(December 19, 1849-December 2, 1919)
Born in West Overton, Pennsylvania
American industrialist, financier, and art patron
Chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company
Founder of the H. C. Frick & Company coke manufacturer
Financed the construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Company
Co-founder of the exclusive South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club
Namesake of the Frick Art & Historical Center (est. 1990)
Estimated worth at the time of his death was $145 million ($2.9 billion today)
Why he might be annoying
He was called 'the most hated man in America.'
He and Andrew Carnegie were among the group of tycoons indirectly responsible for the Johnstown flood in 1889.
This was brought on by their building the exclusive South Fork Club on territory near a poorly furnished local dam (the flood resulted in over 2,000 casualties).
He is incorrectly believed to be 'the rich man' depicted in Maxo Vanka's St. Nicholas Church mural, but its actually a likeness of Andrew Mellon.
He was generally tasked with doing Carnegie's dirty work, enabling him to maintain his saintly 'philanthropist' image for the public.
Case in point, when the 1892 Homestead Steel labor strike began, Carnegie took off for vacation at his castle in Scotland, leaving Frick to handle the growing number of armed laborers on strike.
Frick responded by dispatching 300 armed Pinkerton Guards to Homestead to disarm the laborers and break the strike, resulting in a skirmish and subsequent riot with 10 casualties and 70 severe injuries (July 5, 1892).
He also issued an ultimatum to the workers, refusing to speak with union representatives and threatening to have striking workers evicted from their homes, which struck much of the country as 'excessive.'
He was ironically saved from the blowback of negative publicity when avowed anarchist, Alexander Berkman, burst into his office attempting to assassinate him, first with a knife and then a gun. He subsequently regained public sympathy during his recovery and public support for the strike dissipated.
There are at least three differing accounts as to how Frick survived the assassination attempt, varying from an account of Frick hiding behind a desk to Frick single-handedly overpowering Berkman and saving the office.
Interestingly, his fallout with Carnegie came not out of his handling of the Homestead Strike, but rather his trying to encourage (or trick) Carnegie to sell his company to Wall Street speculators he didn't trust.
Why he might not be annoying
He was more skilled as a hands-on manager than Carnegie.
He was named after the antebellum Congress' 'Great Compromiser.'
He played a major role in the formation of US Steel steel manufacturing industry.
He actually did just as much philanthropic work as Carnegie did (he just didn't flaunt it as much as he did).
He narrowly avoided being on the ill-fated Titanic when his wife sprained her ankle causing them to miss the trip.
He provided Emma Goldman with her first brush with public infamy (she was Alexander Berkman's lover).
Some accounts claim that the bloodied Frick told his men attacking Berkman to 'leave him alone' as they wrestled with him.
Alexander Berkman was charged and found guilty of attempted, premeditated murder. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Like Rasputin, for a while it looked like he was pretty much impossible to kill (he even returned to work in less than one week after the attack).
He was a fervent art enthusiast whose collection was one of the most extensive and impressive art collections in the world (ranging from pre-Renaissance to post-Impressionist paintings, along with carpets, porcelain, sculptures, and period furniture).
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