Last Updated on March 8, 2022
John D. Rockefeller is an American industrialist and oil magnate who nearly monopolized the oil industry in the US in his time.
Founder of Standard Oil Company, Rockefeller is often reviled as a big and bad businessman and celebrated as an innovator.
Although people might have varying opinions about him, many can agree that he is one of the most powerful men in US history.
The American industrialist was a New Yorker, born in Richford on the 8th of July, 1839. His father – William Avery “Devil Bill” Rockefeller Sr. – made his fortune by peddling goods across the country and loaning money to farmers who he knew couldn’t pay their dues.
Bill married his first wife Eliza Davidson in 1837. They had three sons and three daughters, including John.
John and his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was 14. He received a good education. Like his father, he took on many business ventures at a young age.
He worked as a commission house clerk when he was 16. A few years later, he left his job to pursue his own business. He proved to be a careful and calculated entrepreneur who avoided unnecessary risks. In the first year of business, he raked in about $450,000.
John D. Rockefeller, the Oil Refiner
Rockefeller’s keen understanding of risk set him apart from other businessmen. It allowed him to thrive in the oil industry. In the 1860s, he saw an immense business opportunity in oil production so he opened a refinery in Cleveland.
Two years after it launched, Rockefeller’s business became the largest in the area. Soon after, he decided to focus his energy and time solely on the oil industry.
The oil refiner poured all his money into this company and reshaped his business model into what businesses now call as research and development.
Rockefeller didn’t like the by-products of the refining process, so he used them to create paint, all sorts of lubricants, common grease, as well as the precursors of Vaseline.
Rockefeller, the Pioneer of the Monopoly
Nearly a decade after the Standard Oil Company was created, it reached high profit margins. It was still a cutthroat business nevertheless. To ensure the company’s prosperity, Rockefeller started to buy out the competition.
Many entrepreneurs accepted the deals that the tycoon offered, but whenever the competition refused to yield, he resorted to other methods. Sometimes, he would buy all oil barrels to cripple the smaller business.
He leveraged his close ties with railroad companies to limit the number of trains for shipment. He even arranged price wars between his companies, leaving holdouts no other choice but to sell. These were only a few of the dirty tricks he used to monopolize the oil industry.
Standard Oil Company turned into the first American monopoly, serving as a guide for other large businesses following closely behind. Rockefeller entered the railroad industry when he was unsatisfied with the rail companies.
He provided support to the South Improvement Company to reduce transportation costs for the company. In addition, he helped this company build a monopoly in the rail industry in exchange for bulk rebates.
Eventually, their competition in both oil and rail industries started to fight back, urging the government to put a halt to their actions. Standard Oil Company not only sought for rebates on other shipping, but they also intended to take a portion of other rail companies’ profits whenever they shipped the competitors’ goods. For that reason, the deal fell through.
The Standard Oil Trust
Following the failed deal, Rockefeller and his partners formed the first ever trust. They exchanged their individual holdings for some shares in this trust.
This gave the oil baron full control over the corporate boards in his empire. As a result, the entire industry saw a drop in costs and kerosene prices. Standard Oil Company also gained the means to build pipelines and other infrastructures on a massive scale.
The US Congress eventually put a stop to Rockefeller’s monopoly. They passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. Two years later, the Ohio Supreme Court considered Standard Oil Company as a monopoly, which violated the state’s law.
In 1899, Rockefeller responded by dissolving the company and allowing others to run it. Twelve years later, the US Supreme Court still found his company in violation of the Sherman Antitrust law, forcing it to dissolve once more.
Rockefeller pursued charitable endeavors when he stepped down from his business. He poured his heart and soul into philanthropy in the same way he did for his business.
Through his generous donations, he helped build the University of Chicago. He founded the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, which is now known as the Rockefeller University. He also started the Rockefeller Foundation.
Here are 55 amazing quotes from John D. Rockefeller:
John D. Rockefeller Quotes
“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Every right implies a responsibility; Every opportunity, an obligation, Every possession, a duty.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure? It’s to see my dividends coming in.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Don’t blame the marketing department. The buck stops with the chief executive.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The only question with wealth is, what do you do with it?” – John D. Rockefeller
“I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.” – John D. Rockefeller
“A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller
“If your only goal is to become rich, you will never achieve it.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Competition is a sin.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money’s sake.” – John D. Rockefeller
“It is wrong to assume that men of immense wealth are always happy.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Perseverance can overcome all obstacles. Even the laws of nature cannot stop it.” – John D. Rockefeller
“He who works all day has no time to make money.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I believe that it is my duty to make money and use it for the benefit of my neighbors. This is what my conscience tells me.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The road to happiness lies in two simple principles; find what it is that interests you and that you can do well, and when you find it put your whole soul into it every bit of energy and ambition and natural ability you have.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Own nothing, control everything.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The most important thing for a young man is to establish a credit, a reputation, and character.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The impression was gaining ground with me that it was a good thing to let the money be my slave and not make myself a slave to money.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I had no ambition to make a fortune. Mere money-making has never been my goal, I had an ambition to build.” – John D. Rockefeller
“A man’s wealth must be determined by the relation of his desires and expenditures to his income. If he feels rich on ten dollars, and has everything else he desires, he really is rich.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Do not many of us who fail to achieve big things…fail because we lack concentration — the art of concentrating the mind on the thing to be done at the proper time and to the exclusion of everything else?” – John D. Rockefeller
“I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can and will triumph over might.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character — not wealth or power or position — is of supreme worth.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I think it is a man’s duty to make all the money he can, keep all that he can and give away all that he can.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The person who starts simply with the idea of getting rich won’t succeed; you must have a larger ambition.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Success comes from keeping the ears open and the mouth closed.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I would rather hire a man with enthusiasm, than a man who knows everything.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Never lose interest in life and the world. Never allow yourself to become annoyed.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The man will be most successful who confers the greatest service on the world.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The secret of success is to get up early, work late and strike oil.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Giving is the secret to a healthy life. Not necessarily money, but whatever a person has to give of encouragement, sympathy, and understanding.” – John D. Rockefeller
“I never placed my head upon the pillow at night without reminding myself that my success might only be temporary.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.” – John D. Rockefeller
“There is no feeling in this world to be compared with self-reliance – do not sacrifice that to anything else.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Oh, how blessed young men are who have to struggle for a foundation and beginning in life.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Save when you can and not when you have to.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Often-times the most difficult competition comes, not from the strong, the intelligent, the conservative competitor, but from the man who is holding on by the eyelids and is ignorant of his costs, and anyway he’s got to keep running or bust!” – John D. Rockefeller
“I don’t want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Get rich by taking something common and making it uncommon.” – John D. Rockefeller
“It has always been my rule in business to make everything count.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Money is a way of keeping count on how well you’re doing in business.” – John D. Rockefeller
“The common denominator for success is work.” – John D. Rockefeller