July 8, 1839: John D. Rockefeller is born.

In 1870, Rockefeller helped found the Standard Oil Company. Within decades, he would become not only America’s first billionaire, but the richest man in the world, and probably also the richest American in history. Through controversial and oft-scrutinized tactics, Rockefeller transformed Standard Oil into one of the earliest and most powerful trusts in history, and the largest oil refiner in the world at that time. The tycoon and his oil empire were criticized for their practices (most famously by Ida Tarbell in her book, The History of Standard Oil), which sought to stamp out all competition in the industry. It is said that Rockefeller’s unofficial motto was “let us prey”, and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie once referred to him as John D. “Reckafellow”.

Although he is remembered as one of the greatest “robber barons” of the Gilded Age, he was not all business. Philanthropy was a major part of Rockefeller’s legacy - he provided massive amounts of funding for Spelman College and the University of Chicago, while also donating money to other institutions like Yale, Harvard, and Brown. He later founded several philanthropy organizations dedicated to promoting education and public health.

Upon his death in 1937, Rockefeller was worth over a billion dollars, or around 1.5% of the total GDP of the United States. Sources differ on how much he would be worth at the company’s peak adjusted for inflation, but the figure is at least over $200 billion, and Forbes puts his net worth at $663.4 billion. 

  1. docsavagevoice reblogged this from unhistorical
  2. grimy13 reblogged this from unhistorical
  3. artificialgun reblogged this from unhistorical
  4. wenevermetyouandi reblogged this from unhistorical
  5. iambinarymind reblogged this from daddyofluchalibre and added:
    John D. Rockefeller also founded the "General Education Board" which consolidated many of the various private education...
  6. coeur-du-lion reblogged this from unhistorical
  7. kaiulanis reblogged this from unhistorical
  8. poniatowskaja reblogged this from unhistorical
  9. ktbrights reblogged this from unhistorical
  10. daddyofluchalibre reblogged this from unhistorical
  11. 1a1o reblogged this from unhistorical
  12. nfavela reblogged this from unhistorical
  13. extraordinarilyordinaryme reblogged this from unhistorical
  14. a-complete-and-utter-bastard reblogged this from unhistorical
  15. lemonyello reblogged this from unhistorical
  16. unhistorical posted this