Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
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Tue, 13 Dec 2022 08:01
Standard Oil faces an organized resistance. But that doesn't slow down John D. Rockefeller. The oil titan continues to build his empire, and soon, some of his enemies have to make a terrible choice. They can keep fighting—and go bankrupt. Or they can team up with Rockefeller.
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Hey, prime members, you can listen to American Scandal ad-free on Amazon Music, download the app today. It's February 1872 in Cleveland, Ohio. A horse-drawn carriage crunches on the snow as it heads down Euclid Avenue. The street is also known as Millionaires Row, and right now the carriage stops in front of a massive black iron gate. Isaac L. Hewitt steps down from the carriage. His breath rises as a small cloud says he puts his gloves on and surveys the two-story mansion in front of him. The house belongs to John D. Rockefeller. When Rockefeller was 16, Hewitt hired the boy to be a bookkeeper. It's been years since that day, and Rockefeller has clearly made his way up in the world. Hewitt looks to his carriage driver and tells him to wait. He then walks through the iron gate and starts on the long driveway. The winter air has crisp and biting, and he's keen to get in from the cold. Still, he's anxious about entering this house and this meeting. Rockefeller has become so far different from the quiet boy Hewitt once knew. Rockefeller's firm, standard oil, is now the largest oil refinery in Cleveland and possibly the world. The company is growing more powerful by the day. Hewitt owns a oil refinery too, but with standard oil continuing to dominate the market, Hewitt may soon be run out of business. That's why he's here today to ask a favor from his old employee, John D. Rockefeller. Hewitt reaches the mansion to large oak door and wraps the brass handle. A maid dressed in black answers, she says she'll fetch Mr. Rockefeller. A moment later, Rockefeller appears at the door, he's dressed in a brown riding jacket and shoots Hewitt a surprised look. Mr. Hewitt, what brings you to my home? John, there's something I'd like to discuss in business matter. May I come in? Well, actually, I was about to go riding. I only go for a walk and discuss it. I could use some fresh air. More than anything, Hewitt wants to sit in a warm room by a crackling warm fire, but he's not in a position to argue, not yet. So, he nods his head and the two slowly walk along the snowy path. Well, John, I'll come right out with it. I've heard a rumor. People say that standard oil has an agreement with the railroads. People say, you're in control. You're dictating the rates that the rest of us have to pay if we want to ship oil. Well, you've heard correctly, what of it? Everyone's scared, John. They say you'll be the only refiner who can ship caracene and still make a profit. And if that's the case? Hewitt's face grows flushed. He tries to contain his anger. Well, if that's the case, then we're finished. All of us out of business. They'll be too expensive to ship our caracene. Please, John. Please step back. Don't do this. Play fair. Rockefeller stares into the distance. Cold-looking his eyes. There's that word, fairness. The economists talk about the importance of competition. I don't mind it's nonsense. Competition starves business. Isaac, I have a different proposition. I'll buy your refinery and it won't just be you. I'll buy all the refineries in Cleveland. Then no one will be run out of business. We'll all be united. What's your talking about is in unity. It's you controlling everything. No, it's simply weeding out smaller, less efficient businesses that drag down the entire industry. You can choose to wait, keep fighting, then go bankrupt in a year or two. I'm giving you a chance to join us right now. Hewitt clenches his jaw on Shakespeare's head. That's hardly a choice. A moment later, the two reach the front of the driveway. Hewitt steps through the gate out onto Euclid Avenue. He waits for Rockefeller to follow. Instead, Hewitt's former employee remains inside the gate. Mr. Hewitt, there's nothing else to discuss. With your permission, I'll have someone come by to examine your books and make an offer. I hope you'll consider it and it will be your salvation. Now, goodbye. With that Rockefeller shuts the iron gate and returns to his house. Hewitt stands alone out in the cold winter air. A flush of anger is rising through him. Hewitt won't stand for this. He'll refuse to sell and he'll hold out as long as possible. Yet deep down, Hewitt knows that Rockefeller is right. With the railroads in his pocket, Soon Rockefeller could take over every refinery in Cleveland. Hewitt is willing to fight this battle. But he's not sure that he'll win the war. American scandal is sponsored by the new Paramount Pictures film Babylon in theaters December 23rd. A hundred years ago, life in America was looking good. The war