Standard Oil Company

In 1862, John D. Rockefeller and two partners established an oil-refining company. They purchased oil wells in Pennsylvania and constructed another one. Rockefeller later bought out one of the partners' interest in the company.

By 1865 Rockefeller had amassed extreme wealth, even though the oil industry was just beginning to grow. Rockefeller and his partner took steps to try to stabilize oil prices. They wanted to buy the largest oil refinery in Cleveland, believing that a single oil company operating in northeastern Ohio could fix prices to overcome swings in production. They convinced other Cleveland firms to join with them. In 1870, Rockefeller had united multiple companies into the Standard Oil Company.

Next Rockefeller set about expanding Standard Oil. The company began to purchase or drive out of business oil refiners across the United States. By 1878, Standard Oil controlled about ninety percent of the oil refineries in the United States. The Standard Oil Company created various companies across the nation, all directed by Rockefeller.

The federal government criticized Standard Oil for establishing a monopoly over the oil industry. In 1890, Senator John Sherman from Ohio proposed an anti-trust act, authorizing the federal government to break up any businesses that eliminated competition. Ohio's attorney general filed suit against Rockefeller and Standard Oil for being a monopoly. In 1911, the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Standard Oil was a trust that must be broken up. Following the Supreme Court ruling, Standard Oil was divided into seven smaller companies.

Source: Standard Oil Company
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