“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
– Benjamin Franklin (Author, Scientist, Statesman and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States)
A poor boy from Scotland struggled to meet his basic needs. His parents, however, gave him values- reading, learning, and gratitude. While his father was a poor weaver, industrialization in the mid-nineteenth century Europe caused a further decline in the demand for hand-woven cloth. His mother started a small grocery store, and that didn’t do well either. Then they even repaired people’s shoes, and finally decided to move to America- the land of dreams and promise!
While in America, the young Andrew ran errands in a factory and earned a dollar per week as his wage. Then he grew to be a telegraphic messenger for two dollars salary. Then he joined the rail company. All this time Andrew kept his eyes and ears open to observe, and learn. Most importantly his heart was at the right place- he was grateful to one man who opened his building of four hundred books for young children to read on weekends. Young Andrew devoured the books- he understood, learned and grew by the day. He resolved that if he ever became wealthy in life, he’d ensure that deprived children had access to read books and weren’t denied learning and growth.
Decades passed, and the keen observer and quick learner Andrew Carnegie went on to become the wealthiest man in America- a steel baron. His values, however, remained the same. One day at the height of his success, he dramatically sold of his steel business and began developing libraries all over America- over three thousands of them. He remembered with gratitude his childhood benefactor; he gave away most of his wealth and became a philanthropist par excellence. He even declared that the greatest sin is to worship money, and one who dies rich is a disgraced individual! He practiced and preached the principles of service; he deferred his marriage until his ailing mother died so that he could serve her without distraction. Finally at the age of fifty-one, after his mother passed away, he got married.
Andrew Carnegie has given away billions in charity, and even today, hundred years later he is remembered by Americans for his keen learning and a benevolent heart.