was over. The boys had come home. The stock market was up. And haircuts and hemlines were short. And while characters like Gatsby were seeking unknown levels of decadence on the East Coast, Out West in Hollywood, a whole new debauchery was being invented. From writer, director, Damien Chazelle, Babylon is an epic film set in 1920s Los Angeles, led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Diego Calva. The trailer vibrates with glamour, excess and bad decisions, promising a fast-paced, ricocheting story of the rise and fall of the young, beautiful, ambitious, and depraved in early Hollywood. Babylon is in theaters December 23rd. American scandal is sponsored by Audible. Audible is the home for stories told by the biggest stars like Ethan Hawke, Carrie Washington, and Kevin Hart, Epic Adventures, Chilling Mysteries, and Cantonese comedies. Audible is the home of storytelling. And like all Audible members, I get one credit every month. Good for any one of the many classics, bestsellers, and new releases, regardless of price and to keep forever. Like the light we carry by Michelle Obama, let Audible help you discover new ways to laugh, be inspired, or be entertained. New members can try it free for 30 days. So visit audible.com slash AS or text AS to 500-500. That's audible.com slash AS or text AS to 500-500 to try audible free for 30 days. Audible.com slash AS. From Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American Scath. At the height of the Civil War, a young businessman named John Davidson Rockefeller invested in an oil refinery. Before long, he owned the entire plant. But Rockefeller had bigger plans. He wanted to dominate the entire industry. And so he founded Standard Oil, a new company that could move aggressively against its rivals. Rockefeller also formed the secret alliance with the country's powerful railroads. The deal would allow the company to ship kerosene at the lowest possible rates that managed that could destroy any competitor. Next, Rockefeller began to build his empire. Standard Oil used ruthless tactics to acquire its rivals, and many found their livelihood suddenly upended. But not everyone would sit still and wait for Standard Oil to seize control. Standard's tactics would build a deep desire for justice in a young woman named Ida Tarrgal, a woman who would go on to become Rockefeller's most dreaded foe. This is Episode 2, Going to War. It's the evening of February 27, 1872. Several thousand men are gathered in front of the opera house in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The building is made of smooth gray bricks, and evokes a sense of sophistication and culture. Yet tonight, in front of the opera house, mobs of men shout and wave homemade banners. Inside the building, Franklin Targal pushes through a tightly packed crowd. He reaches the theater door and looks up at the elaborate chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. He remembers coming to a performance here with his wife, soon after they moved to Titusville. At the time, Targal thought the opera house was a sign of the town's respectability. He never guessed it would become the rallying point for desperate men. Just yesterday, Targal and the other oil men woke up to a shock. The morning paper told the story of a secret alliance between the railroads and Standard Oil out in Cleveland. This alliance was called the South Improvement Company, and it had a terrible purpose. Independent oil producers and refiners would have to pay double the shipping rate. At the same time, Standard would get steep discounts when shipping its products by railroad. Targal can steal food they anger, tighten this chest. Standard oil and the railroads are conspiring to take food off his family's table. They're trying to steal the money he saved for his daughter's education. With their pact, they could destroy the entire town. Inside the theater, he winds through the crowd and finds a place to stand at the end of a row. Ahead of him men are packed shoulder to shoulder in the orchestra pit. Suddenly, someone from the balcony yells out, down with the conspirators. Targal shouts in response, but he can barely distinguish his voice among the cries all around him. The voices are united, boiling over with rage, and Targal feels both pride and determination. Surely the men in this room will find a way to fight back. Soon a man walks to the center of the empty stage. He's young, maybe in his late 20s, has a ruddy complexion and wide-set eyes. He wears a black suit over his short frame. The man calls for order and the room slowly settles into silence. The man speaks in a strong voice like a preacher. He says his name is John Archbald and he's a proud oilman. He refines oil right here in Titusville. He's grateful for the chance to speak his mind because this town means so much to him. Room remains quiet and the young man continues his voice growing with the heat of rage. Archbald says every man in this room is under threat from a