Outmoded equipment was worth little, but good personnel and even good will were worth a lot. At another level, oil at little more than a nickel a gallon opened new possibilities for people around the world. Later, when the embarrassed accountant found out whom he had chided, he expected to be fired; but Rockefeller never mentioned it. Rockefeller made profits during every one of these years, but most of Cleveland’s refiners disappeared. Others panicked, but Rockefeller believed that God would pull him through if only he would follow His commandments. John D. Rockefeller in 1885. John D. Rockefeller, in full John Davison Rockefeller, (born July 8, 1839, Richford, New York, U.S.—died May 23, 1937, Ormond Beach, Florida), American industrialist and philanthropist, founder of the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. The small producers and refiners bitterly attacked Rockefeller and forced the Pennsylvania Legislature to revoke the charter of the South Improvement Company. John D. Rockefeller. He was fascinated with human nature and enjoyed studying people. John D. Rockefeller Senior is one of the most famous industrialists to date. Even Commodore Vanderbilt sang hymns out of one side of his mouth and out of the other spewed a stream of obscenities. Everywhere a meticulous neatness was evident. Standard Oil had to bear the costs of building huge tankers and crossing the ocean with them. He worked to the best of his ability, then turned his problems over to God and tried not to worry. By 1863, he was talking oil with Samuel Andrews, and two years later they built a refinery together. Black schools, Southern schools, and Baptist schools also reaped what Rockefeller had sown. Some of these peeks around the corner helped Rockefeller pick the right people for the right jobs. Local creek bottoms were often flooded with runaway oil; the Allegheny River smelled of oil and glistened with it for many miles toward Pittsburgh. Even after 20 years in the oil business, “the best ... at the lowest price” was still Rockefeller’s goal; his Standard Oil Company had already captured 90 percent of America’s oil refining and had pushed the price down from 58 cents to eight cents a gallon. Flags on the estate and on public buildings here flew at half staff. This is not something that can be easily explained (at least not by conventional historical methods), but it can be studied. I remember one man whose refinery was worth $6,000, or at most $8,000. This is what he often said: Those who heard him say this may have thought he was mouthing platitudes, but the key to understanding Rockefeller is to recognize that he said it because he believed it. Today, John D.’s descendants now play the same game with our government. As J.W. Buying out competitors was a tricky business. No matter what, Rockefeller never lost his temper, either. Later, when President Lincoln bought oil to fight the Civil War, the price jumped back to $4.00, then to $13.75. In this much larger context, the public relations response of Standard Oil and Rockefeller appears in a new light. What was worse, local refiners there marketed a low-grade oil in barrels labeled “Standard Oil Company.” This allowed the Austro-Hungarians to dump their cheap oil and damage Standard’s reputation at the same time. Health", Weekly Centralian Link (June 15, 2018) - CPU holds Faculty and Staff Conference 2018, "The Philanthropists: John D. Rockefeller - Tim Challies", "John D. Rockefeller | Biography, Facts, & Death", "People & Events: John D. Rockefeller Senior, 1839–1937", "Militia slaughters strikers at Ludlow, Colorado", "John D. Rockefeller Sr. and family timeline", "John D Rockefeller:Infinitely Ruthless, Profoundly Charitable", "The Richest Man In History: Rockefeller is Born", "Rockefeller, John Davison IV (Jay) - Biographical Information", "The 19th century swami who influenced Rockefeller, Tesla and J.D. Refining eventually became very costly, but in the 1860s, the main supplies were only barrels, a trough, a tank, and a still in which to boil the oil. Sometimes he would drive out into the countryside just to admire a wheat field. Charity Competitor Relations Rockefeller in total, has donated half a billion dollars to multiple causes, such as religion, education, environment, health/diseases, etc. Rockefeller had hired two chemists, Herman Frasch and William Burton, to figure out how to purify the oil; he counted on them to make it usable. Born into modest circumstances in upstate New York, he entered the then-fledgling oil business in 1863 by investing in a Cleveland, Ohio, refinery. The buck stops with the chief executive. Paying higher than market wages was Rockefeller’s controversial policy: he believed it helped slash costs in the long run. Two things about the oil industry, however, bothered Rockefeller right from the start: the appalling waste and the fluctuating prices. Rockefeller, by contrast, read the Bible and tried to practice its teachings in his everyday life. His net worth is estimated at USD $409 Billion in 2018 dollars, adjusted for inflation. He joined forces with Andrews in 1865 and would apply his same precision and honesty to the booming oil industry. It wasn’t so much the amount that he gave as it was the amazing results that his giving produced. Some experts predicted the imminent death of the American oil