The US industrialist John D Rockefeller was born in New York on this day in 1839. He was the co-founder and president of the first major US oil company, Standard Oil, which gradually gained control of the country’s oil industry. He also founded a dynasty whose name became synonymous with wealth and philanthropy: the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was established in 1901 and the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913, ‘to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.’
John was a faithful congregant of the Erie Street Baptist Mission Church, where he taught Sunday school, and served as a trustee, clerk, and occasional ‘janitor’. Religion was a guiding force throughout his life and Rockefeller believed it to be the source of his success. On the other hand, he was also considered a supporter of capitalism based in a perspective of social darwinism, and is often quoted saying ‘the growth of a large business is merely a survival of the fittest’.
At the time of his death in 1937 at the age of 97, Rockefeller had contributed more than half a billion dollars to charitable causes. [Goodness, I wouldn’t mind even 0.5% of that…. ]
Ronnie Biggs – the Great Train Robber – escaped from Wandsworth prison 49 years ago today (1965), fleeing firstly to Australia and then to Brazil, where he stayed until his return to the UK in 2001. He spent several years in prison, where his health rapidly declined and was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2009, before dying in a nursing home in December 2013.
…..Two men who made money in very different ways in life!