conspiracy. Standard oil has teamed up with the railroads. They're like an anaconda trying to squeeze the mold to death. Archbald pauses. And in that moment of silence Franklin Targal calls out, down with the monster, down with standard oil. The crowd erupts in wild cheers. Archbald smiles in Tarbill's direction, then continues. He says that everyone in this room came to the oil regions to make their own way. Now that freedom is under threat. But they can't bow down. They must organize a boycott. Archbald lays out his plan. He says that Titusville's oil producers must refuse to sell even one drop of crude to standard oil. They must cut off the supply. That way standard won't have the raw material to make its famous caracene. Archbald casts a menacing glare as the issue is a warning. Anyone who disagrees, anyone who keeps selling to standard, they'll find their barrels smashed a bit. Crowd roars with approval and someone chaps if they should tear up the rail tracks too. Out in the audience, Franklin Targal nods in agreement. He knows this boycott will be painful for his business. Standard is one of the largest buyers on the market. But everything he's built is now at stake. If they don't stop standard oil in the railroads, he and his family could lose everything. And so he pumps his fist in the air and once more, Targal shouts out. He calls for the downfall of standard oil for the end of this conspiracy. More men shout out, and Targal joins them, bellowing until his voice grows horse. It's March 1872. On the main streets of Titusville, light spills out from the French windows of the Targal family home. Inside the house, Ida Targal stands in her white nightgown, her face pressed against the cold glass windows. She's 14 years old and filled with a terrible worry. There's still no sign of her father, Franklin, and the night is only getting later. Ida's mother and siblings are asleep, but she won't go to bed until she knows her father is home safely. He's been out very late these last two weeks. One night he came home carrying an axe. His clothes were stained black with oil. Ida asked for an explanation. All he'd say was that he was fighting to save his business. Ida is about to turn for the window when her father comes into view. Tonight, Franklin Targal is dressed in his dark grey suit as if for a meeting. He stands tall and looks proud, but his steps seem heavy. Ida rushes to the door as he pushes it open. She greets him excitedly and asks what happened tonight. Her father puts a hand on her shoulder. He says she should be asleep. She's got school tomorrow. Ida again asks about his day, but Franklin sighs. Takes off his coat and sinks down into a sofa. Ida sits beside him. He smiles at her, but looks weary. He says he did something today he never thought he'd do. He turned down a chance to sell oil at 450 a barrel. That's far above market rate, he says. But he signed a pledge to boycott standard and he's sticking to it. John D. Rockefeller won't get one drop of his oil. Ida senses her father's pride, but also sees the dark circles under his eyes. She doesn't know who this man Rockefeller is, but he sounds frightening and powerful. She leans forward and whispers, asking if Rockefeller is the one who wants to ruin him and tight his fill. Franklin's eyes flash with a tired look-a-banger. Yes, he tells her. Rockefeller has teamed up with the railroads and together they're trying to put him out of business. Ida squints confused. Her father's a good man. Why would anyone go after him? She asks for an explanation and Franklin sinks deeper into the sofa. He excels, looks at her directly in the eyes just like he always does when he's about to deliver bad news. Franklin tells her this is all about greed. The American people gave the railroads land on the condition that they worked to benefit everyone. But now the railroads are trying to back out of the deal. They want to get rid of the small businesses and their insignificant shipping orders. Instead of benefiting all the people, they only want to benefit one man. Rockefeller. Ida clenches her fists, says that's not fair. And her father, Patronine, he tells her that's exactly why he has to fight. It's not just about business. It's about principle. Rockefeller and the railroad barons are rich and powerful so they think they should be treated differently. But Franklin says that's not American. In America one man shouldn't stand above another. Ida shoots up from the sofa. Her thoughts are swirling. She says if she had anything to do with it, she'd make sure Rockefeller never cheated again. Her father smiles and chuckles lightly. He paths her on the shoulder and says he has no doubt about it. It's March 1872 in Cleveland, Ohio. John D. Rockefeller sits at the head of a long dining room table inside his mansion. He gazes toward the vaulted ceiling as he blesses the meal. His prayer finished. Rockefeller looks to his wife, Setty. Her face glows in the candlelight. They've just learned that