Photo by Fred Hartsook, c. 1919
|Born||July 30, 1863|
Springwells Township, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||April 7, 1947 (aged 83)|
Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.
|Resting place||St. Martha's Episcopal Church Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|Occupation||Engineer, industrialist, philanthropist|
|Known for||Founding and leading the Ford Motor Company; Pioneering a system that launched the mass production and sale of affordable automotives to the public|
|Title||President of Ford Motor Company|
|Spouse||∞ 11 April 1888 Clara Jane Bryant|
Henry Ford (30 July 1863 – 7 April 1947) was American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, who revolutionized factory production with his assembly-line methods.
Ford was born on a farm near Dearborn, Michigan and later there established an estate, his largest factory, the world headquarters of the Ford Motor Company, and various other facilities.
He converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into a practical conveyance that would profoundly impact the landscape of the 20th century. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and industry. He is also credited with "Fordism" 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 dealerships throughout most of North America and in major cities on six continents.
Ford was also widely known for his pacifism during the first years of World War I.
Ford had a reputation as one of the few major corporations actively hiring Black workers, and was not accused of discrimination against Jewish workers or suppliers. He also hired women and handicapped men at a time when doing so was uncommon. Ford also promoted the melting pot idea among his immigrant work force.
However, Ford also acquired the already existing newspaper the Dearborn Independent, which sometimes printed anti-Semitic articles, including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Every Ford franchise nationwide had to carry the paper and distribute it to its customers. Some of the articles were reprinted into four volumes called The International Jew.
Regarding The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in 1921, the New York World published an interview with Ford in which he said: "The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on."
A Jewish lawyer sued Ford for libel, claiming the newspaper hurt his reputation. Ford's defense was that he had not written articles signed by him and even claimed that he did not read the newspaper. During the trial, the editor of Ford's "Own Page", William Cameron (a British Israelite), testified that Ford had nothing to do with the editorials even though they were under his byline. Cameron testified that he never discussed the content of the pages with Ford, or sent them to Ford for his approval. Friends and business associates said they warned Ford about the contents and that Ford probably never read the articles (he claimed he only read the headlines). The trial prompted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to begin a campaign against Ford. An ADL-led coalition of Jewish groups led the charge, and raised objections to Ford's writings in the Detroit press. The ADL also organized a boycott of Ford products. Ford reached a secret settlement, publicly apologized for any harm he might have caused, and stopped publishing the paper. News reports at the time quoted him as saying he was shocked by the paper's content and unaware of its nature. Ford also wrote a public apology letter to the ADL president Sigmund Livingstone.
That the material claimed to be written by Ford actually criticized all Jews, rather than only some influential Jews ("International Jewry"), argued to have been involved in the start of WWI, may be unclear. Some have viewed Ford's personal secretary Ernest Liebold and/or the British Israelite editor William Cameron as the origin of the published views. Another view is that
- "Ford’s own attitudes towards Jews were the major reason for the publication of “The International Jew.” His anti-Semitic beliefs formed along several strands from his upbringing, attitudes, and personal beliefs. They were also influenced by current populist political sensibilities that advocated a distrust of financiers, bankers and institutions of economic power. A common stereotype at the time led some people to assume that Jews controlled the international banking system; that belief may have fed his anti-Jewish feelings. Ford’s pacifism probably formed a second strand. His crusade against World War I convinced him that international Jewish bankers were fomenting the war. Here again, the stereotype noted above may have convinced him that international Jewish bankers supported the war for personal gain. Lastly, Ford’s growing cultural conservatism, anti-urbanism, and nostalgia for the rural past formed an important third strand. Ford saw Jews present in everything that he viewed as modern and distasteful—contemporary music, movies, theater, new dress styles, and loosening social mores."
Order of the German Eagle
On 30 July 1938, on his seventy-fifth birthday, Ford accepted the Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle (Verdienstorden vom Deutschen Adler), the highest medal that National Socialist Germany could bestow on a foreigner. The following ceremony and birthday dinner was held in the evening in Dearborn, Michigan. German Consul General in Cleveland (1936-1941) Karl Kapp (1889–1947) delivered the laudatory speech in front of 1,500 prominent guests of honor, written on a roll of parchment and signed by Adolf Hitler, an enthusiastic admirer of the entrepreneur. Hitler's personal congratulations were simultaneously extended to the magnat. Ford was the first American to receive National Socialist Germany's highest decoration for foreigners. It was only one of many awards from other countries that Ford accepted, but it became later widely used to criticize Ford. Henry Ford's German American private secretary, Ernest Gustav Liebold (1884–1956), who had purchased on Ford's behalf The Dearborn Independent in 1918, was awarded Order of the German Eagle 1st Class in September 1938.
- Defaming America’s past: Henry Ford and the Eugenics Movement
- Henry Ford: Would-Be Champion of the “Good Jews”
- Part II: Henry Ford and the Jewish Question
- The International Jew
- The International Jew
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Henry Ford
- Britannica 1911 Edition: Henry Ford
- Encyclopedia.com: Henry Ford also here 
- Henry Ford and Anti-Semitism: A Complex Story https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-resources/popular-topics/henry-ford-and-anti-semitism-a-complex-story
- Liebold's parents were German Lutheran immigrants. He grew up in Detroit's German community, attended Detroit's Eastern High School and graduated from Gutchess Metropolitan Business College. He subsequently worked at a number of temporary positions as a stenographer and bookkeeper before being employed by the Peninsula Savings Bank in Highland Park, Michigan. There Liebold rapidly established himself, progressing from messenger to bank officer. His strong financial acumen drew the interest of James Couzens, vice president and general manager of the Ford Motor Company, who asked him to organize the newly established Highland Park State Bank; Liebold started working there as the cashier in 1909, and was later made president of the bank. He married Clara Alicia Reich on 17 March 1910. In 1910, after resigning from the Highland Park State Bank, Liebold was hired by Henry Ford as his personal secretary and continued working for Ford until finally retiring in 1944. In January 1953, he was interviewed by Owen W. Bombard about his life and career; the interview, part of the Ford Motor Company oral history program, was transcribed and gathered in ten volumes. Liebold died in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan on 4 March 1956, at the age of seventy-one.