engendering much controversy and opposition regarding its business practices and form
of organization. Rockefeller also was one of the first major philanthropists in the U.S.,
establishing several important foundations and donating a total of $540 million to
Rockefeller was born on farm at Richford, in Tioga County, New York, on July 8, 1839,
lived in modest circumstances. When he was a boy, the family moved to Moravia and
later to Owego, New York, before going west to Ohio in 1853. The Rockefellers bought
Cleveland. While he was a student he rented a room in the city and joined the Erie
affairs, he became a trustee of the church at the age of 21.
completed the six-month course in three months and, after looking for a job for six
weeks, was employed as assistant bookkeeper by Hewitt & Tuttle, a small firm of
commission merchants and produce shippers. Rockefeller was not paid until after he had
worked there three months, when Hewitt gave him $50 ($3.57 a week) and told him
that his salary was being increased to $25 a month. A few months later he became the
cashier and bookkeeper.
In 1859, with $1,000 he had saved and another $1,000 borrowed from his father.
Rockefeller formed a partnership in the commission business with another young man,
Pennsylvania, giving rise to the petroleum industry. Cleveland soon became a major
refining center of the booming new industry, and in 1863 Rockefeller and Clark entered
the oil business as refiners. Together with a new partner, Samuel Andrews, who had
name of Andrews, Clark & Co. The firm also continued in the commission business but in
business affairs and decided to sell the refinery to whoever amongst them bid the
highest. Rockefeller bought it for $72,500, sold out his other interests and, with
Andrews, formed Rockefeller & Andrews.
THE STANDARD OIL COMPANY
Rockefeller?s stake in the oil industry increased as the industry itself expanded, spurred
by the rapidly spreading use of kerosene for lighting. In 1870 he organized The
Harkness, and others. It had a capital of $1 million.
By 1872 Standard Oil had purchased and thus controlled nearly all the refining firms in
Cleveland, plus two refineries in the New York City area. Before long the company was
wooden barrels. The company also had storage tanks with a capacity of several
hundred thousand barrels of oil, warehouses for refined oil, and plants for the
manufacture of paints and glue.
Standard prospered and, in 1882, all its properties were merged in the Standard Oil
Trust, which was in effect one great company. It had an initial capital of $70 million.
There were originally forty-two certificate holders, or owners, in the trust.
After ten years the trust was dissolved by a court decision in Ohio. The companies that
had made up the trust later joined in the formation of the Standard Oil Company (New
Jersey), since New Jersey had adopted a law that permitted a parent company to own
the stock of other companies. It is estimated that Standard Oil owned three-fourths of
the petroleum business in the U.S. in the 1890s.
industries. Although he held the title of president of Standard Oil until 1911, Rockefeller
retired from active leadership of the company in 1896. In 1911 the U.S. Supreme Court
found the Standard Oil trust to be in violation of the anti-trust laws and ordered the
dissolution of the parent New Jersey corporation. The thirty-eight companies which it
John D. Rockefeller, Industrialist and Philanthropist, the historian Allan Nevins reports
that Rockefeller at that time owned 244,500 of the company?s total of 983,383
Rockefeller was 57 years old in 1896 when he decided that others should take over the
day-to-day leadership of Standard Oil. He now focused his efforts on philanthropy,
determined by careful study, experience and the help of expert advisers.
income to his church and charities. His philanthropy grew out of his early family
1850s, he made regular contributions to the Baptist church, and by the time he was 21,
he was giving not only to his own but to other denominations, as well as to a foreign
African-American education remained among his foremost philanthropic interests
throughout his life.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
As his wealth grew in the 1870s and 1880s, Rockefeller came to favor a cooperative
and conditional system of giving in which he would agree to supply part of the sum
needed for a particular project if the others interested in it also would provide
substantial financial support. It was on such a conditional basis that Rockefeller
Education Society had resolved in 1889 to establish a “well-equipped college” in
Rockefeller offered to give $600,000 of the first $1 million for endowment, provided the
remaining $400,000 was pledged by others within 90 days. Thus begun, the University
of Chicago was incorporated in 1890, and over the next twenty years Rockefeller
contributed to help build up the institution, always on condition that others should join
in its support. In 1910 he made a farewell gift of $10 million, which brought his total
contributions to the university to about $35 million. In withdrawing from further activity
there, he wrote: “I am acting on an early and permanent conviction that this great
institution, being the property of the people, should be controlled, conducted and
supported by the people.”
and he helped to define the method of scientific, efficient, corporate philanthropy. The
method was this… To create charitable corporations and give them title to great funds,
whose management and use would be governed by trustees and overseen by officers
with, specialized training and experience. With both the trustees and officers being
dedicated to continuous study of the opportunities for the best uses of the funds under
their care. To help manage his philanthropy, Rockefeller hired the Rev. Frederick T.
son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., Rockefeller established a series of institutions that are
THE ROCKEFELLER INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH
In 1901, he founded the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now The Rockefeller
African sleeping sickness; the first demonstration of the preservation of whole blood for
peptide synthesis; and identification of DNA as the crucial genetic material.
THE GENERAL EDUCATION BOARD (1902-1965)
In 1902, Rockefeller established the General Education Board (GEB) for the “promotion
creed?. Between 1902 and its dissolution in 1965, the GEB distributed $325 million for
the improvement of education at all levels, with emphasis upon higher education,
work with children?s clubs in farm arena grew the 4-H Club movement and the federal
programs of farm and home extension.
ROCKEFELLER SANITARY COMMISSION (1909-1915)
with the creation of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of
Hookworm Disease. Its purpose was “to bring about a cooperative movement of the
press, and other agencies for the cure and prevention of hookworm disease,” which
was especially devastating in the South. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C.,
the Sanitary Commission launched a massive campaign of public education and
appointed jointly by the states and the Commission, and sponsored public education
25,000 public meetings were attended by more than 2 million people who were given
the facts about hookworm and its prevention. So successful was its work that a new
agency was created as part of a new Rockefeller philanthropy to expand the work to
other countries and to attack other diseases both in the South and abroad.
THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION
In 1913, Rockefeller established The Rockefeller Foundation (RF) to “promote the
the Foundation through the years has given important assistance to public health,
The Foundation?s International Health Division expanded the work of the Sanitary
Commission worldwide, working against various diseases in fifty-two countries on six
continents and twenty-nine islands, bringing international recognition of the need for
public health and environmental sanitation. Its early field research on hookworm,
established the pattern of modern public health services. Th RF built and endowed the
world’s first School of Hygiene and Public Health, at The Johns Hopkins University, and
then spent over $25 million in developing public health schools in the U.S. and in
what has been called the Green Revolution in the advancement of food production
around the world; and the RF provided significant funding for the International Rice
the world have received RF fellowships and scholarships for advanced study. The
foundation helped to found the Social Science Research Council and has provided
significant support for such organizations as the National Bureau of Economic Research,
Columbia University. In the arts the RF has helped establish or support the Stratford
Stratford, Connecticut; Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.; Karamu House in Cleveland;
OTHER ROCKEFELLER PHILANTHROPIC SUPPORT
In addition to creating these corporate philanthropies, Rockefeller continued to make
personal donations. Among others whose activities received his financial support were
Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, and Vassar; theological schools; the Palisades Interstate Park
Park and other parks in Cleveland; Baptist missionary organiz