A man of Scotland, a distinguished citizen of the United States, and a philanthropist devoted to the betterment of the world around him, Andrew Carnegie became famous at the turn of the twentieth century and became a real life rags to riches story.
Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, on November 25, 1835, Andrew Carnegie entered the world in poverty. The son of a hand weaver, Carnegie received his only formal education during the short time between his birth and his move to the United States. When steam machinery for weaving came into use, Carnegie’s father sold his looms and household goods, sailing to America with his wife and two sons. At this time, Andrew was twelve, and his brother, Thomas, was five. Arriving into New York on August 14, 1848, aboard the Wiscasset from Glasgow, the Carnegies wasted little time settling in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where relatives already existed and were there to provide help. Allegheny City provided Carnegie’s first job, as a bobbin boy in a cotton factory, working for $1.20 a week. His father also worked there while his mother bound shoes at home, making a miniscule amount of money. Although the Carnegies lacked in money, they abounded in ideals and training for their children. At age 15, Carnegie became a telegraph messenger boy in Pittsburgh. He learned to send and decipher telegraphic messages and became a telegraph operator at the age of 17. Carnegie’s next job was as a railroad clerk, working for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He worked his way up the ladder, through his dedication and honest desire to succeed, to become train dispatcher and then division manager. At this time, young Carnegie, age 24, had already made some small investments that laid the foundations of his what would be tremendous fortune. One of these investments was the purchase of stock in the Woodruff Sleeping Car Company.
In 1864, Carnegie entered the iron business, but did not begin to make steel until years later. In 1873, he built the Edgar Thomson works in Braddock, Pennsylvania, to make Bessemer steel. He established many other steel plants, and in 1892, he merged all of his interests into the Carnegie Steel Company. This act from Carnegie is fitting with one of his most famous quotations, "Put all of your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket." This firm became one of the greatest indu...
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...fiting from Carnegie’s charity include various Carnegie museums of history, science, and art, Carnegie Hall in New York, and other public spirited organizations.
Before 1919, when Carnegie died, he had given away $350,695,653, and at his death, the last $30 million was likewise given away to foundations, charities, and pensioners. He left a mark on society not only through his enormous monetary provisions, but also with his own literature. Carnegie loved to promote his ideas and opinions in print, and has written many works outlining these philosophies, including Triumphant Democracy (1886), The Gospel of Wealth (1900), The Empire of Business (1902), Problems of Today (1908), and an Autobiography (1920) (Mitzen 182).
Although Carnegie only stood somewhere between 5’2" and 5’6", he "had to be a great, tough, disciplined giant of a man." His commitment to others is not only seen through his many munificent works, but in the way he lived, including his tombstone in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery of North Tarrytown, New York, where the epitaph reads, "Here lies a man who was able to surround himself with men far cleverer than himself."
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