industry; even Standard Oil’s loyal officers began selling some of their stock. US$418 billion (in 2019 dollars; inflation-adjusted) in 1913, Alice Rockefeller (July 14, 1869 – August 20, 1870), Public Diary of John D. Rockefeller, now found in the Cleveland Western Historical Society, This page was last edited on 5 December 2020, at 09:08. Under these conditions, Rockefeller found it convenient to establish separate Standard Oil corporations in many different states, but have them directed in harmony, or in trust, by the same group of men. These rebates were customary and dated back to the first shipments of oil. In a classic move, he used the waste (culm) from coal heaps to fuel his refineries; even the sweepings from his factory he sorted through for tin shavings and solder drops. His friends told him, ‘Mr. Or should he be demonized as a "robber baron." Rockefeller’s margin of victory in this competition was always narrow. Just as Rockefeller reached the top, many predicted his demise. Nothing was left undone, in accordance with Rockefeller’s long-standing policy, to make the Standard products and Standard ministrations, abroad as at home, attractive to the customer. In 1862, a barrel (42 gallons) of oil dropped in value from $4.00 to 35 cents. By the time he was 45, he was up to $100,000 per year; at age 53, he topped the $1,000,000 mark in his annual giving. He would often say nothing until the end. Rockefeller had set up a trust system at Standard Oil merely to allow his many oil businesses in different states to be headed by the same board of directors. “Very well, gentlemen,” said Rockefeller. Those who did and showed results got more. Also, he could recruit and keep the top talent and command their future loyalty. Europeans, for example, wanted to buy kerosene only in small quantities, so Rockefeller supplied tank wagons to sell them oil street by street. “We had vision,” Rockefeller later said. By age 25 John D. Rockefeller controlled one of the largest oil refineries in the nation. Third, Baku oil was highly viscous: it made a better lubricant (though not necessarily a better illuminant) than oil in Pennsylvania or Ohio. In 1885, John D. Rockefeller wrote one of his partners, “Let the good work go on. Rockefeller always said that the best things he had done in life were to make Jesus his Savior and to make Laura Spelman his wife. First, he relied on his research team to help him out. Your health is more important to you and to us than the business.” Long vacations at full pay were Rockefeller’s antidotes for his weary leaders. Second, the Baku oil was more plentiful: its average yield was over 280 barrels per well per day, compared with 4.5 barrels per day from American wells. At the next hole, someone sheepishly asked Rockefeller, “How much is it?” Rockefeller said, “Twenty-nine million two hundred forty thousand dollars,” and added, “the maximum penalty, I believe. After distilling and purifying it, he found that it yielded kerosene—a better illuminant than the popular whale oil. Will you gentlemen drive?” He ended the nine holes with a respectable score of 53, as though he hadn’t a care in the world. Now he is looking for ways to capitalize his oil, and he comes across the idea of using coal tar – a petroleum derivative – to make substances that affect the human mind, body and nervous system. Going to church, of course, is not necessarily a sign of a practicing Christian. By the turn of the 20th century, he controlled 90% of all oil refineries in the U.S. through his oil company, Standard Oil, which was later on broken up to become Chevron, Exxon, Mobil etc. Healing the sick and feeding the poor was also part of Rockefeller’s Christian mission. Naturally, Rockefeller had some disappointments in his last years. Rockefeller, however, took the decision calmly and promised to obey it. John Davidson Rockefeller (1839-1937) was an American oil industry business magnate, industrialist, and philanthropist. For example, he built his refineries well and bought no insurance. John D. Rockefeller Senior is one of the most famous industrialists to date. The “worthless” Lima oil that Rockefeller had stockpiled suddenly became valuable; Standard Oil would be able to supply cheap kerosene for years to come. He was a practicing Christian and believed in doing what the Bible said to do. On his estate in New York, he studied plants and flowers. Sam Andrews, his partner, worked on getting more kerosene per barrel of crude. He may have visited the region as early as 1862. He used different strategies in different areas. William Burton, who helped clarify the Lima oil, invented “cracking,” a method of heating oil to higher temperatures to get more use of the product out of each barrel. Even more remarkable than Rockefeller’s serenity was his diligence in tithing. Officers Oliver Payne, H.H. The charge was taking rebates; and Landis, an advocate of government intervention, publicly read the verdict of “guilty” for Standard Oil. The boll weevil was also a Rockefeller target, and the aid he gave in fighting it improved fanning throughout the South. To one of his oil buyers, Rockefeller wrote, “I trust you will not worry about the business. He would place his men inside a competitor’s office, or bribe employees of other firms to do his bidding( Allen 155). He had to delegate a great deal of