Rockefeller and Oil
The years immediately following the Civil War ran on rails and were fueled by gold. People who controlled either or both interests drove the nation, regardless of who was in the White House, the Congress, or the courts.
There was gold, and then there was black gold. In 1859, oil was struck in western Pennsylvania. This event gave a thin-lipped, ascetic-looking young Ohioan an idea. John Davison Rockefeller (1839-1937) decided that oil would become a big business and that his hometown of Cleveland was ideally situated to refine and distribute it to the nation.
Rockefeller built a refinery there in 1862, then put together the Standard Oil Trust, an amalgam of companies by which he came to control all phases of the oil industry, from extraction, through refining, through distribution. Standard Oil was the first of many almighty trusts formed in various industries during the post-Civil War period.