Is it true, all that Edsel Ford was put through by his Father? I've heard that Edsel was a gentleman. A devoted, repectful son, a passionate car designer, a gifted engineer and a genius in his own right, but that, in an effort to toughen him up, he was constantly bullied and ridiculed by his Father and Henry's Security Chief goon, Harry Bennett, for being soft, which sent Edsel to an early grave in 1943 with stomach cancer and a bleeding ulcer, no doubt, caused by stress. I've even heard that Edsel's son, Henry Ford II, who was fighting in Europe, during the war and was called back to lead the Ford Motor Company, was heard to say of his Grandfather, Henry Ford, "That old man killed my Father".
If true, it is interesting to speculate what direction the Ford Motor Comapany would have taken and what it might look like today, had his jealous, controlling father allowed the gentle, Edsel to spread his wings and realize his full potential when he came of age in the teens, twenties and thirties. Jim Patrick
I would say 95% of it is true, everything from Henry Ford firing Edsel's staff (ernest Kanzler comes to mind), to more public acts of humiliation.
At the old Highland Park plant, Edsel had began construction on a new office building since the existing one was proving too small. Henry Ford seeing the big pile of dirt that was excavated for the foundation asked Edsel what that was all about. Edsel making a tactical error said, "we need room for more accountants", which Henry hated accountants. During the night, Henry had the entire 3rd floor of the Administration building cleaned out- desks & all. The next morning he told Edsel, "If you need more room for accountants there's plenty on the 3rd floor now." He would not permit the hole to be filled in, so this huge pile of dirt sat there as an eyesore for a good while.
There's other incidents, but this one sticks out in my mind.
Read Ford, The man and the machine. It will tell you all about the craziness that Henry had toward his son.
The story of Henry's treatment of Edsel was probably correct, however, Edsel knowing how his father was, should have cleared with him before making changes, or found employment elsewhere. He must have been a strong man with a great love for his father to continue to work for Henry under those conditions.
His stomach ulcers and cancer, however were not the fault of his father's treatment nor of stress. We know today that ulcers and stomach cancer are caused by e-pylori bacteria, and can now be treated with anti-biotics.
It's not right to blame all of Edsel's problems on his father.
Yes, but please do NOT view the video "Ford: The Man and the Machine" which came out in the 1980's. This is a terrible "docu-drama" and is so full of errors. The producers of this video essentially re-wrote Ford history to suit their movie. Being a video, these errors as images stick in your mind and are hard to get rid of.
I've read many biographies of the Fords, and off the top of my head can recommend:
Henry Ford -- The People's Tycoon, by Steven Watts
Edsel Ford -- The Story of Henry Ford's Forgotten Son, by Henry Dominguez
Between these two you will get as close to the real story as historians can tell at this point. And to get a fuller understanding, you really need to read several biographies as no one author can cover it all, nor can you remember it all from just one reading.
Henry and Edsel really were fascinating men, and are responsible for the world we living in today.
For instance, consider this little tidbit:
When Henry was fighting the Selden patent case in the early teens, he lost the first court ruling. Generall Motors head Billy Durant approached Ford to buy the Ford Motor Company and have it become part of GM. Ford, distraught over loosing the court case of the Selden patent, told Durant "Yes, I'll sell you the company, for $8 Million, cash."
Durant spent the next frantic days trying to raise that much cash but could not, so the deal never went through.
Henry recovered his resolve and appealed Selden the ruling to a higher court, and this time won. That, and the following $5 per day event were instrumental in making Henry into folk hero status. In both cases he was seen as fighting the big Wall Street financiers and sticking up for the little guy. Which, at least in this time period, is largely true.
But think for a minute how the world would have been different if GM had acquired Ford around 1912 or so. The Model T would certainly not have persisted in its familiar form until 1927, and Henry might have went on to do other things. And what of Edsel?
For all Henry's faults later in life, he really was a pretty great guy in the early days of the Model T --- probably up to the Peace Ship debacle and the Chicago Tribune libel trial, both of which really seemed to take the wind out of his sails and allow the darker side of his personality to exert itself. Having studied him as much as I did, I can understand why these events effected him as they did. The world can be cruel.
>>It's not right to blame all of Edsel's problems on his father.
I agree with that. Henry had character faults as evidenced by how he treated his son, but Edsel's faults were putting up with it in a completely submissive way.
Edsel really should have asserted himself --- had more backbone --- and at some point in the 1920's, confronted his father: "You made me president of Ford Motor Company, and as president I call the shots. And if you don't like it, I'm selling all my shares and quitting".
And you know, this is probably exactly what Henry wanted to hear from Edsel. Had this played out, the Ford Motor Company would certainly have been very different.
The Ford Trilogy by Nevins & Hill is a most excellent source of information.
Public Image of Henry Ford by David Lewis is another excellent read.
I have the books Scott mentioned above and they are quite good as well. I collect Ford books and almost thought of starting a site as a "Ford Book Critic"...LOL
You make a valid point about Henry wanting Edsel to assert himself. Like Harry Bennett said in his book "We Never Called Him Henry", Henry Ford asked Bennett if he was too harsh on Edsel, Bennett said "Harsh no, but unfair yes, if it had been me I would've gotten mad" Ford said, "That's exactly what I wanted him to do- get mad"
Henry Ford knew how to play the mind game, and he played the game VERY well.
Luke --- Sorry but I've got to ask. . .
Your last name of Dahlinger. Any relation to Ray and Evangeline as pertaining to Henry Ford?
None at all, at least from what I can find out.
Wish I was tho, I think that'd be pretty neat. One of my great grandmother's maiden name was Ford- but no relation either..
I've been researching The "Ford Dahlingers" and it's fascinating that amount of property, vehicles, jewelry, etc etc that Henry Ford gave them.
The Dahlinger estate in Dearborn is still standing, even tho the extensive acreage was sold off in the 1950s & 60s leaving the main house and about 5 acres still untouched.
This link shows some photos of the main house as it looks now.
I have read about the Ford Dahlingers too Luke.
But I would love to find out more.
Is there somewhere on the net I can look?
Apart from the house.
Manuel in Oz
David Halberstam's "The Reckoning" includes a fascinating account of Ford, including Edsel's troubled relationship with the old man. It goes on to recount how the Detroit companies told Mr. Deming to take a hike and he went to Japan and introduced the ideas that made the Japanese auto industry successful. It's a page turner.
