We hope a look into the Rockefeller legacy will call into question the very essence of commerce itself. How are fortunes made? How do corporations function? Is there a better way? What are we trying to accomplish as human beings on this planet?
John D. Rockefeller
“People wonder what Mr. Rockefeller’s weakness is, what are his peculiar pursuits. It may briefly be said, the pursuit of power is all-absorbing. Money is an incident, a means to an end. He makes money, therefore, diligently. In silence and secrecy to hold the electric button which can make or mar monarchs and warriors and make them dance to his bidding, is the charm of his existence.”
“It has taken less than twenty years for Mr. Rockefeller to rise from comparative obscurity as a commission merchant in a country town to power exceeding that of any monarch.”
–Laura Carter Holloway,
Famous American fortunes and the men who made them, 1885
John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) was an oil tycoon, founder and head of the behemoth Standard Oil Company, a company that monopolized the oil industry and changed corporate business practice forever. He was the richest person that ever lived, and the fortune he built, by devious and questionable means, still fuels his descendants’ every ambition, and will continue for generations to come. Many of the companies that trace their lineage back to the behemoth Standard Oil, such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Conoco, Esso and others, are still household names around the globe and carve the world up as they see fit.
“The life of John Davison Rockefeller, Sr., was marked to an exceptional degree by silence, mystery, and evasion. Even though he presided over the largest business and philanthropic enterprises of his day, he has remained an elusive figure. A master of disguises, he spent his life camouflaged behind multiple personae and shrouded beneath layers of mythology. Hence, he lingers in our national psyche as a series of disconnected images, ranging from the rapacious creator of Standard Oil, brilliant but bloodless, to the wizened old codger dispensing dimes and canned speeches for newsreel cameras. It is often hard to piece together the varied images into a coherent picture.”
— Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
The New York Times wrote in November of 1882, in an article entitled, The Great Monopoly – How The Standard [Oil] Company Robs The Public:
“While the Standard [Oil Company] is, in the real meaning of the word, the greatest monopoly in America, as powerful in its own field as the government itself, and holding the entire refined and crude oil market of the world in the hollow of its president’s hand, its methods and dealings are the most securely covered up and hidden from the public eye of any corporation that anywhere approaches it in size or ramifications.”
“It fears nothing in the world so much as to be talked about, and the last thing desired by its managers is the advertisement of the public press.”
John D. Rockefeller, JR.
John D. Rockefeller, JR. (1874—1960) was The only son of John D. Rockefeller.
The Ludlow Massacre
The New York Times published this article in August 1915:
Hold Rockefeller At Fault In Strike – Ludlow’s Outbreak Was Due To Junior’s Support, Industrial Board Charges. – Says He Endorsed Policy – Asserts Operators Were Responsible For The Industrial War And Its Disorders.
Chicago, Aug. 27 .- The responsibility for the strike of coal miners in Colorado in 1913 and 1914 and for the disorder that followed is placed on the shoulders of the operators in a report made public today by the Commission on Industrial Relations. The reports was drawn up by George P. West.
The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, controlled by John D. Rockefeller, it is asserted in an authorized abstract of the report, was the leader in formulating and carrying out strike policies. Mr. Rockefeller and his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., are charged, with the selection of reactionary agents to serve as executive officials in the company, and, second, with giving endorsement and support to these officials after they had taken action that precipitated the troubles.
J.D. Rockefeller, Jr., is accused of having approved measures to coerce the State Government of Colorado and having flouted the will of the President of the United States.
The report says:
“During all the seven tragic and bitter months that preceded [the] Ludlow [massacre], Mr. Rockefeller wrote letter after letter in enthusiastic praise of the men whose acts, during this period, had precipitated a reign of terror and bloodshed.”
“It was only when the Ludlow Massacre filled the press of the nation with editorial denunciation, when mourners in black silently paraded in front of his New York office, when cartoons in the conservative press pilloried him and his father before an angry public, that at last complacency gives way to concern in his letters and telegrams to Denver.”
Of Mr. Rockefeller’s responsibility the report says:
“Mr. Rockefeller’s responsibility has a significance beyond even the sinister results of his policy in Colorado. The perversion of and contempt for government, the disregard of public welfare, and the defiance of public opinion during the Colorado strike must be considered as only one manifestation of the autocratic and anti-social spirit of a man whose enormous wealth gives him infinite opportunity to act in similar fashion in broader fields.”
“Mr Rockefeller writes to Mr. Bowers: ‘You are fighting a good fight, which is not only in the interests of your own company, but of the other companies of Colorado and of the business interests of the entire country.'”
“And Mr. Bowers, with whom Mr. Rockefeller obviously is in full sympathy and agreement, writes letter after letter picturing the growth of trade unionism as a national menace against which the business men of the nation must combine.”
“‘Now for the campaign of 1916, and beyond’ is the slogan with which one of these letters closes, and Mr. Bowers is unsparing in criticism of a President who would tolerate a former official of a labor union in his Cabinet.”
“The nation-wide significance and importance of the Colorado conflict and the company’s ruthless policy of suppression are emphasized again and again.”
“By June, 1914, Mr. Rockefeller has formulated something like a definite plan for a nation-wide campaign. The most highly paid publicity expert in the country has been borrowed from a great Eastern railway, to be taken over later as permanent member of Mr. Rockefeller’s staff.”