The Inside History of the Carnegie Steel Company

The Inside History of the Carnegie Steel Company: A Romance of Millions

JAMES HOWARD BRIDGE
Introduction by John N. Ingham
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 432
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjrwc
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  • Book Info
    The Inside History of the Carnegie Steel Company
    Book Description:

    "For years I have been convinced that there is not an honest bone in your body. Now I know that you are a god-damned thief," Henry Clay Frick reportedly told Andrew Carnegie at their last meeting in 1900, just before J. P. Morgan bought the Carnegie Steel Company and founded United States Steel.Three years later, James Bridge, who had served as Carnegie's personal secretary, published this book. In it he recounted the events that led up to the final confrontation between two of America's most powerful capitalists. The book created a sensation when it appeared in 1903. Not only did it describe the raw emotions of Carnegie and Frick, those most brilliant and uneasy of business partners, it also told of the history and inner workings of the industrial giant, Carnegie Steel.Bridge was an open partisan of Frick, and the portrait of Carnegie that emerges from this book is not flattering. But he was an experienced journalist, and he uses sources carefully. His book remains a striking insider's narrative of the American steel industry in the last decades of the nineteenth century-as well as the most revealing account of the emotions of some of its major owners.The introduction by John Ingram places the book in perspective for both the historian and general reader.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-9057-4
    Subjects: History, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. ix-xxx)
    JOHN N. INGHAM

    The Inside History of the Carnegie Steel Companycreated a sensation when it was published in 1903. Theodore Roosevelt was president, “trusts” were a national concern, and the Progressive Era was just beginning its reign of reform consciousness. This book, with its focus on a giant corporation, and on the machinations of “robber barons,” fit into the muckraking mold of so much of the literature of that time. Its image was enhanced by the fact that the author had served for five years as literary assistant to Andrew Carnegie, helping the latter writeTriumphant Democracy.This connection, along with the...

  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xxxi-xxxiv)
  5. AUTHOR’S NOTE TO THE THIRD EDITION
    (pp. xxxv-xxxviii)
  6. CHAPTER I THE HUMBLE BEGINNING
    (pp. 1-12)

    IN 1858 a small forge was started at Girty’s Run in Millvale, Duquesne Borough, now a part of Allegheny. It stood on the edge of the straggling village, and a muddy road ran past it along the river-bank. Judged by modern standards it was an insignificant affair, with a little engine and a wooden trip-hammer—that first cumbrous mechanical substitute for the sledge-hammer. The building was a light wooden construction, about a hundred feet long and seventy wide; but even in these narrow limits the scanty machinery seemed at first lost. It had been brought from the basement of a...

  7. CHAPTER II “A MOST HAZARDOUS ENTERPRISE”
    (pp. 13-24)

    ANDREW CARNEGIE was born in a little tile-roofed cottage in Moodie Street, Dunfermline, Scotland, on November 25th, 1835. His father was a weaver of fine damasks, taking the weft and warp from merchants and working them up on his own loom at home. The introduction of steam-looms and the extension of the factory system to the linen trade put Carnegie and other hand-weavers out of work; and in 1848 he migrated to America with his wife and two sons. Making their way to Pittsburg, where they had relatives, Carnegie found work in the old Blackstock cotton-mill on Robinson Street, Allegheny...

  8. CHAPTER III EARLY STRUGGLES AND SUCCESSES
    (pp. 25-38)

    THE war of the rebellion was drawing to a close when the consolidation of the two mills took place. At once the demand for government supplies ceased; and it became necessary not only to find new markets, but to make other kinds of goods than the Kloman mill had been producing. This was no easy matter; and the difficulty was increased by the need for finding an outlet for the products of the new mill. Mr. Phipps says that business runs wonderfully easily when it gets in a groove. But in the beginning there are no grooves; and the paths...