Mr Demings contribution to manufacturing, was Total Quality Management, (TQM). Basicly (sp?) giving quality control, and manufacturing processes, back to the "hands on" people. It was tried at Northrop ASD in the early '80s. In my opinion, it was a dismal failure there. Engineers, who had, absolutly NO experience, in manufacturing, were insistant, that the computers told them they needed, fill in the blank, in that location. They werent very happy, when they were told, to get the computers out on the floor, to build the airvehicle.
The Japanese, who dont look into the near future, but instead that far future, took Mr Demings recomendations to heart. In fact, he is a hero in Japan.
As Steve Jelf has stated, HE made the Japanese auto industry successful.
Mr Patrick, I found It ironic that you would bring up such a topic after voicing your opinion after I commented that I thought a person who posted on the forum was responded to in a rather short manner. This was your opinion on Friday march 26 2010. This could have been the way Henry felt.
"Earlier this month there was a similar thread from a member complaining about the less than delicate way his question was answered. One of the posts was as follows:
"At some point, everyone on this forum is the gruff, Professor Kingsfield in the movie, "Paper Chase" and at some point, everyone is a student. Kingsfield's way is the one and only correct way to do it, or you will fail miserably in your endeavor. Now, it is your task, as the student, to determine which one of the dozen or so, Professor Kingsfield's ways is the most correct way and that is arrived at through a consensus of Professors."
I have noticed that the more experience one has had on Model T's, the more confident he is in his way of doing it. That confidence is not always conveyed in the most diplomatic way, but those of us that recognize the voice of experience and respect the individual for the years of experience and the mistakes he has learned from along the way, understand this and appreciate the time he is taking so that we don't have to repeat his mistakes. Jim Patrick"
What sort of Dahlinger info are you looking for?
I have some stuff in my files but it's not on the internet anywhere, I did some research the last time I was in the Dearborn area. The Dahlinger 'legacy' is still widely known amongst the old timers up there.
Hi John. I agree with you and just like there is never any excuse for brusqueness or rudeness on the Forum when someone is seeking answers to their questions, there certainly is no excuse for a Father to treat his son like Henry Ford treated Edsel; especially when it resulted in such tragic consequences for Edsel, his family and The Ford Motor Company, in the premature loss of such a good and talented man. Jim Patrick
PS. Since I am not a Doctor or Pathologist, I can't say for certain whether or not Edsel's death was caused by the abuse he suffered at the hands of his Father and Harry Bennett, but it has been shown that the onset of cancer, which can lie dormant in all of us, can be triggered by any number of circumstances, from a bad fall, to emotional turmoil and a bleeding ulcer can be the result of excess heartburn brought on by worry and stress, which can develope into stomach cancer. Whatever the cause, I believe that Henry II did, blame his Grandfather for the death of his Father, which is not a good thing for a Grandson to feel about his grandfather and the Ford Motor Company did suffer because Henry Ford did not allow Edsel to assume leadership, choosing instead, to stay at the helm for way too long.
As an aside to this, I had often wondered about Harry Bennett as he was often portrayed as the bad guy. Sure he had to do a lot of Henry's dirty work, and maybe some of it was needed to keep things going, but after leaving Detroit in '45 he had never spoken out and given his side (apart from a botched so called 'autobiography' in '51 which he later disowned) until he agreed to an interview with David L Lewis which was published in Car Classics in 1975. Although quite brief it is worth seeking out for any Ford historians and he gets to tell his side, including the claim that he was not fired by Henry II but had previously stated he would retire at the same time as the old man.
An interesting character who played a big part in the T story, his true story deserves to be told.
I have part one of that interview in"Car Classics" but have been seeking part 2 for a good while now.
I remember reading somewhere that a fellow was working on a Harry Bennett biography, but I haven't seen anything materialize lately. If I had the time & money I'd take on a Bennett biography, as like you stated his story needs to be told.
You have to admit "We never called him Henry" does have it's funny parts in the book, like shooting a cigar out of someone's mouth, etc.
My 2 cents: I've read most of the books mentioned and saw that video (if that's the one with Cliff Robertson playing Ford) and have come to the conclusion that Ford screwed or chased away EVERYONE he ever dealt with. Possible exceptions: Edison, Firestone and Burroughs. He was stubborn,tough and opinionated. Of course these are the very things that got him where he went in the business world. Maybe untold situations in his youth affected his actions but since most of his early years come from his own mouth we'll never know. I'll tell you this though: I'd never work for him.
It almost makes you wonder if Henry was Bi-polar. It's reported that Henry Ford II was bipolar and bi-polarism is hereditary.
Charlie makes a good point about running everyone off over the years, if you think about it it's amazing that Charlie Sorensen stuck around as long as he did. Same goes for Ernest Liebold, Ford's #1 right hand secretary in the 20s & 30s.
Henry Ford was a very unpredictable man. Full of oxymorons and reverse logic! For instance-
Henry hated alcoholics, but yet Bill Cameron's career at Ford lasted until after Ford's death in 1947. It's widely known Harry Bennett's men would go to Cameron's house in the nearby River Oaks neighborhood (this house is still standing), get him sobered up enough to do the weekly radio broadcast. Ford knew of all this but turned a blind eye.
During the Anarchist trial in 1919, he said history was bunk, but yet ended up building the largest living history museum at that time.
He thought sugar acted like knives on human tissue once he saw the jagged edges of sugar crystals under a microscope. When an assistant put water on them, they dissolved.
He was a known believer in reincarnation, always talking about the "Queen cell" that went from body to body.
Henry may have been bi-polar, but how many men do you know of who start their own business with absolutely no monetary investment of their own, NOT including patents/drawings/tools, and own that company outright within a few years?
When a man from humble beginnings does great and historical things, rises to astronomical heights, becomes the unquestioned head of a great empire of his own creation, answers to no one and is idolized by millions of people worldwide, it stands to reason that he begins to believe in his own infallability in that, anything he says is gospel and everything he does is right. Who could ever hope to inherit command from such a man and expect him to disappear gently into the night. Jim Patrick
Exactly. I'm fairly certain that anyone who was in charge of the company, Henry was calling the shots behind their back.
It is marvellous to see such refreshing and measured ideeas being floated on the relatiionship between Henry and his son. Questions such as these are one of the very great reasons I find this forum so rewarding, as we all discuss and so willingly share knowledge.
I wonder what Clara said to her husband about all this, behind the closed doors. We will never know. But we do know she was a loving and fair-minded human being - and Henry did listen to her, and had huge respect for her. Clara loved her only son, and he her.
It is a dreadful pity that, often enough to warrant this comment, the ones nearest and dearest to us we humans sometinmes treat with the greatest disdain. We are not all guilty of this, but it is a common phenomena. Sadly.
