality of his hunger to not only work, but to work to be the absolute best. Simply because he was prosperous, it does not designate that his financial decisions were made out of greed. While the American Dream may differ from person to person, the ideal result is to be in a financially stable point enough to support yourself and your family. Andrew Carnegie can often be criticized for his views on industrialization because his success was due to the surplus and excessive amount of money that he made and ended up buying out every branch of the steel industry in order to eliminate competition (Livesay, 63). Carnegie himself identified his good fortune and ease in acquiring it as soon as he started seeing the results of his investments, “This first dividend check opened a new world. As Carnegie recalled in his Autobiography, ‘I shall remember that check as long as I live…. It gave me the first penny of revenue from capital- something that I had not worked for with the sweat of my brow” (52).While he remained hungry for more, he was looking at a bigger picture of building an empire for society, not solely personal economic gain. No one could possibly predict that the railroad industry would explode into the great success that it did and Carnegie was an opportunist that happened to be at the right place, at the right time. The railroad system brought efficiency and productivity to the country which was often in political and economic crisis due to the lack of a firm government and much less stable economy. With railroads, commerce heightened and the demand for products grew, which in turn grew the actual production of railroads themselves. The future of the country’s performance and transportation was all in Carnegie’s fingertips.Mr. Carnegie repaid his prosperity with the creation of many industrial based jobs and this is a great example of a paradox that frames his existence and journey of the American dream. Phrases like ‘robber barons” and “captains of industry” are often thrown around when successful business owners are being described. Which was Carnegie? The answer to this is actually that he fit both descriptions. While Carnegie used his status and wealth for good by leaving behind a fortune to the public and followed a more philanthropic route and even encouraged others to do the same in his published work, “Gospel of Wealth,” the ways of him earning his high levels of wealth was all in all just him taking advantage of workers with low wages and long work days because it was lawful and was common, “The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship” (FR 20). While his workers were simply trying to get by and support for their families, Andrew Carnegie was living out a fairly healthy model of “rags to riches.” Carnegie acknowledged that society at the time was following a strict ‘survival of the fittest’ mantra but this only allowed him to have more desire to remain successful and feed his ambitions. Seeing others battling in his new country led him to become a humanitarian and in return was very generous with the amount of his fortune that he left behind specifically for charities, libraries, universities, and just was determined to stir away from self-indulgence of his own prosperity and help the working Americans and immigrants new to America to have a chance at bettering themselves, while maybe not at the same level and version of his life narrative. Beyond any doubt, America to this day is still the birthplace of great success stories, but there will also always exist times of struggle among others living in the same place, simply because of their economic standings. In some cases, the American dream is simply taking advantage of a given opportunity, but in other perspectives it goes further and establish a security of economic wealth. Livesay highlighted the characteristics that were a part of Carnegie’s success while also recognizing the very real complications that immigrants and citizens of America have to go through in their lifetimes due to rankings established from very rich, to very poor. Carnegie worked hard for his money earned and was lucky to be in America at such a booming and revolutionizing time period and was individualized from other ‘villains,’ or businessmen, by the power of philanthropy and transformed it into a heroic figure for America.Works CitedLivesay, Harold C. Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business. Third ed., The Library of American Biography, 2007.Shi, David E., and Holly A. Mayer. “Gospel of Wealth.” Carnegie, Andrew. For the Record: A Documentary History of America, W.W. Norton & Co., 2013.