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John D. Rockefeller: the Grand Success of the Empire Under One Person

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The book, John D. Rockefeller: Anointed with Oil, by Grant Segall is a biography following the events of Rockefeller’s life. John Davison Rockefeller was born on July 8, 1839. His parents were William Avery and Eliza Davison Rockefeller. John grew up in many regions of New York. At age 14, he and his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. John was described as, “He had a slim body and a grave face slightly pinched in the middle. He had a wide mouth, thin lips, and hooded bluish eyes” (13). At a young age, he enjoyed to play games with other children. John had a subtle type of humor and often teased his younger sibling, William. Eliza was a very strict mother, while William was away for long periods of time. At a young age, John took a liking to finding ways to make money. He earned extra money from doing extra chores on the family farm. He would by candy from the store by the pound and sell it to his siblings by the piece. His father would tell him to, “trade dishes for platters” (15). Following his fathers advice John got the better part of many deals. The one room school where the Rockefeller’s lived was open for only a few months, so when it was open John made the most of his time there. He would ask many questions of his teachers and always doubled checked their answers. Soon after school stopped William’s absences from his family started to become longer. John stepped up and tried to be a father to his siblings. John’s father was accused of rape and their family was not shed in a good light. Rumors began to start and spread quickly throughout Richmond. These events began to diminish William’s credibility. These events caused the Rockefellers to move to Owego, New York. Owego was about 18 miles south of Richford, where John had grown up.

In Owego John and his family attended a Baptist church. The Rockefeller children attended the neighborhood school. John went on to Owego Academy. John loved the science equipment and the math courses. In early 1853, the Rockefellers moved to Cleveland, Ohio. John’s dream was to be the first Rockefeller to attend college. On September 26 John got his first job. From then on he celebrated September 26 as “Job Day” (21). Rockefeller learned many business skills from this job. He started off with inspecting deliveries, correcting and paying bills, and recording payments in the business’s books. John wasn’t worried about money at the beginning. He wasn’t paid until after three months on the job. Finally he was given fifty dollars. His salary was set at twenty-five dollars a month.

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John kept in touch with a girl he had gone to school with names Laura Spelman. She wrote Rockefeller a letter that read he, “was in no particular rush to have me get married, but he hoped that in the multitude of my thoughts I would not forget that subject” (27). John and Laura began to court two years after this. John would bring her bouqets of flowers and would play duets with her on the piano. During this time the Civil War was occuring, Rockefeller paid substitute soldiers to fight for him. During this, another war type event was occurring over oil. The breakthrough of refining oil for kerosene had broke out. Kerosene is a bright buring cheap fuel. In 1859 people learnd to dril for oil. Laura and John were engaged in March of 1864. Rockefeller bought her a diamond engagement ring that cost one hundred and eighteen dollars. That is about one thousand two hundred and thirty dollars today. They were married at Laura’s home. After two years of marriage, the couple had a daughter named Elizabeth. They went on to have four more children, three girls, and a boy. Their names were John D. Rockefeller Jr., Edith Rockefeller, Alta Rockefeller, and Alice Rockefeller. John’s wife Laura helped to found the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

Rockefeller’s work contained much friction between the business associates. Eventually, everyone decided to split up the company. They held an auction, and the highest bidder won the refinery. Rockefeller bid up to seventy-two thousand five hundred dollars and won. As the Civil war came to an end Rockefeller’s new company was just starting. As the civil war ended the economy began to grow. John put all of his profits back into oil. He quickly grew two times as big as some of his competitors. In 1867, Henry Morrison Flager joined John’s company. Soon the partners became the world’s biggest oil refiners. In 1870, the company became known as the Standard Oil Company. This would later become the world’s most famous business name. In the mid-1870s, Rockefeller was worth more than one million dollars.

In 1877 the Pennsylvania railroad began to fear The Standard Oil company’s increase in the transportation field. So in turn, a railroad auxiliary began to build and buy large refineries. John D. Rockefeller fought back, even though his company was smaller, it was financially stable. Finally, in the end, The Pennsylvania offered peace, but it came at a price. They were willing to sell The Standard Oil Company all of their oil property for three point four million dollars. After this, The Standard Oil Company owned three-fourths of the nation’s pipelines. Over the years the company ran well without too many bumps in the road. On May 15, 1911, the company was told by the Chief Justice that Standard that six months to break up. Eventually, The Standard Oil Company became thirty-four separate companies.

John Rockefeller died on May 23, 1937, in his mansion in Ormond Beach, Florida. The mansion was named The Casements. He was ninety-eight at the time. Rockefeller’s estate was worth twenty-six million. I would recommend this book, who is interested in really how John D. Rockefeller came to be and how he gained his immense wealth. This biography is very detailed and explains Rockefeller’s life very well.

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