A Tribute to Andrew Carnegie
Hall of Financial Giants
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Born: November 25, 1835
Estimated wealth (today's dollars): $189.6 Billion
In 1848 the twelve-year-old Carnegie emigrated with his impoverished Scottish family to the United States. He began working for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a telegrapher and rose to be its superintendent of military transportation during the Civil War; he resigned in 1865 to pursue his own opportunities. After 1873 he concentrated on steel and built an empire that controlled every aspect of its manufacture; by the turn of the century, his mills produced more steel than all of Great Britain. In 1901 he sold it all to the newly formed United States Steel Corporation, retired completely, and became a megaphilanthropist, distributing almost all his fortune to build public libraries and establish a number of foundations and educational and research institutions. Biography from the Forbes American Heritage Magazine - October 1998.
Andrew Carnegie's father was a member of an ancient trade, weavers, who wove cloth by hand on looms, a trade which had lasted for thousands of years. When the steam loom took over during the industrial revolution, Carnegie's father, like all weavers, became unemployed and had to raise his children in poverty. Andrew Carnegie vowed to do better, and through hard work and recognizing opportunity, he proceeded to gather the largest fortune the world had ever seen until that time. In the buying power of modern dollars, that fortune is still the second largest ever accumulated by anyone.
After retiring in 1897 and selling his steel industry to J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie gave away most of his fortune, and certainly holds the title as the world's greatest Philanthropist. He built thousands of libraries throughout the world as just one of the many charity projects he funded.
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