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Standard Oil's Monopoly: Topics in Chronicling America

In the early 1900s, Standard Oil Co., chaired by John Rockefeller, was a powerful monopoly dissolved by SCOTUS. This guide provides access to materials related to “Standard Oil's Monopoly” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspape

Introduction

"Standard Oil interests are now said to be seeking control of the turpentine industry." June 9, 1907. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 17. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

At the beginning of the 20th century Standard Oil Co. was one of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations and its chairman, John D. Rockefeller, was the first billionaire. While people were divided about whether monopolies were good for society, exposés by the muckraker Ida Tarbell detailing the company’s strong-arm practices against rivals, railroad companies and others eventually turned public opinion against it. In 1911 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil Trust be dissolved under the Sherman Antitrust Act and split into 34 companies. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

1901-1904 Standard Oil gets control of railroads along east coast.
February 20, 1905 Kansas declares war on Standard Oil.
February 21, 1905 Kansas Congressman P.P. Campbell petitions against Standard Oil.
May 10, 1906 Previous Standard Oil employee admits to spying on the company’s behalf.
October 31, 1907 Kansas Supreme Court receives inconsistent answers on Standard Oil's trusts.
January 31, 1908 President Roosevelt publicly states an attack on Standard Oil and law-defying rich citizens.
May 18, 1911 US Supreme Court dissolves Standard Oil trusts, company has six months to comply.