(1835 – 1919)
On November 25, 1835, Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was born. He led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and was also one of the highest profile philanthropists of his era.
Expecting a better life, Andrew Carnegie’s family decided to leave Scotland and move to the United States in 1848. Carnegie started working at the age of 13 in Pittsburgh and was able to enjoy the local theater’s plays for free, which brought him closer to culture and especially Shakespeare. He worked hard and enjoyed studying at the local library once a week when it was opened for working boys. He got promoted several times and became a telegraph operator at the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in 1853. When he became superintendent, Carnegie learned everything about management, cost control and even started making first investments. When the Civil War started, Carnegie was responsible to keep the railway system running as rebels often tried to cut. Under his supervision, the transportation system enjoyed efficient service and highly contributed in the winning of the Union.
|Carnegie Mellon University|
The 30 year old Carnegie made some smart investments in these years and devoted all energies to the ironworks trade, mostly in Pittsburgh. In the following years, Carnegie got also busy in the steel industry, which really paid off as well. He adapted the Bessemer process of steel making and therefore made it a lot more efficient. But his goal was not only to make money, Carnegie believed in sharing his fortune with others. He built public libraries to use for free and laboratories in Pittsburgh. In the meantime, Carnegie enjoyed poetry and was befriended with Mark Twain. Carnegie himself wrote rather radical books, like ‘Triumphant Democracy’, published in 1886. This work caused some controversy in Britain, since it criticized the monarchical system and praised the American industry’s achievements.
His last active years in business, Carnegie spent as a philanthropist. Mostly in English speaking countries, Carnegie started building further libraries and schools that he completely equipped. In 1900, he founded the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, which later merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. Carnegie gave significant donations in order to built the famous Hooker Telescope in 191.
Andrew Carnegie passed away on August 11, 1919, in Lenox, Massachusetts and his last $30,000,000 was given to foundations, charities, and to pensioners.
At yovisto, you may enjoy the the “Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy Ceremony” in Scotland, honoring Andrew Carnegie and pointing out the importance of philanthropy.
References and Further Reading:
- Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie
- The Many-Sided Andrew Carnegie: A Citizen of the Republic
- Carnegie Birthplace Museum website
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