Encyclopedia of Appalachia
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Carnegie, Andrew (1835–1919)

Industrialist and philanthropist. A Scottish immigrant who arrived in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania at age twelve, Andrew Carnegie became legendary in his lifetime for amassing an immense fortune through investments and business innovation, but he achieved the status of an American icon by promoting and adhering to a "Philosophy of Wealth" that morally obligated the rich to be good stewards of their prosperity and to invest in mankind. True to his convictions, Carnegie gave away 90 percent of his wealth, more than $350 million by the time of his death. Some $44 million of that built 1,946 libraries across the United States.

Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Carnegie was immersed early in the legends of Scottish heroes William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, whose influence inspired him into his adulthood. His father, William Carnegie, was a gifted linen weaver and political reformer, while his strongspirited mother, born Margaret Morrison, ran a small grocery shop from the home and, like her ancestors, mended shoes. Prompted to leave Scotland in 1848 by a decline in handwoven linens, the family settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, now part of Pittsburgh. William Carnegie peddled woven tablecloths door-to-door while his wife stitched shoes for cobblers. Andrew Carnegie soon became the family's main support through a series of jobs that included work in a cotton textile mill, a bobbin factory, and a telegraph office.

At age seventeen, he was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, for which he eventually became general supervisor and then head of the Western Division. During this time, he began making keen investments, most notably in Woodruff Sleeping Car Company, a firm manufacturing an innovation that he introduced to the rail line.

Carnegie worked to help the Union army keep railway and communication lines open during the Civil War. Afterward he invested in Columbia Oil and Pennsylvania Oil before shifting his interests to steel and bridge construction. He developed the Keystone Bridge Company, the Cyclops Iron Company (later Union Iron Mills), and the Freedom Iron Company. His consolidated holdings became known as the Carnegie Steel Company. In 1901 he sold the firm to J. P. Morgan for $480 million, and it went on to become United States Steel Corporation.

At fifty-one Carnegie married Louise Whitfield, and they had one daughter, Margaret. He devoted his retirement to philanthropic endeavors resulting in Carnegie Hall, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, Carnegie Institute of Technology, and Carnegie Institution of Washington. He spent his final years writing articles and books, working for worldwide peace, and giving away money. See also: IRON AND STEEL INDUSTRY; MORGAN, J. P.; RAILROADS (TRANSPORTATION).

—Sandra Kay Heck, Walters State Community College Andrew Carnegie, Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie (1920); Joseph Wall Frazier, Andrew Carnegie (1970); Burton J. Hendrick, The Life of Andrew Carnegie (1932); Harold C. Livesay, Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business (1975).

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