A study of John D. Rockefeller

by Marcus Monroe Brown

It is insisted by some that Mr. Rockefeller is not an educated man, because he cannot recite Greek, and can't read Hebrew. Suppose he cannot. The truth is he is profoundly educated. In the larger and deeper sense of education he is one of the best prepared men of our time. He has all the severity of limitations; he was hindered and harassed by poverty, and unfavorable conditions. It is such conditions that generate energy at the center. He had few books, but he was shut up with what he had. Chiefest among these was the Bible, which he knows perfectly well; the spirit and principle of which he understands from beginning to end, and it controls much of his speech, as well as his life.

He does not think rapidly, but if you give him time to move on any question, the results are usually very effective.

He has a large moral grasp, and he is one of the few men, great enough, to take money out of the mire of selfishness and lift it to a high ethical principle and benefaction, and so being faithful in small things, he has been made ruler over much.

He is never afraid to inquire, never too dignified to admit that he does not know. No person has a sharper wit or a better humor. He is not solemn, he is not rid, his voice is as clear and sweet as a silver bell, his movement is like that of a strong man in the full strength of his years.

He has intelligence without egotism, genius without pride, and religion without pretense.

Mr. Rockefeller loves the genuine, the plain, the natural. He places the idea above all. He knows that the greatest thoughts should be given in the shortest words.

He has a strong personality, firm but not obstinate. He influences men without effort, unknowingly, and they yield to him as to nature, unconsciously. He is rigid with himself, and so, easy with others. He is inclined to apologize for being kinder than his associates.

He is neither a tyrant nor a slave.

When a youth of sixteen he wandered for weeks up and down the manufacturing districts of Cleveland asking for work at such wage as any would offer.

He at length secured a place at $3 per week, and boarded himself, devoting his efforts out of working hours to the inception of the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church of Cleveland, and the archives of that institution today contain the record of his having gratuitously canceled an account in his favor, against the church, of 50 cents for postage, advanced by him, and other like items on different occasions when these cancellations meant doing his own washing.