John D. Rockefeller

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John D. Rockefeller

A famous American industrialist. He started his career in foodstuffs, but constructed an oil refinery with a partner in 1859. He co-founded Standard Oil in 1870, and by 1880 had virtually monopolized oil refining in the United States. He was known for his heavy-handed business tactics, including corporate espionage and buying out competitors. Rockefeller's supporters contend that he improved efficiency and made oil accessible to the general public in the age of industrialization. His critics claim that he hurt small businesses and was guilty of unethical business dealings. In later life, he became a noted philanthropist. He lived from 1839 to 1937, and is regarded as perhaps the richest person who ever lived.