John D. Rockefeller – The Man Who Gave Away Shiny New Dimes

wealthymattersJohn Davison Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an American industrialist and philanthropist. In 1870, he founded the Standard Oil Company and aggressively ran it until he officially retired in 1897. As kerosene and petrol grew in importance, Rockefeller’s wealth soared and he became the world’s richest man .His wealth was estimated at $900 million in 1913, equivalent to $189.6 Billion today. This is more than the riches of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and the Walton family combined! He was the first American billionaire. Adjusted for inflation, he is often regarded as the richest person in history.

Rockefeller came from humble, meager beginnings.He was born to traveling salesman William Avery Rockefeller and his wife Eliza. John D. Rockefeller was the second-born child; he had five siblings. His mother was thrifty by nature and necessity.He learned his penny-wise ways from his mother’s old saying: “Willful waste makes woeful want.“As a youth, Rockefeller reportedly said that his two great ambitions were to make $100,000 and to live 100 years.

In 1864, Rockefeller married Laura Celestia “Cettie” Spelman.He had this to say about his wife’s contribution to his success: “Her judgment was always better than mine. Without her keen advice, I would be a poor man.” The Rockefellers had four daughters and one son together.They were:Elizabeth Rockefeller,Alice Rockefeller,Alta Rockefeller,Edith Rockefeller and John Davison Rockefeller, Jr.

Religion was a guiding force throughout Rockefeller’s life, and he was a devout Northern Baptist.He believed God to be the source of his success. As he said, “God gave me money“, and he did not apologize for it. He felt at ease and righteous following John Wesley’s dictum, “gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can“.From his very first paycheck, Rockefeller tithed ten percent of his earnings to his church.He believed in The Law of Tenfold Return,i.e.if he gave happily, joyfully and confidently then for every dime he gave away he would receive a dollar, happy, joyfully and confidently, in return from providence.As his wealth multiplied he gave generously to Spelman College ,Denison University, University of Chicago, Rockefeller University,Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley and Vassar.Education and Medical research were the philanthropic causes closest to Rockefeller’s heart.

Later in life ,Rockefeller started carrying around a bag of dimes with him and handing one,with a great deal of relish, to everyone he met,especially children.He used the shiny dime he had just given to start a conversation.Rockefeller loved seeing the happiness the dime brought to children and counseled them to put their money into savings .The shiny dimes that Rockefeller handed out were a symbol and a sermon. The little gift was a token and a good-luck piece. In a broad sense it emphasized thrift, but not as a sure road to wealth, rather as a way and a habit of life.Rockefeller gave out some $35,000 worth of dimes to children during his lifetime, which is not a lot of money today, but just think about the value 100 years ago.The dimes were treasured and stories about the dimes were passed down the generations.You can read a sample here: .Given the effect of these coins,why not hand out a few yourself?At the very least it’s bound to spread some happiness and it could get some important discussions started.

The poem below was written by Rockefeller at age 65 to describe his life

I was early taught to work as well as play,
My life has been one long, happy holiday;
Full of work and full of play-
I dropped the worry on the way-
And God was good to me everyday.

Not only did Rockefeller surpass his youthful ambition to make $100,000 but he also came close to living a 100 years.He died a few days shy of his 98th birthday.He was laid to rest in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland.Today the 70-foot obelisk marking his resting place is  adorned with currency, dimes in particular, rather than the flowers and wreaths that decorate most graves.They are left behind by people wishing to become the next billionaire or at least improve their fortunes.Why not join them if you get to visit Cleveland.


About Keerthika Singaravel

13 Responses to John D. Rockefeller – The Man Who Gave Away Shiny New Dimes

  1. Pingback: How Today’s Students Can Become Tomorrow’s Philanthropist – CHB Blog

    • Keerthika Singaravel says:

      Thanks for linking with my post, else I’d never have found yours, much less have ever heard of “experiential philanthropy”. I found it very interesting. I’ve never before thought of actively teaching philanthropy to young people.

  2. Pingback: Learning by giving: How today's students can become tomorrow's philanthropists | Amrank Real Estate

    • Keerthika Singaravel says:

      Thanks for connecting. You helped me discover Geoffrey P.Reynor and his experiments with Giving.

  3. Pingback: Richest man John D. Rockefeller say U must give 10% to God then you will become millionaire -

  4. Pingback: Re Church - This Sunday

  5. Pingback: Re Church - This Sunday

  6. Pingback: “Bracketology”, the Big Dance, and the Quest for Perfection | Mockingbird

  7. aj says:


    • Thanks

  8. Pingback: How To Get More Out Of Life? « Wealthymatters

  9. behind every successful man….

    • How true!

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