Henry Ford

Henry Ford



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Henry Ford, the second of eight children, son of William Ford (1826–1905) and Mary Litogot Ford (1839–1876), was born in Greenfield, Michigan on 30th July, 1863. He was the grandson of John Ford, a Protestant tenant farmer who had come to America from Ireland during the great potato famine of 1847. (1)

William Ford had a farm of eighty acres. According to Henry's biographer, Andrew Ewart: "He showed an early facility for repairing clocks and watches but at home on the farm he had to take his share of the inevitable chores, chopping wood, milking cows, learning to harness a team of horses. When he was twelve he was ploughing and doing a man-sized job on the farm. He had no education in science - he got his considerable mechanical knowledge from experience." (2)

Ford was very close to his mother and was devastated when she died when he was only thirteen. In 1879, against the wishes of his father, he moved to Detroit where he found work at the James Flowers Machine Shop. He was assigned to mill hexagons onto brass valves. Ford was pleased to be away from his father and grandfather. He later wrote, "I never had any particular love for the farm - it was the mother on the farm I loved." (3)

Within a year he had moved to the Detroit Dry Dock Engine Works, the largest shipbuilding firm in the city. He worked a sixty-two-hour week in a machine shop, while, to earn a bit extra, repairing watches in a jewellery store six nights a week as well. Later he travelled round Michigan farms servicing Westinghouse steam engines. (4)

At this time Detroit was a city that offered plenty of opportunities of work. It had a population of more than 116,000 people, covering an area of seventeen square miles - an industrial, shipping, and railroad hub with nearly 1,000 manufacturing and mechanical establishments, twenty miles of street railways, a telegraph network, and a waterworks. (5)

On the death of his grandfather he returned to help his father manage the family farm. He was also given 40 acres to start his own farm. In 1886 Henry Ford met Clara Bryant, the twenty-year-old daughter of a local farmer. He told his sister Margaret that in thirty seconds that he knew this was the girl of his dreams. In April 1888 Henry married Clara, who was three years younger than himself. (6)

During this period Ford read an article in a magazine about how the German engineer, Nicholas Otto, had built a internal combustion engine. One night, after returning from repairing an Otto engine that belonged to a friend, he told his wife that he intended to build a "horseless carriage". Ford disliked farming and spent much of the time trying to build a steam road carriage and a farm locomotive. (7)

In September, 1891, he returned to Detroit to work as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company. The couple moved into a two-story house, a short walk from the works. Ford was extremely ambitious and eventually became chief engineer at the plant at a salary of 100 dollars a month. Soon afterwards, on 9th November, 1893, his son and only child, Edsel, was born. (8)

His first vehicle, called a Quadricycle, was finished in June 1896, was built in a little brick shed in his garden. "With a two-cylinder petrol engine, a bicycle seat, a wooden chassis and bicycle tyres on its spindly wheels, it was steered by a tiller and had a house bell as a horn. It weighed only 500 pounds and had a top speed above 20mph, though rival machines rarely exceeded 5mph. Embarrassingly, the completed Quadricycle was too big to get out through the door of the shed and Ford had to demolish part of the wall with an axe." (9)

Two months later Henry Ford attended a meeting of members of the National Association of Edison Illuminating Companies in the Oriental Hotel in Brooklyn. At the meeting, Ford's boss, Alexander Dow, introduced him to Thomas Edison with the words: "Young fellow here has made a gas car." Edison was curious and began to pepper Ford with detailed questions. Ford drew a picture of his machine on a scrap of paper. Edison was impressed and told him to "keep at it!" From that moment onward, Ford's admiration ripened into hero worship "like a planet that had adopted Edison for its sun." (10)

Henry Ford carried on with his job at the Edison plant while he set about designing and building his second car. However, he was told by his bosses: "You can work on your car or you can work for us - but not both." Ford now approached a group of businessmen to fund the venture. He was originally given $15,000 to build ten cars. Ford established the Detroit Automobile Company and was determined that cars would be as near perfect as he could make it and insisted on improving the carburation system. His refusal to put the car into production until he was satisfied with it, infuriated investors. After spending $86,000 ($2.15 million in today's money) on the project the company collapsed in January 1901. (11)

Ford decided to establish himself with the public by building a racing car. He challenged, Alexander Winton, the most famous racing driver of the day, to a race at Grosse Pointe. Ford won an event styled "the first big race in the west" by almost a mile. Ford later recalled: That was my first race, and it brought advertising of the only kind that people cared to read." After this he had no trouble in raising the money to start a new company. On 23rd November, 1901, Henry Ford sold 6,000 shares at a par value of ten dollars each. (12)

By this time there were several other companies manufacturing cars. Ford suffered from production delays, and this caused conflict with his shareholders and once again the company collapsed. Disillusioned by his lack of success in producing motor cars for the road and decided to return to racing cars. The first one, The Arrow, crashed during a race in September 1903, killing its driver, Frank Day. His second car, Ford 999, driven by Barney Oldfield, was a great success. On 12th January, 1904, Henry Ford drove the 999 to a speed of 91.37 mph (147.05 km/h). (13)

Ford recruited Oliver E. Barthel, a talented young mechanic and engineer. He later recalled that “Henry Ford was a cut-and-try mechanic without any particular genius.” He was also concerned about what he considered to be Ford's dual nature: "One side of his nature I liked very much and I felt that I wanted to be a friend of his. The other side of his nature I just couldn't stand. It bothered me greatly. I came to the conclusion that he had a particular streak in his nature that you wouldn't find in a serious-minded person." (14)

Alexander Malcolmson, a coal dealer in Detroit, was very impressed with the Ford 999 and decided to make a substantial investment in Henry Ford. The partnership began in August 1902. He also persuaded some of his friends to back Ford and by June, 1903, there were twelve stockholders who between them had raised $28,000 in cash to float the company. Ford and Malcolmson owned over 50% of the company. (15)

As a result of Ford's earlier problems, Malcolmson installed his clerk James Couzens at Ford Motor in a full-time position. Couzens borrowed heavily and invested $2,500 in the new firm. Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 with John Simpson Gray as president, Ford as vice-president, Malcolmson as treasurer, and Couzens as secretary. Couzens took over the business management of the new firm for a salary of $2,400. (16)

The Ford Motor Company was only one of 150 automobile manufactures that were active in the United States. Ford now set about making what became known as the Model T (also known as the Tin Lizzie or Leaping Lena). He told his investors: "I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces." (17)

A petrol engine patent was granted in 1895 to George Baldwin Selden. Therefore all car manufacturers were required to pay royalties to the lessee of the patent. To protect themselves these manufacturers had formed an association and had arranged with the lessee of the patent, the Electric Vehicle Company, to control the industry. Ford refused to join the organisation and instead challenged the validity of the patent. (18)

The first Model T car left the factory on 27th September, 1908. The first cars were assembly by hand, and production was small. Only eleven cars were built during the first month of production. It was sold for $825 and this made it the cheapest in the market. Early sales were very encouraging. Ford also introduced the latest marketing methods. His publicity department ensured that newspapers carried stories about the Model T. In 1909 Ford produced 10,600 cars and that year his company made a profit of over a million dollars. According to William Davis, the "Model T had two undeniable merits: it was efficient and it was cheap. Ford's innovative concept was a reliable car that would sell for no more than the price of a horse and buggy." (19)

Since 1908 Ford had spent around $2,000 a week defending himself against the other car manufacturers. In 1910 the court upheld Selden's patent. The verdict could have put him out of business. However, he now appealed to a higher court: "It is said that everyone has his price, but I can assure you that, while I am head of the Ford Motor Company there will be no price that would induce me to add my name to the association." Dealers were warned not to sell his "unlicensed cars". Times were very difficult for Ford until the United States Court of Appeals gave out its verdict completely upholding all his contentions with regard to the patent. (20)

Sales were so good that his Piquette Plant could not keep up with demand. Ford therefore decided to move his operations to the specially built Highland Park Ford Plant. Over 120 acres in size it was the largest manufacturing facility in the world at the time of its opening. In 1913, the Highland Park Ford Plant became the first automobile production facility in the world to implement the assembly line. (21)

Ford had been influenced by the ideas of Frederick Winslow Taylor who had published his book, Scientific Management in 1911. Peter Drucker has pointed out: "Frederick W. Taylor was the first man in recorded history who deemed work deserving of systematic observation and study." (22) Ford took on Taylor's challenge: "It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone." (23)

Initially it had taken 14 hours to assemble a Model T car. By improving his mass production methods, Ford reduced this to 1 hour 33 minutes. This lowered the overall cost of each car and enabled Ford to undercut the price of other cars on the market. By 1914 Ford had made and sold 250,000 cars. Those manufactured amounted for 45% of all automobiles made in the USA that year. (24)

On 5th January 1914, on the advice of James Couzens, the Ford Motor Company announced that the following week, the work day would be reduced to eight hours and the Highland Park factory converted to three daily shifts instead of two. The basic wage was increased from three dollars a day to an astonishing five dollars a day. This was at a time when the national average wage was $2.40 a day. A profit-sharing scheme was also introduced. Unfortunately, the women working at the plant remained on two dollars a day. (25)

Henry Ford took the credit for this bold move calling it "the greatest revolution in the matter of rewards for workers ever known to the industrial world." (26) The Wall Street Journal complained about the decision. They accused Ford of injecting "Biblical or spiritual principles into a field where they do not belong" which would result in "material, financial, and factory disorganization." (27)

Ford rejected the criticism that it was a publicity stunt. "To our way of thinking, this was an act of social justice, and in the last analysis, we did it for our own satisfaction of mind. There is a pleasure in feeling that you have made others happy - that you have lessened in some degree the burdens of your fellow-men - that you have provided a margin out of which may be had pleasure and saving. Good-will is one of the few really important assets of life. A determined man can win almost anything that he goes after, but unless, in his getting, he gains good-will, he has not profited much." (28)

The company also established the Ford Sociological Department, headed by John R. Lee, "a man of ideas and ideals with a keen sense of justice and a sympathy with the 'down and outs', the men in trouble, that leads to an understanding of their problems... Under his guidance, the department will put a soul into the company". Ford also appointed the Reverend Samuel S. Marquis as his spiritual adviser. Ford told him that "I want you to put Jesus Christ in my factory". He added that the teachings of Jesus Christ were "the basis upon which a new society must be built". (29)

The Sociological Department had a staff of more than fifty investigators, that grew to a force of 160 men within two years. The investigators, chosen because of their "peculiar fitness as judges of human nature" were an "odd hybrid of social worker and detective, venturing into the crowded back streets of the city with a driver, an interpreter, and a sheaf of printed questionnaires. Their job was to establish standards of proper behaviour throughout the company." One member of the department said that it "was necessary in order to teach the men how to live a clean and wholesome life." (30)

