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ANDREW CARNEGIE: Pioneer. Visionary. Innovator.

Meet the Father of Modern Philanthropy

Welcome to an interactive storytelling platform about the life of Andrew
Carnegie we invite you to explore! Scroll down this page to follow a
narrative flow, or jump to specific moments by clicking the chapter links
above. In the spirit of our mission to disseminate knowledge and
understanding, Carnegie Corporation of New York is making this content
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Andrew Carnegie (18351919) was among the wealthiest and most famous
industrialists of his day. Through Carnegie Corporation of New York, the
innovative philanthropic foundation he established in 1911, his fortune has
since supported everything from the discovery of insulin and the dismantling
of nuclear weapons, to the creation of Pell Grants and Sesame Street. The
work of the Corporation and its grantees has helped shape public discourse
and policy for more than one hundred years. Millions of people have
benefited from Carnegies foresighted generosity a legacy of real and
permanent good. We invite you to learn more about this remarkable mans
life through an interactive timeline, historical documents, photographs,
audio, and more.
To try to make the world in some way better than you found it is to have
a noble motive in life.
Andrew Carnegie




Andrew carnegies birthplace, dunfermline, was scotland's historic medieval

capital. later famous for producing fine linen, the town fell on hard times
when industrialism made home-based weaving obsolete, leaving workers
such as carnegies father, will, hard pressed to support their families. will and
his father-in-law thomas morrison, a shoemaker and political reformer, joined
the popular chartist movement, which believed conditions for workers would

improve if the masses were to take over the government from the landed
gentry. when the movement failed in 1848, will carnegie and his wife,
margaret, sold their belongings to book passage to america for themselves
and their sons, 13-year-old andrew and 5-year-old tom.
We sailed from the Broomielaw of Glasgow in the 800-ton sailing
ship Wiscasset...



Andrew Carnegies family decided to settle in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, a

suburb of Pittsburgh where they had friends and relatives. Their ship landed
in New York City, which he found bewildering: New York was the first great
hive of human industry among the inhabitants of which I had mingled, and
the bustle and excitement of it overwhelmed me, Carnegie wrote in his
autobiography. Next the family traveled west by canal and steamboat,
arriving in Allegheny three weeks later (a 370-mile, six-hour trip by car
today). They moved into two rooms above a relatives weaving shop, which
his father took over, but the business ultimately failed, putting the family
once again in need of money.

At the age of 13, Carnegie worked from dawn until dark as a bobbin boy in a
cotton mill, carrying bobbins to the workers at the looms and earning $1.20
per week. A year later, he was hired as a messenger for a local telegraph
company, where he taught himself how to use the equipment and was
promoted to telegraph operator. With this skill he landed a job with the
Pennsylvania Railroad, where he was promoted to superintendent at age 24.
Not just ambitious, young Carnegie was a voracious reader, and he took
advantage of the generosity of an Allegheny citizen, Colonel James Anderson,
who opened his library to local working boys a rare opportunity in those
days. Through the years books provided most of Andrew Carnegies
education, remaining invaluable as he rapidly progressed through his career.


Thomas A. Scott, superintendent of the western division of the Pennsylvania

Railroad and Andrew Carnegies boss, initiated the future millionaires first
investment when he alerted Carnegie to the impending sale of ten shares in
the Adams Express Company. By mortgaging their house, Margaret Carnegie
obtained $500 to buy the shares, and soon the first stream of dividends
began rolling in.
While associated with the railroad, Carnegie developed a wide variety of
other business interests. Theodore Woodruff approached him with the idea of
sleeping cars on railways, offering him a share in the Woodruff Sleeping Car
Company. Carnegie secured a bank loan to accept Woodruff's proposal a
decision he would not regret. He ultimately bought the company that
introduced the first successful sleeping car on a U.S. railroad.
By age 30, Carnegie had amassed business interests in iron works, steamers
on the Great Lakes, railroads, and oil wells. He was subsequently involved in
steel production, and built the Carnegie Steel Corporation into the largest
steel manufacturing company in the world.