We must also be so careful not to judge historical events on today's standards. Personally, while we can see with the benefit of hindsight that it may have been naive, Henry's 'Peace Ship' expedition was undertaken for the best of reasons. So too his initiative to provide families of his workers with welfare. And many of his other activities - Fordlandia, being a quick one that comes to mind - that today people are so quick to knock him for.
Similarly, parental input during the period in question - and even as recently as the last generation of 20-25 years ago - are vastly different standards of those of today. Did Henry think his treatment of Edsel was an expression of love, perhaps appropriate at that time?
As I see it, Jim Patrick has asked a fascinating question, and the informed replies such as those from Luke and Scott are thought-proking and excellent to read. Indeed, the Ford products of the era (Model T, Model A, V-8 and the English Fords) are actually a tangible reflection of the Ford corporate history - AND the Ford family history!
Remember the Johnny Cash song, "A boy named Sue?"
There might be a comparison to Henry and Edsel in that song.
I had a thought earlier while I was in the bookstore a bit ago.
It's no surprise Henry & Edsel didn't have exactly a normal father & son relationship.
One thought comes to mind, and that was when they were living in the home on Edison Ave.- Henry had built a nice home machine shop for Edsel, and Edsel one day cut the tip of his finger off with one of the machines (I can only assume it was a band saw, etc) It's reported that Henry was VERY disappointed with this event- regardless of it was an accident or not. It's said that this accident skewed Henry's vision of Edsel being a machinist/mechanical type.
On the other end of the spectrum, in their later years it was said that the private line between Henry's Fairlane Estate and Edsel's Estate over in Grosse Pointe was always busy at night, discussing the day's activities and so forth.
Another incident is when Edsel would leave the Liggett School(where he met his wife Eleanor Clay) in Detroit and arrive at the Highland Park plant, Henry would spot Edsel's book satchel and run off to find him and the two would spend a great deal of time together on various projects.
I have no doubt Henry loved his son a great deal, but in my opinion he was disappointed that his son did not turn out exactly like himself. Henry hated the lifestyle & drinking that Edsel was leading. And he was smoking also, another no no in Henry's world. To quote Henry, "He's hanging around those Grosse Pointe stiff necked SOB's"
Here again this is only my opinion, but I think Henry was trying to 'harden' him up to the rigors of the automobile industry. I think Edsel did just fine doing things his way. From everything I have read about Edsel Ford, it's said he was a true gentleman in the fullest meaning of the word.
Thanks for the kind words! I've been a long time scholar of Henry Ford & the related people with Ford Motor Company. I enjoy sharing my research with others.
This is a great thread!
Had they known how to inspire each other instead of the alienation that prevailed, there probably would have been marked changes in automotive history and it would have been to Ford's benefit.
I have owned this photo for several years and still have not been able to identify all of the participants. Many are obvious, other more obscure. Can you provide any help?
Ron the Coilman
Just in general. Can you expound somewhat on Henry Ford's prides and prejudice's regarding the US and his world view.
Here's my guess from left to right August Degener, Charles Sorensen, Pete "Ed" Martin, Ed Cutler, unknown, Frank Campsall, Frank Kulick,unknown William Cameron, Ray Dahlinger, Henry Ford, unknown (the bald guy on the far right may be the designer Billy Means- but don't hold me to that.
That's an excellent autographed photo!
Here's my take on Henry Ford's views towards the US & the world. I decided against better judgment to make this a lengthy post as I don't want everyone falling asleep at their computers. If there's enough interest I'll go into more detail.
Henry Ford hated war. The best assumption for this can be made due to the fact that he lost a couple of uncles on his Mother's side in the Civil War. His mother spoke the virtues of peace & non violence, evidently this wore off on him as he never was a violent person. (Harry Bennett did most if not all the dirty work & it's rumored that Ford did not care to know the details, altho he had an intense fascination with criminals. This is yet another Henry Ford oxymoron!)
It's apparent from the early days that he wanted to help the 'great multitude', he had no desire to cater to the rich with either his cars or circle of friends. He hitched his wagon to the common man. Henry was known to be found standing along side a fence talking to one of the local farmers around his various properties- of which there were many! One funny story involves Henry sneaking off the estate, walking down the road to a local farm of which he owned but still allowed the former owners to live there & work the land. As a Service man was driving down this road he saw a guy in overalls a straw hat & a stalk of wheat in his mouth.
The Service guy pulled over to ask him if he had seen anyone walking, noticed it was Ford- Henry takes off on foot (he was an excellent runner even in old age) and hides out in the hay loft of the barn. He enjoyed playing these cat & mouse games with the 'guards'.
The $5 dollar day was a product of both PR genius & a genuine desire to help the people who worked for them, hence they could afford to buy his cars, buy the products he sold in the commissaries at little to no profit, etc.
The Henry Ford Hospital came about as a result of a failed fund raising drive by the originators of the hospital. Unsatisfied with their progress he refunded all their money, took over the project, put Ernest Liebold in charge of the whole thing and revolutionized modern medicine. Everyone paid a flat rate regardless of income level. (this is said to have stemmed from Henry Ford getting overcharged for a hysterectomy for Clara Ford in 1905)No outside consultations were allowed, everything was done 'in-house'. Most of the doctors came from Johns Hopkins.
The Peace ship was devised because he 'wanted to get the boys out of the trenches by Christmas'. Rosika Schwimmer pitched the idea to Henry Ford and he bought. The Peace Ship was a marvelous failure- Ford caught a bad cold and spent most of the time in his cabin. When they reached Norway, Ford & Samuel Marquis, then head of the Ford Sociological Department (later made into Ford Service by Harry Bennett), along with Ray Dahlinger who had physically carried the million dollars in gold on the trip came back to Detroit on a different ship.
When the National Recovery Act came about as a byproduct of the Roosevelt Administration & the Depression, Ford wanted no part of it. He had a long time hatred towards the DuPonts (of chemical & paint fame) not to mention he was an ardent Roosevelt hater also. When "Iron Pants" Johnson came to Dearborn to discuss Ford joining the NRA, Ford climbed out a window and disappeared shortly after the meeting started.
On a related trip to Washington, Ford is said to have told the President, I'll have no part of this damn thing". So Roosevelt sent Pierre DuPont in to talk to Ford which was a severe tactical error. Dupont said, "Mr. Ford that blue eagle is my baby, I want you to go along with it". Ford replied, "That's all the more reason I won't have anything to do with it, you can go to hell."