To qualify for the five dollar a day, an employee had to put up with an exhaustive domestic inspection. If an investigator discovered a Ford employee was living with a woman without going through a marriage ceremony, an application was made to the Probate Court, so their union could be legitimized. Ford, who considered himself to be "highly moral and upright" did not drink alcohol or use tobacco in any form (he considered cigarettes as "little white slavers"). If a Ford worker was determined by Sociological Department investigators to be "immoral" they were offered the opportunity for rehabilitation so that he could be "lifted up" to the requirements of the company. Then and only then would he be certified to receive Ford's "bonus-on-conduct". (31)

William Davis has pointed out that although he paid high wages Ford was totally against trade unions: "He (the Ford worker) had to produce. Ford's assembly line saw to that. It had no place for men who needed to go to the toilets during shifts; such weaklings were weeded out as soon as discovered, and other men were paid to discover them. He was implacably against labour unions, which would interfere with his manufacturing methods." (32)

On the outbreak of the First World War in Europe, Ford soon made it clear he opposed attempts to persuade America to become involved in the conflict. He gave an interview to the New York Times on the war: "Moneylenders and munitions makers cause wars; if Europe had spent money on peace machinery - such as tractors - instead of armaments there would have been no war... The warmongerers urging military preparedness in America are Wall Street bankers... I am opposed to war in every sense of the word." (33)

Ford also made it clear that he would not be lured into the convenient economic trap of becoming a war-dependent manufacturer. He told the New York American Journal in August, 1915: "I would never let a single automobile get out of the Ford plant anywhere in the world if I thought it was going to be used in warfare." According to Ford, war was "a wasteful sacrifice" pushed forward by "avaricious, amoral arms makers". (34) Ford announced: "I hate war, because war is murder, desolation and destruction... I will devote my life to fight this spirit of militarism." (35)

Ford supported the decision of the Woman's Peace Party to organize a peace conference in Holland. After the conference Ford was contacted by America's three leading anti-war campaigners, Jane Addams, Oswald Garrison Villard, and Paul Kellogg. They suggested that Ford should sponsor an international conference in Stockholm to discuss ways that the conflict could be brought to an end. Rozika Schwimmer, a campaigner from Budapest, was sent to talk to Ford. (36)

Ford came up with the idea of sending a boat of pacifists to Europe to see if they could negotiate an agreement that would end the war. He agreed to spend $500,000 to rent the Oskar II, and it sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey on 4th December, 1915. On board the ship Ford told Rozika Schwimmer: "I know who started the war - the German Jewish bankers." Some writers have speculated that Ford did not realise that Schwimmer was Jewish. It has been argued that Schwimmer was diplomatic enough to avoid confronting Ford directly on his views. (37)

The Ford Peace Ship reached Oslo on 20th December, 1916, and a conference was organized with representatives from Denmark, Holland, Norway, Sweden and the United States. However, Ford, who had been taken ill on the journey, did not take part in the public events after the ship docked. Unable to persuade representatives from the warring nations to take part, the conference was unable to negotiate an Armistice. Most newspapers attacked Ford's efforts but the New York Herald Tribune asserted that, "We need more Fords, more peace talks, and less indifference to the greatest crime in the world’s history". (38)

Ford continued to argue that: "Industry must manage to keep wages high and prices low. One's own employees should be one's own best customers." Five of his five stockholders took him to court to force him to distribute the company's earnings. Ford told the court that the profits of the Ford Motor Company were neither his nor the stockholders. "After the employees have had their wages and a share of the profits, it is my duty to take what remains and put it back into the industry to create more work for more men at higher wages." (39)

In 1920 Ford had bought out all his minority stockholders and it became a family property. By 1926 he had quadrupled the average wage to nearly $10 and the price of the Model T had fallen to only $350. Alistair Cooke, the author of America (1973) pointed out: "It is staggering to consider what the Model T was to lead to in both industry and folkways. It certainly wove the first network of paved highways, subsequently the parkway, and then freeway and the inter-state. Beginning in the early 1920s, people who had never taken a holiday beyond the nearest lake or mountain could now explore the South, New England, even the West, and in time the whole horizon of the United States. Most of all, the Model T gave to the farmer and rancher, miles from anywhere, a new pair of legs." (40)

At the end of the 1918 Ford purchased the Dearborn Independent. He told the readers: "I am very much interested in the future not only of my own country, but of the whole world, and I have definite ideas and ideals that I believe are practical for the good of all and I intend giving them to the public without having them garbled, distorted or misrepresented." He also announced that he was willing to spend $10 million to finance the publication." He told the editor that he did not want any mention of Ford's industrial enterprise. Unlike most newspapers, it carried no advertisements. In 1919 he told the New York World: "International financiers are behind all war. They are what is called the international Jew: German-Jews, French-Jews, English-Jews, American-Jews... a Jew is a threat."

Ford did not write all the articles in the newspaper. The editor, William Cameron, a passionate anti-Semite, is thought to have written most of it. Ford's secretary, Ernest Liebold, stated that "the Dearborn Independent is Henry Ford's own paper and he authorizes every statement occurring therein. Liebold added: "The Jewish question, as every businessman knows, has been festering in silence and suspicion here in the United States for a long time, and none has dared discuss it because the Jewish influence was strong enough to crush the man who attempted it. The Jews are the only race whom it is 'verboten' to discuss frankly and openly, and abusing the fear they have cast over business, the Jewish leaders have gone from one excess of the other until the time has come for a protest or a surrender."

On 22nd May, 1920, the Dearborn Independent included an article with the headline, "The International Jew: The World's Problem". The first paragraph began: "There is a race, a part of humanity which has never yet been received as a welcome part." The article went on to argue that in order to eventually rule the Gentiles, the Jews have long been conspiring to form an "international super-capitalist government." As James Pool, the author of Who Financed Hitler: The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power (1979), has pointed out: "In subsequent articles, Ford frequently accused the Jews of causing a decline in American culture, values, products, entertainment, and even worse, of being the instigator of World War I."

In another article Ford argued: "The Jew is a race that has no civilization to point to no aspiring religion... no great achievements in any realm... We meet the Jew everywhere where there is no power. And that is where the Jew so habitually... gravitate to the highest places? Who puts him there? What does he do there? In any country, where the Jewish question has come to the forefront as a vital issue, you will discover that the principal cause is the outworking of the Jewish genius to achieve the power of control. Here in the United States is the fact of this remarkable minority attaining in fifty years a degree of control that would be impossible to a ten times larger group of any other race... The finances of the world are in the control of Jews; their decisions and devices are themselves our economic laws."

Ford's biographer, William C. Richards, has argued in The Last Billionaire (1948): "He (Henry Ford) caused to have published a series of articles in which he set up the major postulate that there was a Jewish plot to rule the world by control of the machinery of commerce and exchange - by a super-capitalism based wholly on the fiction that gold was wealth." Professor Norman Cohn, the author of Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy (1966) has pointed out: "There is no real doubt that Ford knew perfectly well what he was sponsoring. He founded the Dearborn Independent in 1919 as a vehicle for his own 'philosophy' and he took a keen and constant interest in it; much of the contents consisted simply of edited versions of his talk."

By 1923 the Dearborn Independent was a notorious, mass-circulated, anti-Semitic propaganda sheet with a circulation of 500,000. Articles that appeared in the newspaper was published in book form. Entitled The International Jew, it was distributed widely and translated into sixteen different languages. The German edition, printed in Leipzig, was especially popular. Baldur von Schirach, who was later to become the head of the Hitler Youth claimed that he developed anti-Semite views at seventeen after reading the book by Ford. He later recalled: "We saw in Henry Ford the representative of success, also the exponent of a progressive social policy. In the poverty-stricken and wretched Germany of the time, youth looked toward America, and apart from the great benefactor, Herbert Hoover, it was Henry Ford who to us represented America."

Keith Sward, the author of The Legend of Henry Ford (1948) quotes a Jewish attorney who went on a world tour in the mid-1920s, said he saw copies of Ford's book in the "most remote corners of the earth". He maintained that "but for the authority of the Ford name, they would have never seen the light of day and would have never seen the light of day and would have been quite harmless if they had. With the magic name they spread like wildfire and became the Bible of every anti-Semite."

Adolf Hitler was another one who read The International Jew. He also Ford's autobiography, My Life and Work (1922). In 1923 Hitler heard that Ford was considering running for President. He told the Chicago Tribune, "I wish that I could send some of my shock troops to Chicago and other big American cities to help in the elections... We look to Heinrich Ford as the leader of the growing Fascist movement in America... We have just had his anti-Jewish articles translated and published. The book is being circulated to millions throughout Germany." The New York Times reported that there was a large picture of Henry Ford on the wall beside Hitler's desk in the Brown House.

After the failed Beer Hall Putsch Hitler was imprisoned at Landsberg Castle in Munich. At his trial in 1924, Erhard Auer, testified that Ford was giving money to the Nazi Party. Hitler's business manager, Max Amnan, proposed that Hitler should spend his time in prison writing his autobiography. Hitler, who had never fully mastered writing, was at first not keen on the idea. However, he agreed when it was suggested that he should dictate his thoughts to a ghostwriter. The prison authorities surprisingly agreed that Hitler's chauffeur, Emil Maurice, could live in the prison to carry out this task.

Hitler praises Henry Ford in Mein Kampf. "It is Jews who govern the Stock Exchange forces of the American union. Every year makes them more and more the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions; only a single great man, Ford, to their fury, still maintains full independence." James Pool, the author of Who Financed Hitler: The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power (1979) has pointed out: Not only did Hitler specifically praise Henry Ford in Mein Kampf, but many of Hitler's ideas were also a direct reflection of Ford's racist philosophy. There is a great similarity between The International Jew and Hitler's Mein Kampf, and some passages are so identical that it has been said Hitler copies directly from Ford's publication. Hitler also read Ford's autobiography, My Life and Work, which was published in 1922 and was a best seller in Germany, as well as Ford's book entitled Today and Tomorrow. There can be no doubt as to the influence of Henry Ford's ideas on Hitler."

Dietrich Eckart, who spent time with Hitler at Landsberg Castle specifically mentioned that The International Jew was a source of inspiration for the Nazi leader. Both Hitler and Ford believed in the existence of a Jewish conspiracy - that the Jews had a plan to destroy the Gentile world and then take it over through the power of an international super-government. This sort of plan had been described in detail in The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, that had been published in Russia in 1903.

