Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

By Andrew Carnegie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
COLONEL ANDERSON AND BOOKS

WITH all their pleasures the messenger boys were hard worked. Every other evening they were required to be on duty until the office closed, and on these nights it was seldom that I reached home before eleven o'clock. On the alternating nights we were relieved at six. This did not leave much time for self-improvement, nor did the wants of the family leave any money to spend on books. There came, however, like a blessing from above, a means by which the treasures of literature were unfolded to me.

Colonel James Anderson -- I bless his name as I write -- announced that he would open his library of four hundred volumes to boys, so that any young man could take out, each Saturday afternoon, a book which could be exchanged for another on the succeeding Saturday. My friend, Mr. Thomas N. Miller, reminded me recently that Colonel Anderson's books were first opened to "working boys," and the question arose whether messenger boys, clerks, and others, who did not work with their hands, were entitled to books. My first communication to the press was a note, written to the "Pittsburgh Dispatch," urging that we should not be excluded; that although we did not now work with our hands, some of us had done so, and that we were really working boys.1 Dear Colonel Anderson promptly en-

____________________
1
The note was signed "Working Boy." The librarian responded in the columns of the Dispatch defending the rules, which he claimed meant that "a Working Boy should have a trade." Carnegie's rejoinder was signed "A Working Boy, though without a Trade," and a day or two thereafter

-45-

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