This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of wealth: first, to set an example of modest unostentatious living, shunning display; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and, after doing so, to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds which he is strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community.
Andrew Carnegie was born into a working-class family in Dunfermline, a town in Scotland close to Edinburgh. In 1838, when he was three years old, his family immigrated to the U.S., settling in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (where Pittsburgh is now). He got his first job at the age of 13, working at a textile mill as a bobbin boy for $1.20 a week. He then took a job tending the steam engine at a factory, earning two dollars a week. The next year, he worked as a messenger for a telegraph office, a job that paid $2.50 per week. His hard work and quickness earned him a promotion to telegraph operator and he was paid twice as much. Slowly but surely, he worked his way up. In 1852, when he was 17 years old, Carnegie started working at Pennsylvania Railroad for $35 a month as the personal telegrapher and assistant for a man named Thomas Scott, a superintendent for the company. During his time with Scott, Carnegie learned a great deal about the railroad industry and, by the time the Civil War began, became a superintendent himself.
Scott also introduced young Andrew to the stock market. His first investment of 500 dollars showed him a return and he was delighted that he could make money through investment, as opposed to working as he was accustomed to. He later invested in a one-eighth interest in a sleeping car company and the stock increased dramatically in value with the United States' adoption of sleeping cars for the railways.
During the Civil War, Carnegie quit his superintendent position to take control of the eastern military railroads and telegraph lines for the government. At the end of the Civil War, Carnegie saw that iron bridges were quickly replacing wooden structures and founded the Keystone Bridge Works, which built the first iron bridge across the Ohio River. This company led him into the iron and steel works that brought him so much of his vast fortune. After this jump, he would never again have to work for a salary.
In 1886, Andrew's mother and brother died within a few days of each other. He had no other family. The next year, he was married to Louise Whitfield of New York. Ten years later, their first and only child, Margaret, was born.
The major key to Carnegie's success became the consolidation of resources. He used his fortune to buy up iron fields, railroads, steamships, oil sources, and the manufacturing outlets to fully monopolize the steel industry. In the next decade his fortune tripled. By 1899, Carnegie had consolidated most of the steel companies around Pittsburg under his Carnegie Steel Company. Two years later, at the peak of his career, he gave his $500 million steel interests to the United States Steel Corporation and retired from business in 1901.
The remainder of his life was dedicated to the idea that all the wealth a person has beyond that which is required to take care of himself and his family, should be given back to the community. In 1902 he founded the Carnegie Institution to fund scientific research and established a pension fund for teachers with a $10 million donation.
He established the Carnegie Corporation of New York with $125,000,000 to insure that his money would be wisely distributed. This fund stands even today and supports many causes. Back in his day, there was no free public library system. But Andrew Carnegie, a supporter of education and literacy, gave money to cities and towns to build over two thousand public libraries as well as giving around $125 million to the Carnegie Corporation for colleges and other schools. He also established the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1910 and gave money to build the Hague Palace of Peace, housing the World Court in the Netherlands.
He and his wife bought a huge estate in Scotland and built the Skibo Castle, a huge house where they lived. Carnegie died at the age of 83 in his summer home in Lenox, Mass. His tombstone reads: "Here lies a man who knew how to enlist the service of better men than himself."
References: http://www.clpgh.org/exhibit/carnegie.html http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1889carnegie.html http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/aa/carnegie http://www.usdreams.com/Carnegie14.html