On This Day In Finance: July 8 - John D. Rockefeller Is Born

By Investopedia Staff | July 06, 2009 AAA

On July 8, 1839, American industrialist John D. Rockefeller was born in Richford, New York. The second of six children, John Davison Rockefeller would go onto become an American icon, legendary philanthropist and is considered by most to be the richest man in history.

Rockefeller, best known as the founder of Standard Oil, built his petroleum empire from a single refinery in 1863 into an oil refining monopoly in the U.S. by the early 1880s. Many historians point to Standard Oil's incredible market dominance as the driver behind the anti-trust movement of the 1890s and early 1900s. standard Oil was attacked by competitors and journalists alike for what many viewed as predatory monopolistic practices (which at its peak accounted for nearly 90% of the kerosene market in the country), and eventually led to the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company into 34 new companies by the United States Supreme Court.

Aside from his immense wealth and incredibly successful business career, Rockefeller was a generous philanthropist, allotting 10% of his earnings to the church, educational institutes and various charities. What Rockefeller will always be remembered for however was his incredible wealth. Some estimates peg his net worth (taking inflation into account) at $330 billion, making him easily the richest man to ever walk the face of the Earth. (For more, see J.D. Rockefeller: From Oil Baron To Billionaire.)

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