The Standard Oil Company dominated the emerging oil industry in the United States between 1870 and 1911. Ultimately incorporated as a holding company in 1899, the corporation produced, processed, marketed, and transported approximately 90 percent of American oil during the early part of the twentieth century and became the first industrial monopoly in United States history.
The origins of the Standard Oil Company date back to 1863, when John D.
A political cartoon showing a Standard Oil tank morphed into an octopus with its tentacles wrapped around the steel, copper, and shipping industries, as well as the U.S. Capitol and a state house. One tentacle reaches for the White House.
In 1892, the Ohio Supreme Court dissolved the trust, but because corporate headquarters had been relocated to New York City, the trust was able to continue operating until 1899. That year, the nine trustees changed the name of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey to simply the Standard Oil Company and incorporated it as a holding company. Because a holding company’s only purpose is to own other companies’ stocks, the trustees transferred all the assets previously held by the trust into this new company. This arrangement allowed the Standard Oil Company to continue to monopolize the United States oil industry.
Although the Standard Oil Company succeeded in controlling the American oil industry, politicians and lawmakers continually scrutinized the company’s business practices. In 1904, Ida
Bringhurst, Bruce. Antitrust and the Oil Monopoly: The Standard Oil Cases, 1890-1911. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979. Tarbell, Ida M. The History of the Standard Oil Company. Rev. ed. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2003. Whitten, David O., and Whitten, Bessie E. The Birth of Big Business in the United States, 1860-1914: Commercial, Extractive, and Industrial Enterprise. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006.
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
John D. Rockefeller
Sherman Antitrust Act