The first American billionaire could also be one of the richest people to have ever lived

  • John D. Rockefeller is said to be the first billionaire in history
  • He entered the workforce on the bottom rung of the ladder
  • He went on to found the Standard Oil Company

Published on Nov 24, 2023 at 8:22 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Dec 20, 2023 at 6:17 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Adam Gray

The first American billionaire could also be one of the richest people to have ever lived

America’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, was born on July 8, 1839 in upstate New York.

He paved the way for the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Françoise Bettencourt Meyers.

The son of a travelling salesman, he came from humble beginnings.

READ MORE! Mark Zuckerberg’s car collection is actually incredibly humble for a billionaire

However, he went on to become America’s first billionaire.

In fact, the founder of the Standard Oil Company is said to be one of the wealthiest men who ever lived.

So how did he do it? One TikTok account has laid it all on the line.

After being abandoned by his father, the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1854.

The future billionaire attended high school before briefly studying bookkeeping at a commercial college.


One of the most richest families in the world | Rockefellers family : rrockefellerssstorycconspiracyr#rich

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Leaving his studies early, Rockefeller earned money by doing anything he could.

Not unlike billionaires today, he was determined to build something from the ground up.

This included raising turkeys, selling candy, and doing jobs for neighbors.

At age 16, he found work as an office clerk at a Cleveland commission firm that bought, sold and shipped grain, coal and other commodities.

He celebrated September 26 – the day he got his first official job – annually for the rest of his life.

In 1859, Rockefeller and a partner established their own commission firm.

That very year in Titusville, Pennsylvania, America’s first oil well was drilled.

Rockerfeller saw his chance, entering the blossoming oil business in 1863.

He invested in a Cleveland refinery alongside other stakeholders.

In 1865, Rockefeller borrowed money to buy out his partners and take sole control of the refinery.

The refinery had grown to become the largest in Cleveland under his leadership.

In 1870, he established Standard Oil.

Starting from the ground up, by the early 1880s it controlled 90 percent of U.S. refineries and pipelines.

However, some are adamant his business practices weren’t completely above board.

Some critics accused Rockefeller of engaging in predatory pricing.

Others believed he made deals with railroads to eliminate competitors and gain a monopoly in the growing industry.

Rockefeller himself said he gained the advantage by simply buying rival refineries and developing companies for distributing and marketing his product internationally.

However the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t agree.

In 1911, it found Standard Oil in violation of anti-trust laws and, as a result, ordered it to be dissolved.

It must be said that, whatever happened in the boardroom, over the course of his life Rockefeller donated more than $500 million to various philanthropic causes.

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Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.