It is believed that the man behind the forgery was Pyotr Ivanovich Rachkovsky, the head of the Paris section of Okhrana. It is argued he commissioned his agent, Matvei Golovinski, to produce the forgery. The plan was to present reformers in Russia, as part of a powerful global Jewish conspiracy and fomented anti-Semitism to deflect public attention from Russia's growing social problems. This was reinforced when several leaders of the 1905 Russian Revolution, such as Leon Trotsky, were Jews. Norman Cohn, the author of Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy (1966) has argued that the book played an important role in persuading fascists to seek the massacre of the Jewish people.

Despite evidence against the genuineness of the document, Hitler and Ford continued to defend its authenticity. Ford commented: "The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on... They have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now." Ford also sponsored the printing of 500,000 copies of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion in the United States.

Hitler told Herman Rauschning that he was "appalled" when he first read the Protocols: "The stealthiness of the enemy and his ubiquity! I saw at once we must copy it - in our own way of course." He admitted that the Protocols had convinced him the fight against the Jews was "the critical battle for the fate of the world!" Rauschning commented: "Don't you think you are attributing rather too much importance to the Jews? Hitler responded angrily: "No, No, No! It is impossible to exaggerate the formidable quality of the Jew as an enemy." Rauschning then took another approach: "But the Protocols are a manifest forgery... It couldn't possibly be genuine." Hitler replied that he did not care if it was "historically true" as its "intrinsic truth" was more important: "We must beat the Jew with his own weapon. I saw that the moment I had read the book."

Both Ford and Hitler believed that Jewish capitalists and Jewish communists were partners aiming to gain control over the nations of the world. Ford placed more emphasis on Jewish financiers and bankers, because as an industrialist he naturally came into close contact with them. Hitler, on the other hand, was more concerned with Jews who were members of the Social Democrat Party (SDP) and the German Communist Party (KPD) as they were a powerful opposition force in Germany in the 1920s.

Ford was especially worried by the Russian Revolution. If the ideas of Karl Marx established itself in America he would obviously be one of the first to suffer. In his book, My Life and Work (1922), he wrote: "We learned from Russia that it is the minority and not the majority who determine destructive action... There is in this country a sinister element that desires to creep in between the men who work with their hands and the men who think and plan... The same influence that drove the brains, experience, and ability out of Russia is busily engaged in raising prejudice here. We must not suffer the stranger, the destroyer, the hater of happy humanity to divide our people. In unity is America's strength - and freedom."

According to Norman Cohn, the author of Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy (1966) Ford deplored "the lack of moral standards" in modern commerce and blamed this on the Jews. Ford told one reporter: "When there's wrong in a country you'll find Jews... The Jew is a huckster who doesn't want to produce but to make something of what somebody else produces." In the Dearborn Independent Ford wrote: "A Jew has no attachment for the things he makes, for he doesn't make any; he deals in the things which other men make and regards them solely on the side of their money-making value."

According to James Pool, the author of Who Financed Hitler: The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power (1979): "In the minds of Ford and Hitler, Communism was a completely Jewish creation. Not only was its founder, Karl Marx, the grandson of a rabbi, but more importantly Jews held leading positions, as well as a high percentage of the membership, in the Communist parties throughout the world. The International Jew stated that since the time of the French Revolution Jews had been involved in numerous movements to overthrow ruling regimes." In Mein Kampf Hitler pointed out: "In Russian bolshevism we must see Jewry's twentieth-century effort to take world domination unto itself."

Both Hitler and Ford contended that 75% of the Communists in Russia were Jews. This is not supported by the facts. At the time of the Russian Revolution there were only seven million Jews among the total Russian population of 136 million. Although police statistics showed the ratio of Jews participating in the revolutionary movement to the total Jewish population was six times that of the other nationalities in Russia, they were no way near the figures suggested by Hitler and Ford. Lenin admitted that "Jews provided a particularly high percentage of leaders of the revolutionary movement". He explained this by arguing "to their credit that today Jews provide a relatively high percentage of representatives of internationalism compared with other nations."

Of the 350 delegates at the Social Democratic Party in London in 1903, 25 out of 55 delegates were Jews. Of the 350 delegates in the 1907 congress, nearly a third were Jews. However, an important point which the anti-Semites overlooked is that of the Jewish delegates supported the Mensheviks, whereas only 10% supported the Bolsheviks, who led the revolution in 1917. According to a party census carried out in 1922, Jews made up 7.1% of members who had joined before the revolution. Jewish leaders of the revolutionary period, Leon Trotsky, Gregory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Karl Radek, Grigori Sokolnikov and Genrikh Yagoda were all purged by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s.

Hitler and Ford also believed that the Jews had been responsible for Germany losing the First World War. The German historian, Joachim Riecker, believes that the core of Hitler's hatred was based on the belief that the Jews were responsible for Germany's defeat. Ford said in The International Jew that "the Jews were not German patriots during the war". They lost the war because "a) the spirit of Bolshevism which masqueraded under the name of German Socialism, b) Jewish ownership and control of the Press, c) Jewish control of the food supply and the industrial machinery of the country."

Charles Higham has argued: "Henry Ford was a knotty puritan, dedicated to the simple ideals of early-to-bed, early-to-rise, plain food, and no adultery. He didn't drink and fought a lifetime against the demon tobacco. He admired Hitler from the beginning, when the future Führer was a struggling and obscure fanatic. He shared with Hitler a fanatical hatred of Jews... Visitors to Hitler's headquarters at the Brown House in Munich noticed a large photograph of Henry Ford hanging in his office... Stacked high on the table outside were copies of Ford's book."

Ford was highly critical of the democratic system in the United States. According to Ford, democracy is nothing but a "levelling down of ability" Ford wrote in the Dearborn Independent that there could be "no greater absurdity and no greater disservice to humanity in general than to insist that all men are equal." Ford went on to argue that the Jews had used democracy to raise themselves up in society. He quotes the The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion as claiming the Jews stated: "We were the first to shout the words, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, among the people. These words have been repeated many times since by unconscious poll-parrots, flocking from all sides to this bait with which they have been ruined.... The presumably clever Gentiles did not understand the symbolism of the uttered words. Did not notice that in nature there is no equality."

Ford believed the motion picture industry "is exclusively under the control, moral and financial, of the Jewish manipulators of the public mind." According to Ford the Jews used the movies and the theatre to poison the American people with sensuality, indecency, appalling illiteracy, and endless liberal platitudes. Ford, like Hitler, did not like popular music. "Monkey talk, jungle squeals, grunts and squeaks camouflaged by a few feverish notes". It was not really "popular" but rather an artificial popularity was created for it by high-pressured advertising. Ford argued that the Jews had created the popularity of the African style to destroy the moral fabric of the white race.

Representatives of almost all national Jewish organizations and religious bodies issued a common declaration denouncing the Ford campaign. One hundred and nineteen prominent Christians, including Woodrow Wilson, called upon Ford to stop his "vicious propaganda". President Warren Harding privately asked Ford to halt the attacks. William Fox, president of Fox Film Corporation, threatened to show footage of Model T accidents in his newsreels, if Ford persisted in attacking the character of Jewish film executives and their motion pictures.

Soon most Jewish firms and individual Jews boycotted Ford products and Gentile firms who did business with Jewish concerns and were dependent on their good will followed suit to please their best customers. Although sales of Ford cars continued to grow. For example, in 1925, the company was producing 10,000 cars every 24 hours. This was 60 per cent of America's total output of cars. However, Henry Ford's campaign against the Jews, hurt the company in the eastern metropolitan centres. Senior executives later admitted that during the run of the anti-Semitic articles the company lost business which was never regained.

A prominent American Jew, Isaac Landman, challenged Ford to prove that a Jewish plot existed. Landman said he would guarantee to provide sufficient money to hire the world's leading detectives and would agree to print their findings, whatever they might be, in at least one hundred leading newspapers. Ford accepted the challenge but insisted on employing his own detectives. He established headquarters in New York City and hired a group of agents to "unmask the operation of the Secret World Government". His team included former senior members of the U.S. Secret Service.

Ford believed that Bernard Baruch, one of America's richest men, was one of the main leaders of this conspiracy. He and other prominent Jews were investigated. So also was Justice Louis Brandeis, a Jewish member of the Supreme Court (One of the justices, James McReynolds, hostility towards Jews was so strong he always refused to sit next to Brandeis during meetings.) Woodrow Wilson and Colonel Edward House were also investigated as they were considered by Ford as "Gentile fronts" for the "Secret World Government". Despite spending a great deal of money on the operation, Ford was unable to prove that a Jewish plot existed.

In 1927, Aaron Sapiro, a prominent Chicago attorney, accused Ford with libel for saying that he was involved in a plot with other Jewish middlemen to gain control of American agriculture. The case was settled out of court when Ford published a personal apology to Sapiro and a formal retraction of his attacks against the Jews. Ford asked for the forgiveness of the Jewish people and made a humble apology for the injustices done to them through his publications. He also announced that he was closing Dearborn Independent down. The reason for this change of heart was that Ford was told that the Jewish boycott of his cars was having a serious impact on sales. Ford was told that his proposed launch of the new Model A car would end in failure unless he ended his campaign against the Jews.

Despite closing down the Dearborn Independent, Ford did not change his mind about the Jews. He told Gerald L. Smith, one of the fascist leaders in the United States, that he hoped to republish The International Jew in the near future. The anti-Nazi journalist, Konrad Heiden, claimed that "Henry Ford, the famous automobile manufacturer gave money to the National Socialists directly or indirectly has never been disputed." Upton Sinclair, the American investigative journalist, discovered that the Nazi Party got $40,000 to reprint anti-Jewish pamphlets in German translations. The United States Ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, said in an interview that American industrialists such as Ford "had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy."

The American journalist, Norman Hapgood, carried out an investigation into Henry Ford. He discovered that Ford was sending money to the Nazis via Boris Brasol. In one of his articles, Hapgood quotes the former head of the Russian constitutional government at Omsk as saying "I have seen the documentary proof that Boris Brasol has received money from Henry Ford." Brasol had worked for the United States secret service and after the First World War had worked closely with Ford in promoting The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.

Winifred Wagner, a close associate of Adolf Hitler, was sent by Kurt Ludecke, to gain funds for the Nazi Party. She admitted to James Pool in 1977: "Ford told me that he had helped to finance Hitler with money from the sales of automobiles and trucks that he had sent to Germany." Winifred suggested that Hitler was now more in need for money than ever. Ford replied that he was still willing to support if he was still working to free Germany from the Jews. Wagner arranged for Ludecke to pay Ford a visit.

