- NAME: John D. Rockefeller Jr.
- OCCUPATION: Philanthropist
- BIRTH DATE: January 29, 1874
- DEATH DATE: May 11, 1960
- EDUCATION: Brown University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Cleveland, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: Tuscon, Arizona
- Full Name: John Davison Rockefeller Jr.
- AKA: John D. Rockefeller Jr.
- AKA: John Davison Rockefeller
- AKA: John Jr.
- Nickname: "Junior"
- AKA: John D. Rockefeller
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.
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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,
"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."
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.
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While the term "American dynasty" might technically be an oxymoron, it's hard not to notice the similarities between the Rockefeller family and noble lineages that have spanned the globe for centuries. Like royal families have done in other nations, the Rockefellers have had a profound and irrevocable impact on the United States—from the oil and banking industries to property development, to politics and philanthropy—which will continue to resound for generations to come. Beginning with John D. Rockefeller Sr., who founded the Standard Oil Company and became one of the world's richest men, the Rockefeller troupe also includes John D. Rockefeller III, Winthrop Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller, Laurance Rockefeller and David Rockefeller.
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