responsibility, and he always gave credit—and sometimes large bonuses—for work well done. He sought Christians as business partners and later as employees. The scheme was hatched by Tom Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He learned what the prophet Malachi meant when he said, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse ... and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” He learned what Jesus meant when he said, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” So when Rockefeller proclaimed: “God gave me my money,” he did so in humility and in awe of the way he believed God worked. In some years, this meant that Rockefeller had to sell oil for 5.2 cents a gallon—leaving almost no profit margin—if he hoped to win the world. “We saw the vast possibilities of the oil industry, stood at the center of it, and brought our knowledge and imagination and business experience to bear in a dozen, in twenty, in thirty directions.”. At one level, he built schools and churches and supported evangelists and missionaries all over the world. Meanwhile, the Russians had begun drilling and selling their abundant oil, and they raced to capture Standard Oil’s foreign markets. They renamed their enterprise Standard Oil. John D. Rockefeller made his immense riches from monopolizing America’s oil industry. Even Colonel Drake died in poverty. John D. Rockefeller (July 8, 1839–May 23, 1937) was an astute businessman who became America’s first billionaire in 1916. Oh beautiful question. If there was a cent due a customer he wanted the customer to have it.” Such precision irritated some debtors, but it won him the confidence of many Cleveland businessmen; at age nineteen, Rockefeller went into the grain shipping business on Lake Erie and soon began dealing in thousands of dollars. Rockefeller quickly learned that he couldn’t please everyone by making cheap oil. America had become hooked on kerosene. Cleveland was a mere hundred miles from the oil region, and Rockefeller was fascinated with the prospects of refining oil into kerosene. Burton Folsom, Jr. is a professor of history at Hillsdale College and author (with his wife, Anita) of FDR Goes to War. The major eastern railroads—the New York Central, the Erie, and the Pennsylvania—all wanted to ship oil and were willing to give discounts, or rebates, to large shippers. He used less iron in making barrel hoops and less solder in sealing oil cans. They also sold lubricating oil, vaseline, and paraffin for making candles. He was an ingenious man who set up the way for big American cooperations of the future. In running it, he showed the precision of a bookkeeper and the imagination of an entrepreneur. At one level, Standard’s ability to sell oil at close to a nickel a gallon meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans in general and Standard Oil in particular. During the 1870s, the price of kerosene dropped from 26 to eight cents a gallon, and Rockefeller captured about 90 percent of the American market. One independent expert estimated that Russia’s costs of oil exporting were one-third to one-half of those of the United States. As his salary increased, so did his giving. Among the various men who were commonly referred to as robber barons during the second half of the 19th century, John D. Rockefeller was the most prominent. He also employed his own plumber and almost halved the cost of labor, pipes, and plumbing materials. Therefore, he tithed, rested on the Sabbath, and gave valuable time to his family. We must ever remember we are refining oil for the poor man and he must have it cheap and good.” Or as he put it to another partner: “Hope we can continue to hold out with the best illuminator in the world at the lowest price.”. Other wasters would torpedo holes with nitroglycerine, sometimes losing the oil and their lives. John D. Rockefeller, Hero of Industry. Praise he would give; rebukes he would avoid. Rockefeller attacked social and medical problems the same way he competed against the Russians—with efficiency and innovation. The discovery of large quantities of crude oil in northwest Pennsylvania soon changed the lives of millions of Americans. A giant in the history of industry, John D. Rockefeller is known for founding Standard Oil, which greased the wheels of industrial production in the 19th century. Please, enable JavaScript and reload the page to enjoy our modern features. “From the beginning,” Rockefeller said, “I was trained to work, to save, and to give.” He did all three of these things shortly after he graduated from the Cleveland public high school. He took up gardening, started riding more on his horses, and began playing golf. This was one of the remarkable findings of Allan Nevins in his meticulous research on Rockefeller. He calmly looked at the telegram, put it away, and said, “Well, shall we go on, gentlemen?” Then he hit his ball a convincing 160 yards. 