John D. Rockefeller – The Richest Man in Modern History

Surely you must have heard of John D. Rockefeller, especially since he is widely considered as the single richest personality in modern history, but do you know exactly how he managed to become so rich? In a word, it all comes down to “oil” but Rockefeller was much more than a mere industrialist. The man was an ingenious businessman, an expert bookkeeper but also a very kind and generous person despite his enormous wealth.

John D. Rockefeller

Accounting for inflation, the personal fortune of John D. Rockefeller would amount to $340 billion in today’s money, but John was not born in a rich family nor did he inherit his fortunes overnight. Instead, he worked hard and had a business-orientated mentality ever since he was a little boy, since he started lending money to his neighbors with 7% interest at the age of 14. After a few years, Rockefeller was working as a bookkeeper at a wholesale produce commission in Cleveland, eventually becoming a head bookkeeper with annual earnings of $500. Keep in mind that this was in 1856 when he was only 17 years old! A devout Baptist, he donated 10% of his first salary to the church, and he has been known to give away vast sums of money throughout the course of his life. He provided funds for medical research,  for schools and for keeping churches open. The extent of his generosity amounts to about $7 billion in modern money, which he gave away selflessly from 1855 to 1934.

His gained his massive wealth through his Standard Oil company, which was responsible for the refinement of over 90% U.S.’s oil in the 1870s. This caused some problems in exchange, since many began to criticize the company’s monopoly on the market. Standard Oil was eventually divided into 34 smaller firms, but Rockefeller still managed to score a huge profit through them over time. Towards the end of his life, John suffered from several health issues, including depression, alopecia and eventually arteriosclerosis, which caused his death. His youthful dream was to accumulate a fortune of $100,000 and to live until the age of 100. As far as his personal fortune is concerned, he clearly surpassed all expectations, and since he died at the age of 97, he came pretty close to fulfilling his second dream as well.

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