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The Muckraker vs. Goliath

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Will history repeat itself uncovering corruption? Do we need more investigative reporters?

the-muckraker-vs-goliath
the-muckraker-vs-goliath

Muckrakers

The word Muckraker was from President Theodore Roosevelt, who said they were more or less "raking up the mud." During the Progressive era, 1890-1916, Muckrakers played a viable role in exposing corruption, poverty, fraud, unsafe working conditions, child labor, and unethical practices, alerting the public of the blatant problems society.

One of the first Muckrakers was Nellie Bly (1864-1922), who went undercover in the New York Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island, New York, for ten days uncovering the brutality and violence in the asylum. Nellie was inducted into the Women's National Hall of Fame in 1998. Following Bly were others notably, Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Will Orwin, Ida B. Wells, Jacob Riis, Upton Sinclair, and John Spango. All who were famous for uncovering the perils of society and bringing it to the public.


Ida M. Tarbell

Ida was born in a log cabin in 1857 to Frank, and Esther Tarbell, surrounded by oil fields. She remembers the Cleveland Massacre of 1871 when her father and many other independents lost everything by the secret tactics of Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company. Rockefeller had a secret deal with the three main railroads of the area, Pennsylvania, the Erie, and the New York Central railroads. The railroads agreed to raise shipping fees but then pay rebates and drawbacks back to Rockefeller, thus forcing smaller companies out of business. Before it was over, Rockefeller bought out 22 of the 26 independents.

He didn't stop there but moved on to repeat this tactic in Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York.

Ida had graduated from Allegheny College, tried teaching but knew she wanted to write. So heading next to Paris to study writing for a couple of years, she met Samuel McClure, who offered a writing position with his magazine, McClures. One of her first articles was on Napoleon Bonapart and Abraham Lincoln. These were so well accepted McClures increased sales by thousands.

Ida had learned in Paris the value of research and detailed and accurate information, which she incorporated in everything she wrote. Now, McClure requested her to do an article about John D. Rockefeller.


Ida Tarbell Quote

Ida Tarbell Quote

Ida Tarbell's Story of Rockefeller

Ida Tarbell's Story of Rockefeller

Gathering Information on Standard Oil Company

Ida began her extensive research on John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company. She traveled to do interviews with former independents and employees, competitors, and court documents. Everything she collected in her research would be documented as proof. However, it took her several years to accumulate all she needed to write The History of the Standard Oil Company. The report was published in nineteen articles in McClures from 1902-1904. Her masterpiece outlined unethical practices in the pursuit of greed and indicated Rockefeller made his own rules and never played fair. Rockefeller called her "that poisonous woman."

Supreme Court Ruling

Supreme Court Ruling

Uncle Sam and Rockefeller

Uncle Sam and Rockefeller

Court Rulings

In 1906, the United States Attorney General, under President Roosevelt, sued the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey for immoral acts, rebates, and price-cutting practices. They were ordered to disband the monopoly, and after their appeals were exhausted, the United States Supreme Court upheld the decision on May 15, 1911. As a result, the Standard Oil Company was forced to divert into 34 companies. Today, some of those "baby standards" are Exxon, Mobil, Sohio, Chevron, and others. However, it seems like the oil companies still have a stronghold in the oil business. We could probably use another muckraker like Ida Tarbell.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

Ida's Accomplishments

  • In 1993 Ida was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
  • In 1993 the Ida Tarbell House, Easton, Cn, was listed on the National Historic Landmark.
  • In 1999 voted her History of Standard Oil #5 as one of the top 100 works of journalism.
  • In 2000 Ida was inducted into the Seneca Falls, N.Y Hall of Fame.
  • In 2002 She was depicted on a United States postage stamp.

Ida died1944 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Titusville, Pa.

At the age of eighty, she penned her autobiography, All in n A Day's Work.

Ida Tarbell Quote

Ida Tarbell Quote

Ida Tarbell Quote

Ida Tarbell Quote

Ida Tarbell Quote

Ida Tarbell Quote

Comments

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on May 12, 2021:

Brenda. Tour comment is so true but I'm not sure it always works. Look at the mess in Washington. Thanks for visiting,

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on May 12, 2021:

Pamela, Love hearing from you. Thanks for visiting and your comments. My first love is history.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 12, 2021:

This is such a well-written, fascinating article. I love knowing the accomplishments of these two women, particularly Ida. I love history, and this is sure an interesting article, Fran. Thanks for sharing this information.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on May 12, 2021:

It just might not be a bad idea.

Corruption can be taken down if it is allowed to be exposed.

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