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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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CARNEGIE, Andrew

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Andrew Carnegie
CARNEGIE, Andrew. (Dunfermline, Scotland, Nov. 25, 1835--Lenox, MA, Aug. 11, 1919). The Keystone Bridge Company Carnegie founded in 1865 was one of several firms to bid for the construction of the DUNLEITH AND DUBUQUE BRIDGE. Carnegie, then thirty-five, also headed the Union Iron Mills that supplied the iron for his bridge company. Personally desiring the project, Carnegie traveled to Dubuque in 1867 to negotiate the contract himself and traveled across the frozen MISSISSIPPI RIVER on a sleigh pulled by four horses.

Finding a rival firm was to be awarded the contract, Carnegie convinced the railroad directors that a cast iron bridge, unlike one of wrought iron, would certainly break if struck by a steamboat. To his astonishment, Carnegie found his argument supported by Platt SMITH, a prominent Dubuque attorney, who had recently seen a cast iron lamp post smashed when struck by a buggy.

Directors offered the contract to Carnegie when he agreed to build the bridge for the lower price offered by the rival construction company.

In 1899 Carnegie published an article entitled Wealth, and frequently called "The Gospel of Wealth." The article outlined his belief that the wealthy had a duty to supervise the distribution of their surplus wealth for the good of civilization.

Carnegie's philanthropies included the construction of many public libraries in the late 1800s including Dubuque's CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY. It was announced in 1905 that Carnegie would also donate $11,500 for the purchase of metal stacks sufficient for the display of an estimated fifty-five thousand books. This gift was a result of a spirited campaign for the funds from many Dubuque citizens including William Boyd ALLISON and David B. HENDERSON.

See: Roswell B. MASON