He was born in Dunfermline, Scotland and emigrated to America in 1848. Carnegie was a social darwinist who wrote The Gospel of Wealth, in which he stated his belief that the rich should use his or her wealth to help enrich society, rather than wasting it on those who do not have wealth. Early in life, Carnegie worked for meager pay as a bobbin boy in a textile factory. His life was a classic "rags to riches" story.
Carnegie was destined to become the richest man in the world as the head of the American steel industry. However, today Carnegie is remembered for his donations to the arts and institutions (many named after him). For example, the Carnegie Institute of Technology was founded in Washington, DC with a $10 million gift from Carnegie on January 28, 1902. He owned Carnegie Hall in New York City from its construction in 1890 until his widow sold it in 1924.
Andrew Carnegie bought Skibo Castle and refurbished it.
The following is taken from one of Carnegie's memos to himself:
- "Man does not live by bread alone." I have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen, and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the body rich. There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still and still plays the beast. My aspirations take a higher flight. Mine be it to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring into the lives of the toilers of Pittsburgh sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth.