OIL BARON OF THE SOUTHWEST: Edward L. Doheny and the Development of the Petroleum Industry in California and Mexico (Historical Perspectives on Business Enterprise)

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9780814207499: OIL BARON OF THE SOUTHWEST: Edward L. Doheny and the Development of the Petroleum Industry in California and Mexico (Historical Perspectives on Business Enterprise)

Martin R. Ansell provides the first comprehensive analysis of the business career of oilman Edward Laurence Doheny, one of the most successful and colorful entrepreneurs of the early twentieth century. Doheny's story begins in the mining camps of the Old West during the 1870s. Ansell shows how Doheny's rough beginning contributed to his later success and demonstrates that the fabled "Doheny luck" was actually a combination of practical knowledge, visionary ideas, and executive skill. Doheny was famous as the best oilman of his generation. In 1893 he became the first person to successfully drill for oil in Los Angeles, and he led the development of Southern California's major oil fields. He went to Mexico in 1900 and carved out an empire that over the next twenty years produced more oil than any other company in the world. Doheny aggressively promoted his fuel oil to major industries-especially the railroad and shipping industries. Eventually, his political ambitions led to his downfall in the wake of the Teapot Dome scandal. Because Doheny's personal papers were destroyed after his death in 1935, there has been no previous systematic attempt to reconstruct his life. As a reappraisal of Doheny's experience, this book adds significant new information about the early years of the oil industry and should interest scholars of business history, the history of the American West, and the history of California and Mexico. Martin R. Ansell has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and teaches history at Brookhaven College in Dallas, Texas.

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Given the magnitude of his achievements, both the notable and the dubious, Edward Doheny remains a surprisingly obscure figure in U.S. history. At the start of this century, he had developed every major oil field in Southern California and built a huge oil empire in Mexico; and he was credited with having discovered more oil than any other living person. He was also the major player in the Teapot Dome scandal, which tainted the administration of President Warren G. Harding. Little has been written about Doheny; at his request, his wife burned almost all of his papers after his death. There is Dan La Botz's Edward L. Doheny: Petroleum, Power, and Politics in the United States and Mexico (1991), a work that relied heavily on secondary sources and archives of the U.S. Department of State. But Ansell, a history teacher at Brookhaven College in Dallas, labels La Botz's work the "apotheosis of the negative tradition . . . written from the political left." He sets out to reevaluate Doheny's role in history and rehabilitate his image. David Rouse

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ANSELL, MARTIN
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