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John Davison Rockefeller was born July 8, 1839 to Eliza and William Rockefeller. He
grew up on that farm and I believe that was one of the contributing factors of his
success. His family, including 5 siblings, moved around frequently, around before
settling in Cleveland, OH. Since he moved around so much, Johns education was
irregular, but he was bright and completed two years of high school. His father,
trader of salt and lumber, had by that time become a vendor of patent medicine,
and strongly encouraged him to start a business of his own. Johns favorite subject
was mathematics and he took a course at Folsoms Commercial College in
In finding a job, John was not so much interested in the salary as he was in what
education that job would provide him about business. He started out at large and
diversified merchant firm and made a salary of $3.50 per week as a bookkeeper.
After doing that for 3 years, he left to begin his own wholesale grain and grocery
business with Maurice Clark. They only had 4k dollars to start, but during their first
year in business, it had grossed $450,000. The following year, the Civil war began,
and that gave John the opportunity to make his big paycheck. Rockefeller avoided
the draft by paying for substitute to fight in the war, in his place so that he would
not miss out on the business opportunities.
During the early years in business, John showed character traits and a lifestyle that
would stay with him throughout his life. He was a devout Baptist, and remained very
active in the church even after becoming ridiculously rich and successful in
business. He taught Sunday school and was on church boards with other workingclass people. He also took to heart what the bible says about tithing 10 percent and
he did that, even when he started out a low salary. Overall, he lived a simple
lifestyle, had a few pleasures here and there, and was extremely devoted to his
In 1864, he married Laura, whose father was a successful businessman. They went
on to have four children, three girls and a son, whom he named after himself. They
lived in a large, comfortable, but not extravagant house in Cleveland, before moving
to New York in the 1880s. John instilled a sense of industry and public responsibility
to his offspring that extended to the third and fourth generation, producing one vice
president and three state governors. Out of the big industrial families, the
Rockefeller dynasty became the most remarkable.
In 1863, Rockefeller began his business venture in oil. Along with his wholesale
grocery partners, and refining expert Samuel Andrews, built a refinery in Cleveland.
His grocery partners proved too cautious for his taste, and a few years later he
bought out the three Clark brothers and got out of the grocery business altogether
so he could strictly focus on oil. By the end of their first year, Rockefellers and
Andrews firm was producing at least twice as much as any other single refinery out
of the nearly 30 refineries in Cleveland.

Rockefeller was more successful than his competition because of his attention to
detail, foresight, emphasis on efficiency, lack of toleration for waste, and growing
his reputation as a trusted businessman. These qualities allow him to get loans from
bankers and to attract partners who brought additional capital to his firm. Henry
Flagler joined forces with Rockefeller in 1867, bringing with hima substantial
amount of money and the ability to negotiate the lowest railroad shipping rates.
Back then, they didnt have regulated rates, and with railroads giving favored
shippers rebates on their publicity stated rates. The larger the shipper, the better
rate you would get. With his shipping rates lower than his competition, it allowed
Rockefeller to undersell them and steadily drive them out of business. Thinking
about this, its exactly what Wal-Mart is doing to most neighborhood grocery stores
because they just cant compete with the prices Wal-Mart can offer to its customers.
In 1870, to continue growing his business, Rockefeller converted his partnership into
a joint-stock corporation, the Standard Oil Company of Ohio. And in 1972, Standard
Oil decide to create a monopoly in the oil business, offering to buy out nearly all
remaining Cleveland refineries. Owners could either except a cash offer, the stock in
Standard Oil, or be driven out of business. Most refiners sold out, some claimed that
they had been pressured into taking less than their businesses were worth, but
those who acquired Standard Oil stock did make small fortunes. Rockefeller
accomplished this takeover of Cleveland in about three months. Standard Oil then
proceeded to acquire refineries in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Long Island. By 1875
they owned half of the oil products in the United States, but Rockefeller didnt stop
there. His next step was to gain control of pipelines, oil terminals, kerosene
distributors, and additional plants. By 1878, he had secured his monopolistic
Rockefellers wealth at one point approached $900 million. What to do with all the
money posted a dilemma, and he invested in the stock market and in 1890s,
gained control of the Mesabi Range, the richest iron ore field in the U.S. Within a few
years, however, he sold his Range to Andrew Carnegie. Increasingly, his interests
were turning to philanthropy, where his impact was tremendous.
John Rockefeller succeeded as a businessman and a philanthropist in part because
of his personal qualities I talked about earlier and in part of the time of the Industrial
revolution. He had an uncanny ability to identify talent and had a vision unlike
anyone else in his field. He became one of the most outstanding philanthropists in
the U.S. His long-range impact, can be viewed as the greatest out of the tycoons
relating to the Industrial Revolution.