| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
 ON the 25th of November, 1837, Andrew Carnegie was
born in Dunfermline, Scotland.
His father earned a modest living by making hand-woven
linen and selling it to merchants. As time went
on, the father became poorer and poorer because factories
were being built, where steam was used to run the looms.
This put an end to hand work, and ruined many a small
weaver. Consequently the Carnegies turned their eyes to
the New World.
It was a great sacrifice to the parents to leave their old
home and friends; but they said, "It will be better for the
boys." It was when their son Andrew was ten, that they
embarked in a sailing vessel bound for America.
They settled in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. Andrew
was soon given work as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill, at
one dollar and twenty cents a week. The father also was
employed in the same place. The mother took in washing,
besides working for a shoemaker.
The next year Andrew was promoted to the position
of engine boy at a dollar and eighty cents a week. And
after another year he secured work as a district messenger
boy at three dollars a week.
In later years Mr. Carnegie thus describes this change
in his life: "My entrance into the telegraph office was a
transition from darkness to light, from firing a small engine
in a dark and dirty cellar to a clean office with bright
win-  dows and a literary atmosphere; with books, newspapers,
pens and pencils all around me, I was the happiest boy
While sitting on a
bench waiting for orders
he was not idle. He was
constantly listening to the
and before long learned
how to translate the
sounds made by the ticker.
One morning before the
operator arrived, there
came a message over the wire.
Andrew rushed to
the receiver and took the
message accurately. The
messenger boys were not
allowed to take messages,
but he was forgiven and
promoted to the position
of operator with a salary
of three hundred dollars a
year. As he was supporting his mother and younger
brother at this time, the increase in salary was very
welcome to the lad of sixteen.
Carnegie was so ambitious and quick that he attracted
the attention of Colonel Scott, the superintendent of the
Pennsylvania Railroad, who made him the telegraph
operator in his office. One day an accident occurred
which threatened to block traffic for some time. Colonel
Scott was away; so his operator took matters into his
own hands, sent orders to all the trains, telling them what
to do, and signed Scott's name to the orders. Although
 Carnegie had no authority to do this, the superintendent
was pleased. The young man had done the right thing at
the right moment. Later, when Carnegie had devised
a plan for managing the train schedule by telegraph,
Colonel Scott appointed him his private secretary. When
he was twenty-eight he was made superintendent of the
Western Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
It was to Carnegie that the inventor of the sleeping
car brought his plans. Carnegie saw at a glance what a
valuable idea it was, and secured the introduction of these
cars into his division.
At about this time the Pennsylvania Railroad began
to use iron bridges instead of wooden ones. Carnegie
organized the Keystone Bridge Works and built the first
iron bridge over the Ohio River. Then he saw the need of
producing his own iron, so he erected furnaces and rolling
mills. This business was not very profitable at first.
Carnegie's readiness to seize the right opportunity,
however, and his ability to judge men made his business
prosperous. One plant after another was added, until he
had the largest steel and iron business in the country.
At Homestead, Pennsylvania, there are several
immense establishments in which Carnegie has much money
invested, although in 1901 he retired from active business.
Here are made armor plates for the United States navy
and building material of many kinds. Every working day
over three thousand tons of steel ingots are turned out;
and these are manufactured into a great variety of forms,
from the steel rim of a bicycle to the armor plate of two
hundred tons. These different articles are shipped all
over the world. In six days, from one department, can
be turned out all the material necessary for the great steel
frame of a "skyscraper."
At the time of his retirement, Carnegie's company,
 which had been called The Carnegie Steel Company, and
was valued at five hundred millions, was changed to The
United States Steel Company. This was the fortune that
Mr. Carnegie had built in the fifty years since, as a bobbin
boy, he earned a dollar and twenty cents a week.
Mr. Carnegie has said that "the man who dies
possessing millions, free and ready to be distributed, dies
disgraced." He believes that "surplus wealth is a sacred
trust to be administered for the highest good of the
people." He is attempting to live up to that trust by
distributing his own wealth, and by doing so wisely. He
feels that if he gives his money without considering the
needs and worth of those who receive it, he may be doing
more mischief than good. So he has made it a rule to
give only to those who help themselves. He has given
many libraries and other public buildings, and in each case
he obliges the town or city that receives the building and
its endowment to pledge a certain amount each year to
keep it in repair and pay the running expenses.
It was through an incident in his early life that
Carnegie came to give libraries. While engaged in hard
labor in Allegheny City, he was given the opportunity of
browsing among the books of a small library. The owner
had announced that on every Saturday he would be ready
to lend books to working boys and men. Carnegie,
remembering the pleasure given in this way, determined to
use a good share of his millions in establishing libraries
where he found the people willing to help.
Not only has he given libraries. Hospitals, public
halls, baths, parks, churches, schools, and colleges are
being built or helped through his kindness. His greatest
single gift is Carnegie Institute at Pittsburg.
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