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On his death people were urged to “Burn a dollar bill in mourning” for the man alternately known as the king of steel, architect of the second Industrial Revolution, friend of capitalism, and scourge of workers.

Andrew Carnegie was born November 25, 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland.  In 1848, his family moved to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania to live with relatives in a small Scottish community.  Andrew began working at a bobbin factory but by 1850 had managed to secure a job as a messenger for the telegraph company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  From here he would launch a career that made him a man of legendary wealth.

During the American Civil War, Carnegie was employed in the railroad industry.  Immediately following the war, he travelled to Great Britain to study the railways there.  Upon his return, Carnegie combined his knowledge of the British railroad system with the American steel industry to create a modern industrial empire, catapulting the United States into world leadership in steel production.  In doing so, he became one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Carnegie’s wealth and power in these industries continued to grow until the turn of the twentieth century, when he underwent a colossal shift from industry magnate to benevolent benefactor declaring that he “wanted to die penniless”. He turned his attentions to more philanthropic pursuits, ceasing to amass wealth and power while dispensing his fortunes in gifts to worthy causes.  Nowhere was his generosity more pronounced than in his dedication to education.  As a young immigrant child Carnegie had found books to be indispensable, and he now wished to provide future generations with the same opportunities.  Millions of dollars in grants were given to establish libraries that were accessible to everyone.  By his death on August 11, 1919, he had given away much of his fortune; he believed in sharing his wealth so as to help others.

I’ve never been to Carnegie Hall in New York which I am told is a fabulous building. However I have been to Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline. Probably not quite the same – more like a converted aircraft hanger and sports hall.

At the moment the citizens of Dunfermline can enjoy treats such as A Life in Politics: MP George Galloway’s one-man show. Mind you those in New York will find their hall closed until October but then they have the choice of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Anne-Sophie Mutter, The Philadelphia Orchestra and other acts somewhat more upbeat – but probably less amusing – that dear old George Galloway.

2 Responses to “11th August 1919: Death of Andrew Carnegie”

  1. James Green says:

    Yes, it is a bit of a surprise. I wonder if in a hundred year’s time anyone will remember George Galloway? Apart from being Scottish they don’t have anything in common. Mind you I do like to hear George on one of his rants. The one in front of the US Senate when he defended himself against their attacks on his comments on the Iraq War were classics.

  2. Leo says:

    I had not idea that he was born so long ago. I thought he was much more a 20 century man. Just Shows how big his influence is.

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