article (Nov ‘20)
Board of Directors, Standard Oil Company; Stewart is CEO for one of the
largest and strongest corporations in the world.
education in C.R.; graduated from Coe at age of 19. Law degree
from Yale. After working in a law office in Conn. He moved to
Pierre, S.D. in 1899; practice law there until 1905; while in Pierre
married Maude Bradley Elliott of Aberdeen; four sons. In 1905 to
Huron, S.D., general attorney for Chicago North-Western Railway.
State senator for two years; state’s attorney from Hughes county and
supreme court reporter. As lawyer in S.D., he represented
International Harvester Co, Standard Oil Co., and North-Western
becomes general attorney for Standard Oil in Chicago; in 1914, becomes
general counsel of Standard Oil.
Spanish-American War: a major in a Rough Rider regiment; later promoted
to a colonel of infantry after returning to S.D.
article after his death (Oct 1947); this is an excellent article,
11 May 1866; died in Miami, FL, 24 Feb ‘47. Scotch-Irish descent.
hard-working, thrifty; active in Second Presbyterian Church (Old
School) that later became Westminster Presbyterian. Home located
just south of Montrose Hotel, church across the street. “Robert’s
earliest memories include the experience of being scrubbed and dressed
on Sunday morning and joining the family in its single file march to
the Church; father at the head of the procession and mother bringing up
the rear. As they marched they passed but spoke not to other
families with whom they were friendly but on Sunday in violent
father, William: Dean Steward, farmer and blacksmith. Vigorous
fighter against saloons.
was less pugnacious; Robert always had a deep reverence for his mother.
Belle, graduate of Coe and Coe’s first librarian.
in class of ‘86. “Frequently he drove a team hauling a load of
wood or farm truck from the farm near Bertram. At the end of the
school day he returned to the farm and hard work.”
men in his graduating class. One was Edward A. Ross, who was
chosen to give commencement address in 1936 at the 50th
anniversary of the class of ‘86. Robert Stewart said: “I shall
attend commencement and hear Ed, but shall not agree with anything he
will say.” Ross the liberal; Stewart, the conservative. Had
also been true 50 years earlier. “Ed Ross as valedictorian had
written an oration which faculty and trustees felt was not proper for a
graduate of Coe to deliver. When the little commencement program
was printed it was apparent that a compromise had been reached.
Salutatorian and valedictorian had changed places. It announced,
first, “Oration on Modernism in Government, by Edward Alsworth Ross”
and second, “Oration on the Constitution, Our Strong Defense, by Robert
Yale, he worked to pay his expenses. Evidence of Robert’s
independence. No assistance from father, who had some
money. Did not receive any money when father died because Robert
had said he did not need the money.
law school, Robert pawned his watch and arrived in Pierre, S.D. with
$7.50. His first law position with Jack Horner, who “gave him
desk room, the duty of tending the office stove, and the privilege of
sleeping in the back room.” In Pierre, Stewart not only practiced
law but “engaged in the cattle business, served in the legislature,
represented various corporations having business at the state capitol
and ‘played’ politics vigorously on the conservative side.” He
was in S.D. National Guard.
1922 Colonel Stewart was at Coe for homecoming football and spoke at
alumni argument. Expressed his appreciation for the vigorous
debating in college while upholding fundamental principles. Ended
speech for praising President Phelps speaking in chapel “thundering the
proclamations of the Almighty.” Stewart also gave commencement
speech and received honorary doctor of laws degree.
Coe had begun to buy property north of the campus. Stewart
brought his friend E. R. Graham to Coe to study the campus; Graham came
up with plan for expansion.
Stewart joins Board of Trustees. Always active member; regular
attender of meetings. His remarks also focused on “institutional
policy” and he left administrative procedures up to the faculty and
president. Strong defender of ROTC. Also felt college
needed a real library. In 1929, when he retired from Standard
Oil, he donated $200,000 for the building, totally on his own
initiative. Building dedicated in 1930. “Over his fireplace
in his Nantucket home was a picture of the Library. He said it
was the most expensive picture on the island!” When he died in
1947, he left a further $50,000 to the college to ensure the Library’s
also responsible for the construction of Greene Hall. Felt the
college must have dormitory for men; wrote a check and gave it to the
college but could only be used if the Board approved the erection of a
dormitory, which became Greene.
in mausoleum in Oak Hill Cemetery.
from other sources:
in 3rd U.S. Volunteer Cavalry (Grigsby’s Rough Riders);
commanded a battalion of the regiment in battle of San Juan Hill.
He enlisted as a private, but he was quickly promoted because he could
ride and shot and fight.
war he was asked by governor to reorganize national guard. For
eight years after the war, he was a colonel of regiment of S.D.
Gage on Robert Stewart: “He was a man of large desires and great
ambition, and he felt limits where to the average person none existed.”
Dome: 1925 article from Consolidated Press Association
are all sorts of varying reports down in Wall street as to the meaning
and extent of the vast transaction whereby Edward L. Doheny, storm
center of the oil scandals in Washington a year ago, sold out all his
Mexican and South American holdings to a syndicate headed by Col.
Robert W. Stewart, chairman of the board of the Standard Oil of
Indiana. But there is general agreement as to who engineered the
deal. It was Bob Stewart of the Standard of Indiana, already
rated as the greatest producer and seller of gasoline in all the world.”
brought some progressive ideas to the oil industry. For example,
he believed in the idea of popular ownership. Stockholders in
Standard Oil increased from 4,500 to 50,000. Created a system in
which company employees “have a void in the matter of wages, working
hours, conditions and everything affecting their welfare. More
than 15,000 employees of the company are stockholders.” From
article in Chicago Daily News.