My assignment today was to write an essay about the Industrial age in America. I already wrote an essay on the industrial revolution (here) which is the same thing, so I’m going to tell you a little bit about two of the leading businessmen of the day, as well as how they impacted the United States.
Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland to a poor/middle-class family. They immigrated to America when he was a young teenager, where he soon got a job in a factory as a bobbin boy. Carnegie was able to get out of the factories, and with the help and influence of his uncle, he got a job as a telegraph messenger. He was so fast at transmitting messages that a railroad businessman took notice of him and hired him as his secretary. Even though Carnegie was his employee, the man took great interest in him and acted almost like a mentor to him. Under this businessman’s recommendation, Carnegie saved his money and started investing it in stocks. The young man had a good eye for deals, and he eventually became pretty well-to-do. Carnegie then started the Keystone Bridge Co. During the War (U.S. civil war) the need for iron and steel was growing by the day, so Carnegie and some other men started a steel rolling mill. He went on to start his own steel company called Carnegie Steel Co. which made him one of the very richest men in America in those days. Andrew Carnegie is also known for his great philanthropic additions to society. A few of the notable things that he financed are: Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Endowment for National Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and many more.
Henry Ford; we’ve all heard the name. The man that brought down the price of cars so much that they were now available for the common people, not just the wealthy. He was the inventor of the Model T, and the man who had the first assembly line system in his factories.
Henry Ford was good at tinkering with things and making them work. At the age of 15, he completely took apart a pocket watch and put it back together again, earning himself the reputation of expert watch repairman. Ford’s first real job was as an apprentice machinist for a company called James F. Flower & Bros. He got another job as a machinist at the Detroit Dry Dock Company before returning home to the family farm. He learned how to repair and work on the Westinghouse steam engines, and got hired by Westinghouse to be the repairman. Ford became an engineer in the Edison Lighting Co, where he worked himself up to the position of chief engineer.
About this time Ford started experimenting with gas engines and moving things with them. He called his first vehicle a Quadricycle. Eventually Ford left Edison’s company and started the Detroit Automobile Company. It turned out to be a failure.
After another rocky start, the Ford Motor Co. came to life, introducing the Model T in October of 1908.
Ford had found a way to make cars cheap enough, sturdy enough, and wanted by the common people enough, to have a huge business. He was the first man to implement the assembly line system into his factories. The parts of the cars would come slowly down a moving belt, and each person had a specific little thing that they did to each part passing by them. It was very monotonous work, but Ford made it worth his employees while, often paying them twice as much as other companies payed there employees. During WWI, Henry Ford started an airplane business, but it shut down due to the great depression. Henry Ford died in April of 1947, leaving behind a massive car company, and a revolutionized automobile industry.