Wiki Biography of The Rockefeller
The Rockefeller name is linked with large business in the United States, and has been for a long time, ranking with Carnegie and maybe Rothschild in terms of wealth — the former as a similarly self-made wealthy family, and the latter because of presumed Germanic roots. In the second half of the nineteenth century, John D. Rockefeller rose to prominence in the family, virtually monopolizing the burgeoning oil industry in the United States and around the world at the time, and leaving a legacy that has been carried on by his descendants for the last 100 years, and thus either envied, respected, or feared because’money talks,’ and thus has influence.
The Rockefellers were born in what is now Germany, in the Rhineland town of Fahr. Johann Peter immigrated to the United States in 1723, settling in New Jersey after changing his surname from Rockenfeller to Rockenfelder. The family was farmers until John D.’s father, William, who worked as a lumberjack and sold so-called elixirs, and had a tumultuous career that involved bigamy, name changes, and repeated movements across the United States and Canada. He was clearly not a billionaire, and John D. refused to acknowledge him for many years, blaming him for bringing shame to the family of the world’s richest man.
John D. was born in 1839 and studied bookkeeping and accountancy before selling fruit and other consumables, earning enough money to build an oil refinery in 1863 with partners Maurice B. Clark, Samuel Andrews, and Clark’s two brothers, seeing the resource’s potential early on. The Clarks were eventually purchased out by John D., and the corporation Rockefeller, Andrews, and Flagler was founded when his brother William built another refinery.
John D. was the venture’s businessman – though he claimed that his wife Laura was the real brains behind all financial choices – and steadily bought up oil-producing areas, established refineries when needed, and controlled distribution channels, mainly railroads. Standard Oil was founded in 1870, and by 1872, Rockefeller virtually controlled 90% of oil production, refining, and distribution in the United States, if not the entire world. Despite the passage of anti-monopoly legislation in many US states, Rockefeller’s aggressive business tactics and adaptation of his operations lawfully bypassed these hurdles. John D. was careful to keep overall control of the firms and trusts as kerosene was finally supplanted by gasoline, natural gas was marketed, and coal and iron ore were mined.
In particular, Rockefeller had built a significant fortune by maintaining an effective monopoly in the oil market. His fortune once accounted for more than 1.5 percent of the US economy, or over $25 billion, and he was not only the richest person in the US, but also one of the top three in the world. Rockefeller had always contributed to charities, despite his brutal economic techniques. He was a pioneer in medical research, and he established or donated to more than 70 educational institutions.
When John D. Sr. died in 1937, his only son, John D. Jr. – sometimes known as Junior – took over the family business. Although under the aegis of the 1934 Trust and the 1952 Trust, all have been professionally managed, male members of the family have remained apparently in control of finances. Junior had a distinct interest in banking since his father had given him 10% of Equitable Trust Company stock, which was later incorporated into Chase National Bank, of which he was the greatest stakeholder, albeit at only 4%, but it was the largest bank in the world at the time. Following mergers with the Manhattan Company in 1955 and subsequently JP Morgan in 2000, it became JP Morgan Chase, one of the four major banks in the United States with assets surpassing $3 trillion in 2016.
Junior and subsequent family members were inextricably linked to real estate, mostly in New York City and encompassing housing developments as well as notable solitary structures, but Junior was always more concerned with philanthropy than with sustaining or increasing the family business. Junior’s involvement in various international organisations, typically as part of or offshoots of the League of Nations and afterwards the United Nations, was balanced by his sponsorship of education and medical research. Junior even provided the site in New York City on which the United Nations building stands. There has also been a persistent commitment to conservation, most notably through the establishment or support of national parks around the United States.
Another recent event worth noting is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s announcement in 2014 that it will divest itself of all ties to fossil fuels in acknowledgment of their (at least perceived) impact on climate change.
John D. Jr. and his wife Abby — Senator Aldridge’s daughter – had a daughter and five sons. John D. 111 and his sister Abigail devoted their lives to philanthropy; John D. 111 served on numerous boards, including the University of Chicago, which John D. Sr. had founded, Rockefeller University, International Education, and the China Medical Boards. In 1929, he joined the family’s philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Foundation, and served as chairman for twenty years. He also served as the first president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (1940-56).
Son David went into banking as Chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan, expanding the company internationally to the point that it today has over 50,000 branches and is a major player in the global banking industry. He served as President from 1960 to 1969, then as Chairman and CEO (1969-80).
Laurance became a venture capitalist primarily through Venrock Associates, which invested in Apple, Intel, and a variety of other technological businesses. He was a founding trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund from 1940 to 1982, serving as president from 1958 to 1968 and then chairman from 1968 to 1980, and a founding trustee of the Rockefeller Family Fund from 1967 to 1977. Following World War 11, his passion for flying led him to found the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation.
Nelson is the most well-known of the three sons, having served as Governor of New York State from 1959 to 1973 and then as Vice-President of the United States under President Gerald Ford from December 1974 to January 1977, following President Richard Nixon’s resignation. He had previously worked in national affairs posts in health, education, and welfare for presidents ranging from Roosevelt through Eisenhower.
Since the Civil War, Winthrop was the first Republican governor of Arkansas (1967-71). In the early 1950s, he and his family relocated to the state and began farming.
The name Rockefeller holds enormous weight and influence, both locally and globally, as the family has been involved in a number of prominent enterprises and politics for more than a century. As of mid-2016, there were over 150 direct blood descendants of John D. Sr. alive, many of whom are still actively involved in the various businesses mentioned above, as well as in influential political positions, as well as continuing the philanthropic activities for which the family has become well-known, albeit for less than altruistic reasons.
However, the family’s position in terms of net worth is no longer as strong as it was at the time of John D. Sr’s death. According to credible sources, the family’s fortune is worth more than $11 billion, placing them in the top 20 richest families in the United States in 2016. Of fact, the family’s continued philanthropic endeavors guarantee that they will never achieve the wealth levels set by John D. Rockefeller Sr., the world’s richest man at the time.