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Biography of Andrew Carnegie

Generous and conscientious businessmen of the 19th century, Andrew Carnegie will always be remembered for his contributions to the educational sector.
Shashank Nakate May 13, 2019
Andrew Carnegie was one of the notable businessmen of United States. Along with his business endeavors, he also generously participated in philanthropic work. His main areas of operation on the business front were railroads and the steel industry. Here is a short account of his life.

Early Days

He was born in a Scottish family on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline. He moved out of Scotland with his family in 1848. He worked in a cotton mill in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, when he was just 13 years old. He started working as a telegrapher in 1850 in the Ohio Telegraph Company, located in Pittsburgh.
He was a quick learner and efficient in every task he undertook. In 1853, he started working with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as a telegraph operator. His entrepreneurial ambitions were fueled by the support of his employer, Thomas A. Scott. Carnegie made his first investment, worth $500, in a firm called 'Adams Express'.


Investment in the railroad business proved to be profitable for Carnegie. He introduced the sleeper coach service in the first-class section of trains; this was done in partnership with the inventor of the 'sleeping car', George Pullman. This business brought in huge profits.
During the Civil War in the USA, he carried out tasks involving great responsibility. He was appointed as the superintendent of the government's telegraph lines in the east, and also of military railways. The telegraph service was said to have improved during his tenure as a superintendent.


After the Civil War, Carnegie shifted his focus to the steel industry. The specialty of his business was the production of cost-effective steel for railways. In 1892, the Carnegie Steel Company was launched.
In 1901, when Carnegie was thinking about retiring from work, J. P. Morgan put forth an idea of integrating major steel firms of the USA. The objective was to streamline steel production in the USA. Hence, on 2nd March, 1901, the United States Steel Corporation was formed.


Carnegie believed in spreading his wealth for humanitarian causes. His work in the field of education is noteworthy. After retirement, he took up many philanthropist ventures. Having been an avid reader in his youth, he was familiar with the literary world. He began writing and voicing his opinions on diverse subjects.
His book Triumphant Democracy speaks about various aspects of society in general. He also showed his interest in promoting the English language.
Establishing libraries throughout the United States and other English-speaking nations like New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Fiji, Canada, and the West Indies was a part of his affinity for the language. These libraries are known as Carnegie Libraries.
In 1902, he established the Carnegie Institute of Technology at Pittsburgh, followed by the Carnegie Institution in Washington. He provided 10 million dollars to George Ellery Hale, for the purpose of building the Hooker telescope. He played a major role in the establishment of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.
Carnegie is known to have made donations for the welfare of the people of his birthplace, Dunfermline. The Carnegie Hall, an important theater, is one of his important contributions to Dunfermline.
In his memory, a statue has been installed in Pittencrieff Park, a public park in Dunfermline. This park is locally known as Dunfermline Glen. A museum dedicated to Carnegie, housed in a cottage, can also be found in Dunfermline.


In his final days, Carnegie suffered from bronchial pneumonia. Before his death on August 11, 1919, he had donated $350,695,653 to various causes. The Andrew Carnegie Dictum speaks a lot about his generous nature. Here is what Andrew Carnegie said through his dictum:
  • To spend the first third of one's life getting all the education one can.
  • To spend the next third making all the money one can.
  • To spend the last third giving it all away for worthwhile causes.
Carnegie lived a prosperous life. He earned money, fame and respect during his lifetime. He not only amassed huge wealth, but also believed in giving it to the needy. He sincerely and honestly followed the motto, "All is well since all grows better."