The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s most influential figure, Andrew Carnegie was a man of vision, intelligence and philanthropy. Not only did he help to build the burgeoning steel industry that would make Pittsburgh famous, but Carnegie’s fervent desire to benefit mankind inspired numerous generous donations that enriched the city with a groundbreaking public library system, a prestigious university, various museums, and more.
Born in Dumferline, Scotland, in 1835, Carnegie was the son of a simple weaver. His family was poor, but had a longstanding history of Scottish radicalism, seeking to increase working class rights. Times became extremely hard, though, and looking for better fortune, his family immigrated to America in 1848, settling in Allegheny, Pennsylvania where two of his mother’s sisters resided.
After working his way through many small and low-paying jobs as a young man, Carnegie eventually began to come into his own after working for Thomas A. Scott at the Pennsylvania railroad. It was this career path, and the outbreak of The Civil War, that allowed him to recognize and capitalize on the budding iron industry, and he used his knowledge of the field to rebuild and fortify many bridges in the area.
Carnegie was later inspired by Henry Bessemer, whose groundbreaking techniques allowed large batches of iron to be converted into much sturdier steel. Upon returning to The States, Carnegie began his own steel plant near Pittsburgh, and his ruthlessly frugal practices and good business sense helped launch a new industry in the area. Thanks to Carnegie, Pittsburgh quickly became the leading manufacturer of steel in the world, and Carnegie’s fortune continued to grow.
At the turn of the century, Carnegie sold his legendary steel industry to financier J.P. Morgan for an extraordinary $480 million dollars. Ready to settle down into a quiet home life with his wife Louise and his daughter Margaret, Carnegie also focused his attentions on giving away the vast majority of his accumulated wealth to build public libraries, universities, museums and more. Believing that “the man who dies wealthy dies in disgrace,” Carnegie had given away around 350 million dollars to benefit mankind. Carnegie is well known for his work as a philanthropist. Carnegie libraries, which were financed by the fortune Carnegie gave away can be found all around the United States still today. Andrew Carnegie also contributed millions of dollars to various schools and universities. Carnegie also never forgot his homeland, donating millions of dollars to establish the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. He died in 1919, five years after the start of World War I.
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