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John D. Rockefeller

In his remarks reprinted in this commemorative book signed beneath his portrait,

Rockefeller warned young businessmen that “there is something besides mere money getting in the world”

and urged them to turn their thoughts into “other channels, channels of usefulness” to achieve happiness

John Davison Rockefeller Sr., 1839–1937.  American business magnate and philanthropist.  Limited edition book Forest Hill September 26, 1905, signed John D. Rockefeller beneath his portrait on the frontispiece.

This limited edition book belonged to Andrew Squire, a corporation lawyer who represented many of the largest businesses in Cleveland, Ohio.  Squire was one of two speakers from among a group of citizens from Cleveland paying their respects to John D. Rockefeller at his summer estate, Forest Hill, that day in 1905.  The book is the memorial of that visit.

The book explains that a group of men, including Squire, met for lunch and decided “to gather a representative body of Cleveland citizens, not affiliated with Mr. Rockefeller in business, and make a call upon him for the purpose of informally paying their respects.”  They set the date for September 26, 1905.  Each was told to “speak to such of his friends and acquaintances as he believed would be desirous of joining in the visit, and request them all to meet at the Lodge at the entrance to Mr. Rockefeller’s Forest Hill home” that day “and proceed informally to his residence.”  Unthinkably, the visit by such a large crowd evidently was to be a surprise.

The Rockefellers cordially greeted the party.  Then, “on the front veranda and beautiful lawn,” Squire and another man made remarks, and Rockefeller responded. 

After expressing his appreciation for those present, Rockefeller, then the richest person in American history, gave the young men some advice:  Money is not everything, he said, so they should turn their thoughts “into the other channels, channels of usefulness,” to achieve happiness:

I see among the number bright, active, aggressive young men, who are making their way on every hand, and I hear great things about them.  I hope you will all succeed, as the older ones have.  I hope you will all remember, as they have, that there is something besides mere money getting in the world.  Turn your thoughts, also, while you are actively engaged in business, turn them into the other channels, channels of usefulness.  Occupy your minds also with other things.  They will give a keener relish.  And as you do this, look forward to the determination of what shall come out of all this toil, out of all this success, which you make by your industry, by your application.  Turn your thoughts to what shall come after.  What shall it be,—the fruitage of all this toil?  What shall it be?  Hospitals, churches, schools, asylums, anything and everything for the betterment of your fellows.  Then you will enjoy your business life; then you will go into it with vigor.  And at the end, when you spend the quiet days, as I am doing now, here under these oaks, you will have great joy.

Arguably Rockefeller, with his Standard Oil Company empire, remains the wealthiest American ever in terms of his wealth as a percentage of the United States” gross domestic product.  The founding of Standard Oil Company in 1870 made Cleveland the center of American petroleum production.  Cleveland experienced both economic and humanitarian benefits as a result.  When Rockefeller died, he was buried in Cleveland.

The book contains 17 pages of facsimile signatures of 400 men who participated that day.

The colophon says that this copy is # 325 of 425 copies.  It shows that the book was presented to Squire (1850–1934), who served as a trustee or officer of many of Cleveland’s largest businesses, including Union Carbide & Carbon, Cleveland Quarries, Corrigan-McKinney Steel, Cleveland Union Stockyards, and the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad. 

The book has been professionally restored.  The page on which Rockefeller’s portrait and signature appear has been reattached to the text block, and acid-free buffered tissue paper has replaced the old acidic one facing the portrait and signature.  The covers were mended, the binding is tight, and there is a new burgundy leather spine.

Rockefeller has signed beneath his portrait in blue pencil with his classic signature.  The signed portrait page naturally has a bit of soiling around the edges, but it is not obtrusive.  There is toning on the end papers, including transfer toning on the back of the second front free endpaper opposite the Rockefeller portrait.  It appears that a bookplate may have been removed from the front pastedown, and there are two small old pencil notations in the upper right corner of the front free endpaper.  Generally, however, the book is clean and bright. Overall it is in very good condition.




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