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Born on January 29, 1874, in Cleveland, Ohio, John D. Rockefeller Jr. was a prominent American philanthropist and heir to the family fortune created by father John D. Rockefeller Sr., founder of Standard Oil. John D. Rockefeller Jr. created Rockefeller University in New York City, the General Education Board and the Rockefeller Foundation in the early 1900s. In funding the construction of Rockefeller Center, John Jr. created an estimated 75,000 jobs. During World War II, he helped establish the United Service Organizations. After the war, he donated land for the U.N. headquarters. He died in Arizona in 1960.
Although John D. Rockefeller Sr. and Nelson Rockefeller typically occupy the spotlight of their family legacy, it was John D. Rockefeller Jr. who made the family name synonymous with philanthropy. Born on January 29, 1874, in Cleveland, Ohio, “Junior” grew up alongside three sisters: Alta, Bessie and Edith. His father, John D. Rockefeller Sr., was the nation’s first billionaire, yet wealth didn’t appeal to John Jr.
Homeschooled until the age of 10, John D. Rockefeller Jr. went on to attend Brown University. After graduating in 1897, he worked for his father at the Standard Oil headquarters in New York City. In the early 1900s, a series of scandals erupted at the company. Disenchanted, in 1910, John Jr. decided to leave the business world behind him in order to pursue philanthropic interests.
It wasn’t long after he left the company that John D. Rockefeller Jr. found himself embroiled in controversy. More than 2,000 miles away, at the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, a six-month strike had been raging: An estimated 9,000 coal miners were demanding union recognition, improved hours, wages and housing. The strike, which had begun in September 1913, became violent shortly thereafter, prompting Colorado Governor Elias Ammons to bring in the state National Guard. The strike continued into the winter, and matters escalated when miners and their families were evicted from their company homes, forced to live in tents throughout the winter months. By the spring of 1914, the situation had worsened; relationships had become hostile between Guard members and protesters, who refused to give in.
A tragic breaking point occurred in April 1914, when private security contractors opened fire on the tent colony. More than 40 miners and their family members were killed, including two women and 11 children.
A board member at the company, John D. Rockefeller Jr. was blamed for the violence at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, and was subsequently called to testify in front of Congress. Public opinion turned against the Rockefellers thereafter, as newspaper articles lambasted the heir to the Rockefeller legacy.
Undeterred, Rockefeller Jr. would spend years mired in the controversy, gradually restoring the family’s public image through his philanthropic work. Along with his father, he helped create a number of philanthropic institutions, including the Rockefeller Institute, the General Education Board and the Rockefeller Foundation. He may be best known for creating Rockefeller Center in New York City, funding the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg and donating the land for the U.N. Headquarters.
In the years following World War I, John D. Rockefeller Jr. advocated for better industrial working conditions. During World War II, he helped establish the United Service Organizations, and raised more than $300 million to help men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. He also donated extensively to conservation various projects, stretching from Acadia National Park in Maine to Yosemite National Park in California.
In 1901, John D. Rockefeller Jr. married Abby Aldrich, a college classmate and the daughter of a prominent Rhode Island senator, Nelson W. Aldrich. John and Abby would go on to have six children together: a daughter, Abby (later known as Abby Rockefeller Mauzé), and five sons, John D. Rockefeller III, Nelson Rockefeller, Laurance Rockefeller, Winthrop Rockefeller and David Rockefeller.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller died in 1948, and John D. Rockefeller Jr. later married Martha Baird Allen, a concert pianist. He died on May 11, 1960, in Tucson, Arizona.
- Name: John D. Rockefeller
- Birth Year: 1874
- Birth date: January 29, 1874
- Birth State: Ohio
- Birth City: Cleveland
- Birth Country: United States
- Gender: Male
- Best Known For: Philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. was the only son of John D. Rockefeller and heir to his fortune. He is known for building Rockefeller Center in New York City.
- Business and Industry
- Astrological Sign: Aquarius
- Brown University
- Death Year: 1960
- Death date: May 11, 1960
- Death State: Arizona
- Death City: Tuscon
- Death Country: United States
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- Article Title: John D. Rockefeller Jr. Biography
- Author: Biography.com Editors
- Website Name: The Biography.com website
- Url: https://www.biography.com/business-leaders/john-d-rockefeller-jr
- Access Date:
- Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
- Last Updated: April 15, 2019
- Original Published Date: April 2, 2014
- I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.
- A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.
- Keep your head above water and bet on the growth of your country.
- I learned to have a great respect for figures and facts, no matter how small they were.
- Do not grow old before your time. Maintain an interest in life and all living things.
- I cannot remember when hard work was new or strange to me.
- I believe in man and the brotherhood of man and am confident that everything will come out for the good of all in the end.
- It must be the aim of a Christian to make his enemy lovely.
- Live within your means. One of the swiftest toboggans I know of is for a young man just starting in life to get into debt.
- I believe it is a duty for a man to get all the money he honestly can and give all he can.
- I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money’s sake.
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