John D. Rockefeller

In your young days, who in your opinion was the richest man in the world? John D. Rockefeller. How did he make all of his money? The oil business. He was the organizing genius that produced the Standard Oil Company. This company, directed by John D. Rockefeller, at one time controlled 97 percent of all the refined oil produced in the United States. And John D's fortune was estimated to be from one to two billion dollars. This was when a dollar was wort h many times what a dollar is worth today. So you understand that about the turn of the century, he was considered the richest man in the world.
Now let us look back and consider some historical information about this man who amassed one of the greatest fortunes in the history of the world. John D. was born in Richford, New York, on July 8, l839. He finished high school but never went to college. He attended a commercial school for a few months and left school for good when he was sixteen years old and went to work as a clerk and a bookkeeper.
When oil was discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in l859, he became associated with a man by the name of Samuel Andrews who had invented a cheaper process of refining oil. A few years later he bought out Andrews and with his brother organized the firm of William Rockefeller and Co. and the Standard Oil works in Cleveland, Ohio. Later the two companies were merged into the Standard Oil Company with John D. as President. This compa ny became the dominant company in the oil industry and the first great industrial power of its kind. By l875, the Standard Oil Company had absorbed or eliminated practically all rival oil companies and within a few years held a virtual monopoly over oil refining in this country.
The Oil Supreme Court outlawed the Standard Oil Company in l892, and the Supreme Court of the United States in l911 ordered the breakup of the Standard Oil Company into competing companies. Congress passed the Inter state Commerce Law which outlawed the practice of giving special cut rates to Standard Oil and any other companies. The Interstate Commerce Commission, appointed by the President, is still in business in Washington and is the watchdog for all transportation rates. It has to approve all rates and see that the railroads, bus lines, truck lines set reasonable rates and apply them to all shippers without discrimination.
About the time of the breakup of the Standard Oil Trust, old John D. retired and turned his business interests over to his son John D. Rockefeller, Jr. John D.'s fortune when he retired was estimated to be over a billion dollars. This was a pretty good record for a man who as a youth started out hoeing potatoes for the magnificent sum of 40 cents a day. There are several unusual things about old John D. that I think are most interesting. The first girl he fell in love with refused to marry him. Her mother said she was not going to let her daughter "throw herself away" on a man who had such poor prospects as John D. Another interesting fact is that he gave away more money than anyone in history at that time. He gave away 750 million dollars, which is a lot of money. That means that he gave away 600 dollars for every day since Moses led the children of Israel across the Red Sea-three thousand, five hundred years.
Also, he lived to be 97 years old, in spite of the fact that he was one of the most bitterly hated men in America for his ruthless business practices. He had armed gua rds protect him day and night. He also had the strain of building and managing his far-flung oil enterprises. Only about 30 out of a million men reach the age of 97. Hardly one man in a million reaches that age with his natural teeth. When John D. died, he did not have a false tooth in his head.
The Rockefeller legend lives on in his sons, grandsons, and great grandsons, all of whom have made secure places in history. The son, John D. Jr., built the great Rockefeller Center in New York and donated the land for the United Nations building on the East River in New York. Grandson David was over Citibank in New York City. Grandson Laurence directed the Rockefeller Foundation and other interests. Grandson Nelson was a 4-term Governor of New York State and Vice President under Gerald Ford. Grandson Winthrop was a two-term governor of Arkansas, and great grandson John D. Rockefeller IIII has been Governor of West Virginia and a United States Senator.
John D. had a winter home at Ormand Beach, Florida, near Day tona Beach and he used to ride his bicycle around the town and play golf. He always carried a pocket full of brand new dimes and would give one to everybody he met. I came down on the train from Jacksonville, Florida, years ago and the conductor told me that he had John D. on board. He was in his private car that was switched off the train at Ormond Beach and the old gentleman stayed inside so I did not even get a glimpse of the grand old billionaire so I missed getting a shiny new dime.

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