she's pregnant with her third child. Tonight to celebrate, Setty begins passing around dishes of roast chicken and French beans. Rockefeller glances across the table. His younger brother Frank is their guest this evening. Frank's wide cheeks are flushed. Rockefeller frowns. He's sure he saw Frank sneaking a sip from his flask before the meal. Your eagrets inviting his brother but it felt necessary. Their relations have been strained these past weeks ever since Rockefeller bought the oil refinery where Frank was a partner. Tonight is a chance to clear the air. But now Frank shoots Rockefeller a bitter look. So tell me brother, how does it feel to be the most hated man in Cleveland? Thugs destroy my oil barrels and tearing up the railroad tracks that only proves my point. The region needs a good, orderly company like Standard. Those so-called thugs are the men you're running out of business in Pennsylvania and here in Cleveland. I heard about poor Mr. Hewitt. Frank turns to Setty. Are you aware that your husband fleeced the very man who gave him a job when he was 16? And he forced Hewitt to sell his refinery for less than half what it was worth? Setty quietly sets her fork down. Rockefeller stares silently and disapprovingly as his brother's eyes fill with drunken tears. And he flees me even worse. Now my refinery's gone and I'm out of a partnership. A lot of good people in Cleveland make an honest living from refining. Now my own brother has turned them all out on this street. Very good brother, very Christian. Rockefeller calmly sets down his fork and addresses Frank. Everyone's been treated quite fairly. And I'm sure you'll be very happy with the dividends from your Standard Oil stock. Frank turns again to Setty. How can a good Christian woman bear the children no monster like this? Do you read the papers? They call his handy-work the Cleveland massacre. Setty starts a stammer response but Frank continues. You're so high and mighty John. You always think you're one step ahead but you don't understand the mess you've gotten yourself into. Men won't stand for such tyranny. Rockefeller gays his younger brother with pity. It's true that he didn't expect such severe opposition. He didn't expect he'd need a policeman posted in front of his house. And yet now it's required for his family safety. Nor did he imagine that he'd have to sleep with a pistol in his nightstand. But Rockefeller has a vision. One that small-minded people like Frank could never see. All Rockefeller can do is appeal to their simple interests. My plan with railroads will succeed. And when it does, I can assure you that everyone in possession of standard oil stock will be very glad indeed. You never get it through your head, John. I was making my own way. Now I'm just in your pocket. You never gave any of us a choice. Rockefeller decides it's pointless to respond. Frank will never understand all the good that Rockefeller is accomplished, just in this short time. He's offered the refiner salvation from a slumping, unruly market. He's generously bought out businesses that would be bankrupt within the year. But Rockefeller knows there's another side to the story. Most people don't want to hear it. Many of Cleveland's refineries are junk. On the other hand, standard oil is an efficient, perfectly tuned machine. There's no way the other refineries can win this war, Rockefeller thinks. And they shouldn't even try. Because Rockefeller is going to continue with his takeover. And no one will stop him. E-Harmony wants you to discover what real connection feels like. Their app helps you highlight more of your personality so you can meet people who like you for you. Because online dating is all about communicating who you are. But summing yourself up, that's daunting. The E-Harmony app brings out the things that make you you. 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Inside this opera house, a group of railroad executives are meeting with standard oils rivals and Rockefeller did not get an invitation. It appears that his budding empire could be under attack. Just recently, Rockefeller joined a scheme called the South Improvement Company. Railroad companies were tired of dealing with small-scale oil producers and refiners. It was inefficient and costly to ship products from so many different companies. Instead, the railroads wanted to ship products from a few major refiners, especially the largest refiner of them all, standard oil. And so Rockefeller worked out an arrangement with the head of a major railroad network. The railroads would give standards significantly better rates on shipping. That would help drive away the competition and prop up standard oil. It was a big win for Rockefeller. But soon word got out. Oil producers were furious as were competing refineries. Pennsylvania State Legislature began to consider investigation and there were even signs that the federal government would get involved. Rockefeller knows that would be a disaster. So with a pressure