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HISTORY CHANNEL: THE ROCKEFELLERS PART 8 OF 9
A trademark of the Rockefeller dynasty over its 140-plus years has been the remarkable unity it has maintained, despite major divisions that developed in the late 1970s, and unlike other wealthy families such as the DuPonts and the Mellons. A primary reason has been the lifelong efforts of "Junior" to not only cleanse the name from the opprobrium stemming from the ruthless practices of Standard Oil, but his tireless efforts to forge family unity even as he allowed his five sons to operate independently. This was partly achieved by regular brothers and family meetings, but it was also because of the high value placed on family unity by first Nelson and John 3rd, and later especially with David.
As for achievements, in 1972, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Andrew Carnegie's philanthropy, the Carnegie Corporation, which has had a long association with the family and its institutions, released a public statement on the influence of the family on not just philanthropy but encompassing a much wider field. Summing up a publicly poorly grasped but predominant view amongst the international philanthropic world, one sentence of this statement read: "The contributions of the Rockefeller family are staggering in their extraordinary range and in the scope of their contribution to humankind."
As far as wealth is concerned, John D. Rockefeller denied ever being worth $1,000,000,000. However, on September 29, 1916 (notably years after the break-up of his Standard Oil empire by the Supreme Court in 1911), he officially passed that mark and became the richest man who has ever lived, surpassing by far the fortune of the second wealthiest, Andrew Carnegie.
He gave away more than half that amount over his lifetime, US$540 million (in dollar terms of that time), and became the greatest lay benefactor of medicine in history.