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Perhaps the worlds best example of the rags to riches story is Andrew Carnegie He was a Scottish immigrant to the United States in the mid-19th century Carnegie was poor and began working full-time at the age of twelve Despite his poor background and the discrimination he faced as an immigrant he built an industrial empire based on the manufacturing of steel and when he sold his business empire and retired he was worth almost an estimated 400 million dollars His rags to riches story led him to believe that America was a meritocractic society where anyone who worked hard and smart with a little luck could be successful Andrew Carnegie believed strongly in what he called the Gospel of Wealth Basically Carnegie believed that accumulation of wealth by a few was inevitable in any capitalistic society Further this concentration of wealth in the hands of a few was necessary for democracy and freedom to prevail and for the whole of society to be prosperous Any attempt to circumvent this system would lead to anarchy and tyranny However Carnegie believed that those who did make it had a moral obligation to give their fortune away before they died to benefit society He once said The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced This philosophy embodied every aspect of his life Particularly he doled out his money to groups and causes that did not encourage laziness charities that only dealt with symptoms and not the problem but that created institutions that made opportunities for anyone with the right character to be successful and rich This philosophy of Carnegie was translated into a variety of areas He gave away 333 million of his fortune on various activities including an attempt to simplify spelling helping churches endowing and founding institutions of higher education and supporting the arts However his largest gifts were given to libraries Carnegie gave money to build 2509 libraries
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