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tv   Andrew Carnegie Henry Clay Frick  CSPAN  August 27, 2016 4:00pm-4:52pm EDT

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with his .38, he would've only get the suspect. one shot. a shotgun cannot give you anything like that accuracy. >> as andrew carnegie lay dying he sent a message to his nemesis henry frick. his response was i will see you in hell where we will both be going. his book is called "meet you in hell." this is 50 minutes. danforth: good evening. looking forward to this. ohio -- up in cambridge cambridge, ohio.
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has a a and may and phd from the university of utah. even more important for a writer , he is knocked around a lot. i don't know if you will love this. websiteis from a good you will want to look up. he is the author. , hisrms of knocking around educational resume includes working for many years in .ational parks in the us west he spent a short time at columbia university law school, one semester, then took off for more interesting things including psychology. as he got turned off by that stats and rats. you will see from his books he is more interested in people and what motivates them.
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he then later in life managed a french restaurant in columbus, ohio. and has also managed a 100 bed home for the elderly. that is good knocking around from where i am looking at it. i think the thing you should also know, he has written nine books of action and like his ago onion, two years flagler, his adventure putting ,he railroad down in the east he is a great storyteller. this is one i read recently. you must have more fun doing that than dealing with the lights of frick and carnegie. he said the research is great. wine, food, anyone who doesn't
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like to spend time in key west, i don't want to know them. my wife would hate this. it is fun writing sex. i said you research? he said no, i just ride it -- write it. in both the books he really has a sense of dealing with personality, he has a great love obviously of people who are doers. his character, his main character in fiction is a builder. he says in this great website he picked up on the hitchcock type of person, a normal person who is swept away in things over his control. you can identify with someone like that. he is also intrigued with
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history and with a sense of place. in this book you get a great sense of a lot of areas we know, but about the life we could know. you learn about pittsburgh, frick and carnegie. i'm sorry. i grow in new york. it has always been carnegie. he called himself carnegie. think that the thing that is interesting about these s'otherers, and le characters, he has a sense of individual morality, and how complicated and wonderful that can be. it is with great pleasure i welcome les standiford to our stage. [applause]
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les: thank you very much, dan and bill for inviting me here. thank you beth brockler for getting me here, telling me how to get here. strange you mentioned that sojourn at columbia law school. i can remember going into the dean's office and have this conversation, suggested i was going to leave. sound too upset about it. he said that happens time to time here. he was very understanding. he said you go out and you take as much time as you need to find yourself, and then you can come back. [laughter] well, i guess the process continues. [laughter] place. was a lovely i have not been back. this is where i have ended up.
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had you told me when i was growing up in the mining and manufacturing town of cambridge, ohio -- 80 miles to the west of here -- i would not have believed i would be standing here talking to you about and a legacy that i was very much aware of, if not intellectually growing up. pittsburgh was the place we came to visit on school trips, to go to the botanical gardens, to watch a ballgame and that sort of thing. when i came to pittsburgh you could not seen the sun -- you could not see the sun. that was the heyday of big steel, and the legacy of frick and carnegie was very much alive. i still can't get over the difference between what i see now down on the banks and what i remember from my days as a
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youth. i wasn't thinking too much about that when i began this book. i had written another book of nonfiction, and someone told me a story of dueling mansions on fifth man the new -- fifth avenue in new york. dueling mansions, let's look into that. i was looking into the lives and the relationships of andrew carnegie and henry clay frick. it wasn't really dueling mansions. in 1902 built his place and it had been there for a dozen years when frank told a friend -- frick told a friend he would build a place that made carnegie's look like a minor's shack.- miner's i wondered why two men had ended their lives at such odds.
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i pulled on it like a string in began to and it unravel. dueling mansions was the least of it. there was this great mass of material. i ask myself what are you going to do with that? i fell back on my experience as a novelist, really. i said you were going to tell this story. what i have tried to do is tell the story of relationships in this book. in my research for "meet you in ," i came across an interesting book by richard ted low. one of his contentions is this.
