Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, the United Kingdom, to William Carnegie, a weaver, and Margaret Morrison Carnegie. He was the second of two sons. Andrew's mother went to work to support the family, opening a small grocery shop and mending shoes.
Advances in looming technology rendered his father’s occupation obsolete, threatening the family with dire poverty. Andrew's mother, Margaret, fearing for the survival of her family, pushed the family to leave the poverty of Scotland for the possibilities in America, about which she had heard encouraging reports. Seeking a better future, in 1848 the Carnegies borrowed money to go to the United States.
The Carnegies auctioned all their belongings only to find that they still didn't have enough money to take the entire family on the voyage. They managed to borrow 20 pounds and find a found room on a small sailing ship, the Wiscasset. At the harbor in Glasgow, they and the rest of the human cargo were assigned to tightly squeezed bunks in the hold. It would be a 50-day trip, with no privacy and miserable food.
They settled near Pittsburgh, where young Andrew began an extraordinary rags-to-riches business career. Carnegie's father found a job in a cotton factory, but he soon quit to return to his home handloom, making linens and trying to sell them door to door. Carnegie also worked in the cotton factory, but after his father died in 1855, his strong desire to help take care of the family pushed him to educate himself.