John D. Rockefeller: Was A robber baron Of Petroleum?
John D. Rockefeller
Was John D. Rockefeller a robber baron of petroleum?
(Presented through research which supports Rockefeller as a robber barron.)
John D. Rockefeller was a robber baron who used his insight of business to ruthlessly force other oil and petroleum companies out of business, and who managed to hide it all from the public. Rockefeller thought of all possible ways to eliminate his competitors. He asked the railroad for secret rebates, thought only about money, and decisively brought the strongest men to his sides in order to completely envelop other oil and petroleum companies with two options, “Join or die”.
What Are The Details?
From 1859, the year that oil was discovered, to 1870 Rockefeller, Flagger, and Andrews had become the largest oil company in the world. It took them a mere 11 years to almost completely take over the oil and petroleum industry, yet their desires did not stop there. They had the largest oil refinery in the world. “Rockefeller’s plan seemed to take into account no one’s feelings…” Business historian Matthew Josephson states that Rockefeller developed a plan that was designed to, “…control and direct the flow of oil into the hands of a narrowed group of refiners.” This shows that Rockefeller did not really care about who was going to get crushed in the process, as long as he could have all the profit, nothing else mattered to him. By this time, he had already wiped out four of his 29 petroleum competitors. He did a good job keeping everything secret, as his wife advised him. He made sure his “greatly augmented wealth” was something that the public did not know about, which is what made him such a reputable person in the eyes of the public, even though he was not.
Furthermore, Rockefeller, in order to insure a greater profit for his company, asked the Railroads to provide him with secret rebates. The railroad agreed, since Rockefeller had promised a steady supply of 60 cars of oil barrels. Rockefeller insisted on rebates again and again, until his company was paying almost $0.40 less per barrel of oil than his competitors. He, again, kept all this secretive in order to avoid uprisings by companies that were paying the regular amount. The railroad shipped him a secrete rebate, and this way there was no way for anybody to find out how much they were paying, thus secretly but steadily advancing him to the top.
Lastly, in order to insure the top position of the company he now was the head of, he proposed a plan to Flagger which included selecting a narrow group of refiners to control the oil and petroleum industry with. Together they drew up a list which would completely “decimate” their competitors. While it is true that Rockefeller saw the petroleum and oil business as chaotic and disorderly, that was not the main reason he wanted to create a monopoly. He wanted to organize everyone according to his whims, so that he would end up on top and, “bound to be rich.” Many oil refineries agreed to join. This was because they sensed that they would have no chance against a massive joint-stock company like that, so they would rather join than run out of the petroleum business. Rockefeller made yet another deal with the railroad asking for another rebate for all members of his newly formed business, and for prices twice as high for companies not in his corporation. Once the railroad agreed to this, other oil refineries and petroleum companies had a very slim chance of surviving.
Was He A Robber Barron?
John D. Rockefeller was a robber baron who used illegal tactics to get himself to the top and drive other petroleum and oil companies out of business. Rockefeller cheated his boys in order to “make them sharp.” He hid from the public, asked for secret deals on oil shipments, and encircled himself with the top men in order to ensure his success and the demise of all other oil refineries.
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Was John D. Rockefeller a robber baron of the Gilded Age?
- Poole, Keith. "American Experience: TV's Most-watched History Series." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.
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- Webb, Mary Griffin, and Edna Lenore Webb. Famous Living Americans, with Portraits,. Greencastle, IN: C. Webb &, 1915. Print.