When Britain was in WW2, Edsel Ford had 'volunteered' to have Ford Motor build some Rolls Royce Merlin engines, which were used in the British Spitfire & Dehavilland Mosquito amongst other British aircraft. Henry Ford who had by now suffered at least one stroke, was irate about the whole thing and told Roosevelt "I will build none of these motors, take the contract back, I won't build war machinery" Naturally Edsel had severe egg on face as did a few others of the top brass at Ford. Packard ended up building these motors. Naturally, he built more than 7,000 B-24s in his Willow Run plant later on.
On Henry Ford's 75th Birthday, he was awarded "The Grand Eagle of the German Cross", thought to have been arranged by Ernest Liebold who was a die hard Prussian. This award earned Ford alot of flak from people, especially the Jews who he had persecuted and been outspoken about for many years.
He used his Dearborn Independent newspaper to make his points known about the Jews, how they controlled things & stuff like that. One of the titles from a 1923 Dearborn Independent which I have in my collection is in bold print "Jewish Jazz- Moron music" and the issue goes into how Jazz is evil and not an appropriate substitute for the old time dancing that he & Clara so much enjoyed.
He was a fan of Stalin and sent vast amounts of machinery & tools over there. Charles Sorensen went over to Russia around 1930 to help set up the plants. Ford later sent his entire Tire plant over to Russia, it's said most of this equipment is still in the crates in some warehouse, never having been opened.
Ford was not a fan of charity, the only reason the Ford Foundation was setup was to avoid his estate from having to pay huge taxes upon his death.
This is probably more than you wanted to know, but it's hard to make a cliff notes version.
Thanks for a wonderful summary, Luke. In the late 1950's I read everything that I could find about H.F., and came up with similar thoughts as yourself. I rather think that later so-called historians have often viewed the man from a more modern perspective and in so doing have missed the point completely. Thanks again,
Much thanks for the information you posted concerning Mr Ford. Very interesting and informative.
Thanks, Harvey ....
Historically, Edsel can't seem to get a break...not even in death. The best example of this is when around 1957 Ford decided to honor Edsel by naming a brand new futuristic car after him. This good hearted effort had unfortunate, unforseen consequences. The public rejected and ridiculed the new Edsel and instead of honoring him, Edsel's name forever became synonymous with failure. Jim Patrick
To the short-skirted lady in the bar, "If you had headlights on your knees, you'd look just like an Edsel."
That joke may have killed more Edsel sales than all other reasons combined.
The $5 per day pay rate was Ford's way to reduce high turn over rates. It was hard to attract and keep good assembly line workers at the previous lower rate. It was a matter of necessity and expediency, not an act of altruism on Ford's part as it was often portrayed after the fact.
Royce- good point. I had forgotten all about that. Turnover was like 300% or something crazy like that as I recall.
I didn't mean to start this thread to invite criticism of Henry Ford the industrialist. While he was both a simple and complicated man, the greatness of his acheivements cannot be minimized by his shortcomings as a Father, a man and an employer. There is no doubt that he was one of the greatest and most influencial Americans in history whose vision, dreams and insight along with his ability to make them into reality did more to shape this country than any man in American history.
It is no doubt that he had a high opinion of himself and, who wouldn't, if put in his shoes. Imagine being born in 1863, into a world where the only means of transportation was the horse drawn carriage and the railroad, which had yet to reach the west coast. Then, in the twilight of your life, just 70 years later, looking around and seeing the country criss-crossed with paved highways, linking every town across the country, with automobiles in just about every household and gas stations in every town and knowing that you had a hand in making it all possible. That without you, the world would be a very different place. It's no wonder he was the way he was. Jim Patrick
I have an article titled, "Mr. Ford's Plan to Share Profits" from April, 1914, "The Worlds Work." I scanned it to 1.5 meg pdf, so too large to post here. If anybody wants a copy...
Here's another article:
I cannot help myself! I’ll contribute a little about Henry’s attitude to war. One of the paradoxes of Henry Ford’s personality was his pacifism.
Henry was a committed pacifist – hence the Peace Ship mission. You are quite right in saying that he turned down the contract to build the RR Merlin engines in the US, and I believe this was against the wishes of Edsel. These engines were badly needed in Britain, which was inadequately equipped to fight off Hitler’s forces at the outset of the war. The British fighter force (Spitfires and Hurricanes) was being built under urgency.
Ford – US turned down the contract to build those engines because the US was not involved in the conflict. Henry would not allow his company to contribute to the war effort of either side. As an aside, it is also known that Henry had certain sympathies with some of the philosophies of the Nazi Party.
In contrast, here in New Zealand and within 24 hours of the war breaking out in September, 1939, the Ford factory in Wellington was made available to the government for war production. Civilian production immediately ceased and war production took over.
The reason for this is that New Zealand had declared war on Britain (our Prime Minister stated “Where Britain goes, we go”) and the need was there for us to protect ourselves (as much as necessarily wage war). To the best of my knowledge, Henry Ford had no objection to the Ford plants in Britain and around the Commonwealth switching over to war production.
He had a similar view in the earlier World War One. His famous quote of 1917 explains his thoughts - Peace is such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it, but truth”.
As soon as the US was brought into the conflict at the end of 1941, Henry felt the US had been affronted. Civilian production at Ford stopped and war production took over and, of course, the Willow Run plant was designed and built for one reason – to build B24 (Liberator) bombers for the war effort.
Great post! You added more info than I did and that's excellent.
The more the merrier.
This is so interesting, I hate to see it come to an end. If anyone has anymore facts, on Henry Ford, the man, the industrialist the Father and the employer, I sure would enjoy reading about it. Thank you for the education. An amazing read! Jim Patrick
Jim, i think you hit the nail on the head..being a vet of wwll and korea, and a retired exec from gm for 28 years i have long held ford in highest respect....i consider him the number 2 man in the us after thomas jefferson....those are my choices based on life-long study of the founders and the spirit that created our country from coast to coast.....john also hit it when he recalled that the times are different now and the judgement of our peers at this time is quite questionable.....take mr rogers for instance, a great children's entertainer, yet when he served as a sniper in the war he killed several dozen enemy, one at a time....that was then this is now.....no milk toast could have or would have
been capable of such an enduring and world changing list of events, effecting our country and the world to such a degree....now a days people try to use his five dollar a day pay as a selfish act....these elitists should put themselves in the place of the men earning that pay, and what it did for them and their families on this short journey thru life......sorry i have to write small, but the forum members won't answer me if i write tall. which is much easier for me since i am going on 84 and have some trouble with my fingers trying to shift on this keyboard.....gotta go with the flow,ok...great thread, jim and you sound just like i pictured you afterreading this forum for eight months....
jack '25 roadster....
Dear Mr Rossi. You are the same age as my Father who was born in February, 1926 and the reason why I own two 1926 Model T's. A Coupe, made in March of '26 and a Fordor made in February.
