Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, son of a hand loom weaver. In 1848, the family emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Pennsylvania. Carnegie found work in various industries such as telegraphy and the railroad industry, which later proved to be wise decisions. After Carnegie and partner John Pierpont Morgan invested in the steel mills in the 1880s, he became the second-richest person in the world, behind only John D. Rockefeller. Andrew Carnegie spent his last years as a philanthropist, providing the capital for purposes of public interest and social and educational advancement, establishing more than sixteen hundred libraries in the U.S. alone. Carnegie disseminated his riches to public foundations, hospitals, and schools throughout the world, and he even owned Carnegie Hall in New York City from its construction in 1890 until his widow sold it in 1924. In his lifetime, Carnegie gave away more than $350 million. After his death, his last $30 million was also given away to foundations, charities, and pensioners.
Gordon Hutner is a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is founder and editor of the Oxford University Press journal American Literary History. Among his books are What America Read: Taste, Class, and the Novel, 1920–1960; American Literature, American Culture; The American Literary History Reader; and Selected Speeches and Writings of Theodore Roosevelt.