Entrepreneur John D. Rockefeller rose from his humble beginnings to become the richest man in the world by founding the Standard Oil Company that controlled the American economy. He is credited for revolutionizing the petroleum industry and defining the structure of modern philanthropy.
Rockefeller was born on 8th July 1839 in Richford, New York. He grew up in his middle class family paying attention to his studies. He attended Cleveland’s Central High School and then did a course in business studies from Folsom’s Commercial College. His first job was of a bookkeeper for Hewitt & Tuttle at the age of 16. His first salary was 50 dollars for three months. In 1859, Rockefeller started a business of wholesale foodstuff with Murice B. Clark with a capital of 4000 dollars. Sensing an opportunity Rockefeller suggested that they build an oil refinery in Cleveland’s flourishing industrial area. In 1863 both the partners established the Standard Oil Company and in ten years’ time the company had taken almost complete control over the region.
When the opportunities shifted to Pennsylvania, Rockefeller moved there and by 1880s his oil business was worth 55 million dollars. He initiated the Standard Oil Trust of which he was the head, in 1882 which became a model for the development of other dominations. As Rockefeller became richer and more powerful his public standing started going down. The states began to sanction antimonopoly legislation which led to the Sherman Antitrust Act. Rockefeller retired from his everyday involvement in the Standard Oil Company in 1895 and started focusing on his philanthropy work however this did not really help the constant attacks on his business and himself. Consequently his company was ordered to be dissolved in 1911 under the Sherman Act violation.
John D. Rockefeller was a philanthropist from heart. He used to donate 10% of his earning to the church from the day he had started earning. He funded a large sum to a college for African-American women in Atlanta which was later known as Spelman College. The oldest building in the college is named after him as ‘Rockefeller Hall’. He also donated 80 million dollars to the University of Chicago and helped form the Central Philippine University in 1905 which is the first Baptist University in Philippines. He founded his General Education Board in 1903 that helped in promoting education in the U.S. He founded the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913 and the Laura Spelman Memorial Foundation in 1918. Rockefeller has given a total sum of 550 million dollars for philanthropy works.
Rockefeller died due to arteriosclerosis on 23rd May 1937 in Florida. He is one of the leading entrepreneurial personalities of America and undoubtedly helped make the nation into what it is today. Rockefeller said the following about his life saying:
“I was early taught to work as well as play,
My life has been one long, happy holiday;
Full of work and full of play-
I dropped the worry on the way-
And God was good to me every day.”