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The Breakup of Big Oil | Going to War | 2

The Breakup of Big Oil | Going to War | 2

Tue, 18 Aug 2020 09:00

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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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 Millionaire's 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 small clouds as 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 is 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 an 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 for 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? Well, that's something I'd like to discuss, 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 a 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. There'll be too expensive to ship our caracene. Please, John. Please step back. Don't do this. Play fair. Rock of feather 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 or less efficient businesses that drag down the entire industry. You can choose to wait, keep fighting, then go bankrupt in a year or two. But 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 Rock of Feller 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. It will be your salvation. Now, goodbye. With that, Rock of Feller 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 Rock of Feller is right. With the railroads in his pocket, Soon Rock of Feller 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 sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? Well we agree on that too. Sachi Art. They have artworks from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles, so you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls, and my advisor, Siting, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Let's go to and enter code podcast to check out. Find art you love today. Okay, the kids are already asking what's for dinner, but breaking news, empty fridge. That's okay, I'll instacart. Let's add some organic asparagus and some farm fresh chicken. Easy. Wait, is the oldest vegetarian this week or was it gluten free? Gluten free pasta. Either way, card it, and finally some vegetarian gluten free olives from my well earned cocktail. When your family shopping list has more footnotes than groceries, the world is your cart. Visit or download the app and get free delivery on your first order. Offer valid for limited time, minimum order $10. Every subject to availability, additional terms apply. From Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American scale. 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 plants. 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 manage 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. Standards tactics would build a deep desire for justice in a young woman named Ida Targal, 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 oilmen 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. Oil can steal food from the anger tight in this chest. Standard oil in 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 packed, 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. He calls shots 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, as a ruddy complexion in wide set eyes. He wears a black suit over his short frame. The man calls for order and the runes 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 them all to death. Archbald pauses. And in that moment of silence, Franklin Targal calls out, down with the monster, down with standard oil, a crowd of ruffs and wild cheers. Archbald smiles in Targal'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 shouts that 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 worse. 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's 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, and all he'd say was that he was fighting to save his business. Ida was about to turn from 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 lookabanger. 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. I 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, Patrick Ney, 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. He's not going to shoot 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 patch 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 sure he saw Frank sneaking a sip from his flask before the meal. Yuri regrets 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 the 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 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? That 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 filled with drunken tears. And he fleece me even worse. Now my refineries gone and I'm out of a partnership. A lot of good people in Cleveland made 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 a 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 were one step ahead but you don't understand the mess you've gotten yourself into. Men won't stand for such tyranny. Rockefeller gazes at 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 again 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 at just in this short time. He's offered the Refiners 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 things. And they shouldn't even try. As Rockefeller is going to continue with his takeover, and no one will stop him. Peloton isn't just about bikes and treadmills. It's a team of instructors ready to motivate you 24.7. With Peloton, there are literally thousands of classes, ranging from strength training and yoga to running and boxing, which means Peloton is the perfect nonjudgmental space to experiment with new types of movement at a level in pace that feel good for you. Super busy? It doesn't matter if you have five minutes or an hour. If you're an early riser or a fan of the evening burn, there's a Peloton class that fits into your day. 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And with over 450 episodes, there's a little something for every true crime listener. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or every listen to podcasts, or you can listen ad free by joining Wondry Plus in the Wondry app. It's March 25, 1872. John D. Rockefeller hurries down a hallway in New York City's Grand Opera House. The walls of this building are embossed with gold and attendants stand by, wearing fine suits and coats. The atmosphere is meant to suggest dignity, respect, and calm. But right now Rockefeller is full of a white, hot rage. 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 the 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. After 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, his 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, but 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 deserved those discounts. But the plan has already accomplished its larger purpose. It drove fear into the hearts of practically every refinery and 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 carousine prices, however he pleases. No other refinery in America will be able to compete with standard. Rockefeller reaches the large brass handle doors of the building and pushes through onto eighth avenue. 