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Thursday, January 10, 2013

This Day in History: 1/10- Birth of Standard Oil

For today's posting, we could not bear to write on the minutia of the daily goings on in finance and economics..  just one of those days everyone instantly forgets the moment one turns on the radio or television.

Instead, as we love to do, we went back in history to see what relevant events occurred on this day, which this specific day being January 10th.

In 49 BC, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, signaling the start of Civil War in Rome...  OK, that's nice...  What else?  Napoleon divorces Josephine in 1810.. Yay Him..  But anything more relevant?

In 1920, the official end of WWI occurs with the Treaty of Versailles.  That's a big deal yes?  That must be the topic of the day, no?   Um.. No..

Here we are..  On this day in 1870, John Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil.

That matters more.
Established in Ohio, Standard Oil was the largest oil refiner in the world, operating as a major company trust and was one of the world's first and largest multinational corporations until it was broken up by the United States Supreme Court in 1911.

John D. Rockefeller was a founder, chairman and major shareholder. Standard Oil had significant success, and many people believe that it out competed many of its rivals with lower costs and efficient production and logistics. With the profits, Rockefeller became the richest man in modern history. Standard Oil was also criticized by some due to its aggressive pricing and business techniques.

Other notable Standard Oil principals include Henry Flagler, developer of Florida's Florida East Coast Railway and resort cities, and Henry H. Rogers, who built the Virginian Railway (VGN), a well-engineered highly efficient line dedicated to shipping southern West Virginia's bituminous coal to port at Hampton Roads.


By 1890, only a span of twenty years, Standard Oil controlled 88% of the refined oil flows in the United States. The state of Ohio successfully sued Standard under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, compelling the dissolution of the trust in 1892. But Standard simply separated Standard Oil of Ohio and kept control of it.
Eventually, the state of New Jersey changed its incorporation laws to allow a company to hold shares in other companies in any state. So, in 1899, the Standard Oil Trust, based at 26 Broadway in New York, was legally reborn as a holding company, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, which held stock in 41 other companies, which controlled other companies, which in turn controlled yet other companies.

This conglomerate was seen by the public as all-pervasive, controlled by a select group of directors, and completely unaccountable.

In 1904, Standard controlled 91% of production and 85% of final sales.

Finally, by 1911 with public outcry against tihs monopoly cartel at a climax, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, that Standard Oil must be dissolved under the Sherman Antitrust Act and split into 33 companies, each with separate and distinct ownership from one another.
Here's a list of the successor companies for those curious... Several of these companies were considered among the Seven Sisters who dominated the industry worldwide for much of the 20th century..

 They include:

Standard Oil of New Jersey (SONJ) - or Esso (S.O.) – renamed Exxon, now part of ExxonMobil. Standard Trust companies Carter Oil, Imperial Oil (Canada), and Standard of Louisiana were kept as part of Standard Oil of New Jersey after the breakup.

Standard Oil of New York – or Socony, merged with Vacuum – renamed Mobil, now part of ExxonMobil.

Standard Oil of California – or Socal – renamed Chevron, became ChevronTexaco, but returned to Chevron.

Standard Oil of Indiana - or Stanolind, renamed Amoco (American Oil Co.) – now part of BP which is a British corporation.
Standard's Atlantic and the independent company Richfield merged to form Atlantic Richfield or ARCO, recently part of BP but has since been sold to a Japanese company. Atlantic operations were spun off and bought by Sunoco.

Standard Oil of Kentucky – or Kyso was acquired by Standard Oil of California - currently Chevron.

Continental Oil Company – or Conoco now part of ConocoPhillips.

Standard Oil of Ohio – or Sohio, acquired by BP in 1987.

The Ohio Oil Company – or The Ohio, and marketed gasoline under the Marathon name. The company is now known as Marathon Oil Company, and was often a rival with the in-state Standard spinoff, Sohio.
Other Standard Oil spin-offs:

    Standard Oil of Iowa – pre-1911 – became Standard Oil of California.
    Standard Oil of Minnesota – pre-1911 – bought by Standard Oil of Indiana.
    Standard Oil of Illinois - pre-1911 - bought by Standard Oil of Indiana.
    Standard Oil of Kansas – refining only, eventually bought by Indiana Standard.
    Standard Oil of Missouri – pre-1911 – dissolved.
    Standard Oil of Louisiana – always owned by Standard Oil of New Jersey (now ExxonMobil).
    Standard Oil of Brazil – always owned by Standard Oil of New Jersey (now ExxonMobil).

Other companies divested in the 1911 breakup:

    Anglo-American Oil Co. – acquired by Jersey Standard in 1930, now Esso UK.
    Buckeye Pipe Line Co.
    Borne-Scrymser Co. (chemicals)
    Chesebrough Manufacturing (now Unilever)
    Colonial Oil.
    Crescent Pipeline Co.
    Cumberland Pipe Line Co.
    Eureka Pipe Line Co.
    Galena-Signal Oil Co.
    Indiana Pipe Line Co.
    National Transit Co.
    New York Transit Co.
    Northern Pipe Line Co.
    Prairie Oil & Gas.
    Solar Refining.
    Southern Pipe Line Co.
    South Penn Oil Co. – eventually became Pennzoil, now part of Shell.
    Southwest Pennsylvania Pipe Line Co.
    Swan and Finch.
    Union Tank Lines.
    Washington Oil Co.
    Waters-Pierce.

All these companies... originated from one...  Standard Oil

All that energy and passion to make all that money.. And not a single penny of it to be taken with him into his eternal afterlife...  But its all worth it because how many can say they have a Center named after them, yes?