In the early nineteenth century, a tide arose in the petroleum industry which transformed the face of the business. This exceptional tide was none other than the “oil magnate” John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller, an American industrialist, was the founder and the head of Standard Oil Company and one of the richest men in the world. He used his wealth to finance the existing philanthropic causes.
Rockefeller was born July 8th, 1839, in Richford, New York. He constructed his first oil refinery near Cleveland and incorporated the Standard Oil Company in 1870. By 1882, he had almost monopolized oil business in the United States, but his business practices resulted in the passing of the antitrust laws. Late in life, John concentrated in philanthropy. He passed away in 1937.
He rose from humble beginnings to become world’s richest person. John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Company have dominated both the philanthropic and industrial landscapes of the modern era. Below are the most interesting things about his life and legacy:
1. John D. Rockefeller made donations of over a half billion dollars to different philanthropic causes. Brought up by a religious mother, John tithed 10% of his income to his local church from his very first salary. After retiring from the Standard Oil Co. Inc. in 1897, he uplifted his philanthropy and donated over 500 dollars to scientific, religious and educational causes.
In 1913, the first billionaire in the America endowed the Rockefeller Foundation that had a determined goal “to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.” The foundation has contributed several achievements such as complete eradication of hookworm disease in the US and the development of an effective yellow fever vaccine.
2. Winston Churchill would’ve been the writer of Rockefeller’s biography—if his cost had not been very high. On top of being a talented orator, Churchill was an excellent writer who wrote forty-two books and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. During the 1930s, the family of Rockefeller approached the future prime minister of the United Kingdom to write an official biography of their patriarch, but Churchill proposed an advance payment of $250,000. The amount was very rich even for the deep-pocketed John Rockefellers, who instead picked Allan Nevins, Columbia University historian.
3. Rockefeller lived very long that his life insurance firm had to pay him $5 million. Even he did not celebrate his birthdays with equal gusto as “job days,” Rockefeller definitely experienced most of them. His life spanned from Martin Van Buren’s presidency to that of Franklin D. Roosevelt before he passed on at age 97 on May 23rd, 1937. At the age of 96, his insurance company was obliged to pay him the five million dollars face value of his policy.
3. Rockefeller’s father was a bigamist and a con artist. The father of tycoon, William Rockefeller, was a traveling snake-oil salesperson who had gone to an extreme length of posing as a deaf-mute peddler and hawked herbal remedies and miracle drugs.
William Rockefeller, a smooth-talking huckster, was nicknamed the “Devil Bill.” He fathered kids, including the future American industrialist, with his wife and mistress, the live-in housekeeper of the couple. Also, the itinerant William ran a double life posing as an eye-and-ear specialist named Dr. William Levingston, and he secretly married another woman in 1855.
5. Rockefeller suffered from alopecia and lost all hair from his body and head. In his early 40s, Rockefeller experienced a significant loss of hair from his body, his head, and his mustache. The hair disappeared forever, and at the beginning of the 1900s, the tycoon started to wear rotating wigs of different lengths to give an impression that his hair is growing back and being shorn.
6. Distressed by his rising status in the petroleum industry and his aggressive and ruthless competitive policies, the government of United States had to question Rockefeller and even had to develop a law which was against monopoly. That didn’t stop the aspirations of Rockefeller. On the contrary, he developed new policies to help in tackling the law.