As a member of the Greatest Generation that sacrificed so much to make this world safe from tyranny, please let this former Marine sergeant extend to you, my sincere thanks to you for your service to your country. Semper Fi. Jim Patrick
thanks jim and semper fi to you....my mom signed for me to join the corps at 17 then i went back in in '48 to 52.....the reason i still live is parris island...sempe fi
Here I go again! The FIVE DOLLAR DAY.... but probably everyone knows this:
It is said that Henry claimed this to the "the greatest cost-saving device he ever put into place". Yet, at the same time as the $5 day was introduced, the work day was also reduced to 8 hours (from 9.5 I think). The thinking was simple - but innovative at the time:
Everyone saved! The Ford Motor Company saved for two reasons: they introduced a third shift into the plant - three continuous shifts of 8 hours each meant production could now take place around the clock! And, as Luke mentions above, the huge staff turnover - which afflicted all US car plants at that time, and is a cost in itself - was arrested at the Ford plant!
The workers saved! Possibly not all readers realise that the full $5 was NOT paid instantly. It was paid out as a bonus if the worker stayed a certain period. This helped Ford to retain it's workers, but I also believe the payments were also connected to the way the worker conducted himself in society and with his family! But I'd need to refresh my memory on that one.
Of course, the shareholders thereby also saved! And, perhaps most importantly, the customers (the actual car buyers) saved, and Ford's market became even bigger!
Valid points John!
After supper & catching up on the rest of the forum, I'll add some more to this thread.
Cripes - it's just after breakfast here and I better get off to work!!! John
Thanks Luke. I know what I'll be reading tonight. Jim Patrick
Ricks-Surf City sent me some info on the $5 day and I will give my review about that in a bit.
I'm gonna use this post to discuss Edsel Ford and the various things he has done, mainly to get him some more exposure in the thread.
Even at a young age, Edsel had good manners, was well respected- except the time he told Henry Ford that his sled was junk and he didn't want to ride it. Henry obliged a couple days later and bought him a brand new sled. He was the only kid on the block with his very own Model B and later a Model N which he drove to Liggett School without a license at the age of 13.
Not only was Edsel a true gentleman, he was more philanthropic than his father. He personally paid the salaries of the Detroit Institute of Arts staff and donated many important pieces to their collection. Edsel & Eleanor Ford donated much in the way of time, money & assistance to various organizations. Eleanor Ford helped start what is known in Modern Times as the March of Dimes.
From what I have researched, Edsel was more like a best friend instead of a father figure to his kids. Perhaps this had to do with Henry being sometimes overbearing when Edsel was growing up.
He also was known to drink in moderation, but altho Edsel's drinking was in control this still got Henry worked up. Henry's father William is said to have had an alcohol issue aka Brown Bottle Fever & this is what made Henry a teetotaler. Naturally he wanted Edsel to be the same way. Harry Bennett drove Henry Ford out to Gaukler Pointe and personally went in and smashed up Edsel's stock of liquors while Edsel & family were away on vacation. If there is any truth to this, there's no way to find out for certain.
Edsel put in a full day at the office, never taking naps (until he started getting sick) nor putting his feet up on a desk. This is well documented, as is the fact that he was not known to use any coarse language and made it a point to memorize everyone's name who came in to see him. He would say the name twice as a method of memory.
He was known for bringing style into Ford Motor and Henry heartily acknowledged this fact. "We have a good man in my son, he knows style." was the line he used most.
Edsel had designed many custom Model T's for his personal use and among the first of these cars was the Torpedo Roadster which had started out as a custom one off for Edsel. Many photographs survive in the Ford Archives of these early cars. His first 'big project' was the redesign of the Model T in 1926 and later the Model A which he himself laid out the basic design along with Joe Galamb & Gene Farkus. In 1933 He brought E.T. Gregorie on board and started the Ford Design department. Before this the body designs were done by either Briggs & Murray or the mechanical engineers.
Henry made Edsel president of Ford Motor in 1919, but as we all know he did give full control to him. Henry's style of management was forceful, autocratic, and sly. Edsel's was more democratic, gathering suggestions and using more modern methods of management. Contrary to popular belief, Edsel was not a complete pushover to Henry. Edsel had suggested that the Model T needed to be replaced and made the push for Ford exhibits to be setup at the 1933, 1934, 1935 World's Fairs.
Henry Ford bought Lincoln Motors with the express purpose of letting Edsel run it as a standalone business and for the most part it was. Edsel turned the company around and produced some of the best looking high end cars of the late 20s & early 30s.
---More to come----
Luke. Speaking of some of Edsels prototype designs to the Model T. Was Edsel responsible for the design of the new improved all steel Model T's of 1926 and '27 and it being offered in more colors? If not, who was and whoever it was, how did they convince the old man to allow it to go forth. It was, after all, a completely new design which required alot of expensive retooling for the new all steel body and other re-designed parts.
We all know that for 18 years the Model T was Henry's baby and he was adamantly against everyone and every idea that suggested the phase out of the Model T in favor of something revolutionary that could compete with the other manufacturers which, by 1926 had overtaken Ford. With this in mind, what year was it that Edsel, along with a team of young engineers, secretly designed a brand new prototype, that was lower, sleeker and faster that could compete with the other manufacturers?
As the story goes, after it's completion, Edsel proudly unveiled it for his father. Any other Father would have been proud of his son's ingenuity, initiative, dedication, leadership and drive, but not Edsel's Dad. In a strangely silent rage, Henry destroyed the new car with his bare hands and with it, the future of the Ford Motor Company and it's future leader.
If true, I would think that that would have been the one thing that, more than anything, broke Edsel's spirit. Jim Patrick
I think the letter Ernest Kanzler sent Henry about the Model T needing to go planted the seed to let Edsel work on updating the T. Of course Henry got mad at Ernest Kanzler (who was Edsel's Brother in law) and fired him while Edsel was gone on a shopping trip for his Gaukler Pointe house.
I'm pretty sure Edsel picked the colors as he definitely picked the colors for the Model A.
The 'revamped T' story happened around 1914-1920 era as C.H. Wills was in on the plan from the start. That story is 100% true as can be gleaned from various oral histories in the Ford Archives. if you have the Tin Lizzie book by Stern, George Brown offers his recollections of that evening, and is the most common version printed in the various books.
Luke and Jim,
My understanding of the episode Jim refer's to - the 'revamped T' that Henry literally jumped on - is that it was built while Henry and Clara were visiting England/Europe in 1912. I have not got Stern's book, but would be interested to know if he has put a year on that event?
