Clan Carnegie Places & People

Clan Carnegie People

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

America’s most famous Philanthropist and industrialist described his Dunfermline birthplace as ‘the most sacred spot to me on Earth’. When unemployment forced his family to emigrate from Scotland and settle in Pittsburgh in 1848, he began working the bobbins in a cloth mill all his teenage years until he escaped to become a telegraph messenger in 1850.

He absorbed all business knowledge he was exposed to and mortgaged his family’s home to buy shares recommended by an employer. If the shares had fallen we might not have known about him today. However, with his accumulating wealth he targeted the industries important to the growth of America for his investments.

Having worked within the Pennsylvania Railroad Company he understood the importance and needs of the expanding railroads. He involved himself in the production of locomotives, sleeping cars and most importantly steel.

In 1901 he was approached by the new United States Steel Corporation who hoped to amalgamate Americas steel production. He wrote his asking price for Carnagie Steel on a piece of paper and passed it to their representative Charles M Schwab. Schwab accepted and Carnegie later said he should have asked for $100 million more. ‘You’d have gotten’ it he was told even though the number on the paper was $400,000,000.

Carnegie wrote in his ‘Gospel of Wealth’ that ‘the man who dies rich, dies disgraced’ and spent his retirement distributing his fortune. He remembered how he had been so greatly helped by free access to the library founded by Colonel James Anderson whilst at Pittsburgh telegraph office and spent an estimated £70.95 Million on philanthropic ventures that included 2,811 libraries ‘for the masses’. The beautiful, copper domed building to house the expanding Mitchell Library in Glasgow is one such example, it’s foundation stone laid by the man himself.