ROCKEFELLER, JOHN D.
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER (1839-1937). Rockefeller was the founder and one of the original partners of Standard Oil. At one time the world's richest man, Rockefeller began his career in Cleveland as a successful merchant prior to the Civil War. In 1863, he and his partners built a refinery which grew into a business that eventually absorbed many other Cleveland refineries and expanded into the Pennsylvania oil fields to become the world's largest refining concern. At this time, he expanded his operations by surrounding himself with talented people, streamlining his operations and using a variety of infamous business practices. In 1870, Rockefeller organized the Standard Oil Company of Ohio to improve his efficiency. Yet in 1882, to further streamline operations and to avoid state controls, Rockefeller created the Standard Oil Trust that significantly altered American business. Under this arrangement, a board of trustees took the stock of both the Standard Oil Company of Ohio and of all of its subsidiaries, and ran the combination through the board's executive committee. By this time, public criticism of Rockefeller and his methods was running at near-fever pitch and, in 1892, the Trust was dissolved by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Trust was divided into eighteen corporations before being placed into another holding company, Standard Oil of New Jersey. In 1911, the United States Supreme Court ordered this latter company dissolved, declaring that it was "a monopoly in restraint of trade" and illegal under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. By this time, Rockefeller had almost completely removed himself from business concerns concentrated solely on his philanthropic projects, including the University of Chicago, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, the General Education Board and the Rockefeller Foundation. It is estimated that Rockefeller gave away $550 million during his lifetime.