  9. CHAPTER IV IRON RAILWAY BRIDGES
    (pp. 39-53)

    THE Keystone Bridge Company, to which reference has been made, was formed on April 25th, 1865, with a capital of $300,000. The list of organizers included the names of Aaron G. Shiffler, J. L. Piper, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Katte, and James Stewart. Its purpose, as stated in its prospectus, was “the prosecution on an extensive scale” of the business of manufacturing and erecting patent iron bridges" for railways, canals, common roads, streets, &c., &c. Also wire suspension bridges, ornamental bridges for parks and cities, pivot and draw bridges for roads, canals and railways, . . . built according to plans...

  10. CHAPTER V A RIVALRY OF GREAT FURNACES
    (pp. 54-70)

    THE Civil War, and the great demand for iron which a year or two later followed it, gave a great impulse to the chief industry of Pittsburg; and during the years 1866 to 1870 many schemes were laid to meet the great local demand for pig-iron. Up to that time the lack of are at convenient distances had handicapped the smelting industry; but when organized transportation made the ores of Lake Superior accessible, a more promising aspect was given to schemes for smelting iron in Pittsburg on a large scale.

    In the fall of 1870 two of these projects assumed...

  11. CHAPTER VI BEGINNINGS AND GROWTH OF THE STEEL BUSINESS
    (pp. 71-93)

    MANY accounts of the beginnings of the Carnegie Bessemer steel business have appeared from time to time in magazines and other periodicals, some unwittingly fanciful, others obviously unfair, and most of them contradictory. Indeed, so far as the author knows, the actual facts concerning this important event have never been correctly set forth in any of the numerous historical sketches of the enterprise which have been written, nor in the many published biographical notices of the men associated with it. Even the more carefully compiled books which occasionally have been published on the subject have contained more romance than fact....

  12. CHAPTER VII SOME INSIDE FINANCIAL HISTORY
    (pp. 94-116)

    THE striking achievements just set forth formed a legitimate source of pride and exultation in the firm; and the gratification of every member was increased by the wondering comments of the trade and the public, whose attention was invited to these mechanical victories by officially verified newspaper notices and by papers and speeches before the iron and steel associations in England and America. Braddock became the Mecca of iron and steel manufacturers from all over the world.

    On the subject of profits there was naturally no disposition to take the public into the confidence of the firm. The protection of...

  13. CHAPTER VIII QUARRELS AND EJECTURES
    (pp. 117-135)

    DESPITE this great and uninterrupted good fortune, the internal discord in which all the Carnegie enterprises were born and brought up continued without abatement, and wrought many changes in the personnel of the organization. Ranking with other evolutionary factors in the development of the business, and more influential than any in stamping it with the Carnegie personality, these disagreements are deserving of a more than passing reference.

    At the organization of the steel company, Andrew Carnegie’s interest was one-third of the whole; but it appears from a printed statement of Mr. Shinn that he early developed “a sentimental desire to...

  14. CHAPTER IX A GLANCE AT PROCESSES
    (pp. 136-149)

    AT this point a brief description of the processes of iron and steel making is necessary in order that readers unfamiliar with these arts may intelligently follow the course of this narrative. While it is not possible that such a rough outline can convey more than a hint of the wonderful transformations involved in modern methods of iron and steel manufacture, it may nevertheless help the reader to appreciate the nature of the great industrial evolution we are tracing.

    There is not a State in the American Union in which ironstone is not found. Indeed, one may say there is...

  15. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  16. CHAPTER X THE RISE AND GROWTH OF HOMESTEAD
    (pp. 150-166)

    AMITY HOMESTEAD was the name given by John McClure four generations ago to a quaint country seat which he built in the bend of the Monongahela a mile or so below Braddock’s crossing, and ten miles from Pittsburg. He is said to have been a fox-hunting Presbyterian, with all the rigorous rectitude, blunt virtues, and frank hospitality which this implies. Thus planting the traditions of the old home in a new environment, he passed the picturesque place on to his son John, and through him to his grandson Aldiel. In 1872 the latter sold one hundred and thirteen acres to...