At the arranged meeting, Ludecke promised that as soon as Hitler came to power, one of his first acts would be to inaugurate the social and political program which had been advocated in the Dearborn Independent. Ludecke explained that money was the only obstacle that stood between the Nazis and the fulfillment in Germany of Ford and Hitler's mutual views. In his memoirs published in 1938 Ludecke did not say how much Ford gave to Hitler. Ludecke hinted at why he could not tell the truth without hurting Ford. The Jewish boycott had "pinched him in the ledgers where even a multimillionaire is vulnerable." Lüdecke described Ford as having "clear, bright eyes and his strong face, almost free from wrinkles, did not betray his more than sixty years." It is claimed by CH that every year Ford sent Hitler a birthday present of 50,000 Reichsmarks.

In 1933 Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Henry Ford's The International Jew became a stock item of Nazi Germany propaganda. It has been claimed that "every school child in Germany came into contact with it many times during his education." The manager of the Ford Company in Germany in the mid-1930s, Edmund C. Heine, explained that the book had the backing of the German government and was an important factor in educating the nation "to understand the Jewish problem as it should be understood."

Carl Krauch claimed that he arranged for the Ford Company to retain its independence during Hitler's rule in the 1930s: "I myself knew Henry Ford and admired him. I went to see Goring personally about that. I told Goring that I myself knew his son Edsel, too, and I told Goring that if we took the Ford independence away from them in Germany, it would aggrieve friendly relations with American industry in the future. I counted on a lot of success for the adaptation of American methods in Germany's industries, but that could be done only in friendly cooperation. Goring listened to me and then he said: 'I agree. I shall see to it that the German Ford Company will not be incorporated in the Hermann Goring Company.' So I participated regularly in the supervisory board meetings to inform myself about the business processes of Henry Ford and, if possible, to take a stand for the Henry Ford Works after the war had begun. Thus, we succeeded in keeping the Ford Works working and operating independently of our government's seizure."

In the 1930s Ford opposed Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. He was especially opposed to the National Labor Relations Act which established the rights of workers to join trade unions and to bargain collectively with their employers through representatives of their own choosing. Workers were now protected from their employers and as a result union membership grew rapidly. Ford refused to recognize the United Auto Workers and used armed police to deal with industrial unrest. Ford told a journalist from Collier's Weekly that left-wing unions "are organized by Jewish financiers, not labor". He added that "a union is a neat thing for a Jew to have on hand when he comes around to get his clutches on an industry."

In 1938 Adolf Hitler awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle. Ford was the first American and only the fourth person in the world to receive this medal. Benito Mussolini, another of Hitler's financiers, had been granted the same award earlier that year. Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, denounced Ford and other Americans "who obsequiously have accepted tokens of contemptuous distinction at a time when the bestower of them counts that day lost when he can commit no new crime against humanity." Ford was also criticized by the Jewish entertainer, Eddie Cantor, who called Ford "a damn fool for permitting the world's greatest gangster to give him a citation." Cantor then added "the more men like Ford we have, the more we must organize and fight."

Ford employed Harry Bennett, a former boxer, to head the Internal Security Department. Bennett employed various intimidation tactics to squash union organizing. The most famous incident, on 26th May, 1937, involved Bennett's security men beating with clubs UAW representatives, including Walter Reuther. While this was going on police chief Carl Brooks "did not give orders to intervene." The conflict became known as The Battle of the Overpass. Ford held out until signing an agreement with UAW in June 1941.

According to Charles Higham, the author of Trading with the Enemy (1983), Ford was more willing to help Nazi Germany than the British during the early stages of the Second World War: "Edsel and his father, following their meetings with Gerhardt Westrick at Dearborn in 1940, refused to build aircraft engines for England and instead built supplies of the 5-ton military trucks that were the backbone of German army transportation. They arranged to ship tires to Germany despite the shortages; 30 percent of the shipments went to Nazi-controlled territories abroad."

In 1940 Ford built a new automobile factory at Poissy in the German Occupied Zone. The plant began making airplane engines for the German government. It also built trucks for the German Army. Ford arranged for Nazi war criminal, Carl Krauch and Maurice Dollfus, to run the factory. It made a profit of 50 million francs in the first year of trading. When the plant was bombed by the Royal Air Force, Dollfus arranged for the German government to pay for compensation for the damage done.

On 16th February 1941, Henry Ford delivered a bitter attack on the Jews to The Manchester Guardian saying that the United States should make Britain and Germany fight until they both collapsed. To show his commitment to the America First Committee, Ford employed Charles Lindbergh as a member of his executive staff. This caused great controversy when on 17th December, 1941, ten days after Pearl Harbour, Lindbergh made a speech where he argued: "There is only one danger in the world-that is the yellow danger. China and Japan are really bound together against the white race. There could only have been one efficient weapon against this alliance.... Germany.... the ideal setup would have been to have had Germany take over Poland and Russia, in collaboration with the British, as a bloc against the yellow people and Bolshevism. But instead, the British and the fools in Washington had to interfere. The British envied the Germans and wanted to rule the world forever. Britain is the real cause of all the trouble in the world today."

The Ford plant at Willow Run produced over 8,000 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers during the war. However, he continued to supply the German Army with trucks and armored from its plant in Poissy and Oran in Algeria. In April 1943, Henry Morgenthau and Lauchlin Currie conducted a lengthy investigation into the Ford subsidiaries in French territory. The report concluded that "their production is solely for the benefit of Germany and the countries under its occupation" and the Germans have "shown clearly their wish to protect the Ford interests". Despite the report nothing was done about the matter.

Henry Ford died on 7th April, 1947.

It has been asserted that machine production kills the creative ability of the craftsman. This is not true. The machine demands that man be its master; it compels mastery more than the old methods did. The number of skilled craftsmen in proportion to the working population has greatly increased under the conditions brought about by the machine. They get better wages and more leisure in which to exercise their creative faculties.

There are two ways of making money - one at the expense of others, the other by service to others. The first method does not "make" money, does not create anything; it only "gets" money - and does not always succeed in that. In the last analysis, the so-called gainer loses. The second way pays twice - to maker and user, to seller and buyer. It receives by creating, and receives only a just share, because no one is entitled to all. Nature and humanity supply too many necessary partners for that. True riches make wealthier the country as a whole.

Most people will spend more time and energy in going around problems than in trying to solve them. A problem is a challenge to your intelligence. Problems are only problems until they are solved, and the solution confers a reward upon the solver. Instead of avoiding problems, we should welcome them and through right thinking make them pay us profits. The discerning youth will spend his time learning direct methods, learning how to make his brain and hand work in harmony with each other so that the problem in hand may be solved in the simplest, most direct way that he knows.

The Jew is a race that has no civilization to point to no aspiring religion... The finances of the world are in the control of Jews; their decisions and devices are themselves our economic laws.

Not only did Hitler specifically praise Henry Ford in Mein Kampf, but many of Hitler's ideas were also a direct reflection of Ford's racist philosophy. There can be no doubt as to the influence of Henry Ford's ideas on Hitler.

Edsel Ford had a great deal to do with the European companies. He was different in character from his father. He was a nervous, high-strung man who tried to work off his extreme tensions and guilts over inherited wealth in a furious addiction to tennis and other sports. Darkly handsome, with a whipcord physique, he was miserable at heart. He could not relate to his father, who despised him, and his inner distress caused him severe stomach ulcers that developed into gastric cancer by the early 1940s. Nevertheless, he and his father had one thing in common. True figures of The Fraternity, they believed in "Business as Usual" in time of war.

Edsel was on the board of American LG. and General Aniline and Film throughout the 1930s. He and his father, following their meetings with Gerhardt Westrick at Dearborn in 1940, refused to build aircraft engines for England and instead built supplies of the 5-ton military trucks that were the backbone of German army transportation. They arranged to ship tires to Germany despite the shortages; 30 percent of the shipments went to Nazi-controlled territories abroad. German Ford employee publications included such editorial statements as, "At the beginning of this year we vowed to give our best and utmost for final victory, in unshakable faithfulness to our Fuehrer." Invariably, Ford remembered Hitler's birthday and sent him 50,000 Reichsmarks a year. His Ford chief in Germany was responsible for selling military documents to Hitler. Westrick's partner Dr. Albert continued to work in Hitler's cause when that chief came to the United States to continue his espionage.

I myself knew Henry Ford and admired him. Thus, we succeeded in keeping the Ford Works working and operating independently of our government's seizure.

(1) Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate (2001) page 8

(2) Andrew Ewart, The World's Wickedest Men: Authentic Accounts of Lives Terrible in Their Power for Evil (1963)

(3) Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1923) page 24

(4) Richard Cavendish, History Today (8th August 1999)

(5) Allan Nevins, Ford, the Times, the Man, the Company (1954) pages 74-75

(6) Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate (2001) page 11

(7) Victor Curcio, Henry Ford (2013) page 19

(8) M. J. York, Henry Ford: Manufacturing Mogul (2010) page 20

(9) Richard Cavendish, History Today (8th August 1999)

(10) Neil Baldwin, Edison: Inventing the Century (2001) page 302

(11) Edwin Black, Internal Combustion (2007) page 99

(12) Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1923) page 25

(13) M. York, Henry Ford: Manufacturing Mogul (2010) page 28

(14) Oliver E. Barthel, The Reminiscences of Oliver E. Barthel (1952) page 70

(15) Victor Curcio, Henry Ford (2013) page 38

(16) Ford Richardson Bryan, Henry's Lieutenants (1993) pages 67-73

(17) Motor World Magazine (26th February, 1903)

(18) Samuel S. Marquis, Henry Ford: An Interpretation (1923) page 28

(19) William Davis, The Innovators (1987) page 138

(20) Christy Borth, Masters of Mass Production (1945) page 38

(21) Victor Curcio, Henry Ford (2013) page 65

(22) Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (1974) page 181

(23) Frederick Winslow Taylor, Scientific Management (1911) page 83

(24) David L. Lewis, The Public Image of Henry Ford: An American Folk Hero and His Company (1976) page 49

(25) Allan Nevins, Ford, the Times, the Man, the Company (1954) page 533

(26) Harry Barnard, Independent Man: The Life of Senator James Couzens (1958) page 83

(27) The Wall Street Journal (12th January, 1914)

(28) Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1923) pages 126-127

(29) Ford Richardson Bryan, Clara: Mrs. Henry Ford (2001) pages 206-207

(30) Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate (2001) pages 38-39

(31) Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1923) page 130

(32) William Davis, The Innovators (1987) page 138

(33) Henry Ford, New York Times (11th April, 1915)

(34) New York American Journal (16th August, 1915)

(35) The Detroit Free Press (22nd August, 1915)

(36) Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate (2001) page 57

(37) Gavin Langmuir, History Religion and Antisemitism (1993) page 297

(38) Steven Watts, The People's Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century (2005) page 230

(39) William Davis, The Innovators (1987) pages 138-139

(40) Alistair Cooke, America (1973) page 317


Later years of Henry Ford

The unprecedented scale of that success, together with Ford’s personal success in gaining absolute control of the firm and driving out subordinates with contrary opinions, set the stage for decline. Trusting in what he believed was an unerring instinct for the market, Ford refused to follow other automobile manufacturers in offering such innovative features as conventional gearshifts (he held out for his own planetary gear transmission), hydraulic brakes (rather than mechanical ones), six- and eight-cylinder engines (the Model T had a four), and choice of colour (from 1914 every Model T was painted black). When he was finally convinced that the marketplace had changed and was demanding more than a purely utilitarian vehicle, he shut down his plants for five months to retool. In December 1927 he introduced the Model A. The new model enjoyed solid but not spectacular success. Ford’s stubbornness had cost him his leadership position in the industry the Model A was outsold by General Motors’ Chevrolet and Chrysler’s Plymouth and was discontinued in 1931. Despite the introduction of the Ford V-8 in 1932, by 1936 Ford Motor Company was third in sales in the industry.

