After the war, he kept being his weird self, possibly having an affair with the queen of Spain and embezzling money from various projects he worked on. And despite the fact that he could have completely changed the outcome of the Civil War by his insubordination, Daniel spent the rest of his life talking about how he basically single-handedly won the Battle of Gettysburg.
Andrew Carnegie Was A Rags-To-Riches Superman
Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron you probably vaguely remember from your high school history class, was born in a one-room cottage in Scotland. When he was 13, he and his impoverished parents moved to America. It was there, through endless work and insider-trading and generally screwing people over, that he started to earn basically all the money.
There was so much that he had to find some creative uses for it.
Because the Victorians hated childhood, Andrew worked throughout his teenage years, starting as a bobbin boy at a cotton mill at 13, then moving to a telegraph office, and finally joining a railway company. It was there that he started earning serious money and also first showed his aptitude for badassery. It was 1861, and the Civil War had just broken out. The young Andrew managed to keep the Union's railroads and telegraph lines running basically single-handedly. He also managed to avoid any actual fighting by buying his way out of it, which might seem cowardly but is decidedly American.
Once the war was over, he bought the first of the steel plants that would make him the richest man in the world. Since his whole life had been devoted to work and saving the Union and money, he didn't manage to get married until he was 51. As rich old men in Victorian times were no different than rich old men today, he married a 30-year-old trophy wife.
To his credit, he didn't trade her in for a new model when she got older.
But it was his philanthropy that really makes Andrew the supreme badass. In 1889 he wrote a book telling other rich people that they had a responsibility to use their wealth to help society. And he didn't just throw that out there and see what happened; he led by example. He started giving away millions, mostly to help build libraries, but also to various universities, scientific endeavors, and the arts. By the end of his life, he had given away 90 percent of his fortune, or $13.7 billion in today's money. And what did he get for it? A dinosaur, a cactus, and two towns named after him. He served as the inspiration for Scrooge McDuck. And, most importantly, he got to be #1 in a Cracked article.
Read about the crazy Victorian obsession with photographing dead people in Kathy's very funny book FUNERALS TO DIE FOR. And follow her on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.