So while young men in the United States were going west to find
wealth in gold, other men sought oil. The oil industry would keep
evolving to bring its participants wealth beyond their imagination. In
the early years, it was individuals who became rich, but as the fortune
was too much to comprehend, corporations would evolve to manage
the unprecedented growth.
The Standard Oil dynasty is one such story. The wealthiest person of
all times was John D. Rockefeller, who established Standard Oil in 1870.
This company had a reputation as a "robber baron," controlling
a product that was to influence the price of just about everything in
the industrialized world. Rockefeller started his business on refining
light oil and kerosene from crude oil.
The company was so feared that the United States government enacted
the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 to break up the first monopoly
in a democracy. Monopoly of one individual or company in a democratic
society can undermine the health of that country. John D. Rockefeller
died in 1937, but with his wealth he created one of the largest
philanthropical charities to now make the Rockefeller name synonymous