Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. He was a Scottish immigrant to the US in the mid 19th century. He had been poor and was already working a full-time job by the time he was 12 years old. Even though he was a poor immigrant, Carnegie was able to build up a steel manufacturing empire. By the time he sold his business, he was worth an estimated 400 million dollars. This urged him to believe that America was a society in which hard workers with a little luck could be successful people.
Carnegie believed that there was an accumulation of wealth in a few individuals which was inevitable in a capitalistic society. However, this wealth was necessary for the upholding of democracy and for society to be prosperous. He also believed that those who had the wealth were to give away their fortune to benefit society before they died. They should be given to charities which created the opportunity for anyone with the right characteristics to be successful.
Andrew Carnegie believing this, gave away 333 million dollars to various activities which promoted higher education and churches. However, Carnegie is known for his contributions to libraries. He gave money to build 2,509 libraries in the British Isles, Australia, and New Zealand. 1,679 of the libraries were built in the United States and $55 million was spent on libraries alone. Andrew Carnegie is often called the "Patron Saint of Libraries". His main reasons for donating to libraries was that anyone with the desire to educate himself would be able to and also immigrants like him would be able to acquire cultural knowledge of America in the libraries.
Many contemporaries found a third reason for Carnegie to give away his fortune was that he was an egotist who liked the attention that giving away his money gave him. He also enjoyed that there were thousands of buildings which were named after him. However, egotist or no egotist, Andrew Carnegie did give away 90% of his fortune.
Andrew Carnegie died on August 11, 1919 in Lenox, Massachusetts.
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