Sunday 12 January 2014

John D. Rockefeller: Abstainer, Abolitionist, Altruist

John D. Rockefeller made his fortune in the oil industry.  In fact, by the 1870's, his company, Standard Oil had 90% of the shares in the U.S. oil industry.  By 1937, his Rockefeller accounted for 1.5% of the U.S. GDP.  And yet, he would give much of his fortune away.

Following Wesley's motto to "gain all you can, save all you can and give all you can", Rockefeller spent most of his life supporting worthy causes.  He heavily financed research to eradicate the diseases of hookworm and yellow fever.  

A strong proponent of higher education, Rockefeller founded the University of Chicago, Rockefeller University.  An abolitionist who voted for Lincoln, Rockefeller supported many black schools in the South including Spelman College, which was named after the Rockefeller's wife Laura Spelman, an ardent abolitionist.  

Rockefeller belonged to a Baptist church in Cleveland where he tithed and taught Sunday School.  In the Baptist tradition, he abstained from consuming alcohol or using tobacco.

Rockefeller was known for his habit of handing out dimes to adults and nickels to children wherever he went. The Rockefeller Foundation was established in 1913 to help worthy causes.  To date, the foundation has given away more than $14 billion.    

John D. Rockefeller courtesy

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