Andrew Carnegie, 1836-1919
Scotsman.com's Fact of the Day column informs me that Andrew Carnegie, once the richest man in the world, was born this day in 1836 -- Scotsmans.com also published the short biography that I have posted below.
Scotsman.com Heritage & Culture - Great Scots - A to Z - Andrew Carnegie
THE RISE to fame of Andrew Carnegie is the classic rags-to-riches success story. Born in Dunfermline the son of a humble handloom weaver, he grew into one of the best-known industrialists in the world, dominating the burgeoning American steel industry in the 19th century.
Carnegie retired as the world’s richest man, then proceeded to become the world’s greatest philanthropist, giving the bulk of his vast fortune to charitable trusts and adopting as his motto "the man who dies rich dies disgraced".
It was a far cry from his early years in Dunfermline. His father, William, was an active Chartist and marched for the rights of the working man. The arrival of the power loom and a general economic downturn impoverished his family and in 1848, when Andrew was 12, the family left Scotland for America and joined a Scottish colony in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, now part of Pittsburgh. His first job was as a bobbin boy in a cotton factory; then, at 14, a messenger in a telegraph office. His willingness to work hard and his shrewd business brain were evident even then and he quickly moved into a senior management post with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
In 1865, Carnegie, already wealthy - having invested wisely in the up-and-coming oil industry and other thriving businesses - established his own business enterprises. He foresaw the worldwide demand for iron and steel and by the 1870s the Carnegie Steel Company operated dozens of steel mills in and around Pittsburgh, introduced efficient working practices like the Bessemer process and led the enormous expansion of steel making in the United States.
Carnegie consolidated his business empire by buying the coke fields and iron-ore deposits that furnished the raw materials for steel making as well as ships and railroads for transporting supplies to the mills. The low point in his career was the trade union strike at the company’s Homestead works in 1892. Local managers brought in armed guards from the Pinkerton detective agency to break the strike and in the shootout that followed three guards and nine workers were killed. In 1901 he sold his business to industrialist JP Morgan of the US Steel Corporation for $480m.
One of Carnegie’s lifelong interests was the establishment of free public libraries and in his 1889 book The Gospel of Wealth, he wrote of his belief in philanthropy and asserted that that all personal wealth beyond that required to supply the needs of one's family should be regarded as a trust fund to be administered for the benefit of the community. He enthusiastically set about his philanthropic endeavours, providing money for over 2,500 libraries throughout the English-speaking world and more than 7,600 pipe organs for churches. He established a variety of trust funds and foundations which still operate to this day. By the time of his death he had given away $350m to good causes.
Carnegie had the magnificent Skibo Castle in Sutherland built for him and his wife Louise and after his retirement the couple divided their time between the castle, their home in New York City and their summer house, Shadowlands, In Lenox, Massachusetts, where Carnegie died in August 1919.