“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” These inspiring words highlight the principles that many of the late 1800s industrialists lived by. These industrialists of the late 1800s, known as the “Robber Barons” or “Captains of Industry”, were very influential in America, from their own industry to even the Capitol. One the most influential of them all was John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller dominated oil industry, which was a budding industry in the 1860s. He founded Standard Oil, which quickly monopolized the entire petroleum industry. Although vilified by many during his time, Rockefeller, along with other “Captains of Industry”, revolutionized the United States, from business to even philanthropy.
Rockefeller was born in New York in 1839. In 1853, he and his family moved to Cleveland where he would attend high school, but more importantly do business. He developed a love of arithmetic and regularly attended his local Baptist Church. After taking some business courses in college, Hewitt and Tuttle hired Rockefeller as a bookkeeper. Shortly after, Rockefeller formed a partnership with another young businessman, Maurice Clark, and together joined the oil industry as refiners. The partnership grew in size and eventually Rockefeller bought out Clark’s portion for $72,000. He then brought his brother, who had also built a refinery, into the partnership. This made their firm the largest oil refinery in the world and marked the beginnings of Standard Oil.
In June 1870, Rockefeller established Standard Oil Company. It was situated in Cleveland, which had become one of the five main refining centers in the U.S. It began to grow rapidly and soon became the one of the largest shippers of oil in the country. Rockefeller accomplished this by buying out almost all of his Cleveland competition, even convincing one of his biggest rivals, Charles Pratt and Company, to join his company. The people know refer to it as the “Cleveland Conquest”. Rockefeller would convince his competitors into selling by simply showing them his records and then offering them a decent proposal. If the company refused to sell, Rockefeller would threaten to run them to bankruptcy. Standard Oil was quickly becoming a monopoly under the guidance of Rockefeller. The company was growing through both vertical integration and horizontal integration. That is to say, they were buying competitors (horizontal) but at the same time were controlling their whole production chain (vertical). Rockefeller was selling a vast amount of oil products, such as petroleum jelly to even chewing gum, which he sold at very cheap prices because he owned the whole production chain.
Standard Oil continued to expand horizontally, buying up companies throughout the United States and by the early 1980s controlled almost 90% of the oil in the country. They continued to...