high, it was obvious to Rockefeller that railroads were ready to cave and disband the operation. Why else would they agree to meet with the competition? Rockefeller turned the corner in the opera house, still fuming. He's certain that he's done nothing wrong. Standard oil is a bulk shipper. It deserves better rates. Other refineries don't deserve any kind of discounts, not when they deliver only a fraction of the business to the railroads. Still, this is a public relations disaster and Rockefeller knows that he has to fix it. He has to get to the meeting and convince the railroads to stick with the original plan. Rockefeller reaches a meeting room with a closed door. Right then, he spots a group of journalists leaning against the wall. One of them spots Rockefeller and rushes forward. He says he's with the New York Times and demands a comment on the South Improvement Company. Rockefeller brushes him off, saying that he's late for a meeting. He has no comment. Rockefeller then pounds on the door. But the door doesn't open. So Rockefeller knocks again as the reporters continue to pepper him with questions. Finally, the door opens just a crack. Young man peers out. Rockefeller announces himself and demands to be let in. But the man says he's under instructions not to let Rockefeller enter. He then shuts the door and Rockefeller's face. Rockefeller stands at the door. His chest heaving is head lowered. He tries to control his breathing. Behind him, the reporters continue shouting questions. Finally, he turns and gives a dignified nod. Then he moves past the reporters. They follow like a swarm of mosquitoes. The Rockefeller feels a growing calm. It's clear the South Improvement Company is as good as finished, killed in its cradle. That's a shame, thanks Rockefeller. He deserves those discounts. But the plan has already accomplished its larger purpose. It drove fear into the hearts of practically every refinery in Cleveland. And that drove the refineries right into standard arms. The refineries believe they couldn't compete. And so Rockefeller was able to buy them out. And with such a large operation, Rockefeller can now set caracene prices however he pleases. No other refinery in America will be able to compete with standard. Rockefeller reaches the large brass-handled doors of the building and pushes through onto eighth avenue. The reporters don't follow. He looks up to the cloudless sky above the rooftops. Soon, the country will celebrate the news that the South Improvement Company has been defeated. And then the press will go away. The government investigations will be abandoned. And the other oil companies will let their guards down. And that means soon, Rockefeller will continue to expand his empire. Three years later, it's a sunny afternoon. And workmen stand on ladders as they apply a fresh coat of paint to the crown molding of the Titusville Opera House. John Archbald walks briskly past the building. He's in a hurry, but he decides to stop and watch the painters go about their work for a bit. He smiles and shakes his head. Titusville, Pennsylvania, still likes to imagine that it's the sophisticated capital of the oil industry. But Archbald knows that's no longer the case. It's Cleveland now, home of Standard Oil. Archbald thinks back to the naïve young man he was just three years ago. He stood in a stage of this very opera house and gave a fiery speech denouncing Standard Oil. In a way, Archbald is still proud of that speech. He meant every word of it. But Archbald knows there are some fights you just cannot win. Less than a year ago, John D. Rockefeller bought out the second largest refinery in Titusville. At the time, Archbald was an executive at that refinery. The move gave him a sobering lesson. It was obvious that Standard Oil was unstoppable and soon his choice was clear. He could get a job with Standard and become a pariah among all his friends and colleagues, or he could be a loser. And Archbald doesn't like to lose. So Archbald continues walking, turns the corner, past the opera house, and straight into a giant man who bumps into him. Archbald nearly falls to the ground. He looks up and sees a man in clothes that are stained black from crude oil. Man stares with menacing eyes and mutters traitor under his breath. Archbald glances at the man but he has no time for a fight. He has worked to do now that he's on John D. Rockefeller's payroll. In just a few minutes, he'll attempt to buy another refinery and bring it into the Standard Oil family. Of course, no one will know that Standard Oil is making the purchase. Rockefeller created a front company called Acme Oil and in the last month Archbald has acquired 20 refineries for this secret offshoot of Standard. He's made Rockefeller a very happy man. Archbald continues walking down the streets and tight as felt grinning. If Rockefeller is happy, Archbald is going to be happy too. Rockefeller is accumulating a massive fortune and if Archbald keeps adding to it, soon