Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, on November 25, 1835. He was the first son of William Carnegie, a linen weaver and local leader of the Chartists (who sought to improve the conditions of working-class life in Great Britain), and of Margaret Carnegie, daughter of Thomas Morrison, a shoemaker and political and social reformer.
William Carnegie’s handloom business dwindled in the wake of industrialization, and in 1848 the family emigrated to the United States, settling in Allegheny, PA. There, at the age of 13, Andrew began his career as bobbin boy in a cotton factory. A voracious reader, he took advantage of the generosity of an Allegheny citizen who opened his library to local working boys. Books provided most of his education as he moved from being a Western Union messenger boy to telegraph operator and then to a series of positions leading to superintendent of the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.