Ida Tarbell Versus John Rockefeller

Paper Type: 
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1211 Words
Date:  2021-03-06

The story of Tarbell and Rockefeller is one of the most famous in the United States of America. The two individuals were prominent in each of their occupations. They also had, like many people, several differences, and similarities. Their story is one of the most interesting to study about and is also very inspirational to other young people who would like to venture in similar occupations. The story clearly describes the various challenges people face in their careers on their way to success or even failure.

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John Rockefeller

Rockefeller was one of the richest and wealthiest men in the world in the 19th and 20th century (Chernow). He founded the famous Standard Oil company located in Ohio. The company controlled almost ninety percent of the countries pipelines and refineries. The company, therefore, acted as a monopoly in the Oil industry. The man seemed a very successful business person, but critics criticized him for using unscrupulous methods to acquire wealth. Besides all that, the man was a philanthropist who donated in various philanthropist causes (Nevins).

Ida Tarbell

Tarbell was one of the most famous journalists in the 19th and 20th century in the United States of America. She was famous for being one of the pioneers of investigative journalism which is a precarious occupation (Brady). It requires dedicated personnel who can deal with the difficult challenges it entails. She wrote a book about the history of Rockefellers company, Standard Oil Company. The book is one that brought her a lot of fame throughout the country. She also wrote about the life of Lincoln, who was the president of USA at the time. However, it is her story about Rockefellers company that is of significant interest.

Ideas and conflicting positions

The lives of Tarbell and Rockefeller share a lot of coincidences and conflicting views and positions. They share numerous funny coincidences in their lives. One of them is that they both had a long life. Rockefeller lived for ninety-eight years while Tarbells lifespan was eighty-seven years. They also valued education greatly, lost a sibling, and religion influenced both to a great extent. However, although their lives shared a lot of coincidences, they came into conflict due to their differing views and positions (Weinberg, Taking on the Trust). Their conflict started when Tarbell began investigations into the Standard Oil Company owned by Rockefeller.

The two individuals were on opposite sides based on their views. First, they held differing views on the running of a business. Their opinions were different from what was fair and unfair while conducting a business. John grew his oil company business to become one of the very powerful oil companies in the country. Tarbell opted to start some research on John instead of congratulating him on his achievement. She spent almost two years researching on Johns business tactics and company until she discovered some questionable tactics employed by Rockefeller. Rockefeller, therefore, observed her as a jealous individual who could not cope with his increasing wealth.

John and Ida also had conflicting perspectives. Ida believed John used dirty tactics to grow his business. In her book, she accused John of taking over other minor oil companies so as to create a monopoly in the oil trade (Tarbell). John, on the other hand, did not see any problem with that. He argued it as an appropriate method of doing business since one must outdo the competitors to enjoy success.

Rockefeller was a brilliant, philanthropic, and an industrious man. He believed in the survival for the fittest in the business environment. According to him, one must employ all tactics possible to decrease competition in business. John used the tactic of taking over the small companies as his method of creating a robust business. However, Ida believed in a fair competition ground without taking additional advantage of others.

The issues of donations to charity were another conflicting position. John, being a rich man, donated a lot of money to the needy in the society. Tarbell criticized him pointing out that ill-gained money was all he was giving out. She wanted him to contribute more to the community by practicing a legitimate business (Weinberg). The position brought a lot of conflict between the two since John always believed he acquired wealth through appropriate means.

The history of both Americans is unique and interesting. However, I believe the Rockefellers position is more compelling than that of Tarbell. The business environment is very competitive and harsh. It does not provide a fair competition ground. Each is always working hard to ensure he/she earns more profit than the other one. The business industry is full of competitors who are also working towards outdoing one another. One of the best methods of becoming a successful business is by minimizing competition by outdoing the competitors. John achieved that by merging the small oil companies to create one big and powerful oil company. The big company was able to control the greatest percentage of the nations petroleum industry.

Tarbells father and brother were both investors in the oil industry. They had their oil company, but they could not enjoy success compared to that of Rockefeller. In my view, Ida Tarbell was very jealous about that. She felt that her fathers company could not get enough profits since Rockefeller was already in control of over ninety percent of the oil business. Secondly, Ida started investigations into the petroleum industry as soon as Johns company started being a success. It is very likely that the story of Rockefellers success acted as a catalyst for her start investigations. She might have observed her fathers company was facing stiff competition from that of John and hence it was only then she got interest in the oil industry investigations.


Rockefeller is the kind of brilliant individuals with an entrepreneurial culture and mind. He had a great vision of establishing his oil company. The opportunity in the oil industry was clear in the mind and had laid down procedures on how to achieve his vision. He brought in the necessary business knowledge and experience to help him establish a successful business. He made money in all branches of the enterprise making him one of the wealthiest men in the nations history. He did not give up along the way which is one of the unique characteristics of entrepreneurs.

Each business person has his idea of fending off competition and johns idea bore fruits for him. It would only be fair if Ida came up with her business idea and transform it into success instead of criticizing those of others. The business world will never be fair, and hence, only the strong and fittest will survive. All methods of success are appropriate as far as the individual does not break the law.

Works Cited

Brady, Kathleen. Ida Tarbell: Portrait of a Muckraker. Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989.Print

Chernow, Ron. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. new york: Vintage, 2004.Print

Nevins, Allan. Study in power: John D. Rockefeller, industrialist and philanthropist. new york: Easton Press, 1890.Print

Tarbell, Ida. the history of the standard oil company. newyork: McClure, Phillips and Co, 1904.Print

Weinberg, Steve. Taking on the Trust. NewYork: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009.Print

Weinberg,Taking on the Trust: The Epic Battle of Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller'." Wall Street Journal (2008).Print

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Ida Tarbell Versus John Rockefeller. (2021, Mar 06). Retrieved from

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