Ida Tarbell, John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil Exposed Part 2

About Ida Tarbell who exposed the monopolistic practices of John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company.



To speed up the demise of the independents, Rockefeller, Tarbell charged, arranged to have the freight rates doubled in February, 1872. Although the independents fought back with a well-organized boycott of the Rockefeller refineries, the effort failed in the face of SIC-inspired sabotage and other misdeeds. From documents supplied by a high-minded shipping clerk at Standard Oil, Tarbell learned that Rockefeller agents had used inside information of their competitors' shipping itineraries to sidetrack cars of crude oil en route. Similar saboteurs actually blew up the refinery of a Buffalo independent. And, Tarbell discovered, Standard Oil lobbyists managed to rid the Ohio and New Jersey legislatures of any pesky antitrust measures with liberal doses of cold cash applied directly to the itchy palms of key lawmakers.

The Tarbell series ran for two years, and by 1906 Standard Oil was fighting 14 separate antitrust suits. A federal investigation headed by James R. Garfield, son of the slain President, substantially corroborated Tarbell's charges and moved Pres. Theodore Roosevelt to call for the dismantling of the giant trust. This took place in 1911 with the Supreme Court decision which declared Standard Oil guilty of attempting "to drive others from the field and exclude them from their right to trade." Today, four of the eight largest oil companies in the world-Exxon, Standard Oil of California (Chevron), Mobil, and Standard Oil of Indiana (American)-are products of this fragmenting of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust.

In Print: "One of the busiest corners of the globe at the opening of the year 1872 was a strip of Northwestern Pennsylvania, not over 50 mi. long, known the world over as the Oil Regions....Indeed, by the opening of 1872, life in the Oil Regions had ceased to be a mere makeshift. Comfort and orderliness, even opportunities for education and for social life, were within reach....Suddenly, at the very heyday of this confidence, a big hand reached out from nobody knew where, to steal their conquest and throttle their future. The suddenness and the blackness of the assault on their business stirred to the bottom their manhood and their sense of fair play, and the whole region arose in a revolt which is scarcely paralleled in the commercial history of the United States." (McClure's Magazine, vol. XX, no. 1, November, 1902)

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