Many men of wealth do not retire from business even when they can. They are not willing to be idle, or they have a just pride in their work and want to perfect the plans in which they have faith, or, what is of still more consequence, they may feel the call to expand and build up for the benefit of their employees and associates, and these men are the great builders up in our country. Consider for a moment how much would have been left undone if our prosperous American business men had sat down with folded hands when they had acquired a competency. I have respect for all these reasons, but if a man has succeeded, he has brought upon himself corresponding responsibilities, and our institutions devoted to helping men to help themselves need the brain of the American business man as well as part of his money.
Some of these men, however, are so absorbed in their business affairs that they hardly have time to think of anything else. If they do interest themselves in a work outside of their own office and undertake to raise money, they begin with an apology, as if they are ashamed of themselves.
“I am no beggar,” I have heard many of them say, to which I could only reply: “I am sorry you feel that way about it.”
I have been this sort of beggar all my life and the experiences I have had were so interesting and important to me that I will venture to speak of them in a later chapter.
SOME EXPERIENCES IN THE OIL BUSINESS
During the years when I was just coming to man’s estate, the produce business of Clark & Rockefeller went on prosperously, and in the early sixties we organized a firm to refine and deal in oil. It was composed of Messrs. James and Richard Clark, Mr. Samuel Andrews, and the firm of Clark & Rockefeller, who were the company. It was my first direct connection with the oil trade. As the new concern grew the firm of Clark & Rockefeller was called upon to supply a large special capital. Mr. Samuel Andrews was the manufacturing man of the concern, and he had learned the process of cleansing the crude oil by the use of sulphuric acid.
In 1865 the partnership was dissolved; it was decided that the cash assets should be collected and the debts paid, but this left the plant and the good-will to be disposed of. It was suggested that they should go to the highest bidder among ourselves. This seemed a just settlement to me, and the question came up as to when the sale should be held and who would conduct it. My partners had a lawyer in the room to represent them, though I had not considered having a legal representative; I thought I could take care of so simple a transaction. The lawyer acted as the auctioneer, and it was suggested that we should go on with the sale then and there. All agreed, and so the auction began.