The following is a cut-and-paste from my manuscript (and a reminder that I really should chase publication!)...
(following the incident) "...it was now clear that any criticism of the Model T was a criticism of Henry Ford.
"In a sense Henry’s reaction was understandable. The Model T represented everything he had worked for to date. It was quite possible that his workers could not see that their boss’s pioneering journey had only just begun – Henry was yet to make the Model T the “Universal Car”."
This is such a good distraction from work!
You're correct. I really shouldn't try to type a message & talk on IM at the same time!
Quoted from "Ford The Times, The Man, The Company" By Allan Nevins.
"When Henry Ford returned returned in 1912 from his trip to Europe, he found-according to some witnesses whose story was told forty years later- that Wills and his associates in the experimental room at Highland Park had designed an improved version of the Model T. They had reduced it's height, given it longer, cleaner lines, and improved it's general appearance in other ways."
I too have been working on a Henry Ford book but it's from a rather unique perspective. If you decide to publish your book- even in house publishing put me down for a copy!
Again thanks, for some most interesting Edsel & Henry Ford information. And ALL OTHERS who have contributed to this post.
Luke, regarding your book project. Can you tell me (us) what your unique perspective may encompass or consist of? If not, I understand.
Luke. Ditto to what Harvey said. In your book, I hope you will give Edsel the recognition he deserves in order to help him acheive his rightful place in history as one of the influential factors in the success of Ford, that was denied him in life and after death. A man like that deserves much better than he got and the public needs to know. Jim Patrick
I don't mind sharing about the book. I'm still in the info gathering stage and only have a very rough manuscript written out for the first 4 chapters.
The book will detail Henry Ford's involvement with agricultural interests. From trying to get a rubber plantation started in LaBelle to buying huge tracts of Cypress Swamp in the Everglades of FL to buying many thousands of acres of land in MI.
A related story- Henry's brother William owned a tractor equipment place in Dearborn, he ended up in financial trouble and almost went bankrupt. It wasn't Henry who loaned him money, it was Edsel. And Edsel specified that money need not be paid back.
I have an idea kicking around for another one, but I need to devote my time to this one first.
It is mentioned above that it is a pity the Edsel car was such a flop, because it again associated Edsel Ford with failure. However, the name was chosen because it refected a solid heritage.
The creation of the Edsel car was not a particularly good idea from the outset. It was done to provide a top-of-the-range car for the Ford Motor Company, ahead of Mercury, to compete with GM's Caddy and probably others. However, the Edsel very quickly found itself competing against the Fairlane which, by now, had become a very upmarket Ford. I believe McNamara had opposed the concept all along for this reason. Sure enough, Ford found themselves competing in house!
In my mind, that was the single biggest nail for the Edsel car coffin. Ford also threw too much money at it - setting up an entirely new dealer network was madness (and possibly added to the Fairlane competition). And the body design, of course, left much to desire.
In keeping with this thread, I do recall reading about how the name was selected. As I recall, Ford ran a competition, in house I think, to select a name for the new range. It is also important to remember that, at the same time, the Ford Motor Company was undergoing a public share float, and the Ford Foundation was being set up. So the company was looking for a known and respected name for the new car, that would also be seen as solid by potential Ford investors.
However, when the competition closed, none of the entries inspired the company enough for the new range. One finalist name was Corsair - I understand this name was inspired by the WW2 and Korean War fighter aircraft.
At this time, the Ford Motor Co was being run by Edsel's son, Henry Ford II. It is my understanding that Henry II explained the new car naming problem with his wife Anne. If I am correct, it was Anne who suggested the solution - to call the new car after Henry II's father, Edsel, and use the final selection of names from the competition as model names (such as Corsair and Ranger).
McNamara wasn't a car guy in the least. He was strictly a bean counter who worked his way to the top.
He nixed the Falcon, and the Mustang until a pow wow with Henry II, Iacocca & McNamara took place.
Below is a scan of a 35mm slide that my dad took of Bill Lund's Tucker at a Minnesota Region AACA meet in the late 1950s.
Note the Edsel dealership in the background.
Wasn't there pics somewhere on the forum of a Model T Coupelet that was once owned by Edsel Ford?
I tried doing a search, but I couldn't get the search function to work properly.
My experience in working for very (very very)wealthy industrialists is that their children are often bullied, and lead lives that I do not envy. Money, especially that money earned by your parents, does not buy happiness.
Recently we visited the gold-rush ghost town of Bodie, CA. Part of the visit included a tour of the mine building, guided. I found out that the miners got $4 an hour in 1910, and the electrician and machinist got $5! (electrician in 1910?--this mine had one of the first long-distance electrical systems; parts of it were Tesla components!)
I thought these wages were interesting, considering the times--of course they were mining GOLD!
wow this is a great thread, what was the driving force to build the ford plant / city way down in south America.........and why ? was it called Brazillia or something similar !
Incredible thread. So much real history. So many great contributors.
Thank you all, W2
To David Dewey...
I think the workers at Ford were being paid around $2.70 a day, prior to the $5 day coming in. That puts a prespective on what was being paid in CA. Mind you, mining was dangerous work, so was $4 an hour 'danger money'? And, at that time, electricians would have been few and far between!
To David Dare...
I am wondering if you are talking about the rubber plantation in Brazil? There is a new book out on that very subject, which I don't have yet.
The development was called 'Fordlandia'. Two self-sufficient villages were built by Ford. My belief is that Henry was first inspired about this by his very graet friend, Harvey Firestone, the tyre man.
The idea was self-sufficiency in rubber. At that time, world supply of rubber was controled by the Dutch in the Dutch East Indies, and the British colonialists in the same region. Prices and supply were unreliable. To complicate matters futher, it was looking more likely that political troubles in Asia would distrupt the traditional supply. This, of course, happened when Japan invaded Malaysia.
Robert McNamara was gone from Ford in 1961. No way he had anything to do with the Mustang.
I once worked for a senior vice-president who apparently got all his management prowess by reading books about Henry Ford.
His management style was via intimidation and though the results were often positive for the company, I hated that S.O.B. and likely always will.
Good managers get the best out of their people by encouragement, not intimidation.
In other words, it isn't necessary to be an a-hole to be a good manager.
Luke, I scanned the entire topic and I don't think you mentioned Henry's vitriolic treatment of the Jews and the possibility that he financially backed Hitler. As a psychologist- not a forensic psychologist mind you- I doubt Henry was Bipolar even though that is stated. I have to agree though that judging a person who is not a part of modern times is a tricky business. I've read a lot of books about Henry Ford and I have an opinion about him, which is very likely skewed. Just my opinion. No one has to agree.
