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John Davidson Rockefeller was an American business tycoon, whose vast interest in oil business revolutionized the petroleum industry. Through his massive wealth, he built the foundation for philanthropy, which later defined his passion for people. John was a second born in a family of six children to high working class family in Richford, a small community located between Ithaca and Binghamton in New York. His family transferred from their home of origin to a farm in Strongsville, Ohio near Cleveland in 1853. John Rockefeller pursued his public education but left high school to participate in business training. He later found himself a job in 1855 where he was working as an assistant bookkeeper, earning less than four dollars in a week. His talent for details was realized during that time and had a strong and powerful work ethic from the start of his work. His diligence was also recognized and rewarded in 1859 by being made a partner in the company. Rockefeller got married to Laura Celestia Spelman, and the two had four daughters and one son together (Winkler, 2007).
During 1859, there was oil discovery in a nearby town known as Titusville, Pennyslvania, touching off the development of a new industry that was reinforced largely by the need and demand for kerosene for lighting. The oil business attracted Rockefeller immediately but was shunned off by the disorders of the wildcatters (Winkler, 2007). In 1863, he finalized his bid through the creation of a refining business with Maurice B. Clark and other business partners. Cleveland became an early center for refining business because of access to its great lakes, availability of rail services, and the present supply of immigrant labor. After joining efforts with his brothers Henry M. Flagler, and Samuel Andrews, who invented one of the largest and inexpensive means of refining crude oil, they managed to develop the Standard Oil Company. The oil company and its subsidiaries were able to consolidate the refining business in the Cleveland community and thereafter began to expand their control into Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York. Early 1870s, Standard Oil Company was able to employ a large number of cutthroat business activities such as monopolization. In this, Rockefeller bought all the components required for the manufacture of oil barrels so as to limit his competitors from receiving their products on the market. Another business activity practiced was the rate war where the large standard oil was enabled to cope with the short term losses through reduction of oil prices. The declines of standard oil prices made it hard for smaller competitors to keep the pace and, thus they were either forced to give up on the business or sell out to Rockefeller. Rockefeller was also involved in rebates where he demanded to be refunded on public rates provided by the railroads. This made the carriers to agree with this practice because of standard oil large quantities.
Rockefeller never gave up on his business activities even after being vilified by the press for the first time. Instead, he proceeded with his self reinforcing cycles of buying businesses from his competitors, making improvements on the efficiency of his practices, pressing for discounts on oil shipment, reducing his competition, engaging in secret deals, increasing investment pools, and buying his rivals out of refinery business. In a period of less than four month in 1872, Standard Oil Company had already absorbed twenty two of its twenty six competitors in Cleveland (Goulder, 1972).
In 1874, Pratt and Rogers decided to partner with Rockefeller because they saw the futility of carrying on with their competition against Standard Oil Company. Rogers was one of John Davidson's men in the establishment of Standard oil Trust, on the other hand, Pratt's son Charles Millard was made the secretary of standard oil. Rockefeller intimidated his competitors by showing them his records so that they could know what they were against, and then after wards, he could make them a great offer. He could threaten them on running them into bankruptcy if they refused his offer and then buy their property at a cheap price at auction (Goulder, 1972).
Rockefeller valued and saw himself as the only person who could rescue or save an industry from collapsing. He saw himself as the weak absorber and the one who could make the industry be strong, powerful, highly efficient, and more competitive. The Standard Oil Company began to grow both vertically and horizontally. It increased and expanded its business by getting its own pipelines, tank vehicles, and home delivery network. Its oil and other services prices were kept low in order to increase its competition with other companies. The standard oil company enabled its goods and services to be affordable to the average person and raised market penetration, and at times it could sell its product at a very lower price if necessary. It established over four hundred oil based goods such as tar, paint, Vaseline to even chewing gum. Rockefeller had therefore become a millionaire by the end of 1870s because the Standard oil company was refining over ninety five percent of the oil in the entire of United States.
John Davidson Rockefeller tried to establish other businesses apart form oil particularly at the end of his tenure. He participated in banks, railroads, iron field and timber and was made the director of the United States steel company. This made him to accumulate property in the range of one billion dollars.
Rockefeller was seen as a man of contradictions to many people who knew him. He allegedly intimidated his competitors, mistreating hundreds with intention of making more profit despite being a renowned Christian. Rockefeller was baptized, became an active member of the church activities and contributed generously in terms of finance to the development of the church.
In 1890s, Rockefeller lowered his work activities at standard oil company in order to focus his energies in the field of philanthropy. When he retired, he dedicated his remaining twenty six years in the field of philanthropy establishing charitable organizations such as Rockefeller institute for medical research, which was established in 1901. The organization was developed for the study of the causes and disease prevention. The organization was later transformed into a university. Another organization includes General education board which was developed in 1902, with the aim of supporting various educational improvements like medical schools, and public education in the south. General education board made a distribution of over three million dollars before its end (Nevins, 1969).
Rockefeller foundation was another establishment made as a charitable organization. Being in charge of improving well being of people worldwide, this organization offered services like funding for the public health, prevention of famine, medical schools, social sciences and other related activities. The foundation, which was established in 1913, expanded its practices of sanitary commission very fast and up to today has remained one of the largest and leading philanthropic forces (Nevins, 1969).
Rockefeller also participated in the development of university of Chicago as a Baptist institution of higher education. The biggest contribution was made by him, and he liked the idea because it showed a base of support for a project that was related to his field. The final philanthropy by Rockefeller was Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation which was established in 1918. The foundation focused on supporting social studies, but was later linked up to Rockefeller foundation. Rockefeller is known to have made a contribution adding up to five fifty million dollars. He offered dimes to grown-ups and nickels to youngsters whenever he visited in his late years. He had two great ambitions during his youth; to make one hundred thousand dollars and to live up to a hundred years. Unfortunately he passed away at the age of ninety eight from arteriosclerosis on May twenty third, 1937. He was later put to rest in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.