The public and the trusts
Having built their organization behind a curtain of secrecy in the 1870's, Rockefeller and his aides wanted nothing so much as to be let alone after they organized the Trust. Their hopes were disappointed, for the years from 1880 to 1900 saw Standard's operations gradually exposed not only to more, but increasingly hostile, publicity. This was inevitable, once state and federal governments began heeding the growing public reaction to railway abuses and the concern, evidenced somewhat later, over industrial combination. Since Standard had benefited as much as any from railroad discrimination and was the first to employ the trust device, it could not hope to escape investigation and attack, even though it understandably tried hard to do so.
It was perhaps accidental that the public obtained its first reasonably comprehensive picture of Standard's operations from the Hepburn inves-