16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Monday, May 15, 1911: I was so very busy this forenoon. Sometimes I can be very energetic, if I want to. Bessie was out this afternoon.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Grandma probably was unaware of a major event that occurred on this date a hundred years ago. If you look in a history book, there generally are two events mentioned that occurred in 1911—one was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the other was the U.S. Supreme Court decision that broke up Standard Oil.
The Court ruled a hundred years ago today that Standard Oil was a monopoly and that it must be broken up because it violated the Sherman Anti-trust Act.
John Rockefeller founded—and then led Standard Oil as it grew into one of the largest firms in the nation. According to Wikipedia, in 1904 Standard Oil controlled 91% of oil production and 85% of final sales in the US.
Investigative journalists called muckrakers highlighted the problems and inequities caused by monopolies, corporate greed, and the robber barons.
Rockefeller and his associates did not build the Standard Oil Co. in the board rooms of Wall Street banks. They fought their way to control by rebate and drawback, bribe and blackmail, espionage and price cutting.
The Supreme Court decision symbolized the end of the robber baron era in the US.