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 Archbawld 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's been a couple of miles and shakes his head. Titusville, Pennsylvania, still likes to imagine that it's the sophisticated capital of the oil industry. But Archbawld knows that's no longer the case. It's Cleveland now, home of Standard Oil. Archbawld thinks back to the naive young man he was just three years ago. He stood in a stage of this very opera house and gave a fiery speech to announcing Standard Oil. In a way, Archbawld is still proud of that speech. He meant every word of it. But Archbawld knows there are some fights you just cannot win. Since then a year ago, John D. Rockefeller bought out the second largest refinery in Titusville. At the time, Archbawld 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 Archbawld doesn't like to lose. So Archbawld continues walking, turns the corner, past the opera house, and straight into a giant man who bumps into him. Archbawld 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 mudders traitor under his breath. Archbawld glances at the man but he has no time for a fight. He has work 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 Archbawld has acquired 20 refineries for this secret offshoot of Standard. He's made Rockefeller a very happy man. Archbawld continues walking down the streets of Titusville, grinning. If Rockefeller is happy, Archbawld is going to be happy too. Rockefeller is accumulating a massive fortune and if Archbawld 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. Ida Tarbill 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. Ida sees a friend from school and waves her over with a smile. The two walk together, chatting as they head home. When they reach Ida's house, Ida's father steps out onto the front porch. He gives Ida's friend a stern look and quickly Ida's friend excuses herself and hurries down the street. Ida joins her father on the porch. He narrows his eyes and watches as Ida's friend disappears around a corner. Then he turns back to Ida. You know, her father just went over to Standard. He's working for them now. At that, Ida 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 often points them out on the street. After his enemies, he says, Ida 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. The backdrops begin to fall from the sky, pattering on the roof. Ida moves his damn beside her father. She decides to ask something she's never dared to say aloud. Do you ever think about going over to Standard? I know we better than that. 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. I don't think I'm smiling, nods, and 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 can 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 being me on his face. Stubborn, huh? Wonder where you get it. 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 to 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, it's that she's going to be a fighter. Take on people like John T. Rockefeller. Are you a fan of True Crime? Do you love Lauren Order SVU? If so, we have the podcast for you. I'm Kara Klank. And I'm Lisa Trigger. We are comedians and host to the True Crime Comedy podcast. That's messed up. An SVU podcast on exactly right. Every Tuesday, we take you through an episode of SVU, do a deep dive into the True Crime It's based on and then chat with an actor or producer from the episode. So far, we've gotten to interview BD Wong, Margaret Cho, Wyclef Sean, Lou Diamond Phillips, Diane Neal, and more. SVU has been on for 23 seasons, but you do not have to be caught up. This podcast is for SVU watchers and True Crime fans alike. Even if you don't watch the show, we've got you covered. So if you like SVU or True Crime, funny women or hot takes on Mariska Hargote's hair, this podcast is for you. So that's messed up and SVU podcasts wherever you get your podcasts. You can listen to new episodes of That's messed up one week early on Amazon Music or early and ad free by subscribing to OneDri Plus in The OneDri app. Today Tarlble is on the campus of Allegheny College for her first day of class. She enters the Red Brick Building in Academic Hall and realizes something. This is the first time she's ever been in a building this old. She 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. Tarl walks up the stairs to her first class. Its natural science is 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 Tarlble 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. People 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. Tarlble takes a seat. Who wouldn't share his heart, the back, and comfortably straight. Tarlble can feel more eyes on her. For a moment she has an impulse to run, to get away as quickly as possible. Doesn't help when the professor strives into the classroom and gives her what seems to be a dismissive smile. Suddenly Tarlble 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. Tarlble 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 Tarlble 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. This 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. 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. 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. To say your job is simple, what 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 mince 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. It's time to ship the carousine 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 don't appreciate your arrogance, Mr. Archbald. Now, let's get to the heart 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. The remains of 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. They 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. They'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. From 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? Next on American scandal, John D. Rockefeller struggles to maintain control over this brawling standard oil empire, and Ida Tarrbo goes abroad to start a career in journalism, was called back home when disaster strikes. From wondering, this is episode two of the Breakup of Big Oil for American Scandal. A quick note about our reenactments. In most cases, we can't know exactly what was said, but all our traumatizations are based on historical research. If you'd like to learn more about the Breakup of Big Oil, we recommend the memoir All in the Days work by Ida M. Tarrbo. American Scandal is hosted, edited, and executed, produced by Meeve Lindsay Graham for airship. Audio editing by Molly Bach, Sound Design by Derek Barons. This episode is written by Michael Canyon Meyer, edited by Christina Malzberger, produced by Gabe Riven. American producers are Stephanie Jenz, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and her nonmopest for wandering.