The Story Of John D. Rockefeller: The Richest American Who Ever Lived

John D. Rockefeller was so rich that he can put most modern-day billionaires to shame. Rockefeller’s story is filled with inspiration as he made it to the riches starting from scratch. During the prime of his career, he became the richest American. He was also known for his many philanthropic causes. Having amassed a great deal of wealth, he was pretty generous while helping the needy. His sense of empathy was rooted in him because of the financial difficulties he faced in his early life.

Here is how John D Rockefeller became the richest American who ever lived.

The Humble Beginnings Of John D Rockefeller

John Davison Rockefeller Sr. was born in Richford, New York, in 1839. He was born in an impoverished family and grew up amongst many siblings. Through his childhood, he grew up under the care of his mother as his father was mostly unavailable due to work, leaving the responsibility on his mother’s shoulders. Rockefeller wanted to help, so he took up odd jobs to contribute in whichever way he could to his struggling family.

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John later did his schooling at Owego Academy after having moved to Moravia in New York. The Rockefellers moved again to Strongsville in Ohio, where he attended the Central High School in Cleveland. One of the first professional skills that Rockefeller learned was that of bookkeeping as he completed a short-term business course at Folsom’s Commercial College. He also worked at a school canteen at the age of 14 years.

Getting Started With His Career

John began his real career when he was hardly 16. Using his vocational skill of bookkeeping, he became an assistant bookkeeper for a firm called Hewitt & Tuttle. At this point in his life, he indulged in charity work, although he barely had enough for himself and his family. He earned about 50 cents and contributed a part of it to the needy.

This part of his life might not have been glamorous, but it was crucial nonetheless. He learned skills like negotiating shipping costs and understanding the finances behind transportation costs. When John felt confident enough, he opened a small produce business with his partner Maurice B. Clark. Together, they could make about $4000 in the capital, which is equivalent to almost an impressive $113,822 as per the current numbers.

The duo wanted to expand their commercial endeavors and soon joined hands with Clark’s two brothers and Samuel Andrews to build an oil refinery in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1858, there was rising demand for refined oil in the form of kerosene in the market, and Rockefeller saw this as a golden opportunity to become a successful entrepreneur.

Rising To Success

The story of undaunted success and fame began for Rockefeller the moment he and his business partners invested in a business that could thrive under the right kind of leadership. Rockefeller‘s brother William Jr. joined the business, now called ‘Rockefeller and Andrews’, when he built another refinery in 1866.

By 1867 it had become the largest oil refinery on a global scale, and this is what led to the founding of the Standard Oil Company. When the capacity of the market to refine oil overcame the supply-demand rates in the market, Rockefeller decided to dissolve the partnership with Andrews & Flagler and instead opened his own company called Standard Oil of Ohio. At this point, his biggest competitor was Charles Pratt and Company, another refiner from New York. Rockefeller landed a deal with this company, and soon, it was acquired by him, who also made Charles Pratt and Henry H. Rogers his new business partners.

Soon it turned into a monopoly in the US, and Rockefeller became a millionaire. However, the business soon became increasingly complicated when they had to operate in different states, so Rockefeller came up to put the responsibility on separate corporations who would be under the company but based in these different states. An umbrella corporation was also crafted to manage these smaller corporations, and it was called ‘Standard Oil Trust’, which had about 41 companies under it and was run by nine trustees. The passing of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 caused the forceful spitting up of the small corporations in the various states.

Thus, the mother company got divided into 34 small companies, but Rockefeller still held about 25% of Standard Oil’s stock. The split turned out to be a lucrative development for John, whose fortune rose to $900 million. Under him, Standard Oil had about 20,000 domestic wells, 4,000 miles of pipeline, and 100,000 employees.

Philanthropy And Inheritance

A question that has made almost every American curious over the years is – what became of the enormous fortune of Rockefeller that gathered over the years. The answer to this is – most of it was donated to charities of his choice. His strong religious beliefs led to these noble practices. He is also known to have founded the University of Chicago and the Rockefeller University.

Almost half of his wealth went to charitable organizations, and the other half was stored in trust funds that would provide for generations of Rockefellers. John ensured providence for the underprivileged and his only son, whom he gave about $460 million in 1917. The amount would be equivalent to almost $9.3 billion if adjusted according to today’s inflation. A few years before John D Rockefeller’s death, his son also put about $1.4 billion in six trusts funds, all for his kids. Thus, Rockefeller also witnessed his grandkids being provided for before he passed away.

John D. Rockefeller, because of the profits he churned out of one investment, is considered to be the idol for most modern-day investors and entrepreneurs. Rockefeller passed away just two months before his birthday at the age of 97 due to arteriosclerosis. His net worth was equivalent to a massive $340 billion at the time of death, adjusted according to the current inflation rates.

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Source: Britannica, Celebrity Net Worth, Success Story, American Butler, Finnovationz

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