By 1877, the Pennsylvania Railroad, which hauled much of Standard's oil, feared the company's rising clout in the transportation field. So a railroad subsidiary began to buy and build big refineries. [Why, it is nothing less than piracy!] Rockefeller reportedly told the railroad's leaders, with no apparent irony. Fighting back, his company, smaller but financially sounder, gave the Pennsylvania the best of sweatings. He denied the railroad oil from the many refineries in his secret grip. He also coaxed friendlier railroads to launch a price war so brutal that the Pennsylvania actually paid to carry some freight.
The warring railroads slashed wages and jobs. Workers replied with one of the first national strikes. Dozens of them died in clashes with militias. Rockefeller did not flinch. He believed wealthy industrialists should cooperate for their mutual benefit, but poor workers should not. [It is hard to understand why men will organize to destroy the very firms or companies that are giving them the chance to live and thrive,] he would tell his biographer.
The Pennsylvania finally offered peace for a price. It would sell Standard all its oil properties for $3.4 million. Rockefeller's partners rejected several undesirable ones,