SCOTTISH HEROES: Andrew Carnegie

Born the son of an impoverished weaver in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1835, Andrew Carnegie went on to become the richest man in the world. Due to a lack of opportunity in his native land Andrew's father decided to take his family to Pittsburgh, USA, where they arrived in 1848.

Twenty years later, at the age of 33, Andrew had amassed a fortune worth around $5 million at today's prices. He went on to become the Steel King of America. In the process, the generosity he went on to show in later life was not always evident, when along with his partner Henry Frick he broke the steel unions.

The empire he forged in the steel furnaces of Pittsburgh was sold in 1901 for $400 million with Andrew's share equating to $4.5 billion at today's rates. He retired from business life the richest man in the world.

However, the man of steel had a heart of gold for he believed that the rich were merely trustees of their wealth and should distribute it for the benefit of humanity. As a result he turned his enormous energies towards philanthropy and the pursuit of world peace.

Carnegie, the archetypal local boy made good, lavished his bounty on his native town. He threw open to its "toiling masses" the gates of Pittencrief Park, from which he had been debarred as a boy. Dunfermline benefited in many ways not the least of which was becoming the site of the worlds first Carnegie Library.

By the time of his death in 1919 he had given away over $350 million dollars to provide free libraries, church organs, concert halls, schools and colleges. The Trusts and Foundations that he established in Britain, Europe and America still serve humanity today by distributing over $150 every minute.

There is a phrase familiar to generations of Scottish children that illustrates the extent of the man's generosity and influence throughout the country. When asking a harassed parent to buy them something new, be it a toy or a game, or perhaps be taken to the cinema or the circus, the parent would respond by saying " who do you think I am? Andrew Carnegie!!"

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