A similar pattern of authoritarian control and stubbornness marked Ford’s attitude toward his workers. The $5 day that brought him so much attention in 1914 carried with it, for workers, the price of often overbearing paternalism. It was, moreover, no guarantee for the future in 1929 Ford instituted a $7 day, but in 1932, as part of the fiscal stringency imposed by falling sales and the Great Depression, that was cut to $4, below prevailing industry wages. Ford freely employed company police, labour spies, and violence in a protracted effort to prevent unionization and continued to do so even after General Motors and Chrysler had come to terms with the United Automobile Workers. When the UAW finally succeeded in organizing Ford workers in 1941, he considered shutting down before he was persuaded to sign a union contract.

During the 1920s, under Edsel Ford’s nominal presidency, the company diversified by acquiring the Lincoln Motor Car Company, in 1922, and venturing into aviation. At Edsel’s death in 1943 Henry Ford resumed the presidency and, in spite of age and infirmity, held it until 1945, when he retired in favour of his grandson, Henry Ford II.


Contents

Henry Ford built his first automobile, which he called a quadricycle, at his home in Detroit in 1896. The location has been redeveloped, where the Michigan Building now stands, and the tracks for the Detroit People Mover and the Times Square People Mover station are nearby. At the entrance to the Michigan Building, there is a commemorative plaque identifying the original location of the Ford home. The coal shed has been recreated using the original bricks at Greenfield Village in nearby Dearborn. [1] His initial foray into automobile manufacturing was the Detroit Automobile Company, founded in 1899. The company foundered, and in 1901 was reorganized as the Henry Ford Company. In March 1902, after falling out with his financial backers, Ford left the company with the rights to his name and 900 dollars. [ citation needed ]

Henry Ford turned to an acquaintance, coal dealer Alexander Y. Malcomson, to help finance another automobile company. Malcomson put up the money to start the partnership "Ford and Malcomson" and the pair designed a car and began ordering parts. However, by February 1903, Ford and Malcomson had gone through more money than expected, and the manufacturing firm of John and Horace Dodge, who had made parts for Ford and Malcomson, was demanding payment. [2] Malcomson, constrained by his coal business demands, turned to his uncle John S. Gray, the president of the German-American Savings Bank and a good friend. Malcomson proposed incorporating Ford and Malcomson to bring in new investors, and wanted Gray to join the company, thinking that Gray's name would attract other investors. Gray was not interested at first, but Malcomson promised he could withdraw his share at any time, so Gray reluctantly agreed. On the strength of Gray's name, Malcomson recruited other business acquaintances to invest, including local merchants Albert Strelow and Vernon Fry, lawyers John Anderson and Horace Rackham, Charles T. Bennett of the Daisy Air Rifle Company, and his own clerk James Couzens. [2] Malcomson also convinced the Dodges to accept stock in lieu of payment. [ citation needed ]

On June 16, 1903, the Ford Motor Company was incorporated, with 12 investors owning a total of 1000 shares. Ford and Malcomson together retained 51% of the new company in exchange for their earlier investments. When the total stock ownership was tabulated, shares in the company were: Henry Ford (255 shares), Alexander Y. Malcomson (255 shares), John S. Gray (105 shares), John W. Anderson (50 shares), Horace Rackham (50 shares), Horace E. Dodge (50 shares), John F. Dodge (50 shares), Charles T. Bennett (50 shares), Vernon C. Fry (50 shares), Albert Strelow (50 shares), James Couzens (25 shares), and Charles J. Woodall (10 shares). [3]

At the first stockholder meeting on June 18, Gray was elected president, Ford vice-president, and James Couzens secretary. [2] Despite Gray's misgivings, the Ford Motor Company was immediately profitable, with profits by October 1, 1903 of almost $37,000. A dividend of 10% was paid that October, an additional dividend of 20% at the beginning of 1904, and another 68% in June 1904. Two dividends of 100% each in June and July 1905 brought the total investor profits to nearly 300% in just over 2 years 1905 total profits were almost $300,000. [2]

However, there were internal frictions in the company that Gray was nominally in charge of. Most of the investors, both Malcomson and Gray included, had their own businesses to attend to only Ford and Couzens worked full-time at the company. The issue came to a head when the principal stockholders, Ford and Malcomson, quarreled over the future direction of the company. Gray sided with Ford. By early 1906 Malcomson was effectively frozen out of the Ford Motor Company, and in May sold his shares to Henry Ford. [2] John S. Gray died unexpectedly in 1906, and his position as Ford's president was taken over by Ford himself soon afterward. [2]

Ford was subject to lawsuits or threats from the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers early in its history. The Association claimed patent rights to most gasoline-powered automobiles. After several years of legal wrangling, the Association eventually dropped its case against Ford in 1911. [ citation needed ]

During its early years, the company produced a range of vehicles designated, chronologically, from the Ford Model A (1903) to the Model K and Model S (Ford's last right-hand steering model) [4] of 1907. [5] The K, Ford's first six-cylinder model, was known as "the gentleman's roadster" and "the silent cyclone", and sold for US$2800 [5] by contrast, around that time, the Enger 40 was priced at US$2000, [6] the Colt Runabout US$1500, [7] the high-volume Oldsmobile Runabout [8] US$650, Western's Gale Model A US$500, [9] and the Success hit the amazingly low US$250. [8]

In 1908, Henry Ford introduced the Model T. Earlier models were produced at a rate of only a few a day at a rented factory on Mack Avenue in Detroit, Michigan and later at the Piquette Avenue Plant (the first company-owned factory), with groups of two or three men working on each car from components made to order by other companies (what would come to be called an "assembled car"). The first Model Ts were built at the Piquette Avenue Plant and in the car's first full year of production, 1909, just over 10,000 Model Ts were built. As demand for the car grew, the company moved production to the much larger Highland Park Plant in 1910. In 1911, 69,762 [10] Model Ts were produced, with 170,211 in 1912. [11] By 1913, the company had developed all of the basic techniques of the assembly line and mass production. Ford introduced the world's first moving assembly line that year, which reduced chassis assembly time from 12 + 1 ⁄ 2 hours in October to 2 hours 40 minutes (and ultimately 1 hour 33 minutes), [11] and boosted annual output to 202,667 units that year [11] After a Ford ad promised profit-sharing if sales hit 300,000 between August 1914 and August 1915, [12] sales in 1914 reached 308,162, and 501,462 in 1915 [11] by 1920, production would exceed one million a year.

These innovations were hard on employees, and turnover of workers was very high, while increased productivity reduced labor demand. [11] Turnover meant delays and extra costs of training, and use of slow workers. In January 1914, Ford solved the employee turnover problem by doubling pay to $5 a day [13] cutting shifts from nine hours to an eight-hour day for a 5-day work week (which also increased sales a line worker could buy a T with less than four months' pay), [11] and instituting hiring practices that identified the best workers, including disabled people considered unemployable by other firms. [11] Employee turnover plunged, productivity soared, and with it, the cost per vehicle plummeted. Ford cut prices again and again and invented the system of franchised dealers who were loyal to his brand name. Wall Street had criticized Ford's generous labor practices when he began paying workers enough to buy the products they made. [14]

While Ford attained international status in 1904 with the founding of Ford of Canada, it was in 1911 the company began to rapidly expand overseas, with the opening of assembly plants in Ireland (1917), England and France, followed by Denmark (1923), Germany (1925), Austria (1925), [11] and Argentina (1925). [15] A factory was opened in Japan (1925) at Yokohama, and also in South Africa (1924) [16] and Australia (1925) as subsidiaries of Ford of Canada due to preferential tariff rules for Commonwealth countries. By the end of 1919, Ford was producing 50 percent of all cars in the United States, and 40% of all British ones [11] by 1920, half of all cars in the U.S. were Model Ts. (The low price also killed the cyclecar in the U.S.) [11] The assembly line transformed the industry soon, companies without it risked bankruptcy. Of 200 U.S. car makers in 1920, only 17 were left in 1940. [11]

It also transformed technology. Henry Ford is reported to have said, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." Before the assembly line, Ts had been available in a variety of colors, including red, blue, and green, but not black. Now, paint had become a production bottleneck only Japan Black dried quickly enough, and not until Duco lacquer appeared in 1926 would other colors reappear on the T. [11]

In 1915, Henry Ford went on a peace mission to Europe aboard a ship, joining other pacifists in efforts to stop World War I. This led to an increase in his personal popularity. Ford would subsequently go on to support the war effort with the Model T becoming the underpinnings for Allied military vehicles, like the Ford 3-Ton M1918 tank, and the 1916 ambulance. [ citation needed ]

By 1916, the company had accumulated a capital surplus of $60 million, but Henry Ford declared that he intended to end special dividends for shareholders in favor of massive investments in new plants, including the River Rouge plant, allowing Ford to dramatically increase production, and the number of people employed at his plants, at the same time as cutting the prices of his cars. The Dodge brothers, John Francis Dodge and Horace Elgin Dodge, the largest non-family shareholders, with 10% of the company, objected and took Ford to court in 1917 in an often cited case, Dodge v. Ford Motor Company. [17] The judge found in their favor requiring a $19million special dividend. The decision was then upheld in the 1919 appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court which stated that: [ citation needed ]

A business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders. The powers of the directors are to be employed for that end. The discretion of directors is to be exercised in the choice of means to attain that end, and does not extend to a change in the end itself, to the reduction of profits, or to the non-distribution of profits among stockholders in order to devote them to other purposes .

