Andrew Carnegie

by Josh from Fredericksburg


When asked to take all of the people that I have ever known, heard of, or any other way of knowledge and find one person that I can say is my hero it is very difficult. There are so many traits that make a person a hero and it truly is impossible to find someone that has all of these traits. For me a hero is someone that is successful beyond their career. Also they must be generous and give back to their community. This is not necessarily money. It can be ideas, buildings, and resources, just to name a few. After researching all sorts of different people from all walks of life I finally found one that tickled my fancy and fit into my hero mold. Andrew Carnegie.

Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1835. His father was a weaver and a political radical. He was brought up in poverty and here the seed of success was imbedded in his brain. In 1848, Andrew and his mother and father immigrated to America: Pittsburg to be exact. From this point on Andrew’s goal was to bring prosperity to the poor Carnegie clan. Andrew’s first few years in America were incredibly tough. He moved from job to job never finding one that pleased him. Eventually Carnegie got a job working for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He worked his way up the ladder and was making, in his eyes, great sums of money. Then the Civil War broke out. During the war the need for metal increased greatly. Carnegie decided to seize the opportunity and go into the steel business. He embraced a technique developed by Englishman Henry Bessemer. This process converted large amounts of metal into steel, a much more durable and bendable substance. Carnegie dumped all of his money into this business and took out large loans from the bank. If this wasn’t a success that he would be a great debt and his dreams would never be attained. Nevertheless Carnegie had faith in himself.


By age 33, the successful Carnegie was worth 400,000 dollars. Nearly 5 million in today’s dollars. He had taken his family from the ghetto of Scotland to the nicest neighborhood in Pittsburg but he had his doubts. Carnegie was convinced that if he kept working so hard he would die miserable and rich. He was determined to retire at age 35. This did not happen. He possessed a love for learning and each day while he owned Carnegie Steel Corporation he learned something new. Finally the day came when Carnegie decided that work was no longer necessary. At the age of 66 Carnegie Steel was sold to J.P. Morgan at the price of 480 million dollars. Carnegie decided to devote the rest of his life to philanthropy.


Andrew Carnegie did not believe in charity but he did believe in helping others so that they could help themselves. After the sale of Carnegie Steel he started 5 different charities to help distribute his money. Carnegie was an avid reader and was very involved in the construction of public libraries. Libraries were the perfect way for him to help people help themselves. Over the years Carnegie provided the money for the building of 2,811 public libraries all over the world. Besides building libraries Carnegie contributed funds to colleges, scientific research, pensions for teachers, and funds for war heroes, just to name a few. It is estimated that Carnegie gave away some 350 million dollars in the course of his life time. Nearly 3 billion dollars today.

Andrew Carnegie was a successful business man, but more importantly he was a good person. He was the richest man in the world after the sale of his company, quite an achievement, but these things were not important to Carnegie. He wanted to be remembered a generous man that provided opportunities for people. When he had first moved to Pittsburgh the library was where he spent all of his free time. While there he taught himself about all sorts of things that helped him become a first class person, business man, and philanthropist. Carnegie was a hard working man; he stayed level headed, and had a good work ethic. Without a doubt Andrew Carnegie can be considered one of the greatest men of all time.

Page created on 4/7/2003 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/7/2003 12:00:00 AM

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