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in america the founders and builders of great enterprises are as remarkable as our the composers in italy, the writers in russia, and the navigators of portugal. you can argue that america has produced its own share of equal artists and philosophers, and adventurers. whether or not they are the greatest ever is open to debate. without question though, he argues, we have produced the world's greatest business leaders bar none. that is america's forte. his book, called one of the top 10 business volumes of 2000 one, includes profiles of the likes of henry ford, george eastman, and sam waltman. the first of those giants was andrew carnegie. what does all of that have to do with me and why i am here
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this evening? for several years i was working the other side of the street, the street beside the neighborhood called mistry. as a novelist i have been drawn to the marginal character, the oddball, and the downright strange. with a guned me, held to my head, who i might choose to write a biography about. i don't know. john belushi. if it had to be a scientist, tesla, the guy who created those pulsing coils and all of the mad fiction movies. if it was a historical figure it would be the hungarian who brought over buying cuttings from france and founded the
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california wine industry, only to go back and save the french wine industry after an attack of phylloxera. he ended up in brazil trying to float another scheme, fell off a log crossing a stream and was eaten by alligators. [laughter] les: it could have been him. meet you in brazil. [laughter] though, i haves ended up writing history about men whose accomplishments have been unequivocally awesome. henry flagler created standard l, something even rockefeller admitted, then invented the state of florida. read last train to paradise if you don't believe me. i find myself finishing up work on a book about two men who shepherded this country from
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emerging nation to the leadership of industrialized nation. one of them was the richest man in the world, and the other was reputed to be the toughest. they started off friends, and over the course of their business careers based team rolled a lot of other people. at the end of it all, carnegie and frick may the united states -- may the united states the entrepreneurial capital of the world. pathy have been my natural following the trails and travels of some fascinating figure i found myself dogging the footsteps of the fantastically successful. the great pleasure i have taken in doing this, what i have tried to bring out in my approach is not to build yet another giant stack of facts and figures praising them id, but instead -- the mighty, but instead tell the human story in all of this
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spending and achieving. i go into the amazing things these men built. but i am always as much -- atsted in the question what cost? the willingness of individuals to achieve the impossible in the .ace of impossible odds the most complex engineering project ever created was wiped out by the worst hurricane to hit this country's shores. in "meet you in hell" i have tried to tell the story of how two men rose up rom abject poverty -- rose up from abject aoverty to build partnership, only to see it destroyed in the bloodiest labor battle in history, the darkest day in u.s. labor history.
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a debacle in which they were very much complicit. ragtime meets the perfect strike i could have called it. henry clay frick himself gave me my title when he told andrew carnegie where it would all end. hell.eet you in when i first began to write i thought if one were fortunate enough to have gotten through to the end and done well, and found , whatisher for one's book one would do would be to retire to one's chambers and begin to write the next book. come to discover, the publisher had other things in mind. they like you to go out and help sell the thing. it is not that i mind coming to places such as this and meeting with people such as yourself, who are interested in what i do. sometimes it goes further than
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that. not so long ago i got a call from one of the publicists at sayn, who called me up to there is a good chance that -- last train to paradise was about to be published -- there is a chance we can keep you on one of the morning news shows. he let me know he meant good morning america even though he was not supposed to say it. but he continued, there is always a but with these things, they need a news angle. a news angle, i said. all of this happened 100 years ago. yeah, yeah, they need a news angle. get a news angle and when you have one call back. i retired to my chambers and tried to come up with a news angle. i was never able to. i decided i would prove that given a chance i could have an
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interesting conversation with the host of the show. i set down and scripted my own appearance just in case it should never happen, and to prove what i believed. the interview never did take place. i can assure you i dined out on the script of the dictation is one. ficticious one. i decided this time around to heck with it. i'm not going to wait for some call about the possibility of an actual interview. i have decided to go straight to my own version of things, and so, if you will grant me that suspension of disbelief and are willing to imagine the morning news anchor has just completed the recap of the 700th day of the michael jackson trial --
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[laughter] les: and the viagra commercial faded away, the next voice you will hear is charles gibson. providing pensions and insurance for the nation's college teachers, of which i am one. carnegie mellon university celebrates its 100th anniversary. more than 800 carnegie libraries are still operating in the united states. by 1905, andrew carnegie had reached the $100 mark to give away the liar just -- the donation.ivate why would he do such a thing?
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was he trying to buy his way into heaven? what had carnegie done that would require such a hefty payment? with us here today to answer such questions is les standiford "meet you in hell: andrew carnegie, henry clay frick, and the bitter partnership that transformed america." that's the wonderful thing about being a writer. if you are not satisfied reality, create a better one. what joy you to these real-life stories? answer -- they seem just as intriguing as anything i could dream up, and if you had actually had me on your show last time, you would member what i told you about last train to paradise. the worst storm in history lows
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it all away. i thought that would be a lot interesting.in as for meet you in hell, the subtitle suggests what drew me in. carnegie, frick and the bitter partnership that transformed america. it is a story about two men who lived out the horatio alger dream to the maximum. andrew carnegie became the richest man in the world, worth more than $100 billion. his partner was not far behind with a quarter of that. they created the modern steel industry from scratch. they led the united states from developing nation to position of leader of the industrialized world. question -- you say bitter partnership. how could they compress what you say they day?
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answer -- that is the interesting part of the story. at first they got along famously. carnegie the steel baron, frick his management genius. "f" is brilliant he wrote to a colleague. let's all get ahead. of a marriagehat between two immensely powerful personalities. this steel business was a wild and woolly one at the time. basis.d on a daily labor relations were bloodthirsty. bad things happened, feelings change. question -- one of the bad things was the homestead steel strike at one of carnegie's plans. days in- the bloodiest american labor history. a dozen men killed and a battle between pinkerton detectives.
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workers were calling it for frick. when pinkerton's tried to move the workmen stop them. the results stunned the world. this was not a brief stir up, and accidental bomb tossed. a drawn out military engagement in the middle of one of the industrial capitals of the nation. men shot dead for trying to hang onto their jobs. thousands of national guardsmen mobilized to keep peace. it was months before things settled down in pittsburgh. question -- carnegie and freight acted together in this? answer -- it is one of the drove them apart.t t donegie wanted to whatever was necessary to manage the situation.
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carnegie began to circulate rumors it had been frick's fault. he was his patent in many ways -- patton in many ways. he had been a general given a job to do and made no bones about how to do it. he was infuriated when he heard the stories carnegie was spreading. question -- the battle of homestead drove them apart? answer -- it began the process. the assassination attempt on aftermath, thehe lawsuit against carnegie, the dueling office skyscrapers in downtown pittsburgh, and the question of who was going to build the fanciest mansion in new york city didn't help. question -- these are matters you go into in your book? answer -- that and a lot more, charlie.
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question -- one final thing. is it only a bitter story you tell them? answer -- not in my eyes. what they accomplished, fueled by the acrimony between them, was unlike anything seen before. they made the country what it is today. at one point carnegie steel was producing more than the whole of the british empire combined. they were in competition with men who were far more cutthroat and unprincipled than they were. many of their cost accounting practices still form that part of the business bible today. for all of their excess and their lab says -- lapses am a you would find few who would hope great britain was still calling the shots. we had the carnegie foundation, the carnegie hero find,, 900 carnegie libraries still
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operating. i spoke at the carnegie mellon university in pittsburgh just a couple of days ago. i walked past carnegie hall on the way to the collection -- the frick collection. is much to question in their action but andared to enron, tyco, worldcom, these two were pyramid builders. commercial. [laughter] ends the prepared portion of this talk. i did bring along slides that could be of interest. some are in the book. some as you will see did not make the final cut. i will scroll through these. if we have a few minutes, we will do that. have our editor rachel
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klayman, who is barack obama's editor. she worked me hard and it was worth every bit of it. crown publishers. cambridge, circa 1946. the writer and his grandmother, just to give you some idea of those roots i was talking about. that is my father, who was a truck driver. that is me imitating john travolta. [laughter] les: here are a couple of my uncles leaving the plant. i talk about this in the book. i frame the whole enterprise, being upfront about my association with this material, talking about how easy it might have been to paint this story in a simplistic way. i don't think it is a simple story. it, a penpalk had
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i talk about. joyce scott from scotland, from edinburgh, not far from where andrew carnegie grew up. she used to tell me things about andrew carnegie, and how important he was, and what regard he was still held over there. joyce scott, this is on the och tay. sense of me with a wonder about the world. that sort of thing made me want to write books and buy them here. part.w it is this is the countryside where carnegie grew up. in some ways it is not unlike the countryside around pittsburgh. 1862, about to
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become a millionaire. he was an assistant. scott introduced -- he gave carnegie his first good job -- he introduced into the concept of investment. specifically speaking he introduced into the concept of insider trading. the pennsylvania railroad was about to sign a contract with the supplier, and he would do well to buy some stock in that company. monthsha stewart got six for an ill-advised phone call to her broker, carnegie and frick would get life and hard labor for what they did. it is true. there was no such legislature at that time. this was nearly 30 years before the first sherman antitrust act. they were doing what any savvy
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businessman did do at the time. he got into steel. that is what it looks like. -- it lookscture like an angel has just appeared. this is a blast furnace in full below. there are some -- in full b low. there were some parts on the ground. it is a strangely magnificent undertaking as you can see by looking at this picture. there are the pieces of equipment that give you some idea of the size. they are not small pieces of equipment. itmen fell into mold steel was called making his own mold. i thought that was an interesting way to describe a painful demise. here is frick, about the same age carnegie was in that picture
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i showed you. you can see the toughness of the stare. he was a resolute individual. coke, and he needed it to keep the steel miners working. that is what it looks like in the coke fields at the time. homestead wasn't the only disaster they were involved in. the were both members of hunting and fishing club that had a dam, that had a lake that operated on a lake behind a dam above johnstown pennsylvania -- johnstown, pennsylvania that burst and killed a couple thousand people.
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they had not built that dam, but there have been complaints about it for years. they didn't fix it. no charges ever filed in that matter. a disaster just the same. here is homestead at the time the battle took place. here is the battlements of fort frick. here is the battle itself, and artist rendering. there are no images that survive that tell the tale in pictures. photography was in its infancy. a guy had to go out with one of those gigantic boxes and flash photography literally had just been invented. flash swept the city photography had been taken during the riots, and workers would be identified and prosecuted for treason and murder eventually.
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it did cause some consternation. there is no photo that anyone knows about that shows the violence as it was happening. what we have are what papers relied on, artist renderings. of thes the aftermath pinkertons, who capitulated after this fight, running through a gauntlet of enraged citizens who threatened to shoot them, even after they had given up. that happen ings the aftermath, and on archivist -- an anarchist, some say lover of them a goldman -- emma goldman came to town. he shot frick only to have frick overpower him, take his gun and
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knife away, have him bound and sent on his way. they said we have to get you to the doctor. he said no, i have a contract i have been working on. bring a doctor over here. the doctor wanted to get an anesthetic. i said i was negotiating a contract. he didn't want his mind clouded. he probed for the bullets until i think you've got it. only then did he agreed to be taken for further treatment. he did dictate a few more letters, one to his mother and one to his wife assuring them he had been ok and he would be home shortly. photo, and unlikely assessment -- assassin. when he heard about what had happened in frick's office he shouted hurrah for the man who shot frick.
