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>Are There Any Andrew Carnegies Alive Today?


Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (or /kar-NEE-ghee/) was born on this date in 1835, son of a weaver. Young Andrew emigrated from Scotland to the U.S. when he was thirteen and immediately found a job.

At age 18, after working in textile mills and then as a messenger boy, Carnegie doubled his original wages by becoming a telegraph operator and secretary.

He was frugal, saved his money, and financial success followed, becoming one of the wealthiest men of his day. He retired at 45, determined to give away his fortune. He said, “the man who dies rich,” dies disgraced.”

That is an interesting philosophy, not that he would go out of his way to give it away and thereby die a pauper, but that he lived at a time when the central government was weak, there was no income tax, and therefore it was–at least theoretically–easier to accumulate wealth. Of course, we know that isn’t true, either. During the past 30 years it has been easier than at any time in the past to accumulate wealth, because of the great percentage of inflation and high interest rates.

Like many of his day, Carnegie was largely self-taught. Much of that stemmed from his love of books and libraries.

Because of his wealth, and his love of correct spelling, around the turn of the 20th century, Melvil Dewey recruited Carnegie to his spelling reform movement. Dewey proposed a French Academy while Carnegie (and his $100,000 commitment) favored getting a few well-known educationists to publicly announce their willingness to accept simplifying the spelling of a few common words (among them enough, through, and young). In Carnegie’s view, “amended spellings can only be submitted . . . it is the people who decide what is to be adopted.”

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