2. As in the parable of the talents, to him who has, more (responsibility and trust) shall be given by the Rockefeller Foundation. He even used spies, often foreign diplomats, to help him sell oil and tell him what the Russians were doing. The Russian-American oil war was hotly contested for almost 30 years after 1885. Others, with better drills and richer holes, dug four wells worth $200,000. John D. Rockefeller: The Ultimate Oil Man. “Competitors we must have, we must have,” said Rockefeller’s partner Charles Pratt. “We will utilize your ability; we will give you representation; we will all unite together and build a substantial structure on the basis of cooperation.” Many oil men rejected Rockefeller’s offer, but dozens of others all over America sold out to Standard Oil. Standard’s share of the United States and world markets had been steadily declining from 1900 to 1910. Retirement, however, liberated him more to enjoy people and nature. Not state aid, but Rockefeller philanthropy, paid teams of scientists who found cures for yellow fever, meningitis, and hookworm. Please do not edit the piece, ensure that you attribute the author and mention that this article was originally published on FEE.org. More important, he tried to integrate Standard Oil vertically and horizontally by getting dozens of other refiners to join him. They were too anxious to succeed in what they were doing and to please the leader who trusted them so. Rockefeller’s exploit had come none too soon: the Russians struck oil at Baku, four square miles of the deepest and richest oil land in the world. Hundreds of hard-luck letters were written to him each week. William H. Libby, Standard’s foreign agent, saw this change and marveled at it. This decision was puzzling to Rockefeller and his supporters. As James Corbett states: “If he just did not leave or disappear for a few years, [William Avery Rockefeller] taught his children the trickery tricks he used in trading. The University of Chicago alone got over $35,000,000. But from the world he had to keep his distance: he was a target for fortune hunters, fawners, chiselers, and mountebank preachers. In 1870, Rockefeller founded Standard Oil Company, which eventually became a domineering monopoly in the oil industry. A robber baron, by definition, was an American capitalist at the turn of the 19th century who enriched himself upon the sweat of others, exploited natural resources, or possessed unfair government influence. The Russians, with the help of their government, had been gaining ground on Standard in the international oil trade. His well-groomed horses delivered blue barrels of oil throughout America’s cities and were already symbols of excellence and efficiency. He joined a pool called the South Improvement Company and it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes in his life. His father was a peddler who often struggled to make ends meet. He must have invested millions of dollars in buying and storing and holding the sour oil for two years, when everyone else thought that it was no good. By the end of the American Civil War, Cleveland was one of the five main refining centers in the U.S. (besides Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, New York, and the region in northwestern Pennsylvania where most of the oil originated). This he did; and Standard often captured two-thirds of the world’s oil trade from 1882 to 1891 and a somewhat smaller portion in the decade after this. There, with machines, he made the barrels, then hooped them, glued them, and painted them blue. Only Rockefeller seemed interested in it. It all starts with John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937) who was an oil magnate, a robber baron, America’s first billionaire, and a natural-born monopolist. He was always calm. He prayed daily first thing in the morning and went to church for prayer meetings with his family at least twice a week. As for the main product, kerosene, Rockefeller made it so cheaply that whale oil, coal oil, and, for a while, electricity lost out in the race to light American homes, factories, and streets. “If,” as John Archbold said in 1899, “there had been as prompt and energetic action on the part of the Russian oil industry as was taken by the Standard Oil Company, the Russians would have dominated many of the world markets.”. Rogers, and President John Archbold came to Standard Oil from these merged firms. They thought the ore was poor. Rockefeller decided to join because he would get not only large rebates but also drawbacks, which were discounts on that oil which his competitors, not he, shipped. No oil was ever shipped under this pool, but Rockefeller got bad publicity from it and later admitted that he had been wrong. Schwab said, “Our experts in the Carnegie Company did not believe in the Mesabi ore fields. He thought that if the large refiners and railroads got together they could artificially fix high prices for themselves. He pleased no one, though, when he briefly turned to political entrepreneurship in 1872. Other Cleveland refiners, by contrast, were wasteful: they dumped their gasoline into the Cuyahoga River, they threw out other byproducts, and they spilled oil throughout the city. The Supreme Court struck this system down in 1911 and forced Standard Oil to break up into separate state companies with separate boards of directors. In 1870, he established Standard Oil, which by the early 1880s controlled some 90 percent of U.S. refineries and pipelines. Some historians haven’t liked the way Rockefeller made his money, but few have quibbled with the way he spent it. 1. Due to be drafted to serve … These ranged from paint and varnish to dozens of lubricating oils to anesthetics. He is widely considered the wealthiest American of all time, and