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he was hung by his thumbs. they did things like that. , droveted and passed out them out of town -- drove him out of town. these are the good days. they were still getting along. even in the aftermath of homestead. there they are at one of the rented the states carnegie referred to in scotland. this is one of the results of outdos desire to somehow carnegie in their latter days. carnegie spent his life trying to get his money away. frick spent much of his time on that meant to show he was every bit the savvy businessman as the richest man in the world. that is the frick building on
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the left. there are some other stories i can't repeat about why frick wanted to climb on that roof. but some of you may have heard them. of the -- ofample carnegie's giving. the beautiful carnegie library is still operating. still a beautiful building. a workman said yes, but what good is a library toyman who has to work -- to a man who asked to work six days a week? of, ona concept unheard thought of before his day before he began to do it. one commentator claimed when bill gates gives away some of his hard earned millions, it is the ghost of andrew carnegie guiding his outstretched hand. , he is ski bow castle
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renovated in scotland. resort.s a fancy you can stay where -- you can where carnegie once slept. madonna married guy ritchie there. now the cooper-hewitt design blocks just about 20 down the avenue, the frick. a gorgeous building. no doubting it, beautiful as is, it doesansion look like a miner's shack in retrospect. this is magnificence at a hold whole nother -- a
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level. scotlandcarnegie in toward the end. note how they have come to look alike. it is uncanny. frick was 13 years younger than carnegie. you all know this building of course. there is the author in one of his research trips. there is looking across the delusive furnaces -- the furnaces. and, there is one of the more touching photographs of frick and his granddaughter adelaide, upon whom he doubted. -- doted.
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these were human beings made mistakes. a wonderful practical joke frick once played on andrew mellon who ad a private railroad car, conductor came in and demanded tickets.llon's he said i don't have any tickets, this is my car. the conductor said if you don't give me a ticket you are getting off of this train. mellon said i will have your job. that mayctor said be the right now i'm just doing it. they threw him off the train and chugged away. andy, whatfe said are we going to do? not a person inside. if there were coyotes howling, it must have seemed there were. and in the distance, another train pulled up in a cloud of steam. frick, as ifcar,
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to say imagine meeting you here. if pickle joke he cooked up -- a practical joke he cooked up. charles schwab's residents and the braddock library. the pump house there are the original water tower. one of my guides who has written a wonderful essay about work at the university, a story about her father who worked at carnegie university. children. [laughter] jeremy, hannah and alexander. the reason i do this in here at the end of my presentation, is to remind me what the point of this is. we have a wonderful country. what carnegie and frick
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accomplished was magnificent and awesome. undertaken in service of the possible that anyone, even a peanut farmer from georgia can succeed and become president. what we have to keep in mind, only one peanut farmer gets to be president. the rest of them have to cap keep on picking peanuts. not everybody has the advantages that can lead to the white house or the top of the pyramid, without some sense of balance. we are sunk. that is the lesson of this bitter partnership reminds me of, the great possibility, and the need to be aware of the needs of an entire democracy at the same time. not just getting and spending and being a personal success.
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that is all i have to say. i thank you for your attention. [applause] les: if you have any questions, the folks here from the frick will pick them up so they can be read. tos will enable c-span better tray what is going on between you and me. what is goingray on between you and me. i will reread it. then answer it if anybody has questions on those cards you were given at the outset. now is the time. glad to do it. i realize it is a little bit awkward. we will be killing some time until the questions role in.
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-- roll in. there is a question being written right now. do we have a question? i did not say i would know the answer to the question. did frick and carnegie have entrances to their residences facing each other to defy each other? i don't think so. to the frick now was redesigned to -- as part of its conversion from a private residence to museum. idle don't think it got to that point. they were 20 blocks away.
