Little Bits of History

Give it Away

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 3, 2014
J.D. Rockefeller, Jr.

J.D. Rockefeller, Jr.

March 3, 1910: J.D. Rockefeller, Jr. retires in order to give more time to philanthropic efforts.  J.D. Rockefeller, Sr. began Standard Oil which became one of the most successful businesses and the most successful oil company in the country. Junior was his fifth child and only son. He joined his father’s company in 1897 after graduating from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts. During college he was involved in the Glee and Mandolin Clubs, taught Bible classes and was the President of his Junior Class. He also took several social science classes and behaved differently than other rich men’s sons. He stayed with the company for 13 years and rose to director. He also was the director is JP Morgan’s US Steel Company which formed in 1901.

John Archbold was both the head of Standard Oil after Senior left and involved in a political bribing scandal revealed by the Hearst publication empire. Junior resigned from the business side in order to “purify” his ongoing philanthropy. Junior and Senior, along with Frederick Taylor Gates formed the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913. Their mission was “to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.” Gates was Senior’s main philanthropic advisor. The charter for the Foundation was accepted formally by New York State on May 14, 1913. The Rockefellers were drawn to large-scale philanthropy by the example of Andrew Carnegie’s essay, The Gospel of Wealth. After reading the essay, Senior donated the first of what would become $35 million in gifts to fund the creation of the University of Chicago.

The idea for founding the tax-exempt foundation began in 1901 but it took five years before Gates revived the idea in the hopes of keeping the heirs from harm with the influx of all that money. In 1909, Senior signed over 73,000 shares of Standard Oil of New Jersey, valued at $50 million, to the three trustees – Junior, Gates, and Harold McCormick. It was projected to take $100 million to endow the Foundation. They applied for a federal charter, but even secretly meeting with President Taft didn’t overcome the distrust caused by an ongoing antitrust case against Standard Oil. Instead, they decided to simply apply for a state charter.

Junior’s letter to Nicholas Butler in June of 1932 was used to push the nation to the repeal of Prohibition. The remarkable aspect of the letter was the Junior himself was a lifelong teetotaler. He gave money to diverse causes, including critical funding to Margaret Sanger. He continued works started by his father and expanded the focus of the Rockefeller Foundation far beyond the original intent, not always with the best results. He supported the arts and education. He purchased a tract of land in New York City and then donated it so the headquarters for the United Nations headquarters could be built. In all, he gave $537 million over his lifetime to philanthropic endeavors. He died in 1960 at the age of 86.

Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege. – John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

The success of each is dependent upon the success of the other. – John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. – John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living. – John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Also on this day: Vincent van Gogh – In 1853, Vincent van Gogh was born.
Football – No, Soccer – In 1891, the Penalty Spot Kick was created.
Comstock Law – In 1873, The Comstock Law was enacted in the US.
Panic – In 1943, 173 people were killed at Bethnal Green during a bombing raid over London.

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