Rockefeller: His Single-Minded Pursuit of Wealth – Biography, Business (1998)

John Davison Rockefeller Sr. (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an American oil industry business magnate and philanthropist. About the book:

He is widely considered the wealthiest American of all time, and the richest person in modern history.

Rockefeller was born into a large family in upstate New York and was shaped by his con man father and religious mother. His family moved several times before eventually settling in Cleveland, Ohio. Rockefeller became an assistant bookkeeper at the age of 16, and went into a business partnership with Maurice B. Clark and his brothers at 20. After buying them out, he and his brother William founded Rockefeller & Andrews with Samuel Andrews. Instead of drilling for oil, he concentrated on refining. In 1867, Henry Flagler entered the partnership. The Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler company grew by incorporating local refineries. Rockefeller formally founded his most famous company, the Standard Oil Company, Inc., in 1870 as an Ohio partnership with William, Flagler, Andrews Jabez A. Bostwick, and a silent partner, Stephen V. Harkness. He ran it until 1897.

As kerosene and gasoline grew in importance, Rockefeller’s wealth soared and he became the richest person in the country, controlling 90% of all oil in the United States at his peak.[c] Oil was used throughout the country as a light source until the introduction of electricity and as a fuel after the invention of the automobile. Furthermore, Rockefeller gained enormous influence over the railroad industry, which transported his oil around the country. Standard Oil was the first great business trust in the United States. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry, and along with other key contemporary industrialists such as steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, defined the structure of modern philanthropy.[8]

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1911 that Standard Oil must be dismantled for violation of federal anti-trust laws. It was broken up into 34 separate entities that included companies that would become ExxonMobil, Chevron and others. Some of them still having the largest revenue, as individual pieces of the company were worth more than the whole and, as shares of these doubled and tripled in value in their early years, Rockefeller became the country’s first billionaire with a fortune worth nearly 2 percent of the national economy.[3] His peak net worth was estimated at $336 billion (in 2007 USD, inflation-adjusted) in 1913.[9][10][d] Rockefeller spent the last 40 years of his life in retirement at his estate in Westchester County, New York. His fortune was mainly used to create the modern systematic approach of targeted philanthropy through the creation of foundations that had a major effect on medicine, education and scientific research.[11] His foundations pioneered the development of medical research and were instrumental in the near-eradication of hookworm[12] and yellow fever.[13] in the United States.

Rockefeller was also the founder of both the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University and funded the establishment of Central Philippine University in the Philippines. He was a devout Northern Baptist and supported many church-based institutions. Rockefeller adhered to total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco throughout his life.[14] He was a faithful congregant of the Erie Street Baptist Mission Church, where he taught Sunday school, and served as a trustee, clerk and occasional janitor.[15][16] Religion was a guiding force throughout his life and Rockefeller believed it to be the source of his success. Rockefeller was also considered a supporter of capitalism based on a perspective of social Darwinism and was quoted often as saying: “The growth of a large business is merely a survival of the fittest”.

40 Comments on “Rockefeller: His Single-Minded Pursuit of Wealth – Biography, Business (1998)”

  1. That contradiction the author cites between the philanthropic and Robber Barron – He really missed the kernel here – classic fruit for a wolf in sheep's clothing.
    [2Co 11:13-15 KJV] 13 For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
    Individually, probably more singly responsible for the living hell on earth we are experiencing in 2021
    Part of what causes personality fragmentation in Satanic Ritual Abuse victims is this same duality between "love" bombing and extreme cruelty and evil. John D. was a true diabolical narcissistic sociopath. Starting a foundation does not constitute biblical repentance.

    You see many parallels today with Billy "The Gates of Hell" – global eugenicist mascarading as a philanthropist. Using the billions he amassed as Microsoft's CEO's corrupt and destructive anti-competitive business practices to transform the world into his twisted idea of utopia. Monsters like these are responsible for global devastation, and untold human suffering and death… not a fan.
    [1Ti 6:7-12 NET] 7 For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. 8 But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. 9 Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains. 11 But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that. Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Compete well for the faith and lay hold of that eternal life you were called for and made your good confession for in the presence of many witnesses.

  2. and thus began the first gilded age, and in this one, the new one,
    what are the billionaires of this one doing?
    pissing a fraction of their wealth away on penis rockets,
    all the while telling the rest of us how good they are and
    trying ever so hard to make sure they don't have to pay a cent more than the legal minimum
    to the people who create that wealth…
    or to the general good of the world

  3. Anything that keeps out competition of U.S oil companies is a shrewd Rockefeller business tactic…government regulations, climate change laws and even taxes actually help big oil believe it or not….they have very very very deep pockets and can weather all of it till they are the only ones standing and everyone else is bankrupt leaving them holding all the market share cards and high oil prices and a bright future because they know the demand for oil will always be there no matter what…so any politician that says they are against oil companies…they are lying…they are secretly on the side and agents for big oil…dont be fooled

  4. The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz. He believed in EUGENICS ☠

  5. Great writer but gives no real insight into how corrupt and anti-competitive this sapien was. More so than any other "capitalist" I have ever read before.

  6. You could be a small company that had something that they also did so they checked your prices undercut you even to lose money themselves,because they could being so much larger,until you were on your knees and had to sell to them for peanuts,great guy;whatever,that's what's wrong with the world,how many lives did he turn upside down in his persuit of wealth and power, check out his father and you'll see where the moral compass comes from,when the US government wants to break your companies up you know he had too much power,but all they did was divide up his company into many parts but control was still in his hands,if that is the essence of capitalism u can keep it because it has no soul or feeling to it,just like JDR snr

  7. I'm reading this book. Completed 24 Chapters of 35. What a masterpiece by Ron Chernow for resurrecting the most mysterious and reticent personality the world has ever seen.

    Hats off to you Sir

  8. Brian Lamb interviews Ron Chernow like a trial attorney. He is excellent. Ron Chernow is an outstanding storyteller. I really wasn't planning to listen to the whole interview, but I just couldn't pull myself away.

  9. The interview is from 1998 and they are already advertising websites? This publisher, as well as this show, were ahead of their time, it seems. The website still exists btw.

  10. The fact that he didn’t use propaganda is exactly why people still peddle conspiracy stupidity about this great man. It’s also why people like Elon musk are loved by the public and mark zuckerberg is hated despite being similar in obsessive goal oriented behavior while doing things that the average uneducated person will consider “immoral”.

  11. Was hoping to hear more about his philanthropic work especially eugenics and forced sterilization which he championed into law in several states.

  12. He not only stamped out oil competitors, he also stamped out the use of alcohol as a fuel wich could be cleaner and cheaper as you could make it yourself. See the book "alcohol is a gas."

  13. Great interview! Ron Chernow wrote an amazing book. Such a good writer and speaker as it turns out. John D Rockefeller seems obsessed with success. Once he got a stranglehold on the industry he didn't let go. He wanted all the oil and to have no competition, with Standard being the only supplier. I think in his mind that would be for the best for all involved so stomping out his competitors was like a mercy killing. He's on a mission from god to bring the oil to the consumer. Build a better world. That man continues to have a lasting influence on the world today.

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