Andrew Carnegie's philanthropic career began around 1870. Although he
supported myriad projects and causes, he is best known for his gifts of free
public library buildings, beginning in his native Dunfermline and ultimately
extending throughout the English-speaking world, including the United
States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1887, Carnegie
married Louise Whitfield of New York City. She supported his philanthropy,
and signed a prenuptial marriage agreement stating Carnegies intention of
giving away virtually his entire fortune during his lifetime. Two years later he
wrote The Gospel of Wealth, which boldly articulated his view of the rich as
trustees of their wealth who should live without extravagance, provide
moderately for their families, and use their riches to promote the welfare and
happiness of others. This statement of his philosophy was read all over the
world, and Carnegie's intentions were widely praised.


Andrew Carnegie sold his steel company to J.P. Morgan for $480 million in
1901. Retiring from business, Carnegie set about in earnest to distribute his
fortune. In addition to funding libraries, he paid for thousands of church

organs in the United States and around the world. Carnegie's wealth helped
to establish numerous colleges, schools, nonprofit organizations and
associations in his adopted country and many others. His most significant
contribution, both in money and enduring influence, was the establishment
of several trusts or institutions bearing his name, including: Carnegie
Museums of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland,
Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Foundation (supporting the Peace
Palace), Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and
the Carnegie UK Trust.

One of the most tangible examples of Andrew Carnegie's philanthropy was
the founding of 2,509 libraries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of
these libraries, 1,679 were built in the United States. Carnegie spent over
$55 million of his wealth on libraries alone, and he is often referred to as the
Patron Saint of Libraries.
It is said that Carnegie had two main reasons for supporting libraries. First,
he believed that in America, anyone with access to books and the desire to
learn could educate him- or herself and be successful, as he had been.
Second, Carnegie, an immigrant, felt Americas newcomers needed to
acquire cultural knowledge of the country, which a library would help make
Carnegie indicated it was the first reason that mattered most to him.
Growing up working long hours in Pittsburgh, he had no access to formal
education. However, a retired merchant, Colonel Anderson, loaned books
from his small library to local boys, including Carnegie. As he later wrote in
praise of Anderson, This is but a slight tribute and gives only a faint idea of
the depth of gratitude which I feel for what he did for me and my
companions. It was from my own early experience that I decided there was
no use to which money could be applied so productive of good to boys and
girls who have good within them and ability and ambition to develop it, as
the founding of a public library in a community.


In 1911 Andrew Carnegie established Carnegie Corporation of New York,
which he dedicated to the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and
understanding. It was the last philanthropic institution founded by Carnegie
and was dedicated to the principles of scientific philanthropy, investing in

the long-term progress of our society. Carnegie himself was the first
president of the Corporation, which he endowed in perpetuity with his
remaining fortune $135 million to be used principally to promote
education and international peace. While his primary aim was to benefit the
people of the United States, Carnegie later determined to use a portion of
the funds for members of the British Overseas Commonwealth. For the
Trustees of the Corporation, he chose his longtime friends and associates,
giving them permission to adapt its programs to the times. Conditions upon
the earth inevitably change, he wrote in the Deed of Gift, hence no wise
man will bind Trustees forever to certain paths, causes or institutions. They
shall best conform to my wishes by using their own judgment.


By the time of his death, Andrew Carnegie, despite his best efforts, had not
been able to give away his entire fortune. He had distributed $350 million,
but had $30 million left, which went into the Corporations endowment.
Toward the end of his life, Carnegie, a pacifist, had a single goal: achieving
world peace. He believed in the power of international laws and trusted that
future conflicts could be averted through mediation. He supported the
founding of the Peace Palace in The Hague in 1903, gave $10 million to
found the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1910 to hasten
the abolition of international war, and worked ceaselessly for the cause until
the outbreak of World War I. He died, still brokenhearted about the failure of
his efforts, in August 1919, two months after the signing of the Treaty of

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