he'll also be a very rich man. It's a spring afternoon in 1876. Dark Thunder clouds loom over Titusville, Pennsylvania. Highted Tarville walks calmly outside her high school as her fellow seniors hurry toward their homes. She breathes in deeply, enjoying the smell of the approaching storm. Rain always washes the sower smell away from the town's air. Highted sees a friend from school and waves her over with a smile. The two walk together, chatting as they head home. When they reach Highted's house, Highted's father steps out onto the front porch. He gives Highted's friend a stern look and quickly, Highted's friend excuses herself and hurries down the street. Highted joins her father on the porch, he narrows his eyes and watches as Highted's friend disappears around a corner. Then he turns back to Highted. You know, her father just went over to Standard. He's working for them now. At that, Highted feels her legs go weak. She knows her father has lost several friends to Standard Oil. He's always furious when he talks about them and you often points them out on the street. There is enemies, he says. Highted respects her father's values and so when she sees these men, she dislikes them too. But this is the first time the issue has affected one of her own friendships. She's not sure how to respond or whose side to take. Really? She didn't tell me? I'm sorry about that. You don't apologize. You didn't do anything. It's Standard Oil. They're an octopus, grabbing up everything. I don't even know how to fight it anymore. Rain drops begin to fall from the sky, pattering on the roof. Ida moves to stamp the side of her father. She decides to ask something she's never dared to say aloud. Do you ever think about going over to Standard? I don't know. I'll go back to plowing fields for a living before it becomes someone's hired man. I don't believe John D. Rockefeller should be the king of the oil regions. No man should be the Lord of any other. That's why I'm never going to get married. No man will be the Lord of me. Franklin smiles and nods at Ida. I respect that. I do. I guess we're alike you and me. But I tell you, it's not always easy to go your own way. I know, but you manage to do it. I've also been lucky. The price of oil is holding. For now, we're all right. It's the future that I worry about. Standard could snap up all the refineries around here like it did in Cleveland. Then the entire industry is going to be in the hands of one man. The Lord helps us with that happens. Then you have to stop him. We have to stop him. Well, you just try. Seems every man's given up. Well, every man has what I haven't. Franklin gazes at Ida and smiles. Look a pride be me on his face. Stubborn, huh? What are you getting? At that, he pats Ida on the shoulder and heads back into the house. Ida stares out at the bruise sky. Her blood boiling with an intensity that surprises her. There's too much injustice in the world. Giant companies crushing the people of Titusville. The unfairness of what it means be a woman like her. In a few years, the boys in her class can vote, but she can't. They can go to college and pursue careers, but she can't. Now for her, none of this is going to be simple. Ida knows that she has much to learn and still so much she wants to do. She's still finding her place in the world. But if there's one thing that's clear about her future, is that she's going to be a fighter and take on people like John T. Rockefeller. You've got back to back meetings, errands to run and chores to take care of. What's the secret to clearing your to-do list? A little help from DoorDash. You can get dinner, household essentials, and everything on your grocery list. Delivered. Along with the restaurants you love, you can now get groceries and other essential items delivered with DoorDash. Get drinks, snacks, and other household items in under an hour. For a limited time, our listeners can get 50% off up to a $20 value and $0 delivery fees when you download the DoorDash app and enter code Wondery. Don't forget that's code Wondery for 50% off up to a $20 value and $0 delivery fees with DoorDash. Subject to change terms apply. It's the fall of 1876 in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Ida Tarrville walks toward a red brick building with white columns and a bell tower. She holds a brand new textbook tight under one of her arms and a notebook in her opposite hand. She smiles excited for this step into her future. Today, Tarrville is on the campus of Allegheny College for her first day of class. She enters the red brick building and academic hall and realizes something. This is the first time she's ever been in a building this old. She's spent her entire life moving between boom towns. Whole areas propped up by the rise of the oil industry. But for the first time, she can feel that there's a world beyond the mad rush to the next gushing oil well. And she's hungry to know what her place in this world might be. Tarrville walks up the stairs to her