Tuesday, July 26, 2011

They Gave and Got Rich: Rockefeller

We start with arguably the wealthiest man in recent history: John_D._Rockefeller.

Rockefeller accumulated about $1.4 billion by the time he died in 1937. This was 1.5% of the GDP of the United States ($92 billion) at that time.

Rockefeller founded Standard Oil which became ExxonMobil, the petroleum giant.

From the beginning of his career as an assistant bookkeeper at age 16, he used to tithe regularly: 6% of his income to charity. Later he increased this to 10%. His salary was 50 cents a day at the time.

He was a staunch believer in the motto " gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can" (attributed to John Wesley, Christian theologian). Rockefeller believed his staunch belief in God and philanthropy were the sources of his success.

Rockefeller's Contributions:

  • The University of Chicago
  • The Rockefeller University, New York (earlier named the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. 23 Nobel laureates are associated with it )
  • Major funding for the Spelman College, Atlanta (America's first college for African-American women)
  • Founded the General education Board, for providing education at all levels in the U.S.
  • Financial support to the Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley and Vassar Universities
  • Founded the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission (research conducted here eradicated the hookworm disease that plagued Africa)
  • Assisted in developing the Peking Union Medical College (now known as the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences )
  • Provided World War I relief
Rockefeller gave away a total of $550 million in his life time.

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