  17. CHAPTER XI THE INCOMING OF HENRY CLAY FRICK
    (pp. 167-173)

    IN 1882, the iron and steel business whose growth we are tracing may be said to have attained its majority. Just twenty-one years had elapsed since the building of the Kloman mill at Twenty-ninth Street, when the infant industry emerged from the embryonic state of Girty’s Run. Thanks to skilful nursing, it had passed easily through the dangers and diseases of childhood; and under the stimulating pabulum of a high tariff it had waxed big and lusty beyond all precedent. Like most overgrown things, however, it was ill-proportioned and awkward. There was an uncertainty about its movements which showed that...

  18. CHAPTER XII THE CAPTURE OF THE DUQUESNE STEEL WORKS
    (pp. 174-183)

    MR. FRICK’S first great achievement after assuming the leadership of Carnegie Brothers & Co. was the capture of the rival steel works at Duquesne, on the Monongahela River, a short distance above Homestead and Braddock. This masterly move eliminated a dangerous competitor from the rail market, and gave the Carnegies one of the most modern and bestequipped steel works in the country without the outlay of a single dollar. Even the unparalleled record of Carnegie successes contains no greater industrial victory than this: and business men in Pittsburg still regard it as the greatest example of skilful financiering and management...

  19. CHAPTER XIII LABOR CONTESTS IN THEORY AND PRACTICE
    (pp. 184-202)

    THE great Homestead strike, which forms the most dramatic episode in the history of all the Carnegie enterprises, grew out of conditions without parallel in the industrial history of this or any other country. Superficially, this contest was a commonplace struggle between capital and labor concerning the equitable division of the results of their joint efforts. But behind this were certain moral causes, growing out of the conflict between the idealistic platform-theories of Andrew Carnegie and the unsentimental exigencies of business. A brief glance at the attitude towards labor of Carnegie the manufacturer, as contrasted with the academic utterances of...

  20. CHAPTER XIV THE HOMESTEAD BATTLE
    (pp. 203-223)

    THE chagrin experienced by Andrew Carnegie at the unsatisfactory outcome of his plans in 1889 was forcibly expressed in many of his characteristic letters to Pittsburg during the three-year term of the agreement with the Amalgamated Association; and as the time approached for its revision measures were taken to avoid a repetition of the former fiasco. What these were may now be frankly stated.

    The injudicious attempts of Mr. Carnegie’s literary friends to deprive him of his proper share of the honor or responsibility of planning the discomfiture of the Amalgamated Association, joined to his own modest disclaimers, have led...

  21. CHAPTER XV ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF MR. FRICK
    (pp. 224-235)

    BEFORE the country had recovered from the thrill of horror which succeeded the Homestead battle, an attempt was made to murder Mr. Frick; and the bloody details of the assault were cabled to the ends of the earth, bringing fresh disgrace upon the unhappy town of Homestead. On Saturday, July 23d, a Russian anarchist shot and stabbed Mr. Frick while he was seated in conversation with his associate, Mr. Leishman. This man had made several previous visits to the Carnegie offices, where he represented himself as the agent of a New York employment bureau. Once he had a brief interview...

  22. CHAPTER XVI THE AFTERMATH OF WAR
    (pp. 236-253)

    UNDER the protection of the state militia, workmen willing to accept the wages which the strikers refused were at once introduced into the deserted mills. Major-General Snowden, who was in command of the troops, took a firm hold of the situation the moment he arrived; and open defiance of law and order ceased at the sound of the first bugle-call. The impression had gone abroad among the strikers that the militia had come to prevent the landing of more Pinkertons. The illusion was dispelled in a single sentence of the commander: “The gates are open. Anyone may go in if...

