Andrew Carnegie

Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist investing in education and free public libraries

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Andrew Carnegie (1835—1919) was a British man who lived most of his life in the U.S. He came from a family of not much economic stability. That is the main reason why he and his family went to the U.S.: it happened when his father lost his job.

There, Andrew did not have a formal education. Instead, he started working as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill, and he just earned 1.2 dollars per week. Even though he had not finished school, he was very curious and intelligent, so he read a lot and taught himself things he considered to be important. That is why, little by little, he changed his job, upgrading every time. When he had a clear idea on what to do with life and money, his mother lent him money and he gambled to earn more. When he had enough money, he started working on the steel industry, later becoming a steel magnate, and a billionaire.

After a few years of being a wealthy man, he wrote a letter to himself saying he should start having a humble life and he also decided to start helping institutions. He used to say: “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced”, and so he began to spend what he saw as “excess wealth” in long-lasting causes for world peace, art and education. He opened libraries, he donated organs to churches, he invested in research in science, etc.

Nowadays there are institutions with his name, such as The Carnegie Institution for Science, the Carnegie Mellon University or the Carnegie Foundation. They were founded with his money.