PEOPLE IN AMERICA, a program in Special English on the Voice of America. Every week we tell about a person who was important in the history of the United States. Today Shirley Griffith and Ray Freeman tell about reporter Ida Minerva Tarbell.
Ida Tarbell was one of the most successful magazine writers in the United States during the last century. She wrote important stories at a time when women had few social or political rights.
Ida Tarbell used her reporting skills against one of the most powerful companies in the world. That company was Standard Oil. Ida Tarbell charged that Standard Oil was using illegal methods to hurt or destroy smaller oil companies.
She investigated these illegal business dealings and wrote about them for a magazine called McClure's. The reports she wrote led to legal cases that continued all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ida Tarbell was born in the eastern state of Pennsylvania in November, 1857. Her family did not have much money. Her father worked hard but had not been very successful.
When Ida was three years old, oil was discovered in the nearby town of Titusville. Her father entered the oil business. He struggled as a small businessman to compete with the large oil companies.
Ida's mother had been a school teacher. She made sure that Ida attended school. She also helped the young girl learn her school work.
Ida wanted to study science at college. Most people at that time thought it was not important for young women to learn anything more than to read and write. Most people thought educating women was a waste of money.
Ida's parents, however, believed education was important -- even for women. They sent her to Allegheny College in nearby Meadville, Pennsylvania. She was 19.
Those who knew Ida Tarbell in college say she would wake up at four o'clock in the morning to study. She was never happy with her school work until she thought it was perfect. In 1880, Ida finished college. In August of that year, she got a teaching job in Poland, Ohio. It paid $500 a year.
Miss Tarbell learned that she was expected to teach subjects about which she knew nothing. She was able to do so by reading the school books before the students did. She was a successful teacher, but the work, she decided, was too difficult for the amount she was paid. So she returned home after one year. A small newspaper in the town of Meadville soon offered her a job.
Many years later, Ida Tarbell said she had never considered being a writer. She took the job with the newspaper only because she needed the money. At first, she worked only a few hours each week.
Later, however, she was working 16 hours a day. She discovered that she loved to see things she had written printed in the paper. She worked very hard at becoming a good writer.
Politics is mundane; politicians are servants of the people. Religion is sacred; it guides peoples spiritual growth. Politics is the lowest as far as values are concerned, and religion is the highest as far as values are concerned. They are separate. I want politics not to interfere with religion. The higher has every right to interfere, but the lower has no right to do so.
Were it ever to be proposed again to enter into a Union with such a people, I could no more consent to do it than to trust myself in a den of thieves...There is indeed a difference between the two peoples. Let no man hug the delusion that there can be renewed association between them. Our enemies are...traditionless.