How Big Oil Conquered the World

How Big Oil Conquered the World

2015 9.62/10 based on 13 votes

Every area of our modern-day life is affected by the petrochemical industry in one way or another. Parts of the history of oil are well known, but other parts are not common knowledge. Facts such as the connection between the quest for oil and the outbreak of World War I, the petrochemical interests behind modern medicine, Big Oil’s investment in the “Green Revolution” and the “Gene Revolution.”

These little-known historical facts begin in the 19th century in New York State when a man who went by the name Dr. Bill Livingston was a snake oil salesman and a cancer specialist. The oil he sold with the promise that it could cure all kinds of ills was nothing more than a combination of petroleum and laxatives.

This man lived as a vagabond traveling from town to town. He had more than one wife and affairs with multiple women, including minors. He fathered at least eight children and taught all of them his trade by cheating them constantly. This, he said, was to keep them “sharp.”

Because of his height, he became known as “Big Bill.” But others who were aware of his lifestyle called him “Devil Bill.” This man’s real name was William Avery Rockefeller. His son, John D. Rockefeller, went on to found the Standard Oil monopoly and became the world’s first billionaire.

Most people today continue to live in the world that was dreamed up by “Devil Bill.” It was a system founded on treachery, deceit, and the naivety of a public that has never wised up to the tricks and schemes used to shape and control the world for the past 150 years.

In 1857 a man named Colonel Edwin Drake arrived in Titusville, Pennsylvania, representing the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company. This company had been founded by two men who figured out that by distilling the region’s naturally occurring Seneca oil, they could produce lamp oil or kerosene. Two years of unsuccessful attempts to gather enough Seneca caused the company to be low on funds. Finally, they struck oil on August 28, 1859, after drilling through bedrock. The first oil was sold at $40 a barrel.

This proved that by drilling for it, oil could be found in abundance and produced cheaply. And so it was that all of a sudden, a whole new industry was born as millions of homes, farms, and factories lit their lamps thanks to kerosene refined in West Pennsylvania.

In 1863, John D. Rockefeller formed a partnership with Maurice B. Clark and Samuel Andrews. By 1870, Rockefeller had incorporated Standard Oil. He set out to replace independent oilmen with a huge company that only he would control. By 1879, at the age of 40, Rockefeller controlled 90% of the oil refining in the world.

A few years later, Rockefeller went on to fully control an important strategic commodity in the world economy. Learn more now.


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9.62/10 (13 votes)
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Discuss This Documentary

2 responses to “How Big Oil Conquered the World”

  1. Bill Shevick says:

    This is an excellent documentary.

    It teaches history facts which are deliberately omitted from public school history curricula.

  2. Jerrilynn says:

    Great documentary. However, it is very important to have a great narrator. This one was not.

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