1904 Standard Oil Octopus


At the beginning of the 20th century, Standard Oil was the world’s largest corporation; it was also the first multinational corporation – until the U.S. Supreme Court dismantled it in 1911, as part of anti-monopoly wave that had commenced with the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.  Today’s Exxon-Mobil Corporation is a direct descendant.  In 1904, “Puck Magazine” published a cartoon by Udo J. Keppler (son of founder Joseph Keppler) showing a Standard Oil tanker as an octopus with a wicked gaze; its tentacles wrapped around various political establishments, such as the White House.  The message was clear: big oil had its grip on the halls of power.

Flash forward a century later and we have to ask – have things changed much?


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4 responses to “1904 Standard Oil Octopus

  1. Kate is

    No. This drawing would be apt today.

  2. Randy J

    Unfortunately, things are much worse. The big banks, other corporations. Check out the Trans Pacific Partnership: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-nashhoff/the-transpacific-partners_1_b_3568136.html

    • If you read Laton McCartney’s “The Tea Pot Dome Scandal,” you’ll also see how the 1920 U.S. presidential elections were deliberately ransacked to put Warren Harding in the White House and ensure large oil corporations would be allowed to rake in vast profits. I have a feeling that’s what happened 80 years later – something we’ll find out soon enough.

  3. this is an excellent reminder. Nothing much has changed.

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