The Giants of their Times

A cartoon depicting the dominant power of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company. The cartoon is similar to that of page 563 with an addition of metal (possibly steel) tentacle coils.

The midst of the Industrial Age gave rise to merciless competition in the business industry. To avoid losing the fight, it was an ongoing continuous battle to the top. Many small firms were devoured by the corporate giants who had utmost authority and domination in the market. Hence the term, the person who dies with the most things win.

While Andrew Carnegie took over the steel industry, John D. Rockefeller dictated the oil enterprise. Rockefeller started out as a clerk and worked his way up to the proprietor of the oil business. In the cartoon, his company sprouts these metal tentacles and coils itself around small and major industries. He defeated his rivals by slashing prices to the lowest and compromising privately with railroad companies. Standard Oil originated as a “horizontal” cartel, only consuming smaller oil companies and soon evolved into a vertically integrated monopoly. Rockefeller administered all aspects of his business, which range from drilling, refining, storing and distributing. ┬áIn the cartoon, you can see that he had wrapped around the small oil refineries, the bank, and the shipping, insurance and gas companies. When the 1880’s rolled around, his company governed 90% of America’s oil industry.

Rockefeller may be considered philanthropic for donating much of his fortune to schools and medical research, but he despised and rejected his workers’ fulfillment in creating unions. He was among one of the few industrial giants who were given the names of “robber barons,” because of his great influence over the uncoordinated marketplace. Industrial leaders had such great power that there were concern and speculation on people’s political and economic freedom.

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