I believe the power to make money is a gift of God … to be developed and used to the best of our ability for the good of mankind. Having been endowed with the gift I possess, I believe it is my duty to make money and still more money and to use the money I make for the good of my fellow man according to the dictates of my conscience.
(“John D. Rockefeller: The Ultimate Oil Man”)
If someone talks about the richest Christian of the USA, that must be John D. Rockefeller. The name of this multimillionaire has become a symbol of wealth. He was a hardworking, purposeful and honest entrepreneur, which is why partners called him “the devil.” People frightened their children by these words: “Do not cry, if you do not want Rockefeller to take you away.” The paradox is that the richest man in the world was proud of his impeccable morals most of all. Being a young man, he said that he had two dreams – to earn 100 thousand dollars, and live 100 years. He died at the age of 97, which means that one of his dreams unfortunately did not come true. However, the first task was more than just well done.
John Davison Rockefeller was born in 1839 in New York State. He was brought up by his mother who inspired him to work hard and save from a young age. The main part of family education was business. At the age of seven, he sold some turkeys to his neighbors. Having earned $50 on this, John lent this money to a neighbor at 7% per annum.
John did not finish the school. At the age of 16, he had only a three-month course of accounting, which helped him to find a job in Cleveland, where his family lived. After six weeks of searching, John took a position of assistant accountant in a trading company Hewitt and Tuttle. First, he was paid $ 17 per month, and then – $ 25. At the age of 18, John D. Rockefeller became a junior partner of merchant Maurice Clark.
The American Civil War of 1861-1865 helped this company to become independent. The armies generously paid for necessary things, and partners provided them with flour, pork and salt. By the end of the war in Pennsylvania, John with his partner set up an oil company and the city of Cleveland became the center of the oil fever. By 1864, Clark and Rockefeller were fully engaged in the oil business in Pennsylvania. A year later, Rockefeller decided to focus only on the oil business, but Clark was against it. That is why John decided to buy all business part of his partner and started developing the oil business on his own.
In 1870, he created the legendary company that was called Standard Oil. Together with a friend and business partner Henry Flagler, he began to collect the scattered oil producers and refiners in a single powerful oil trust. Competitors could not resist him; Rockefeller put them at a choice either association, or ruin. If this did not work, he used other methods. For example, Standard Oil lowered prices on the local market of the competitor, forcing him to work at a loss. The company used an extensive system of industrial espionage to gather information about competitors and market conditions. In the files, Standard Oil had information about every purchaser of oil in the country, the use of each barrel sold to independent dealers, and even information about where every grocer buys kerosene from the Isle of Man to California. This brought him a negative critic of many people. In 1937, The New York Times informed:
He was accused of crushing out competition, getting rich on rebates from railroads, bribing men to spy on competing companies, of making secret agreements, of coercing rivals to join the Standard Oil Company under threat of being forced out of business, building up enormous fortunes on the ruins of other men, and so on. (“John D. Rockefeller”)
By 1879, “war of aggression” was actually over. Standard Oil controlled 90% of the refining capacity in the United States. Rockefeller himself dispassionately met this victory – as the obvious inevitability. In 1917, John D. Rockefeller gave all his business to his eldest son; 20 years later, he died.
John D. Rockefeller was one of the greatest philanthropists in American history. However, as he sincerely believed in God, he tried not to publicize his business activities. Since the late 19th century, John paid more attention to charity, giving business management to his reliable partners. Once, he said:
I have always indulged the hope that during my life I should be able to establish efficiency in giving, so that wealth may be of greater use to the present and future generations. If the people can be educated to help themselves, we strike at the root of many of the evils of the world. (“Rockefeller Gifts Total $530,853,632”)
Analyzing Rockefeller’s charity work, it is clear that he was interested in education, religion, scientific research and other social organizations.
During this time, he did much for the country. Moreover, it was not just about helping the needy. Being a devout man, John D. Rockefeller from the early childhood gave a tenth of his income to church; in 1905, this proportion had risen to one hundred million. Since this time, the name of Rockefeller was also associated with charity, and John himself is considered one of the greatest philanthropists of the United States. Thus, due to his charity work, a lot of institutions were built. By the end of his life, John gave about half a billion dollars to charity. With his help, the UN headquarters in New York were built. Last time, the treasury of John D. Rockefeller was recalculated to equivalent of 2007, when it amounted to 318 billion dollars. Just for the record, the richest man in the same year was considered Bill Gates having $50 billion.
In 1892, with his help, the University of Chicago was founded, which has graduated far more Nobel Prize winners than any other institution during its existence. However, his principle of care was not simply to provide funds, but establish an independent and a self-sustaining enterprise that can carry its own responsibilities.
Being a generous person, he never accepted the offers to call the building or institution that were founded on his money by his name. However, some years after his death, one university building was named to his honor. In 1901, Rockefeller gave money for the foundation of the new medical institute. Unfortunately, people took it for the tool to raise the reputation of the Standard Oil Company. This institute became a huge research center. In 1913, there was created the Rockefeller Foundation which continued the charity work. Its purpose was to ensure well-being of people throughout the world, which means that Rockefeller cared not only about Americans but also about people in the whole world. According to Gordon,
The benefactions of the Rockefeller Foundation have been many and varied, from funding the research that led to the yellow fever vaccine, to the Montreal Neurological Institute, to a new building that holds five million books at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The foundation was a pioneer funder of the Green Revolution, which dramatically increased agricultural yields across the developing world, and may have saved as many as one billion lives.
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Opinions about this man are so diverse: from admiration to open hostility and hatred. Some people find him an outstanding businessman and a man with a visionary and an outstanding intellect, professional intuition and foresight. Other people stand for an opposite opinion, considering him a tyrant, a monopolist and corrupter, or simply the devil, who has achieved a great success by cold-blooded destruction and ruining the competitors.
Even the extermination of hookworm in the Southern states alone would make Rockefeller one of the great philanthropists of the 20th century. However, he did not receive the credit he deserved for this due to his tarnished reputation (“Biography: John D. Rockefeller, Senior”).
In fact, the life of John Rockefeller is not the story of a single person, but the history of entire industries: oil production, refining, transportation and the economy not only within the United States, but around the world. Now, there is no country or city, or even home, which does not use petroleum products (gasoline, kerosene, candles, wax, plastics, household chemicals, etc.), which are supplied to world markets and firms enterprises of John D. Rockefeller.