• U.S.

Education: Ledger Man

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“I believe it is a religious duty to get all the money you can, fairly and honestly; to keep all you can, and to give away all you can.”

So said John Davison Rockefeller, at the age of 60, when he was fingering the yellowed leaves of a precious document, his own Ledger A, which he had kept as a 16-year-old assistant bookkeeper in a Cleveland commission house. That all-inclusive creed, conceived in youth, ex-pressed at the philosopher’s age, was the lone recorded feat of Mr. Rockefeller’s imagination. Otherwise, he has exhibited no great creative imagination. But give even a street car conductor a mighty creed, give him an almost perfect mathematical determination to carry it out, and he will build tracks to the ends of the earth.

There is every reason to believe that Mr. Rockefeller began to lay his tracks in Ledger A. For example, note his first entry: “September 26, 1855—January i, 1856: received $50 (wages). Paid board and washerwoman. Saved a little. Gave penny each Sabbath to Sunday School.”

Today, the figures have changed. The man, approaching his Sgth birthday (July 8), does not record them or administer them, but he knows what they are. No doubt, he has often been asked, by inquisitive reporters, how many times he is worth his weight in gold. This can be computed roughly:

Estimated fortune. . $500,000,000

Gifts (see table)—. . 539,229,643



Rockefeller Foundation $182,704,624

General Education Board 129,197,960

Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial 73,875,457

Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research 39,904,602

University of Chicago 45,000,000

American Baptist Home Mission Society 5,475,000

American Baptist Foreign Mission Society 5,725,000

Y.M.C.A. Int’l Committee 2,050,000

New York Public Library 3,500,000

Metropolitan Museum of Art 2,000,000

American Museum of Natural History 1,040,000

Jerusalem Museum 2,000,000

League of Nations Library 2,000,000

Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes (Negro) 3,500,000

Brown University 500,000

Harvard University (Fogg Museum) 500,000

University of Chicago (Divinity School) 1,000,000

Woods Hole Biological Laboratory 400,000

International Education Board… 21,000,000

Total $539,229,643

An avoirdupois pound of gold is worth $204.09. Mr. Rockefeller, at 135 pounds,* would balance $27,552.15 worth of gold on a pair of accurate scales. But it would take 37,710 times that sum of gold to balance the Rockefeller fortune and gifts.

Figures, figures; they are what the public is always hearing about Mr. Rockefeller. ROCKEFELLER GIVES A MILLION. Every U. S. reader has seen that headline. Last week, no exception, saw the announcement of the annual report of the Rockefeller Foundation, listing an expenditure of $1,223,124 “Amazing” said the public as it turned the page, failing to comprehend the figure in the light of an item in the world’s broadest educational program. But, rare is the educator or the scientist who has not, or does not hope to be, aided by this program.

It has four distinct branches:

1) The Rockefeller Foundation, organized “to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world,” is headed by that distinguished after-dinner speaker, George Edgar Vincent, 64, who was formerly president of the University of Minnesota. Only last fortnight, another famed educator, Max Mason, 50, resigned as president of the University of Chicago to become director of the new Division of Natural Sciences of the Rockefeller Foundation. Mr. Mason is to have both administrative and research duties.

The work of the Rockefeller Foundation is concerned chiefly with public health. Last year, relief centers were established in the Mississippi flood area; Brazil was aided in a fight against yellow fever; hookworm was brought under control in 19 countries; the Peking Union Medical College was supported; $2,000,000 was given toward a new medical centre for the University of London; and the globe was dotted with Rockefeller health workers.

2) General Education Board keeps an eagle eye for deserving universities, colleges, schools. It gives them, not buildings or grounds, but endowments for higher faculty salaries, new chairs, departments, special lines of research. It has also aided the public schools in the rural sections of the South.

3) Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, with its efficiently equipped laboratories and hospitals on the west bank of the East River, Manhattan, has contributed to science many a life-saving discovery: curative sera for one of the fatal forms of pneumonia and for epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis; the microbes causing infantile paralysis and yellow fever; the Carrel-Dakin method of treating infected wounds.

4) The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial was founded in honor of Mr. Rockefeller’s wife, who died in 1915. It is international in scope, fostering research in the social sciences, supporting child welfare organizations.

These mighty benefactions, as everyone knows, came from oil—oil of a day when a businessman had to be crude to be successful. And yet. the methods of that day fathered the modern corporation. Much ethical refining has been done, to be sure, as witness the demand of earnest John D. Rockefeller Jr. for the resignation of Robert W. Stewart as chairman of the board of the Standard Oil Co. of Indiana (see p. 38).