  23. CHAPTER XVII A RELUCTANT SUPREMACY
    (pp. 254-274)

    IT is something more than a coincidence that the day that marked the beginning of the Homestead strike saw the birth of the Carnegie Steel Company, Limited. On July 1st, 1892, for the first time in their history, the separate establishments whose growth we are tracing were brought into a single organization, and endowed with one mind, one purpose, one interest. Mr. Frick was too wise a general to enter a battle with his forces needlessly scattered; and while fences were being built around the company’s works, their corporate strength was also concentrated and made instantly responsive to his will....

  24. CHAPTER XVIII THE WORKINGS OF THE CORPORATE MIND
    (pp. 275-292)

    IN a former chapter reference was made to what was there called the mental evolution of the great industrial organism whose growth we are following, and a hint was given of the important part played in it by Mr. Frick. One of the most conspicuous directions of this mental growth was that involved in the systematization of the consultative work of the Board of Managers.

    Although this board was the brain of a great body, its functions were long performed without regularity or method, and the results of its work were but imperfectly recorded. This is one of the most...

  25. CHAPTER XIX THE ZENITH OF PROSPERITY
    (pp. 293-315)

    IN 1889 negotiations were entered into by Andrew Carnegie with certain ’English bankers and capitalists with a view of selling out the iron and steel enterprises with which he was connected. At that time British investors were absorbing American industrial stocks with astonishing avidity; and Carnegie, believing the zenith of prosperity had been reached in his own business, thought the time an opportune one to sell out to the English. The project was resisted by Mr. Phipps, who had sold seven-eighteenths of his interest the previous year; but he finally yielded to his partner’s insistence and gave a reluctant consent...

  26. CHAPTER XX CARNEGIE’S ATTEMPT TO DEPOSE FRICK
    (pp. 316-335)

    IN chemical experiments it often happens that before the process of crystallization can be started in a saturated solution, a blow must be ġiven to the vessẹl containing it. This was evidently the condition of the ideas that had long been floating in and out of the minds of the partners concerning consolidation and reorganization: it required the shock of a rupture between Carnegie and Frick to jar the fluid schemes into solidity. And in conformity with the run of forty years’ uninterrupted Carnegie luck, this shock, which threatened at first to have a shattering effect, further welded the corporate...

  27. CHAPTER XXI THE FAILURE OF THE IRON-CLAD
    (pp. 336-345)

    THE settlement of this historic litigation out of court before any evidence was taken left the public in doubt as to the legal value of the document known as the iron-clad agreement. As this agreement had an important influence on the history of the several Carnegie organizations, some account of it and its failure to work the “ejecture” of Mr. Frick is called for in this narrative; especially as it is not likely that any frank statement concerning it will ever be made elsewhere.

    In 1884 the practice was inaugurated of rewarding exceptional services of employees by crediting them with...

  28. CHAPTER XXII THE ATLANTIC CITY COMPROMISE
    (pp. 346-357)

    ONE of the junior members of the Carnegie Steel Company, recently speaking of these events, unconsciously adopted the circus simile used by one of a former generation of partners, elsewhere quoted, in explanation of the apparent willingness with which he and his colleagues joined Carnegie in the effort to depose Frick. “We were simply a band of circus horses,” he said, “and we all jumped as the ring-master cracked his whip.”

    Although several of the junior partners protested at a secret meeting, only one of the well-trained band, besides Curry, openly shied and refused to jump at the crack of...

  29. CHAPTER XXIII THE BILLION-DOLLAR FINALE
    (pp. 358-364)

    THE absorption of the Carnegie Company by the United States Steel Corporation has been invested with much dignity and lofty circumstance by numerous writers in reviews and magazines; and owing to its magnitude, running into hundreds of millions, the transaction has struck the popular imagination and acquired a world-wide interest. To those who watched the incident from the inside, who saw the framework of the scenery and the elaborate mechanism of the stage effects, who attended the rehearsals and heard the subdued tones of the prompter, there was a certain grim humor in a performance which those in front watched...

  30. APPENDIX THE EQUITY SUIT
    (pp. 365-370)
  31. INDEX
    (pp. 371-380)
  32. Back Matter
    (pp. 381-382)