Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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March 24th
The Man Who Gave Back
Andrew Carnegie emigrated from Scotland to America with his family in 1848, when he was twelve years old. The boy found a job in a Pittsburgh cotton mill, working twelve-hour days for $1.20 a week. He spent his spare time educating himself in a local library and soon managed to get a better job as a messenger, then a telegraph operator.

Eventually his hard work caught the eye of a Pennsylvania Railroad official, who hired the young man as a clerk. After that, Carnegie’s rise was rapid. Realizing that the growing United States would need lots of steel, he opened a steel plant in 1875. Over the next quarter century he built a giant business empire. On March 24, 1900, he incorporated his Carnegie Steel Company, and then turned around and sold it a year later for $480 million, a transaction that made him one of the richest men in the world.

The most interesting part was still to come. Carnegie had made up his mind that he would not die rich. He had the idea that a person should spend the first part of life making money, and the second part giving it away. “The man who dies rich, dies disgraced,” he said.

He spent the rest of his years giving away his money. Starting public libraries was his special love. Reading books had opened the way for him, and he wanted others to have the same chance. He started more than 2,500 libraries around the world – a gift that has touched millions of lives. By the time he died at age eighty-three, Carnegie had given away the vast majority of his riches to charities.

Carnegie’s career had its blemishes. While he earned millions, unskilled laborers in his mills worked for fourteen cents an hour. Yet in the end, he made his mark not by how much he made, but by how much he gave back.

American History Parade
1765
The British Parliament enacts the hated Quartering Act, requiring American colonists to provide temporary housing for British soldiers.

1900
Andrew Carnegie incorporates his giant Carnegie Steel Company.

1934
Franklin D. Roosevelt signs legislation providing for independence for the Philippine Islands.

1958
Elvis Presley is inducted into the Army for two years.

1989
The tanker Exxon Valdez strikes a reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spilling an estimated 11 million gallons of oil.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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