November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919
Andrew Carnegie was born into a poor family in post-industrial revolution Scotland. His weaver father had lost his job as technology made him obsolete. The family emigrated to the United States when Carnegie was thirteen. Securing a job delivering messages, Carnegie enjoyed watching plays by the masters as he made his deliveries at night. His pursuit of knowledge would define his life.
He made his way up the ladder of Pennsylvania Railroad, quickly becoming the superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division. He was hired at the start of the Civil War to supervise the military transportation for North and during that saw the rapid growth of the iron industry. He capitalized on it by providing iron for new bridges to replace the wooden ones across the country. Soon after that he started manufacturing steel, creating Carnegie Steel in 1892. His company was making more steel than the entire United Kingdom by 1900. In 1901 he retired and sold the business. He was given nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.
For the rest of his life Carnegie gave away his money to support education. In particular he provided money for the first public libraries in the United States and throughout the British Commonwealth. He believed the English language should be reformed to keep its power and worked to do so. He formed the Carnegie Hero Fund to recognize civilians who performed heroically. At the end of his life, Carnegie had given away over $300,000,000 which translates to $4.3 billion in 2005 dollars.