first class. It's natural sciences, her favorite subject. She loves how with science, you get to puzzle through big questions, searching through evidence as you try to find an answer. Science is a way to find the truth to investigate how things work. It's a rich and enjoyable challenge and for weeks, Tarrville has been looking forward to this class. But when she steps into the classroom, she tenses up. Most of the desks are already filled with students and every single one of them is a young man. Tarrville knew this would be the case, but somehow the excitement of the day made her forget. Allegheny is one of only a handful of colleges in the country to admit women. I don't know if there are only four other female students on the entire campus and none of them are in her freshman class. As she makes her way to a desk, she can feel the young men staring at her. She feels self-conscious and very small. Tarrville takes a seat. The wooden chair is hard, the back and comfortably straight. Tarrville can feel more eyes on her. For a moment, she has an impulse to run, to get away as quickly as possible. It doesn't help when the professor strives into the classroom and gives her what seems to be a dismissive smile. Suddenly, Tarrville feels woozy. But then she notices a gleaming microscope on the teacher's desk. Years ago, her father had bought her a microscope as a way to encourage her studies. But it was nothing like this one. She dreamed of being able to use such an instrument. And now she realizes she'll have the chance to live her dream, to ask big questions, to be challenged, and to challenge others. Tarrville feels an energy returning to her, like she's just drunk some magic tonic. The professor turns and begins to speak to the class. And Ida Tarrville leans forward in her chair, her eyes intense with focus. She's ready to pounce on the very first question he asks. And she's ready to prove that she can fight with her mind. And to challenge everything that's unfair. It's July 1879 in Albany, New York. Today, the state capital building is buzzing with activity. Men in dark suits and bowl or hat stream up the stone steps. They gossip with each other trading notes. John Archbald stands on the street surveying the crowd. He takes deep breath and then makes his way up the stairs. But as Archbald walks into the capital, he notices that many of the men have stopped talking. But now watching him, Archbald straightens his coat and grins. He may be the main draw today at the capital, but he won't let the attention shake his confidence. It's been seven years since the South Improvement Company was disbanded, and yet only now is the New York legislature investigating the matter. The state politicians are trying to understand the relationship between standard oil and the railroads. They want to figure out if there was any foul play. That's why Archbald is here today. He's going to testify in front of a committee and speak on the matter. As Archbald strides through the capital's hallways, he scoffs. This investigation won't turn up any dirt on standard. He's sure of it. In fact, Archbald is looking forward to the hearing. Most men would shrink from this kind of public scrutiny. But not in Archbald. He likes to fight, and he likes to win. Today's hearing should be a good opportunity to have some sporting fun, to cut down the politicians who believe themselves to be so important. Soon, Archbald walks into a large assembly room. He surveys the lawmakers who are seated behind an elevated bench in Archbald grins. The legislators think they have all the power, but Archbald knows the truth. Standard oil is much more powerful than this group of small men. Archbald takes his seat at a long table next to his lawyer. He gives his lawyer a wink, and turns to the panel of legislators. A. Barton Hepburn, the young committee chairman, looks down his thin nose at Archbald. He begins speaking in a strong, clear voice. The hearing will now come to order. Before us is John Archbald, a director of the Standard Oil Company. He's kind enough to join us in place of Standard Oil President John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller, as we are all aware, continues to evade our subpoenas. My pleasure, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Archbald, what is your function as a director of the Standard Oil Company? When my job is simple, I build a profitable company that pays dividends to its shareholders. You say your job is simple, but the matter at hand is clearly the opposite. The South Improvement Company was a complex tangle of conspiracy, lies, and self-interest. So please, tell us what you know of Standard's relationship with the railroads and do not mention your words. Archbald smiles. He arrived today knowing that he'd faced this kind of bluster. It hasn't shaken him, though. Sir, we require crude oil, and so we pay the railroads to ship it to us. We then refine the oil, and we pay the railroads again. This time to ship the kerosene