John D. Rockefeller: A Robber Baron Or the Efficient Businessman

John Davison Rockefeller has been accused by many as being a Robber Baron over the past century. He created the most powerful corporation the United States had ever seen: The Standard Oil Company. He began Standard Oil in 1865 and by 1881, it was comprised of more than forty other companies. In 1882 Rockefeller created the Standard Oil Trusts, and his company had become the most efficient corporation, producing the highest quality products as well as charging the lowest prices. Unlike Jay Gould, who used the judicial system to acquire companies, make a profit, and then leave that company in bankruptcy, Rockefeller was philanthropic in his endeavors, incorporating his acquired companies into the ever enlarging Standard Oil. He believed in Social Darwinism and the "Gospel of Wealth," and as a result the Standard Oil Company helped to strengthen the American economy, created jobs, and was one of the leaders in making the United States the industrial giant that it is today. John D. Rockefeller was not a Robber Baron because he did nothing wrong, he was a product of the Industrial era, and played by its rules to attain the greatest victory, absolute economic success.
After the Civil War, from 1860-1914, the United States was transformed from a predominantly agrarian society into an industrial nation with an output so great that it quickly caught up and surpassed all of Europe. Factories appeared everywhere and new agricultural technologies caused a massive influx of farmers into the large urban centers where the factories were operating. In some cases, city populations nearly doubled. The amount of industrial capital in the United States economy was multiplied twenty-two times over, and the value of manufactured goods increased twelve times. The population of the United States tripled due to the many immigrants flocking to America for jobs, and with the use of better, more efficient technologies, which increase…


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