Meet Andrew Carnegie: Love Carnegie Style
"There is no woman good enough to marry my Andra."
In 1880, Carnegie, at age 45, began courting Louise Whitfield, age 23. Carnegie's mother was the primary obstacle to the relationship. Nearly 70 years old, Margaret Carnegie had long been accustomed to her son's complete attention. He adored her. They shared a suite at New York's Windsor Hotel, and she often accompanied him-even to business meetings. Some have hinted that she exacted a promise from Carnegie that he remain a bachelor during her lifetime.
Louise was the daughter of a well-to-do New York merchant and a semi-invalid mother. Like Carnegie, Louise was devoted to her mother, who required constant medical attention. Unlike Margaret Carnegie, however, Mrs. Whitfield encouraged her daughter to spend time with her suitor. Carnegie's mother meanwhile did her best to undermine the relationship.
Undaunted, the couple were engaged in September 1883. It did not go well. With the engagement, Carnegie's biographer wrote, "the emotions became deeper, the talks more earnest, and the moods shifted from joy to dolefulness." Louise began to have doubts and started accepting invitations from other suitors, though she continued to see Carnegie.
On April 23, 1884, they broke off the engagement, but it didn't last. By the fall, Carnegie and Louise began to see each other again. Within weeks the wedding was back on.
For all their happiness, however, Carnegie and Louise kept the engagement a secret-for the sake of mother Margaret. In 1886, Margaret's health was again failing. In July, Carnegie wrote to Louise from his summer home in Cresson, PA. "I have not written to you because it seems you and I have duties which must keep us apart," he wrote. "Everything does hang upon our mothers, with both of us -- our duty is the same, to stick to them to the last. I feel this every day."
On November 10, 1886, Margaret Carnegie died. Even then, Carnegie was reluctant to make the engagement public, out of respect for his mother. "It would not seem in good taste to announce it so soon," Carnegie wrote Louise. They were finally married on April 22, 1887, at the Whitfield home. The wedding was very small, very quiet, very private. There was no maid of honor, no best man, no ushers, and only 30 guests.
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