Edinburgh was in its Golden Age of bright stars in science, art and economics in the early nineteenth century, when Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 in Dunfermline Scotland, outside of the big city on the Firth of Fourth. Dunfermline was a modest town, dominated by the great estate of the Forbes family. Brigadier General John Forbes, born in 1707, had long gone to Pennsylvania on behalf of the British crown, where he renamed Fort Duquesne to Pittsburgh in honor of William Pitt the Elder. John Forbes was buried in Philadelphia in 1759. It was almost a century later, when a youthful Andrew Carnegie was denied entrance to the vast parklands of the Forbes estate, where he wished to play. As a successful adult, Carnegie returned to Dunfermline, purchased the entire Forbes estate, and gave it to the city for use as a park. Pittencrieff Park is open to the public today, one of many bequests to the city given by Carnegie.
Andrew Carnegie’s family lived in one room of a stone cottage, shared by other families, on the first floor of which was a weaving factory. His parents were weavers. The family sold all possessions to buy fare to America, borrowing the balance needed to make the trip. The building is now the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, where the family’s room is recreated. The large exhibition space chronicles the life of Carnegie, from soldier during the Battle of Bull Run, to industrialist and philanthropist.
In the Carnegie museum several sayings of Carnegie are posted, including: The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced. Carnegie gave his vast fortune to endow libraries across the globe and to foundations for peace, science and a hero fund. To Carnegie a hero is not someone who carries a gun. Rather he sought to recognize those who made contributions to humanity in spite of challenges. The last of the Carnegie fortune was gifted to enable restoration of the Scone Palace, the place off crowning ancient kings of Scotland. The first Carnegie Hall is a modest theatre in Dunfermline, where today local talent stages performances for an appreciative local audience. In Dunfermline, Andrew Carnegie is a hero.
The story of Scotland, with other stories of Ports of the British Isles can be found in Cruise through History, Itinerary X, forthcoming.
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