Wow! Some pretty heavy reading this morning!
You know I can't shut my mouth when men start talking about their feelings on a subject! lol
After going through a personal trauma years ago I actually went to see a therapist. She honest to God said 'you must hate your parents'.
I burst out laughing and said NO, my parents did better by me than their parents did by them. She then asked me if I hated my grandparents. I had the best grandparents any kid could possibly ask for!!!
What I needed to point out was that each generation offered their kids more than what they had. We were taught to better ourselves despite our circumstances. No excuses! No one hands out parenting skills. You can do the best you can or not. When my kids were little and they looked up at me with their big brown eyes, I knew there was total, unconditional love there if I screwed up or not. I offer them the same.
If you spend your life trying to please one person than what is your own motive? You are looking for some self satisfaction in the process are you not? Selfish if you ask me!
At some point in life you have to take personal responsibility. Pick a higher power than a single human to worship or you may just end up drinking grape koolaid. If Edsel allowed his father to poison his body than he has no one to blame but Edsel.
I did get to see a vehicle he presented to the old man for his birthday in a museum in Wells, ME. Henry did nothing with it. Ouch! lol
On a lighter note, I love my parents! I'm very proud to say I've watched them grow through the years into some rather fine adults lol. What more could any kid ask for them to watch to people never stop trying?
I have over three hundred books, many pamphlets and articles in my library on the subject of Henry Ford and have never seen or heard, till now, a reference to "the possibility that he financially backed Hitler". I am really interested. Can you please tell us the reference source to that information?
Ron the Coilman.
Edsel's whole life was dominated by automobiles and Ford Motor Company and unfortunately, for him, that world was ruled and controlled by his Father, Henry Ford; a man who refused to love, acknowledge, or respect him because he valued toughness over integrity, intelligence, dedication, education, compassion, generosity and unselfishness.
It is easy to use the context of today's permissive self help philosophy of "I'm okay, you're okay" and of parent/child relationships of today whereby, many parents neglect their parenting responsibilities in order to be their child's best friend and equal, in order to argue that it is Edsel's fault that he allowed his Father to treat him that way, but you need to consider that father's were viewed much differently back then and a son just did not rebel against his father, much less even question his authority or his wishes. Especially a father like Henry Ford one who had accomplished so much and total control over your world, your family, your life and everything that meant anything to you.
Oh, I supposed Edsel could have quit and found another occupation, but in so doing, he would have been sacrificing everything he ever was and everything he would ever become and would have been even less happy and even more of a disappointment to his father, which is the last thing he wanted.
Edsel was a devoted son, who loved his father very much and wanted to be loved and respected in return and the best way to accomlish that was to stay where he was and work hard, hoping that, one day, he would earn the respect he so desired and deserved. He could not have known, earlier in life, that he never would get it, but you can't say he did not give his all, attempting to get it, or that he was a quitter. In the face of all he went through and suffered, that alone makes me respect him all the more and wish that I could have known him. I think he would have been a good friend. Jim Patrick
PS. Correction to last sentence in the second paragraph of my 9:30am post above:
"Especially a father like Henry Ford, who had accomplished so much and had total control over your world, your family, your life and everything that meant anything to you."
I too have heard that Henry financially backed Hitler, but I haven't been able to find anything to that effect. There's a rumor that Hitler gave Henry Ford a set of china, but here again I've found no concrete proof of that either.
Henry Ford did indeed hate the Jews, and he also had an intense hatred toward Catholics as well. When Henry II married Anne McDonnell, Henry about had a coronary over it, but at the wedding he was very cordial to the Catholic priest.
He used his famous line when he didn't want to discuss religion (which was often) "well now you have the best religion in the world" and walked away. On a personal note, I'm guilty of using that line and I must admit, it works very well!
I'll post more & make some corrections to one of my earlier posts later. I have to go lay some paint on a Model A Ford.
Henry hated the Catholic church, too? Strange bedfellows.
Of note this month was "Mystery Quest" on History, about "the Fourth Reich", which involved smuggling of many Nazis from Germany to South America. It was a well organized campaign, called Odessa. Odessa was ostensibly an organization of ex-SS officers, but it really involved German industrial money and the active help of the Catholic Church, which had safe houses for them below the Italian Alps and in Genoa. Smuggling was reportedly going on until at least 1968.
The book and movie, "The Odessa File" from the early 1970s was based on the real thing. You can read about it at en.wikipedia.org
As for Ford's admiration of Adolph Hitler and support of his ideology regarding the Jews, the admiration was mutual between the two men: It is said that, had Hitler died in 1938, before starting WWII, creating the death camps and becoming the epitomy of evil for being responsible for the deaths of 30 million people, he would have gone down in history as perhaps the greatest German leader in history.
It is in this context of the mid 1930's that Henry Ford viewed Hitler. Not in the post WWII context that we all view him now. Even the American hero, Charles Lindberg thought very highly of Hitler and led massive, Pro Nazi rallys in America. But, again. the Nazi's had not yet committed the atrocities they are now infamous for, so how can anyone criticize someone who does not have the advantage of hindsight, for admiring a leader or a movement who has yet to commit the crimes they are now known for.
As inexcusable and unsavory as it is to acknowledge today, in this P.C. world... It is a fact that, in 1935, anti-semitism was a very common and wide spread, prejudice and there is no way that, at that time, anyone could have known what a monster Hitler was unless they read His book, "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle") and, even then, it is hard to imagine that his twisted political ideology of hate would eventually consume the world. Jim Patrick
You make some good points and keep in mind all this happened before political correctness took over and made everyone sue happy.
I have some old cook books that were my great great grandmothers. One of them is "Southern Cook book" and the book has little drawings of 'darkies' and poems next to the drawings that would make the NAACP go nuts. It's really no surprise that people were 'less socially aware' back then due to the fact that they didn't have the media outlets like we have today. (I know what it's like to not have a TV, as I don't own one! But try to take my computer away.....)
A couple of books have tried to skew the view of Ford & Lindbergh into being ardent fans of Hitler & Nazi-ism, mainly "The American Axis" It's of interest to note even Pres. George Bush's father, Prescott Bush, banked with the Nazi's.
From 1939-1945 Henry had 3 strokes by that point, the last one being the worst of them all. So it's a good chance he didn't really know what was going on relating to Hitler & world events in general. He followed Clara around the house like a lost puppy dog and no longer showed much activity. This is when Harry Bennett really 'took off' with FoMoCo and ran with it.
GREAT THREAD With some editing it could become a great article, or even book outline.
