The Woman Who Conquered John Rockefeller

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