His Early Life

His Philanthropy

His Legacy

Andrew Carnegie's Birthplace Dumfermline, Scotland

Carnegie's birthplace, Dunfermline, Scotland

Thomas and Andrew Carnegie

Andrew aged, 16 with younger brother Thomas, 1851


Photos courtesy of Project Gutenberg Archives

His Early Life

“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” - Andrew Carnegie

Life in Scotland

Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland on November 25, 1835.  His father was William Carnegie and his mother was Margaret Morrison Carnegie.  Andrew Carnegie’s father had a strong influence on his worldview.  William Carnegie, a craft weaver, was involved with the British Chartist Movement known for its assertion of the rights and education of working people.  His father was also the original member of the Tradesmen Subscription Library, established from a pooling of his own books and those of two fellow weavers.  It was the first circulating library in that town. 

Immigrating to America

In 1848 Andrew Carnegie’s family immigrated to the United States as his father’s business was suffering from the industrialization of the weaving industry.  In this new world, Andrew was sent off to work.  As a teenager in 1850 he took a job as a telegraphic messenger boy in Allegheny, Pennsylvania and consequently did not complete his education.  He was able however to borrow books from the private library of Colonel James Anderson.  Every Saturday night Anderson opened his personal library of 400 volumes to working boys.  Andrew Carnegie recognized the importance of Anderson’s benefaction to his education and life. 

Making his Fortune

In 1853 at the age of 18, Andrew Carnegie became employed at the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.  There he worked under Thomas A. Scott and as a secretary/telegraph operator.  Carnegie began a rapid advancement through the company, becoming the superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division. Carnegie learned about the inner workings of the industry and about investment. He made a small fortune by the age of 30 by applying his shrewd business skills to the markets, and investing in railroads, oil, and iron.  He made his real fortune once he founded the Carnegie Steel Company in 1889. It became the largest steel manufacturer in the United States.  In 1901 at the age of 66, Andrew Carnegie sold the Carnegie Steel Company to J.P. Morgan for 500 million dollars.  This money was put in trusts and it became the basis for his philanthropy.

Back to top | c2011 Gayle Bushell | Last Updated August 1, 2011