John D. Rockefeller, known as John Davidson Rockefeller (8 July 1839 - 23 May 1937), was an American industrialist, philanthropist and founder of Exxon Mobil, the first billionaire of the nineteenth century, known as the "Oil King".
John Rockefeller graduated from Cleveland High School in 1855; started his own company in partnership with Clark in 1859; founded Standard Oil in 1870; became the first trust in American history in 1882; founded the University of Chicago in 1890 and Rockefeller University in 1901.
In July 2009, Forbes.com published a list of the "15 Richest Americans of All Time" and John D. Rockefeller topped the list.
Rockefeller was born on 8 July 1839 in a small town called Janja, on the Hudson River in New York State, to a poor family. He was trained in business by his father from an early age and inherited his mother's virtues of thrift and hard work.
In 1853, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1855, Rockefeller graduated from high school; that same year, Rockefeller paid to attend a school, the Cleveland-based branch of Folsom Commercial College, which he attended for only three months; in September, after six weeks of job hunting, Rockefeller finally started his first job at Hewitt & Tuttle: bookkeeper.
In 1857, John Davidson Rockefeller became head bookkeeper at Hewitt & Tuttle, and his salary rose from $300 to $600 a year.
A hard-won business
In 1858, in partnership with Maurice B. Clark, Rockefeller started an independent business reselling agricultural products and at the age of 23 decided to go into the oil refining business.
On 18 March 1859, Rockefeller and Clark opened their joint venture.
In 1863, Rockefeller and Clark formed Clark & Rockefeller to turn to oil refining investments and brought in another partner, the chemist Andrews, to establish a joint venture to build an oil refinery in Cleveland.
In 1865, Rockefeller and Clark had a serious dispute over the direction of their business. Rockefeller borrowed heavily to raise cash and managed to buy all of Clark's shares at auction for $72,500, and the company name was changed to Rockefeller & Andrews.
In 1866, Rockefeller took on his brother William Rockefeller as his business partner.
In 1867, Rockefeller took on Henry M. Flagler as another partner to form the oil refining company Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler.
In 1870, Rockefeller co-founded the Exxon Mobil Oil Company.
In 1882, Rockefeller became the first trust in US history.
In 1892, the court ruled that the Mobil Oil Trust was an illegal monopoly and Rockefeller was forced to transfer his property to various branches, but the business was still run centrally by the original board of directors.
In 1896, Rockefeller retired.
In 1899, Rockefeller united the branches again to form the New Jersey Mobil Oil Company.
Rockefeller died on 23 May 1937.
Rockefeller created the first joint venture, the trust. Under this trust structure, he consolidated more than 40 manufacturers and monopolised 80% of the US refining industry and 90% of the oil pipeline business. The trust spread rapidly throughout the United States and across all industries. Rockefeller succeeded in creating a unique era in American history - the Age of Monopoly.
In 1872, John D. Rockefeller annexed more than 20 refineries in the Ohio area, controlling 90% of the oil business in Ohio, as well as the state's major oil pipelines and all the oil trucks in Pennsylvania. At the same time, he took over the terminal facilities of the New Jersey Railroad.
By 1880, John Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company was refining 95% of the nation's oil and also controlled some of the major railway trunk lines in the United States.
In the 1880s Rockefeller expanded overseas into Western Europe and China, where American processes had made Standard's products superior to those of the Europeans, and as a result Standard won the paraffin market in much of Europe. In China, Standard carved out a whole new market for itself. He gave away millions of cheap oil lamps to get the Chinese to buy and light Standard's paraffin, known as "lighting the lamp of light in Asia", and so, step by step, Standard expanded the oil market from Europe to Asia and then to the world.
In 1884, Rockefeller moved Standard's headquarters from Cleveland to New York, making it the largest oil conglomerate in the world.
In 1888, Rockefeller established his first overseas branch, the Anglo-American Oil Company, which soon monopolised the British oil business.
In 1890, Rockefeller set up the German-American Oil Company in Bremen, which was responsible for the German market. He also built an oil terminal in Rotterdam, signed a contract to supply France with all the crude oil it needed and bought part of the Dutch and Italian oil companies; by the same year, Standard Oil already controlled 88% of the refining output of the United States.
In 1904, Standard Oil had 91% of the refining output and 85% of the sales volume.
Thereafter, the Rockefeller Consortium, together with four US banks, including Citibank and Chase Manhattan Bank, and three insurance companies, formed the core of the seven major US financial institutions, which controlled 12% of US banking assets and 26% of insurance industry assets. The Rockefeller consortium spread to all areas of the United States and was even able to influence and sway American politics.
By 1910, Rockefeller's personal fortune had reached US$1 billion.
In 1928, Rockefeller was featured on the cover of Time magazine.
In 2015, the Financial Times organised and published the world's "50 Corporate Pioneers" and John D. Rockefeller finally made the list