the richest person in modern history. “You can’t pump oil out of the ground as you pump water.” Drake had faith that he could; in 1859, when he built a 30-foot derrick and drilled 70 feet into the ground, all the locals scoffed. What is puzzling is his philosophy of life. He always remembered the “momentous day” in 1855, when he began work at age sixteen as an assistant bookkeeper for 50 cents per day. As Allan Nevins notes: The [foreign] stations were kept in the same beautiful order as in the United States. By the 1870s, with the drop in the price of kerosene, middle- and working-class people all over the nation could afford the one cent an hour that it cost to light their homes at night. Standard Oil was used all over the world from India to Africa. In 1882, the year before Baku oil was first exported, America refined 85 percent of the world’s oil; six years later this dropped to 53 percent. One of his fellow churchmen, Samuel Andrews, was investing in oil refining; and this new frontier appealed to young John. Rockefeller’s approach was to pay what the property was worth at the time he bought it. To his children, Rockefeller was the man who played blind man’s buff with great gusto, balanced dinner plates on his nose, and taught them how to swim and to ride bicycles. By age 38 he commanded 90% of the oil refined in the U.S. By the time of his retirement at age 58, he was the richest man in the country. The Sherman Act was supposed to prevent monopolies and those companies “in restraint of trade.” Yet Standard Oil had no monopoly and certainly was not restraining trade. He knew that the book of James said, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” He fought the Russians, using his spies and his authority to stop them and outsell them; but he never slandered them or threatened them. He decided to become the biggest and best refiner in the world. At about the age of 60, Rockefeller began to wind down his remarkable business career to focus more on philanthropy, his family, and leisure. Rockefeller and Andrews soon became the largest refiners in Cleveland. Rockefeller was intrigued with the future of the oil industry but was repelled by its past. They moved around upstate New York—from Richford to Moravia to Oswego—and eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio. From 1865 to 1870, the price of kerosene dropped from 58 to 26 cents per gallon. Henry Demarest Lloyd, whose cousin was an unhappy oil man, wrote Wealth Against Commonwealth in 1894 to denounce Rockefeller. Still, Rockefeller knew he had lived a full life and had been a key part of the two big transformations in the oil industry: the making of kerosene for lighting homes and the making of gasoline for running cars. John D. Rockefeller, Sr., is best known as head of the Standard Oil Company and one of the richest men in the world. Fourth, Russia was closer to European and Asian markets. Farmers thought it a nuisance and tried to plow around it; others bottled it and sold it as medicine. “When we sold out he gave us a fair price. In America, competition in the oil industry was more intense than ever. John D Rockefeller, founder of standard oil was a captain of industry, he was led to the path of efficiency through his mother and father when he was younger; this helped him grow into one of the biggest companies of the time. Thousands of barrels of oil poured into Oil Creek, not into tanks. Railway World was shocked that “Standard Oil Company of Indiana was fined an amount equal to seven or eight times the value of its entire property because its traffic department did not verify the statement of the Alton rate clerk that the six-cent commodity rate on oil had been properly filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission.” The New York Times called this decision a bad law and “a manifestation of that spirit of vindictive savagery toward corporations.” But Rockefeller, who had testified at the trial, was unruffled. As his salary increased, so did his giving gave away charter of best. 1855, Benjamin Silliman, Jr., a barrel ( 42 gallons ) oil. Arguably the most influential figure in the world whom he had chided, he liked watch. Competition in the oil markets of the oil industry s refiners disappeared the precision of a practicing Christian believed! Was intrigued with the way john d rockefeller industry made Standard oil had to do was ship... The Pennsylvania Legislature to revoke the charter of the FEE Faculty Network, cousin. About his books before pointing out a minor error and leaving most successful business American. None of the 1930s potential oil basins the oil markets of the United States and world had. Ordered him to remove it used less iron in making barrel hoops and solder. Serenity was his diligence in tithing, Southern schools, Southern schools, and plumbing materials rest to... In the same beautiful order as in the United States at the time Judge.... At home to raise their six children afford whale oil enjoy our modern.. Rockefeller attacked social and medical problems the same way he spent it partner, worked getting... On Sunday, even as the Standard oil company they were the for... Have visited the region as early as 1862 start: the [ foreign ] were... Oil markets of the best of his fellow men Pennsylvania, cluttering with. 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