Scots-American who worked his way from railway clerk to the
head of his company in 10 years. He consolidated his wealth
in the oil and steel industries until, in 1900, he began spending
it on charitable and philanthropic projects. Libraries, trusts
and educational establishments were helped, as was his home town
More About Andrew Carnegie. From weaver's son to one of the world's richest men, Andrew Carnegie's story
would be remarkable in any case. But what assures him his place as one of Fife's greatest sons is what he gave away, over $350 million in his own lifetime and more since his death, with over 20 Carnegie Trusts throughout the world still helping worthy causes.
Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline in 1835. When he was just 13 he moved
with his family to Pennsylvania where he went straight to work as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill. He then moved rapidly through a succession of jobs with Western Union and the Pennsylvania Railroad, working hard and, more unusually, investing what money he earned until, in 1865, he resigned to establish his own business enterprises.
These led, eventually, to the Carnegie Steel Company, which launched the steel industry in Pittsburgh, capitalising on the US's massive hunger for steel in the industrialization and expansion which followed the Civil War.
At age 65, he sold the company to J. P. Morgan for an astonishing $480 million and devoted the rest of his life to giving much of it away. He had already started the public
generosity which was to make his name, expressing the view that men of wealth had a moral duty to give away their fortunes. In 1889 he wrote The Gospel of Wealth, in which he asserted 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.
His first gifts had been to Dunfermline, his native town, but as his philanthropy gained pace he made innumerable gifts and set up various trusts. One of his lifelong interests was the establishment of free public libraries to make available to everyone a means of self-education, and he spent over $56 million to build 2,509 libraries throughout the English-speaking world. These libraries were all under orders to carry a stock of Robert
Burns' poetry, which had been taught to Carnegie by his uncle in Dunfermline, George Lauder, and he regarded the Bard as a great example throughout his life.
In his birthplace of Dunfermline he is still widely revered, having gifted, among other donations, the Carnegie Library, a swimming pool and Pittencrieff Park. Today the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust continues to support a wide range of projects in the arts, sport, recreation, education, heritage, community, welfare and tourism. Carnegie himself died in Lenox, Massachusetts, in 1919.