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there was no mistaking the magnificence. they were both beautiful buildings. i urge you to see both. how would carnegie and frick fair in today's business world? they would be astoundingly successful. were --ciples -- they the problem that their competitors faced in those days, here you had to man who were the first to understand the importance of meticulous cost accounting. they knew down to the last ascent what it cost -- the last sent what it cost to make a 10 ton of steel. they were up against a lot of folks flying by the seat of their pants, placing bids in hopes that they could somehow comply, and carnegie and frick
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would come and pick up the pieces and fulfill a broken contract. i have often compared it to trying to play poker, texas champs,against world and you don't get a chance to look at your cards. that is how aware they were of their business workings compared to many of the men with whom they were in competition. that is why they forced them out of business. that is how they rose to the top. every shift supervisor in every department of every plant was strictly accountable for keeping a log of productivity, and if productivity didn't go up, forget stay the same from week to week, there had to be an explanation given. it was up the line up to mr. frick who had understand why the plant did not turn out more
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year in week 42 of a given than was turned out in week 41. there had better be a good answer. scientifically he would be able to move they should have been .ble i exaggerate slightly but not very much. i think they would be extremely successful. , but we may say yeah don't have insider trading anymore. [laughter] tell that to martha stewart. do we have any other questions? what was carnegie and frick's attitude toward minorities? there were very few blacks working in steel, almost none
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who would have done anything labor.han menial that is the way it was in industry in pittsburgh in the united states period. the skilled labor positions furthermore in the plant were held not by eastern europeans, not hungarians or , -- theyvakians didn't get the skilled jobs either. the people who had been here the longest and new other people got the good jobs. brits, andscots, the the germans. the italians ran between, the -- were in between, the irish were in between. they had most of the menial
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jobs, the slovaks and the armenians. they were glad to have the jobs. they were making two dollars a day and that was good living in those days. multiply that by 100 or 200 to give you a sense of what today that meant. makinged worker may be $15. it was difficult to entice them into the labor equation sometimes because most of the wrangling between frick and carnegie, and the minute homestead had to do with the pay scale of the skilled laborers. they were going to make out just as well no matter what the contract had ended. it was not even in the contract carnegie's mind
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no matter what the union thought this was going to be an end to the union. carnegie's mother's involvement with the homestead strike? livinge's mother was not at that time. she had passed away. 1892. -- sorry. national television. but in any case she had no involvement. not that i was made aware of. were she alive. well, andrew carnegie pledged he would never marry as long as his mother was alive and he held to that promise. he married his bride at the age
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of -- in his 50's. after his mother had died, louise whitfield. interesting contention, his first love was not louise whitfield as is the common knowledge. brotherntranced by his tom's wife. that in fact he proposed to her first in the wake of tom's death. when she told him no and no uncertain terms, that is when he turned to louise whitfield. that is one of the small things that came out in my research that has not been talked much about. i can't prove that it is true of course. least to wo carnegies swear that it is.
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how did carnegie and frick join forces? what he suffered was a great disadvantage. talk himtried to out of it. i think he was smart enough to see the future of the country, everything was going to go through steel, rails and plate, and automobiles. steel was the backbone of progress. he new coke was helping make steel. it took him a number of years to rise up to become the superintendent, the chief executive officer of carnegie steel. it did not come easily. it was a position he worked hard for and paid him handsomely. company, which
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would have made him a rich man, when he did not have to. it paid big dividends. says "meetk simonton you in hell" is a fabrication made up by henry clay frick. comments? it is a great story. [laughter] elements of other this story. certain things we can never be certain about, but it is accepted as common knowledge, and it seems to -- i don't think anybody would question the -- en of that him the tea the which existed at
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time of their passion. some say yes, some say no. you have been a great audience. if anyone wants to stay around and ask other questions i will be glad to do it. i appreciate you coming very much. thank you. [laughter] [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> on history bookshelf here from the country's best-known american history writers of the past decade, every saturday at 4:00 eastern. watch any of our programs at any time. visit c-span.org/history. you are watching american history tv all

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