In response Henry Ford determined to buy out the remaining shareholders. To encourage this, he threatened to leave and set up a rival company, offering to buy out the minority shareholders, at varying prices. He gained complete control in July 1919 at a cost of $125 million, made up of $106 million of the stock and $19 million in court-ordered dividend, financed with a $75 million loan from two eastern banks. The Dodge brothers received $25 million. [18] At this time Edsel Ford also succeeded his father as president of the company, although Henry still kept a hand in management. [ citation needed ]

While prices were kept low through highly efficient engineering, the company used an old-fashioned personalized management system, and neglected consumer demand for improved vehicles. So, while four-wheel brakes were invented by Arrol-Johnson (and were used on the 1909 Argyll), [11] they did not appear on a Ford until 1927, [11] only a year before Chevrolet. Ford steadily lost market share to GM and Chrysler, as these and other domestic and foreign competitors began offering fresher automobiles with more innovative features and luxury options. GM had a range of models from relatively cheap to luxury, tapping all price points in the spectrum, while less wealthy people purchased used Model Ts. The competitors also opened up new markets by extending credit for purchases, so consumers could buy these expensive automobiles with monthly payments. Ford initially resisted this approach, insisting such debts would ultimately hurt the consumer and the general economy. Ford eventually relented and started offering the same terms in December 1927, when Ford unveiled the redesigned Model A, and retired the Model T after producing 15 million units. An early version of the Ford script in the oval badge was first used on the 1928 Model A the Ford script had been created in 1903 by Childe Harold Wills, and the oval trademark in 1907. [19]

Lincoln Motor Company Edit

On February 4, 1922 Ford expanded its reach into the luxury auto market through its acquisition of the Lincoln Motor Company from Henry M. Leland who had founded and named the company in 1917 for Abraham Lincoln whom Henry Leland admired. The Mercury division was established later in 1938 to serve the mid-price auto market between the Ford and Lincoln brands. [20]

Ford Motor Company dedicated the largest museum of American History in 1929, The Henry Ford. Henry Ford would go on to acquire Abraham Lincoln's chair, which he was assassinated in, from the owners of Ford's Theatre. Abraham Lincoln's chair would be displayed along with John F. Kennedy's Lincoln presidential limousine in the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, known today as The Henry Ford. Kennedy's limousine was leased to the White House by Ford.

Fordlândia Edit

In 1928, Henry Ford negotiated a deal with the government of Brazil for a plot of land in the Amazon Rainforest. There, Ford attempted to cultivate rubber for use in the company's automobiles. After considerable labor unrest, social experimentation, and a failure to produce rubber, and after the invention of synthetic rubber, the settlement was sold in 1945 and abandoned. [21]

The Great Depression Edit

During the Great Depression, Ford in common with other manufacturers, responded to the collapse in motor sales by reducing the scale of their operations and laying off workers. By 1932, the unemployment rate in Detroit had risen to 30% [22] with thousands of families facing real hardship. Although Ford did assist a small number of distressed families with loans and parcels of land to work, the majority of the thousands of unskilled workers who were laid off were left to cope on their own. However, Henry Ford angered many by making public statements that the unemployed should do more to find work for themselves. [ citation needed ]

This led to Detroit's Unemployed Council organizing the Ford Hunger March. On March 7, 1932 some 3,000 - 5,000 unemployed workers assembled in West Detroit to march on Ford's River Rouge plant to deliver a petition demanding more support. As the march moved up Miller Road and approached Gate 3 the protest turned ugly. The police fired tear gas into the crowd and fire trucks were used to soak the protesters with icy water. When the protesters responded by throwing rocks, the violence escalated rapidly and culminated in the police and plant security guards firing live rounds through the gates of the plant at the unarmed protesters. Four men were killed outright and a fifth died later in the hospital. Up to 60 more were seriously injured. [23]

Soviet Fords and the Gorki Edit

In May 1929 the Soviet Union signed an agreement with the Ford Motor Company. Under its terms, the Soviets agreed to purchase $13 million worth of automobiles and parts, while Ford agreed to give technical assistance until 1938 to construct an integrated automobile-manufacturing plant at Nizhny Novgorod. Many American engineers and skilled auto workers moved to the Soviet Union to work on the plant and its production lines, which was named Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ), or Gorki Automotive Plant in 1932. A few American workers stayed on after the plant's completion, and eventually became victims of Stalin's Great Terror, either shot [24] or exiled to Soviet gulags. [25] In 1933, the Soviets completed construction on a production line for the Ford Model-A passenger car, called the GAZ-A, and a light truck, the GAZ-AA. Both these Ford models were immediately adopted for military use. By the late 1930s production at Gorki was 80,000-90,000 "Russian Ford" vehicles per year. With its original Ford-designed vehicles supplemented by imports and domestic copies of imported equipment, the Gorki operations eventually produced a range of automobiles, trucks, and military vehicles. [ citation needed ]

Era of neutrality Edit

During the first 27 months of World War II, when the U.S. was neutral (to December 1941), Ford was hesitant to participate in the Allied military effort. Ford insisted that peaceful trade was the best way to avoid war. Ford had a subsidiary in Germany. In 1936, a Ford executive visiting Germany was informed by a Nazi official that Ford's Cologne plant manager was a Jew (he had one grandparent who was Jewish), prompting discussions at Ford offices in both Germany and the U.S. Heinrich Albert, Ford's Germany-U.S. liaison, insisted that the manager be fired. The manager was replaced by Robert Schmidt, who would play an important role in Germany's war effort. [26]

Henry Ford had said war was a waste of time, and did not want to profit from it. [14] [27] He was concerned the Nazis during the 1930s might nationalize Ford factories in Germany. Ford nevertheless established a close collaboration with Germany's Nazi government before the war—so close, in fact, that Ford received, in July 1938, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle medal from the regime. [26] Ford's outspoken anti-semitism, including his newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, which published The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, also lent credence to the view that he sympathized with the Nazis. [26] [28] In the spring of 1939, the Nazi government assumed day-to-day control of many foreign-owned factories in Germany. However, Ford's Dearborn headquarters continued to maintain a 52% ownership over its German factories but with no voice or control or financial reward. Ford factories contributed significantly to the buildup of Germany's armed forces. Ford negotiated a resource-sharing agreement that allowed the German military to access scarce supplies, particularly rubber. During this same period, Ford was hesitant to participate in the Allied military effort. [26] In June 1940, after France had fallen to the Wehrmacht, Henry Ford personally vetoed a plan to build airplane engines for the Allies. [29]

Wartime Edit

The company enthusiastically supported the war effort after Pearl Harbor, making it a major component of the "Arsenal of Democracy" that President Roosevelt had promised would mobilize industrial resources to win the war. Henry, aged 76 and early senile, played a minor role even though he had 55% ownership of the company stock. His son Edsel Ford, the company president and owner of 42% of the stock, had never been a pacifist like his father and now made all the decisions. [30]

The company produced 390,000 tanks and trucks, 27,000 engines, 270,000 Jeeps, over 8000 B-24 Liberators, and hundreds of thousands of parts, gun mounts, and machine tools for the war effort. [31] It ranked third among corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. [32]

The Company's new Willow Run factory was designed for the production of B-24 bombers although the production line was initially characterized by bungling and incompetence. [33] Ford's efforts benefited the Allies as well as the Axis. After Bantam invented the Jeep, the US War Department handed production over to Ford and Willys. [ citation needed ]

The Treasury Department investigated Ford for alleged collaboration with German-run Ford plants in occupied France, but did not find conclusive evidence. After the war, Schmidt and other Nazi-era managers kept their jobs with Ford's German division. [29] In the United Kingdom, Ford built a new factory in Trafford Park, Manchester during WWII where over 34,000 Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engines were completed by a workforce trained from scratch. [ citation needed ]

In 1943, a despondent Edsel Ford died of stomach cancer. Henry decided then to resume direct control of the company, but this proved a very poor idea as he was 78 years old and suffering from heart problems and atherosclerosis. His mental state was also questionable, and there was a very real possibility that the company would collapse if he died or became incapacitated. The Roosevelt Administration had a contingency plan in place to nationalize Ford if need be so that they wouldn't lose vital military production. [ citation needed ]

At this point, Ford's wife and daughter-in-law intervened and demanded that he turn control over to his grandson [34] Henry Ford II. They threatened to sell off their stock (amounting to half the company's total shares) if he refused. Henry was infuriated, but there was nothing he could do, and so he gave in. When Henry II, who came to be called affectionately "Hank the Deuce," assumed command, the Company was losing US$9 million a month and in financial chaos. [35]

Henry Ford died of a brain hemorrhage on April 7, 1947. Mourners passed by at a rate of 5,000 each hour at the public viewing on Wednesday of that week at Greenfield Village in Dearborn. The funeral service for Henry Ford was held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Detroit on Thursday April 9, 1947. [36] At the funeral service, 20,000 people stood outside St. Paul's Cathedral in the rain with 600 inside, [36] while the funeral had attracted national attention as an estimated seven million people had mourned his death (according to A&E Biography).