we've made to consumers who demand it. That's the sum total of it. Oh, and we use the railroads when we have to come testify before committees. I want to appreciate your arrogance, Mr. Archbald. Now, let's get to the hard of the matter. Are you still receiving advantageous rebates from the railroads? Archbald pauses. Of course, Standard has continued to get rebates from the railroads. The rebates may be smaller now, but they make all the difference. Standard remains a profitable company, and its competitors remain unprofitable. And Archbald knows there's currently no law that can change this arrangement. Still, Archbald would hate to inspire any new legislation. He looks to his lawyer, who shakes his head. Archbald responds. I refuse to answer on advice of counsel. There will you respond to an opinion of mine, Mr. Archbald? We can't know the extent of your current relationship with the railroads, but your past actions and continuing areas make something painfully obvious. You're abusing a public service for private ends, and that hurts our democracy. What do you say to this charge? Archbald looks again to his lawyer, then responds. I refuse to answer on advice of counsel. It appears that John Archbald has no interest in the public good. Let the records show it. Now, Mr. Archbald, under oath, are you aware of the Acne Oil Company? You seem to have represented that firm at one time. Archbald cocks his head. He didn't expect the committee to uncover anything about Acne. It was the front company he used to secretly purchase refineries for Standard. It allows Standard to grow into the unstoppable force that it is today, controlling 90% of the country's ability to refine oil. But Archbald doesn't hesitate as he leans forward to answer. Chairman Hepburn, you're mistaken. I have no idea what you're talking about. I work for Standard Oil. Standard has no connection with Acne. Hepburn's eyes narrow. We'll look more deeply into this matter, Mr. Archbald. Tomorrow, you will continue testifying in the morning. Your mistaken about that as well, Mr. Chairman. It's impossible for me to meet with you again. This is the end of my testimony. Archbald doesn't wait for a reply. He rises, straightens his coat, and begins walking toward the exit. As he walks past a row of onlookers, he can't help but smirk. New York's politicians had seven years to build a case against Standard Oil. And yet they remain as harmless as a fly. Archbald may have spoken out against Standard Oil years ago. But today, he's never been so glad to be on the winning side of the oil industry. Standard will continue to outmaneuver its opponents. For months and for years, Archbald is certain of it. Nothing will stop its rise. The only question now is, how big can Standard Oil grow? From Wondry, this is Episode 2 of the Breakup of Big Oil from American Scandal. In our next episode, John D. Rockefeller struggles to maintain control over the sprawling Standard Oil Empire. And Ida Tarlbell goes abroad to start a career in journalism, but is called back home when disaster strikes. Hey, Prime Members, you can listen to American Scandal ad-free on Amazon Music, download the Amazon Music Cap today. Or you can listen ad-free with Wondry Plus and Apple Podcasts. Before you go, tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at Wondry.com slash survey. If you'd like to learn more about the Breakup of Big Oil, we recommend the book's Titan, The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow. All in a day's work by Ida Tarlbell, and taking on the trust by Steve Weinberg. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases we can't know exactly what we're set, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American Scandal is hosted, edited and executed produced by me, Lindsey Graham for Airship, audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barrett's Music by Lindsey Graham. This episode is written by Michael Canyon Meyer, edited by Christina Malsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven, executive producer, our Stephanie Gens, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and Marshall Louis for Wondry. Scammers are best known for living the high life, globetrotting on private jets, dining at five star restaurants, and driving six figure sports cars. That is until their house of cars collapses, and they're forced to trade it all in for handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. Scamfluencers is a podcast from Wondry, hosted by Sarah Haggy and Sachi Cole that tells the unbelievable true stories behind some of the world's most infamous scams, swindlers, and con artists. Scamfluencers has covered jaw-dropping scandals, from Ponzi schemes, to a fake Saudi prince, to a sexual predator masquerading as a wholesome yoga guru. These scammers cost their victims hundreds of millions of dollars, and a measurable emotional anguish. So how does our culture allow them to thrive? 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