Though he was profoundly impressed by his first sight of a Bessemer converter, he had little interest in the every-day process of making steel. He had also many personal weaknesses: his egotism was marked, he loved applause, he was always seeking opportunities for self-exploitation, and he even aspired to fame as an author and philosopher. The staid business men of Pittsburgh early regarded Carnegie with disfavor; his daring impressed them as rashness and his bold adventures as the plunging of the speculator. Yet in all its aspects Carnegie's triumph was a personal one. He was perhaps the greatest commercial traveler this country has ever known. While his more methodical associates plodded along making steel, Carnegie went out upon the highway, bringing in orders by the millions. He showed this same personal quality in the organization of his force. As a young man, entirely new to the steel industry, he selected as the first manager of his works Captain Bill Jones; his amazing judgment was justified when Jones developed into America's greatest practical genius in making steel. "Here lies the man"--Carnegie once suggested this line for his epitaph--"who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself." Carnegie inspired these men with his own energy and restlessness; the spirit of the whole establishment automatically became that of the pushing spirit of its head. This little giant became the most remorseless pace-maker in the steel regions. However astounding might be the results obtained by the Carnegie works the captain at the head was never satisfied. As each month's output surpassed that which had gone before, Carnegie always came back with the same cry of "More." "We broke all records for making steel last week!" a delighted superintendent once wired him and immediately he received his answer, "Congratulations. Why not do it every week?" This spirit explains the success of the Carnegie Company in outdistancing all its competitors and gaining a worldwide preeminence for the Pittsburgh district. But Carnegie did not make the mistake of capitalizing all this prosperity for himself; his real greatness as an American business man consists in the fact that he liberally shared the profits with his associates. Ruthless he might be in appropriating their last ounce of energy, yet he rewarded the successful men with golden partnerships. Nothing delighted Carnegie more than to see the man whom he had lifted from a puddler's furnace develop into a millionaire.

Henry Phipps, still living at the age of seventy-eight, was the only one of Carnegie's early associates who remained with him to the end. Like many of the others, Phipps had been Carnegie's playmate as a boy, so far as any of them, in those early days, had opportunity to play; like all his contemporaries also, Phipps had been wretchedly poor, his earliest business opening having been as messenger boy for a jeweler. Phipps had none of the dash and sparkle of Carnegie. He was the plodder, the bookkeeper, the economizer, the man who had an eye for microscopic details. "What we most admired in young Phipps," a Pittsburgh banker once remarked, "is the way in which he could keep a check in the air for three or four days." His abilities consisted mainly in keeping the bankers complaisant, in smoothing the ruffled feelings of creditors, in cutting out unnecessary expenditures, and in shaving prices.

Carnegie's other two more celebrated associates, Henry C. Frick and Charles M. Schwab, were younger men. Frick was cold and masterful, as hard, unyielding, and effective as the steel that formed the staple of his existence. Schwab was enthusiastic, warm-hearted, and happy-go-lucky; a man who ruled his employees and obtained his results by appealing to their sympathies. The men of the steel yards feared Frick as much as they loved "Charlie" Schwab. The earliest glimpses which we get of these remarkable men suggest certain permanent characteristics: Frick is pictured as the sober, industrious bookkeeper in his grandfather's distillery; Schwab as the rollicking, whistling driver of a stage between Loretto and Cresson.

The Age of Big Business Page 22

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