Ernest R. Breech, head of Bendix Aviation, [35] was hired in 1946, and became first Executive Vice President, then Board Chairman in 1955. Henry II served as President from 1945 to 1960, and as Chairman and CEO from 1960 to 1980. In 1956, Ford became a publicly traded corporation. The Ford family maintains about 40% controlling interest in the company, through a series of Special Class B preferred stocks. Also in 1956, following its emphasis on safety improvements in new models, Motor Trend awarded the company its "Car of the Year" award. [37]

In 1946, Robert McNamara joined Ford as manager of planning and financial analysis. He advanced rapidly through a series of top-level management positions to the presidency of Ford on 9 November 1960, one day after John F. Kennedy's election. The first company head selected outside the Ford family, McNamara had gained the favor of Henry Ford II, and had aided in Ford's expansion and success in the postwar period. Less than five weeks after becoming president at Ford, he accepted Kennedy's invitation to join his cabinet, as Secretary of Defense. [ citation needed ]

Ford introduced the iconic Thunderbird in 1955 and the Edsel brand automobile line in 1958, following a US$250 million research and marketing campaign, which had failed to ask questions crucial for the marque's success. [38] The Edsel was cancelled after less than 27 months in the marketplace in November 1960. The corporation bounced back from the failure of the Edsel by introducing its compact Falcon in 1960 and the Mustang in 1964. By 1967, Ford of Europe was established. [ citation needed ]

Lee Iacocca was involved with the design of several successful Ford automobiles, most notably the Mustang. He was also the "moving force," as one court put it, behind the notorious Pinto. He promoted other ideas which did not reach the marketplace as Ford products. Eventually, he became the president of the company, but clashed with "Bunkie" Knudsen as well as Henry II and ultimately, on July 13, 1978, he was fired by Henry Ford II, despite the company's having earned a $2.2 billion profit for the year. Chrysler soon hired Iacocca, which he returned to profitability during the 1980s. [ citation needed ]

In 1942, Elsa Iwanowa, who was then 16 years old and a resident of Rostov in the Soviet Union, and many other citizens of countries that were occupied by the Wehrmacht were transported in cattle cars to the western part of Germany, where they were displayed to visiting businessmen. From there Iwanowa and others were forced to become slave laborers for Ford's German subsidiary, which had become separated from the Dearborn headquarters as a result of the U.S. declaration of war. "On March 4, 1998, fifty-three years after she was liberated from the German Ford plant, Elsa Iwanowa demanded justice, filing a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Ford Motor Company." [40] In court, Ford admitted that Iwanowa and many others like her were "forced to endure a sad and terrible experience" Ford, however, moved to have the suit dismissed on the grounds that it would be best redressed on "a nation-to-nation, government-to-government" basis. [41] In 1999, the court dismissed Iwanowa's suit. At about the same time, a number of German companies, including GM subsidiary Opel, agreed to contribute $5.1 billion to a fund to compensate the surviving slave laborers. [41] After being the subject of much adverse publicity, Ford, in March 2000, agreed to contribute $13 million to the compensation fund. [ citation needed ]

In 1979 Philip Caldwell became Chairman, succeeded in 1985 by Donald Petersen. Harold Poling served as Chairman and CEO from 1990 to 1993. Alex Trotman was Chairman and CEO from 1993 to 1998, and Jacques Nasser served at the helm from 1999 to 2001. Henry Ford's great-grandson, William Clay Ford Jr., is the company's current Chairman of the Board and was CEO until September 5, 2006, when he named Alan Mulally from Boeing as his successor. [ citation needed ]

Cash hoarding Edit

In April 2000 the Ford Motor Company announced its recapitalization plan distributing about half of its $24 billion cash hoard, and paying a $10 billion special dividend, and the issuance of additional stock to the Ford family, to provide more flexibility for the Ford family in terms of estate planning. In 2000 Ford's cash hoard was the largest of any company in the world. [42]

As of 2006, the Ford family owned about 5% of Company shares outstanding. [43]


Hitler’s American Friends: Henry Ford and Nazism

Over the past century, Ford has become one of the most iconic American brands, from its line of pickup trucks to the Mustang. The company’s first car, the Model T, broke ground and helped create the modern automotive industry. Yet what few people know today is that the company’s founder, Henry Ford, not only held deeply prejudiced personal views but also became one of Hitler’s key American friends in the years before the war. To its credit, the Ford Motor Company has made some efforts to come to terms with this troubling history, but there is still more work to be done. As we’ll see, Ford’s views were more than just a private matter—they translated into real-world action that had a major effect on Germany’s military preparedness before World War II. Certainly, Ford was far from the only American businessman who was enticed by Nazi Germany. His rival—General Motors—had a German division of its own and manufactured aircraft parts for the Luftwaffe.

As I discuss in my book Hitler’s American Friends, some of its executives held views that went beyond pure business interests and bordered on Nazi sympathies. Yet Ford’s story is unique not just because he did extensive business in the Third Reich, but because of the influence he held over Hitler’s other American friends in the United States. This industrial leader was far more than just a mere businessman—he was also an American icon who, like his friend Charles Lindbergh who we’ll discuss in the final part of this miniseries, would become practically obsessed with Hitler and Nazism.

Ford was born on a farm in 1863. After pursuing a career in engineering, he founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and introduced the revolutionary Model T five years later. Ford’s manufacturing genius was beyond question — by introducing innovations such as the assembly line and standardized parts, he was able to vastly speed up production of his vehicles and drive down prices. Ford scandalized business opinion by voluntarily paying his workers a whopping $5 per day in 1914, which was more than double their previous wages. At the same time, Ford used his own workers as a market for his vehicles and encouraged them to buy Model Ts for themselves. It worked, and just 10 years after the Model T was released, it accounted for half the cars in the United States. It goes without saying that Ford became a very, very wealthy man, arguably the most famous industrialist in the country.

The Führer once indicated his desire to help ‘Heinrich Ford’ become ‘the leader of the growing Fascist movement in America.’

Despite his industrial genius, though, Ford had a less attractive streak as well. He opposed U.S. entry in World War I, and later adopted the view that the war had been caused by an international plot by Jewish bankers. Conspiracy theories have always been a key component of anti-Semitism, and once one begins to believe one theory, they tend to believe more and more. Anti-Semitic slurs became common in Ford’s conversations, and in the early 1920s he owned a newspaper called the Dearborn Independent that he changed into a viciously anti-Semitic mouthpiece. He began personally distributing huge numbers of the infamous anti-Semitic tract The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. A few years later he was eventually forced to apologize to the country’s Jewish community after losing a libel suit, but it seems that his own views were unchanged. By the mid 1930s Ford was blaming “financiers and money lenders” for both the New Deal and the prospect of another world war. One of his many admirers was Hitler himself, and according to one account the Führer once indicated his desire to help “Heinrich Ford” become “the leader of the growing Fascist movement in America.”

As I mentioned, Ford’s views were not just a private matter—they influenced company policy too. Back in the 1920s, Ford and GE had been competing to buy the German carmaker Opel, which both saw as a great way to enter the German market. GE won the bid and bought Opel, and in return Ford opened an auto plant in the German city of Cologne. This proved to be a lucrative move, and by the start of the war Ford’s interests in Germany were estimated to be worth around $8.5 million.

Continue reading Hitler’s American Friends: Henry Ford and Nazism on the Unknown History channel at Quick and Dirty Tips. Or listen to the full episode below.


On This Day: Irish American Henry Ford, maker of the Model T, passed away

Henry Ford, the maker of the Model T and the man behind the development of the assembly line technique of mass production, had strong Irish links. So much so that in 2015, his ancestral home in Ballinascarthy in West Cork opened to the public following a three-year €20,000 ($22,000) renovation project.

Read more

Henry Ford’s grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather were born in the traditional stone-built single-story cottage, which is believed to date from the 1700s.

The four-room dwelling was dilapidated and roofless with walls severely damaged by heavy rain until Ford descendant and farmer Vivian Buttimer and his family set about renovating it a few years ago. Buttimer farms 200 acres at what is now officially known as the “Ford Farm” at Ballinascarthy.

“Henry Ford’s grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather were all born on this farm,” he said at the time.

Read more

The connection goes back to the early 1700s when Thomas Ford and his brothers arrived as tenant farmers in West Cork from Somerset in England. They started with a 44-acre farm which extended over the centuries to 200 acres.

Henry Ford’s father was not born at the farm but at Madame, a village near Ballinascarthy.

During the Famine in 1847, John and his wife Tomasine and their 21-year-old son William emigrated to the U.S. Tomasine died on the voyage. William was Henry’s father.

Read more

Henry Ford was proud of his Irish roots, and he invested heavily in Ireland during the first half of the last century.

Almost 100 years ago he opened an assembly plant in Co Cork, which in peak times employed 7,000 workers, making Ford by far the largest employer in Ireland.

The plant was open for some 70 years until the 1980s when its production was moved to another Ford facility in England.

Love Irish history? Share your favorite stories with other history buffs in the IrishCentral History Facebook group.

Sign up to IrishCentral's newsletter to stay up-to-date with everything Irish!


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Fast Moving: Henry Ford’s Contributions to America

Henry Ford was perhaps one of the most important entrepreneurs in the world, because it was his vision that allowed for the mass production of cars. Known by many as the creator of the assembly line, the reality is a little bit more complicated than that. Henry did not invent the assembly line nor did he invent the automobile, but he invented a perfect system of management that allowed for both of those items to be combined into one perfect result: the creation of the Model T.

Henry’s life began on a farm in Michigan in 1863. He didn’t particularly care for life on the farm and when his mother died when he was 13, there was an expectation that he would take over the work. His interest in farming was nonexistent, but rather the boy was drawn to mechanical work. He had the reputation of a watch repairman in his neighborhood and was constantly obsessed with mechanics and machines. He eventually made his way to Detroit where he would apprentice as a machinist for some time, learning all about the mechanical engineering trade.

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It was in Detroit that Ford was able to find his true passion: his eyes came across a gasoline engine and it captured is imagination. He began working at the Edison Illumination Company and worked enough to the point where he had enough of a disposable income to invest it in his own projects. He began furiously working at developing a new kind of vehicle that he named the Ford Quadricycle. The Quadricycle was an automobile that seemed interesting enough to attract investors. Thomas Edison himself looked at the model and was impressed, but since the Quadricycle didn’t really have a lot of controls, being able to only go forward and steer left to right, Edison suggested that Ford begin to improve the model.

And that’s exactly what Ford did. The man spent a great deal of time working on improving it over and over, working to find perfection with his vehicle. The horseless carriage scene was relatively new but it did exist. The problem was that automobiles were extremely costly and only the richest of the rich could afford to own such contraptions. Ford decided that he would take his design to the market and give it a shot by starting his own company known as the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a particularly effective company due to the fact that production was slow, the product wasn’t great and most people weren’t interested in paying for the Quadricycle. He wasn’t able to create enough Quadricycles in order to sustain his own company, forcing him to close the doors to the Detroit Automobile Company.

At the time, automobile racing was beginning to come into existence and Ford saw that as an opportunity to promote his designs, so he worked hard on refining the Quadricycle into something that could be functionally capable of winning races. This would go on to get him the attention that he desired, pulling in enough investors to help found his second company, Henry Ford Company. The only problem was that the investors and owners of the company weren’t particularly people who enjoyed Ford’s constant desire to renovate and innovate, as he kept changing the designs over and over again in a bid to improve the vehicle. There was some contention and Ford ended up leaving his own company to start something else. The company would go on to be renamed to Cadillac Automobile Company.

