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Joseph R. Anderson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-2073).

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Anderson, Joseph Reid (16 February 1813–07 September 1892), industrialist and Confederate soldier, was born in Botetourt County in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the son of William Anderson and Anna Thomas, farmers. Anderson received his early education in the local schools. After having been rejected twice, he entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1832 at age nineteen. Graduating fourth of forty-nine in 1836, he preferred a post in the elite Corps of Engineers but was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Artillery. Soon he was assigned to Fort Monroe, where he met his first wife, Sally Archer, daughter of the post physician, Dr. Robert Archer. They were married in the spring of 1837 and eventually had five children....

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Andrew Carnegie. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-101767).

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Carnegie, Andrew (25 November 1835–11 August 1919), industrialist and philanthropist, was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, the son of William Carnegie, a handloom weaver, and Margaret Morrison. William Carnegie was sufficiently prosperous to have four looms in his shop and to employ three apprentices. Although shunning political activism, he was an enthusiastic supporter of the political views of his wife’s father, Thomas Morrison, Sr., an early leader of the Chartist movement and a friend of William Cobbett to whose journal, ...

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Corey, William Ellis (04 May 1866–11 May 1934), steel industrialist, was born in Braddock, Pennsylvania, the son of Alfred Adams Corey, a moderately successful coal merchant, and Adaline Fritz. Young Corey attended the local public schools but evinced little interest in schooling other than in the opportunity it gave for him to participate in athletics. His success on the football field, however, did not provide enough motivation to keep him in school. Eager to marry his classmate, Laura Cook, the daughter of a coal miner, and to find employment in the steel mills of Braddock, Corey left high school at the age of sixteen, even though his father’s financial situation had not necessitated the boy’s early employment. A year later, in 1883, he married Cook; they had one child....

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Frick, Henry Clay (19 December 1849–02 December 1919), industrialist, was born in West Overton, Pennsylvania, the son of John W. Frick, a farmer, and Elizabeth Overholt, the daughter of Abraham Overholt, a successful distiller of whiskey and the wealthiest citizen in Westmoreland County. Other than providing a small cottage and a few acres of poor land on his estate, Overholt shared none of his wealth with his daughter and her family. He did, however, serve as a role model for his grandson. From early childhood, Clay, as his family called him, was eager to escape the poverty with which his unambitious father seemed content and was determined that before he reached the age of thirty he would acquire a larger fortune than his grandfather’s....

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Elbert H. Gary [left to right] Elbert H. Gary, Calvin Coolidge, and John D. Rockefeller, 1925. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106305 ).

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Gary, Elbert Henry (08 October 1846–15 August 1927), lawyer and steel industrialist, was born near Wheaton, Illinois, the son of Erastus Gary and Susan Valette, farmers. Raised in a strict Methodist home that stressed the value of education, Gary attended the local public schools and for a time Illinois Institute, later renamed Wheaton College. After a two-month army stint during the Civil War and a term teaching school, Gary turned to the study of law with his maternal uncle, Colonel Henry Valette, and his uncle’s partner, Judge Hiram H. Cody, in Naperville, Illinois. He subsequently attended Union College of Law in Chicago, graduating first in the 1868 class. While clerking for the Illinois Superior Court, he married Julia E. Graves in 1869; they had two children. The couple lived in Wheaton from whence he commuted to Chicago during the subsequent thirty years of his legal career. (After his first wife’s death in 1902, Gary married Emma Townsend in 1905. They had no children)....

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Girdler, Tom Mercer (19 May 1877–04 February 1965), industrialist, was born in Clark County, Indiana, the son of Lewis Girdler, a part-time farmer and manager of a family-owned cement plant, and Elizabeth Mercer. After attending a one-room country school and the Manual Training High School in nearby Louisville, Kentucky, Girdler obtained the needed funds from a wealthy aunt to enroll in Lehigh University, where he received a degree in mechanical engineering in 1901. After graduation he was employed by the Buffalo Forge Company and was sent to England as a sales engineer....

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Grace, Eugene Gifford (27 August 1876–25 July 1960), industrialist, was born in Goshen, New Jersey, the son of John Wesley Grace, a ship’s captain, and Rebecca G. Morris. In 1895 he matriculated at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he conducted experiments at the Bethlehem Iron Company while studying electrical engineering. In 1899 he received his E.E. degree and went to work for the renamed Bethlehem Steel Company, a major producer of heavy gun forgings and armor plate. After a six-month stint as an electric crane operator, he became a supervisor in the open hearth department. In 1902 he married Marion Brown, with whom he had three children. Also in 1902 he was promoted to superintendent of yards and transportation and over the next three years developed a system for handling incoming material and outgoing finished product that worked so efficiently that he came to the attention of ...

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Hasenclever, Peter (24 November 1716–15 June 1793), industrialist, was born in Remscheid, Germany, the son of Luther Hasenclever, an iron works proprietor, and Klara Moll. After attending school Hasenclever was, at age fourteen, apprenticed to a cutler and thereafter received some instruction in the iron works of his father. At seventeen he was sent for six months to Liège, Belgium, to learn French. During the following years he traveled widely in France, Germany, and Russia, even though his father’s fortunes were in decline. After 1742 he struck up a connection with a relative active in the textile commerce in Burtscheid near Aix-la-Chapelle. His main role in this relationship was to secure business orders. Later journeys led him several times to Spain, notably Cadiz, and to Portugal, where in 1745 in Lisbon he married the daughter of a British sea captain, Katherine Wilds, with whom he subsequently had a daughter. On the basis of his commercial successes he decided in 1755 to found his own trading firm. He even entered into negotiations with Frederick II (the Great), king of Prussia, with a view to improving linen manufacturing in the Prussian province of Silesia. As a result, he was able to establish his brother Franz in Landeshut, Silesia, as a textile manufacturer. However, his own interests, along with concern for the health of his wife, caused him in 1758 to move to England, where he settled down at Putney near London and became a British subject....

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Jones, Benjamin Franklin (08 August 1824–19 May 1903), steel manufacturer, was born in Claysville, Washington County, Pennsylvania, the son of Jacob Aik Jones, a farmer and merchant, and Elizabeth Goshorn. Jones moved with his family to New Brighton, Pennsylvania, when he was fourteen, acquiring a good liberal education at the New Brighton Academy. At eighteen Jones moved to Pittsburgh, where he would become a prominent force in the young city’s development during the next half-century....

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Olds, Irving Sands (22 January 1887–05 March 1963), lawyer and industrialist, was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of Clark Olds, a lawyer, and Livia Elizabeth Keator. Olds graduated from Erie High School in 1903 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1907 and a law degree from Harvard University in 1910. After graduating from law school, Olds worked in Washington for a year as secretary to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court ...