"All of it," we can picture Rockefeller saying to himself, "all of it shall be mine." Any study of Rockefeller's career must lead to the conclusion that, before he had reached his thirtieth year, he had determined to monopolize this growing necessity. The mere fact that this young man could form such a stupendous plan indicates that in him we are meeting for the first time a new type of industrial leader. At that time monopolies were unknown in the United States. That certain old English Kings had frequently granted exclusive trading privileges to favored merchants most educated Americans knew; and their knowledge of monopolies extended little further than this. Yet about 1868 John D. Rockefeller started consciously to revive this ancient practice, and to bring under one ownership the magnificent industry to which Drake's sensational discovery had given rise.
Daring as was this conception, the resourcefulness and the skill with which Rockefeller executed it were more startling still. Merely to catalogue, one by one, the achievements of the ten succeeding fruitful years, almost takes one's breath away. Indeed the whole operation proceeded with such a Napoleonic rapidity of action that the outside world had hardly grasped Rockefeller's intention before the monopoly had been made complete. We catch one glimpse of Rockefeller, in 1868, as head of the prosperous house of Rockefeller, Andrews, and Flagler, and eight years afterwards we see him once more, this time the man who controlled practically the entire petroleum business of the world. His career of conquest began in 1870, when the firm of Rockefeller, Andrews, and Flagler, joining hands with several large capitalists in Cleveland and New York, was incorporated under the name of the Standard Oil Company of Ohio. In 1870 about twenty-five independent refineries, many of them prosperous and powerful, were manufacturing oil in the city of Cleveland; two years afterward this new Standard Oil Company had absorbed all of them except five: In these two critical years the oil business of the largest refining center in the United States had thus passed into Rockefeller's hands. By 1874 the greatest refineries in New York and Philadelphia had likewise merged their identity with his own. When Rockefeller began his acquisition, there were thirty independent refineries operating in Pittsburgh, all of which, in four or five years, passed one by one under his control. The largest refineries of Baltimore surrendered in 1875.
These capitulations left only one important refining headquarters in the United States which the Standard had not absorbed. This was that section of western Pennsylvania where the oil business had had its origin. The mere fact that this area was the headquarters of the oil supply gave it great advantages as a place for manufacturing the finished product. The oil regions regarded these advantages as giving them the right to dominate the growing industry, and they had frequently proclaimed the doctrine that the business belonged to them. They hated Rockefeller as much as they feared him, yet at the very moment when the Titusville operators were hanging him in effigy and posting the hoardings with cabalistic signs against his corporation, this mysterious, almost uncanny power was encircling them: Men who one night were addressing public meetings denouncing the Standard influence would suddenly sell out their holdings the next day. In 1875 John D. Archbold, a brilliant young refiner who had grown up in the oil regions and who had gained much local fame as opponent of the Standard, appeared in Titusville as the President of the Acme Oil Company. At that time there were twenty-seven independent refineries in this section. Archbold began buying and leasing these establishments for his Acme Company, and in about four years practically every one had passed under his control. The Acme Company was merely a subsidiary of the Standard Oil. These rapid purchasing campaigns gave the Standard ninety per cent of all the refineries in the United States, but Rockefeller's scheme comprehended more than the acquisition of refineries.