Ford’s focus on racing helped push innovation and captured the interest of those who were looking for a good business opportunity or were at least interested in cars in general. In 1903, Henry Ford made the choice to once again start his own automobile company this time naming it Ford Motor Company and bringing on a large host of investors and business partners. With the money and the talent assembled, he put together the Model A car. The Model A began to sell relatively well and he was able to sell over 500 of these automobiles.

The only problem with the Model A was that it was an expensive piece of machinery. Henry Ford didn’t simply want to get rich, he wasn’t there to build cars, but rather he wanted to make the automobile a household item. His dream was to make vehicles so cheap that everyone could own them, that they could simply replace the horse as a mode of transportation forever. His dream led to the creation of the Model T, an automobile designed to be affordable and accessible to just about anyone. From its introduction in 1908, the Model T became a very popular vehicle, so much so that Henry had to halt sales due to the fact that he couldn’t fulfill any more orders due to the demand.

While that might seem like a good problem to have, this was actually a nightmare for Henry. If a company couldn’t fulfill orders, they couldn’t make money and if they couldn’t make money, they’d be forced to close down. Henry scrambled for solutions and came up with a plan: he’d break everything down into an assembly line and have workers focus on just one thing at a time, then pass it along to the next worker. The assembly line existed for some time before Ford came along, but he was the first to use it in an industrialized method. He is essentially the author and creator of mass industrialization. Over time, the Model T’s production time was drastically cut and within a year, it took only an hour and a half to make a Model T. This meant that not only could they keep the product up with demands, but he was also able to cut down costs. The Model T would not only be quickly made, but it was also cheap enough for people to want to use.

Needless to say, this changed how America did just about everything. The introduction of individual transportation of this degree created an entirely new culture. Motor clubs and roads began to be developed and people were now able to go farther out than ever before without all of the strain of regular travel.

The only problem with Ford’s system of production was that it burned out people at a very fast rate. Turnover was incredibly high due to the stress and strain of the workers being required to build dozens of cars per day and without a competent workforce, Ford would be in trouble. So, in another trailblazing move, Henry Ford created the concept of a high work wage for the worker. He paid his factory workers an average of $5 a day, which was double the regular wage of a factory worker. This raise of price was a major boost to the company as many people began travelling straight to work for Ford, despite the hard hours and long working conditions. He also created the concept of the 5-day workweek, making the executive decision to limit the amount a time a worker could have, so that they were able to be more effective during the rest of the week.

With these contributions, Henry Ford can easily be seen as the pioneer of efficiency and our current work culture, as the invention of the 40-hour work week and high wages for workers as an incentive has been pulled into American culture as a whole. Ford’s outlook on the worker was a very humanitarian ideal and he greatly desired to make his company one where the workers were free to innovate and were rewarded for their work.

However, just because Ford’s life was one that was focused on creating a major good for the benefit of all Americans doesn’t mean that he was free from controversy or immorality. Perhaps one of the hardest pills to swallow about such an intelligent innovator was the fact that he was a notorious Anti-Semite. He sponsored a publication known as the Dearborn Independent, a periodical that went on to accuse the Jews of starting the first world war in order to make money and increase their financial status in the world. Ford believed greatly in the Jewish conspiracy, the idea that the Jews were secretly in charge of running the world and were working hard to gain control over everyone. He looked at his work in the Dearborn Independent as both the sponsor and a contributor to the articles as important enough to warrant his attention. This did not rest well in the Jewish community.


The Story of Henry Ford's $5 a Day Wages: It's Not What You Think

There's an argument you see around sometimes about Henry Ford's decision to pay his workers those famed $5 a day wages. It was that he realised that he should pay his workers sufficiently large sums to that they could afford the products they were making. In this manner he could expand the market for his products.

It should be obvious that this story doesn't work: Boeing would most certainly be in trouble if they had to pay their workers sufficient to afford a new jetliner. It's also obviously true that you want every other employer to be paying their workers sufficient that they can afford your products: but that's very much not the same as claiming that Ford should pay his workers so that they can afford Fords.

So, if creating that blue collar middle class that could afford the cars wasn't why Ford brought in his $5 a day wages, what was the reason?

Actually, it was the turnover of his staff.

At the time, workers could count on about $2.25 per day, for which they worked nine-hour shifts. It was pretty good money in those days, but the toll was too much for many to bear. Ford's turnover rate was very high. In 1913, Ford hired more than 52,000 men to keep a workforce of only 14,000. New workers required a costly break-in period, making matters worse for the company. Also, some men simply walked away from the line to quit and look for a job elsewhere. Then the line stopped and production of cars halted. The increased cost and delayed production kept Ford from selling his cars at the low price he wanted. Drastic measures were necessary if he was to keep up this production.

That level of turnover is hugely expensive: not just the downtime of the production line but obviously also the training costs: even the search costs to find them. It can indeed be cheaper to pay workers more but to reduce the turnover of them and those associated training costs. Which is exactly what Ford did. As Paul Krugman points out, the effects are obvious:

But in any case there is a fundamental flaw in the argument: Surely the benefits of low turnover and high morale in your work force come not from paying a high wage, but from paying a high wage "compared with other companies" -- and that is precisely what mandating an increase in the minimum wage for all companies cannot accomplish.

While that's talking about the living wage argument it applies here as well. The point is not so as to be paying a "decent wage" or anything of that sort: it is to be paying a higher wage than other employers. That gets your workforce thinking they've got a good deal (for the clear reason that they have got a good deal) and if the workers think they've got a good deal then they're more likely to turn up on time, sober, and work diligently. They're more likely to turn up at all which was one of the problems Ford was trying to solve.

It's also not true that the offer was of $5 a day in wages. It was all rather more complicated than that:

The $5-a-day rate was about half pay and half bonus. The bonus came with character requirements and was enforced by the Socialization Organization. This was a committee that would visit the employees' homes to ensure that they were doing things the "American way." They were supposed to avoid social ills such as gambling and drinking. They were to learn English, and many (primarily the recent immigrants) had to attend classes to become "Americanized." Women were not eligible for the bonus unless they were single and supporting the family. Also, men were not eligible if their wives worked outside the home.

Outside of the military it's difficult to think of an American workforce that would be willing to accept such paternalism even if wages were doubled today.

So it wasn't $5 a day and it was done actually to reduce total labour costs by reducing labour turnover. And as a final nail in the coffin of the argument that it was done so that the workers could afford the cars, there's this.

Car production in the year before the pay rise was 170,000, in the year of it 202,000. As we can see above the total labour establishment was only 14,000 anyway. Even if all of his workers bought a car every year it wasn't going to make any but a marginal difference to the sales of the firm.

We can go further too. As we've seen the rise in the daily wage was from $2.25 to $5 (including the bonuses etc). Say 240 working days in the year and 14,000 workers and we get a rise in the pay bill of $9 1/4 million over the year. A Model T cost between $550 and $450 (depends on which year we're talking about). 14,000 cars sold at that price gives us $7 3/4 million to $6 1/4 million in income to the company.

It should be obvious that paying the workforce an extra $9 million so that they can then buy $7 million's worth of company production just isn't a way to increase your profits. It's a great way to increase your losses though.

The reason for the pay rise was not as some of our contemporaries seem to think it was. It was nothing at all to do with creating a workforce that could afford to buy the products. It was to cut the turnover and training time of the labour force: for, yes, in certain circumstances, raising wages can reduce total labour costs.


Henry Ford

". Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was a prominent American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As owner of the Ford Motor Company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with "Fordism", that is, mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put a dealership in every city in North America, and in major cities on six continents. Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation but arranged for his family to control the company permanently. ". Ford was also a notorious racist, anti-Semite, Luciferian, and One World Order-ist.

Freemason: Palestine Lodge No 357, Detroit

Family:

". Ford was born July 30, 1863, on a farm in Greenfield Township (near Detroit, Michigan). His father, William Ford (1826�), was born in County Cork, Ireland, of a family originally from western England, who were among migrants to Ireland as the English created plantations. His mother, Mary Litogot Ford (1839�), was born in Michigan she was the youngest child of Belgian immigrants her parents died when Mary was a child and she was adopted by neighbors, the O'Herns.

Henry Ford's siblings include:

  1. Margaret Ford (1867�)
  2. Jane Ford (c. 1868�)
  3. William Ford (1871�)
  4. Robert Ford (1873�).

Marriage:

Ford married Clara Ala Bryant (c. 1865�) in the year 1888 and supported himself by farming and running a sawmill.

Children:

". The Model T was introduced on October 1, 1908. It had the steering wheel on the left, which every other company soon copied. "

". Always on the hunt for more efficiency and lower costs, in 1913 Ford introduced the moving assembly belts into his plants, which enabled an enormous increase in production. Although Ford is often credited with the idea, contemporary sources indicate that the concept and its development came from employees. "

". Ford was adamantly against labor unions. To forestall union activity, Ford promoted Harry Bennett, a former Navy boxer, to head the Service Department. Bennett employed various intimidation tactics to squash union organizing.[34] The most famous incident, in 1937, was a bloody brawl between company security men and organizers that became known as The Battle of the Overpass. "

". Ford, like other automobile companies, entered the aviation business during World War I, building Liberty engines. "

For one discussion of Ford and accusations of anti-semitism see The Dearborn Independent

". When Edsel, president of Ford Motor Company, died of cancer in May 1943, the elderly and ailing Henry Ford decided to assume the presidency. "

". In ill health, Ford ceded the presidency to his grandson Henry Ford II in September 1945 and went into retirement. He died in 1947 of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 83 in Fair Lane, his Dearborn estate. A public viewing was held at Greenfield Village where up to 5,000 people per hour filed past the casket. Funeral services were held in Detroit's Cathedral Church of St. Paul and he was buried in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit. "


Legacy and Controversy

Ford's affordable Model T irrevocably altered American society. As more Americans owned cars, urbanization patterns changed. The United States saw the growth of suburbia, the creation of a national highway system, and a population entranced with the possibility of going anywhere anytime. Ford witnessed many of these changes during his lifetime, all the while personally longing for the agrarian lifestyle of his youth.

Unfortunately, Ford was also criticized as an anti-Semite. In 1918, Ford purchased a then-obscure weekly newspaper called The Dearborn Independent, in which he regularly expressed his strongly anti-Semitic views. Ford required all of his auto dealerships nationwide to carry the Independent and distribute it to its customers. Ford's anti-Semitic articles were also published in Germany, prompting Nazi Party leader Heinrich Himmler to describe him as “one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters.”

In Ford’s defense, however, his Ford Motor Company was one of the few major corporations known for actively hiring Black workers during the early 1900s, and was never accused of discriminating against Jewish workers. In addition, Ford was among the first companies of the day to regularly hire women and handicapped persons.


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