But with old John D. it was different; he was out to develop an infant industry; caveat emptor was the bust ess standard of that time. He heard there was gold in oil when he was 22, and a year later he was in the oil business with an Englishman named M. B. Clark and a mechanical wizard named Samuel Andrews. Bargaining and borrowing was Mr. Rockefeller’s prime task. Once he told a Clevelander that he wanted to invest $10,000 before he hit that same Clevelander for a loan of $5,000. So it is easy to understand how the Standard Oil Co. was formed with a capital of $1,000,000 in 1870 when Mr. Rockefeller was barely 31.*

Muckrakers†have made much of the way Mr. Rockefeller bought out competitors. According to Miss Tarbell, he would go to a refiner and say: “You see, this scheme is bound to work. It means an absolute control by us of the oil business. There is no chance for anyone outside. But we are going to give everybody a chance to come in. You are to turn over your refinery to my appraisers, and I will give you Standard Oil Co. stock or cash, as you prefer, for the value we put upon it. I advise you to take the stock. It will be for your good.”

That was only one of the methods by which Mr. Rockefeller is said to have built the “trust” that the Supreme Court of Ohio ordered dissolved in 1892. The others were the most efficient production methods that had been developed before Henry Ford.

In the early ’90’s, Mr. Rockefeller put his philanthropies on a wholesale scale. He had always been a devout Baptist, a Sunday school teacher since he was 20. When a comparatively poor man, in 1870, he gave $20,000 to help build the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church in Cleveland. His first huge gift was for a Baptist-affiliated institution of learning—the University of Chicago (founded 1892). He plunged into the giving business as systematically as he had into oil. He trained John D. Jr. to succeed him in both. And then, in 1911,** he entered the business of pleasure. . . .

Last week was not strikingly different from a hundred preceding weeks of Mr. Rockefeller. He was at his home in Lakewood, N.J. He had spent the winter and early spring at Ormond Beach, Fla. Soon he will go to his favorite estate — 6,000-acre Pocantico Hills, with grottoes, pergolas, cascades, Greek statues, near Tarrytown, N. Y. He travels with the seasons, so that they will not interfere with his schedule.

A specimen day:

Arises at 7 a. m., takes needle shower, carefully chooses clothes from large wardrobe.

Appears at breakfast table promptly at 8, sips orange juice and coffee, eats a fair amount of oatmeal, nibbles bits of toast, rolls, eggs, bacon; gives new dimes or nickels to servants and guests. He has distributed some 22,000 of these gleaming coins in the last two decades. To those he sees every day, he usually gives nickels; to others, dimes.

After breakfast, he remains at the table, reads out loud from Sunlit Days (a poem and a prayer for each day of the year). Then a guest reads to him from My Daily Meditation by the late Rev. J. H. Jowett and from a modern version of the New Testament.

He reads the New York Times, consults with his secretary, strolls about the estate whistling and singing to himself. His voice is a rather pleasant baritone.

Golf follows, usually nine holes. His best score, made at Pocantico when he was 65, was a 39. His average is between 45 and 55.

Before luncheon, his biggest meal, he takes a short nap (10 to 20 minutes). In the afternoon he goes for an automobile ride in his Cadillac, Lincoln, or old favorite Crane-Simplex. He likes to map out new routes for his chauffeur, to travel at least 35 m.p.h.

Another nap and the New York Evening Post occupy him before supper, at which from four to a dozen guests are present. In the evening he listens to music (there is a magnificent pipe organ at Pocantico), and plays a game called Numerica. No card advocate, he enjoys Numerica with its 52 chips, numbered from 1 to 13, with four of each number. The object of the game is to build four stacks of numbers from 1 to 13. It requires no little mathematical skill in marshalling the right chips at the right moment. Seldom has Mr. Rockefeller faced opponents who could best him at Numerica.

And so to bed, always at 10 p. m.

Except for his after-breakfast books and his newspapers, Mr. Rockefeller reads but little.

*His height is 5 ft., 10 in. Twenty and thirty years ago, he weighed in the vicinity of 200 pounds.

*The original partners were Stephen V. Harkness, Henry M. Flagler, Samuel Andrews, John D. and William Rockefeller. Later, the following names were conspicuous in Standard Oil: Peter H. Watson, Charles Lockhart, W. G. Warden, Henry H. Rogers, J. J. Vandergrift, Charles Pratt, Daniel O’Day, Oliver H. Payne, John D. Archbold.

†Notably, Ida Minerva Tarbell, author of The History oj the Standard Oil Co., a thorough job on the seamy side. More recently, muckraking is not so popular and Miss Tarbell has written on the bright side, The Life of Judge Gary, late chairman of the board of U. S. Steel Corp. Critics wonder what she will do with the additional volume on the Standard Oil Co. that she is planning.

**In that year he resigned as president of the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey.

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