From 1870 to 1911, the Standard Oil Company and Trust held control of the United States’s entire oil production. This included oil processing, marketing, and transportation. The company was created and built by John D. Rockefeller and his associates. Nowadays, the Standard Oil Company remains in pieces as it was broken apart into several different companies and subsidiaries. The history of the Standard Oil Company is interesting to explore.
Keep reading to learn more.
The Standard Oil Company: The Beginning
The Standard Oil Company’s originated in 1863. The company was formed by John D. Rockefeller, Maurice B. Clark, and Samuel Andrews in Cleveland, Ohio. By 1880, Rockefeller had bought out Clark, invited Henry M. Flager to join him, and operated the largest oil refineries in Cleveland.
It was during this time that the company went from a local Cleveland operation to a countrywide powerhouse. In 1880, the Standard Oil Company controlled around 95 percent of all the refined oil in the United States.
The Standard Oil Trust Agreement
The Standard Oil Trust Agreement, signed by Rockefeller and nine other associates in 1882, states that companies involved in the agreement could be willfully created, dissolved, and divided. This agreement, which sat upon layers of legal paperwork and loopholes, discouraged public investigation into the Trust’s proceedings and actions.
In 1892, the Ohio Supreme Court even tried to dissolve the Trust. However, the Trust continued to operate from its headquarters in New York City.
In 1906, the United States Government became involved. The government then sued the Standard Oil Company & Trust for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was the first federal act that placed a ban on monopolistic business practices. The government felt that The Standard Oil Company’s economic power was beginning to be excessive.
The Standard Oil Company argued that they were merely better than their competitors. After a two year battle in the courtroom with over 400 witnesses, more than 1300 exhibits, and a full report of nearly 15,000 pages, the US Government won. In 1911, the Trust was ordered to break apart. The Trust did so, becoming 34 separate and individual companies.
After the Dissolution
Immediately after the ruling in 1911, eight companies kept Standard Oil as a part of their name.
Today, the largest of these companies form the essence of the U.S. oil industry. These include Standard Oil of New Jersey, which merged with Humble Oil and later became Exxon. Also, Standard Oil of New York, which merged with Vacuum Oil, and later became Mobil. Another one was Standard Oil of Kentucky , Texaco, and Unocal. Today, they are known as Chevron but all started under the Standard Oil of California company. Amoco, which was renamed from Standard Oil of Indiana and later acquired by BP, along with what was once known as Standard Oil of Ohio, is another. Finally, the Ohio Oil Company, which became Marathon Oil, which eventually also spun-off Marathon Petroleum.
Nowadays, hardly any trace of the Standard Oil Company & Trust names exist. Actually, a few of these companies, including Exxon and Mobil have once again merged. The history of the Standard Oil Company carries on today through various companies they previously owned.