In 1908, Rockefeller supported William Howard Taft, another temperate Ohio Republican like McKinley, to defeat the tireless Bryan and succeed Theodore Roosevelt as President. Taft won, and escalated the war on monopolies. The next year, a circuit court ordered Standard Oil of New Jersey to split into competing companies. Appeals staved off the end until May 15, 1911. Then the bulky Edward D. White, chief justice of the United States, spent 49 minutes mumbling through a bulky opinion of 20,000 words. He finally said Standard had taken [undue] steps [to drive others from the field and exclude them from their right to trade.] Seven justices agreed. The eighth wanted all such steps banned, undue or not.
Standard had six months to break up. Word reached Rockefeller on the links again, this time at Pocantico. He told his golf partner, a local priest, to buy Standard stock. He never read the fatal opinion but sent colleagues a mock obituary: [Dearly beloved, we must obey the Supreme Court. Our splendid, happy family must scatter.]
Standard became 34 separate companies, with its investors taking proportional shares of each. Standard of New Jersey