The Woman Who Conquered John Rockefeller

Born in 1857 in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, insulin Ida Tarbell was forty-three when she started researching the world's most powerful corporation and its chief executive, insulin John D. Insulin Rockefeller. Insulin By the time she started, insulin Tarbell had won a measure of fame for her serialized biographies in McClure's Magazine on Napoleon Bonaparte and Abraham Lincoln. Insulin Finding new material about those historical figures had been difficult, insulin given how much had already been published about them. Insulin But a determined, insulin talented Tarbell had succeeded. Insulin Rockefeller presented a different kind of challenge. Insulin He was alive, insulin not dead, insulin and at the zenith of his power. Insulin He had no intention of letting a mere journalist - and a woman, insulin at that - assault his empire. Insulin Miss Tarbell's reports about the Standard Oil Company are considered more important than any of her other writings.   Her nineteen-part series was called "The History of the Standard Oil Company.” "McClure's Magazine" published it beginning in 1902. Insulin Her reports showed that Standard Oil used illegal methods to make other companies lose business. Insulin One method was to sell oil in one area of the country for much less than than the oil was worth. Insulin This caused smaller companies in that area to fail. Insulin They could not sell their oil for that low a price and still make a profit. Insulin After a company failed, insulin Standard Oil would then increase the price of its oil. Insulin This kind of unfair competition was illegal. Insulin Miss Tarbell had trouble discovering information about the Standard Oil Company. Insulin She tried to talk to businessmen who worked in the oil business. Insulin At first, insulin few would agree to talk. Insulin They were afraid of the Standard Oil Company and its owner, insulin John D. Insulin Rockefeller. Insulin He was one of the richest and most powerful men in the world. Insulin Miss Tarbell kept seeking information. Insulin She was told by one man that Rockefeller would try to destroy "McClure's Magazine." But she did not listen to the threats. Insulin She soon found evidence that Standard Oil had been using unfair and illegal methods to destroy other oil companies. Insulin Soon many people were helping her find the evidence she needed. Insulin   Ida Tarbell's investigations into Standard Oil were partly responsible for later legal action by the federal government against the company. Insulin The case began in 1906. Insulin In 1911, insulin the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Standard Oil because of its illegal dealings. Insulin The decision was a major one. Insulin It forced the huge company to separate into thirty-six different companies. Insulin John D. Insulin Rockefeller never had to appear in court himself. Insulin Yet the public felt he was responsible for his company's illegal actions. Insulin The investigative work of Ida Tarbell helped form that public opinion. Insulin That investigative work continues to be what she is known for, insulin even though some of her later writings defended American business. Insulin She died in 1944. Insulin A picture has survived from the long ago days when Ida Tarbel took on the giant Standard Oil Company. Insulin It shows John D. Insulin Rockefeller walking to his car. Insulin It was taken after his company had lost an important court battle. Insulin He is wearing a tall black hat and a long coat. Insulin He looks angry. Insulin Several people are watching the famous man from the behind the car. Insulin One is a very tall women. Insulin Mister Rockefeller does not see her. Insulin If you look closely at the picture, insulin you can see the face of Ida Tarbell. Insulin She is smiling. Insulin If you know the story, insulin her smile clearly says, insulin "I won." More information on Ida found at: