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Biography of John D. Rockefeller: Standard Oil Entrepreneur




There are a few figures in American history that have legendary status and only a handful of those are businessmen. The businessmen on the legends list all made a lot of money but they revolutionized the American way of life, making it much easier for the public to live their lives. As such, John D. Rockefeller is in good company. He is most definitely one of the entrepreneurs on the list and most definitely deserves the status that he currently has.

Early Life

John Davison Rockefeller was born on July 8, 1839 in Richford, New York. His parents were anything but well off, largely thanks to his father’s ability to follow hare-brained schemes that never quite worked out. He was described as lazy and would do anything to get out of working as a salesman. As a result, the entrepreneur’s upbringing was anything but stable until the family moved to Owego, New York where he was first schooled. However, after the family had moved to Strongsville near Cleveland in 1853, Rockefeller had decided to go into business on his own and work hard to get away from the hardship of his early existence.

At the age of 16, the entrepreneur left school and got a job of assistant bookkeeper for a commission firm. However, he was not happy to continue indefinitely in that position. As such, he resolved to open his own business as soon as he possibly could, and the opportunity arose in 1859 when he founded Clark & Rockefeller with partner Maurice Clark.

Moving Into Business

Rockefeller and Clark enjoyed a great amount of success with their business. The entrepreneurs had the foresight to build an oil refinery in the industrial area of Cleveland. This 1863 development saw them pair up with Clark’s two brothers and Samuel Andrews. However, just two years later Rockefeller bought the brothers out and his brother joined the firm along with Henry Flagler. This movement formed Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler and added another refinery to the company. Although this may sound confusing, it led to the formation of the Standard Oil Company, which is where Rockefeller made his money and his legacy.

The entrepreneur formed Standard Oil in 1870 and began to expand its reach, supplying oil to a huge percentage of the country via the railroad. Its influence grew and soon Rockefeller began to purchase the refineries of his competitors to prevent any threats to his business. In fact, he was so prolific that Standard Oil absorbed all but 4 of his Cleveland competitors in just 2 months during 1872. It was during this period that the entrepreneur was given a reputation for being ruthless. However, because Rockefeller kept his stock, his finances went through the roof to the point that he became the first billionaire in the world, ever! In modern terms, his wealth would easily translate into the entrepreneur being the richest man that ever lived.

Although John D. Rockefeller retired in 1897, his acquisition of his competitors continued to the point where the Federal Court indicted the company and convicted it of monopolising the marketplace. It also blasted Standard Oil’s unethical practices and forced the company to break into 34 companies. However, by then Rockefeller was enjoying his retirement and setting up foundations to investigate and develop cures for ailments like hookworm and yellow fever. He was also founding Rockefeller University and the University of Chicago for the future generations to take advantage of.

Although the entrepreneur died on May 23, 1937 and fell just two years short of his 100th birthday, he was a man that was larger than life. His drive, determination and questionable business dealings certainly helped him to achieve his goals. He had no education at all but managed to form one of the biggest businesses and amassed more money than anyone before or after him has done. That achievement cannot be questioned.

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