Especially in today’s age, one of massive income inequality and wealth disparity, where the top 1% own as much wealth as the bottom 50% combined, there are lessons to be learned from the great philanthropists of olden times, such as the incredibly generous Andrew Carnegie.
Carnegie emigrated from Scotland with his family as a young boy and held various jobs along the way to success. His first job was as a “bobbin boy” who would change the thread bobbins on the industrial sewing machines for a grueling 12 hours a day, 6 days a week in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in the mid 1840s.
In the early 1850s Carnegie began working for the railroad as a telegraph operator. The connections he made from the hard work he performed would prove invaluable to him over the years and gave him many opportunities to invest his hard earned money in ventures such as the Pullman Sleeper Car Company and others.
It was his purchase of Stony Farm that really set him up financially from the proceeds of the oil found on the property which he then used to buy and expand businesses in the iron industry: the sale of these would prove the source of his greatest earnings and the forming of U.S Steel by J.P Morgan.
Carnegie truly believed that the further pursuit of money was an anathema and he decided that he would take no more than $50,000 per year as his own personal salary and the balance of his wealth would be given away in the pursuit of social equality.
Considering his personal fortune would have been approximately $13.7 billion in today’s money, that was a huge amount of money to donate to charities along the way but that is exactly what Andrew Carnegie did by building libraries and hospitals and museums in addition to many other charitable works.
In all it is estimated that Carnegie gave away or donated the sum of $350 million. Considering inflation, that sum represents a staggering $78.6 billion given to philanthropic causes.
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