Andrew Carnegie: Gilded Age Titan - featuring Ed O'Donnell / College of Holy Cross

In the Gilded Age (1870-1900), a time of booming industrial output and national expansion, Andrew Carnegie emerged as one of the most famous and influential business titans. Known popularly as “the Steel King,” he was as well-known as men like John D. Rockefeller (oil), William K. Vanderbilt (railroads), George Pullman (railroad cars), and J. P. Morgan (finance). But unlike them, Carnegie enjoyed a positive public image, much of it due to his own calculated efforts to present himself as a true “rags-to-riches” story (arriving as a penniless immigrant), as well as a benevolent capitalist who treated his workers well and gave enormous sums of money to philanthropic endeavors. This talk will examine the rise of Carnegie, his steel empire, and his public persona–separating fact from myth. It will also situate Carnegie as a key figure in one of the most tumultuous and significant periods in US history. Finally, we’ll consider how Carnegie compares to modern day titans, such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.