My wife's grandfather died while working on the Highland Park line. It was 103deg outside the plant and he fell over dead. Left a wife and four children. No workers comp insurance, but FORDs was very generous and paid him through the end of his shift! I have heard that it was not unusual for a half a dozen men to die in the plant on a really hot day!
It is important to review history as it was taking place. What was quite acceptable a generation ago, is sometimes incorrect today.
On HITLER AND THE FORD FAMILY
It is so good to see contributors who understand the principle of "that was then - this is now". Anti-semitism was not the exclusive domain of Adolf Hitler, Charles Lindberg and Henry Ford by any means!
But Hitler clearly thought highly of Henry Ford! I do recall reading that Hitler presented Henry with a German award - something akin to an iron cross. It was the highedst p;ossible award that could have been made, and the only such award made outside Nazi Germany. (I will be able to locate my source for that info when I return to my books.)
If I recall correctly, the award was given in recognition for what Henry had done for the people (the motor car, I am presuming) and for industry. Of course, Ford had set up in Germany (1925, I think) and I do not know what Henry's attitude or response to that gift was - it might have been one of embarrassment.
of course, Hitler's equivalent to what Henry Ford had done for America/the world with the Model T was the Volkswagen (the German translation being 'people's car').
Further, I understand Edsel Ford was on the Ford of Germany board, and there was a reciprocal arrrangement that Edsel would occupy a seat on the board of Germany's biggest chemical manufacturer at the time (the name eludes me). So the Ford family was closely invoved in Germany - but that did not make them Nazis.
I absolutely agree with Jim Patrick's suggestion that Hitler, had he somehow been removed around 1938, would have gone down in history as a great man. Although the damage was done by then - it started around the time of the famous burning of the books in Mubich. However, there is no question the Treaty of Versailles was far too harsh on Germany, and Hitler gave the German people hope that they did have a future after all. But they (the German people) became mesmerised and lost the plot!
I know this is getting off the topis but I have been reading a book recently called 'Berlin Diary'. It is the thoughts and news reports of an American journalist working for CBS, stationed in Berlin. It is almost a day-by-day account of the rise of the Third Reich and the reader today is able to witness what was happening at the time - as that is when it was written! It is an eye-opener and it strengthens my strong view that the world knew more than what it cared to admit. But the world did nothing for fear of starting another war, and at a time when we are further punch-drunk from the effects of the Depression.
But it's so easy to be judgemental after the event!
Hitler had a photo of Henry Ford in his office, right near his desk.
In addition to my old Ford obsession, I study alot about WW2, mostly the ETO and more specifically the air war.
MORE ON FORD, MONEY and NAZIS
Good Lord! I just found this on the internet - extracts from a book called 'The American Axis', by Max Wallace. I was looking for the name of the chemical company I had referred to above, which was called Farben. Part of it supports Susan C's claim above, that Ford paid money to the Nazi Party. And it also states that Farben "emerged as the backbone of Hitler's economic base". Farben owned 15 percent of Ford of Germany.
It seems not only was Edsel Ford a board member of Ford in Germany (as well as Farben) so too was Charles Sorenson. It also reveals something I did not know before, that there were TWO Ford plants in Germany - a second was leased in Berlin, to produce military vehicles!
It goes on to say....
"IG Farben contributed 400,000 reichsmarks to the National Socialist Party's political "slush fund," the largest contribution to the Nazis by any German company. Thereafter, it remained Hitler's single most important corporate ally. According to the report of a wartime U.S. government investigation:
Without I.G.'s immense productive facilities, its intense research, and vast international affiliations, Germany's prosecution of the war would have been unthinkable and impossible; Farben not only directed its energies toward arming Germany, but concentrated on weakening her intended victims, and this doublebarreled attempt to expand the German industrial potential for war and to restrict that of the rest of the world was not conceived and executed "in the normal course of business." The proof is overwhelming that I.G. Farben officials had full prior knowledge of Germany's plan for world conquest and of each specific aggressive act later undertaken."
p228 "... in June 1936, Ford Germany-with the full knowledge and approval of Dearborn-entered into an extraordinary barter agreement with the German Ministry of Economics, whereby it agreed to divert a good deal of its American imports to other German companies in return for greater access to foreign exchange funds. This way, according to a subsequent U.S. government investigation, Ford Germany was instrumental in the Reich's war Preparations."
The Nazis wanted Ford to produce trucks of German design, not Ford design, which Ford resisted. "After weeks of negotiation with the government, the issue became moot when the Nazi High Command instead asked the company to manufacture a troop carrier rather than a truck. Ford would be permitted to design the military vehicle to its own standards. In mid-April 1938, Sorensen attended a Ford Germany board of directors meeting in Cologne and cabled Dearborn with the message that the "German plans are turning out very satisfactory." Four days later, with Sorensen in attendance, the board finally approved the scheme to manufacture German military vehicles. The agreement was finalized with the High Command a few weeks later, paving the way for a long-lasting business relationship.
"Premises were leased in Berlin and, beginning in 1939, the plant began turning out thousands of military troop carriers. Soon, additional orders from the Luftwaffe as well as contracts for other army vehicles and spare parts began to pour in."
"Business was so good that in September 1938, the American plant (ie Detroit - John) shipped one thousand trucks, cabs and platforms to be assembled by Ford in Cologne for the use of the German government and military. In a 1941 letter to the Reich Commissioner for Enemy Property, Albert boasted that these trucks were used in the invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia."
In support of Susan C's claim above....
"Eager to keep on the good side of Hitler, the board of directors (of Ford of Germany - John) voted to send the Führer a birthday gift of 35,000 reichsmarks in April 1939. There is no record that Dearborn registered any objection to this gift. In fact, although not present at the meeting, Edsel Ford and Charles Sorensen were still members of the board when Ford Germany made the decision."
Believable? Eye opening?
Luke - sounds like you and I have similar obsessions! John
This is a very informative thread. It makes one wonder about things. I read where Henry didn't like the Catholic church but liked Hitler. I don't know if Hitler was Catholic but I'm sure he claimed to be. It was a major religion there and he mentions "the living God" in Mein Kampf several times. You don't like people based on their religion I guess because I have Muslim friends and I'm definitely not Muslim. Henry liked Stalin, or Lenin, I've read so much I can't remember. Hitler hated Bolshevism. Hitler mentioned Henry in his book. I can't remember exactly what because I haven't read it in a few years. Something about America and' "one man, Ford." I doubt he needed or received financial backing from Ford especially after he was elected Kanzler because then he didn't need it. I'm no expert on any of this, just find it interesting. This got off the topic of Edsel and I know little about him either. I know a man down the road a piece had 2 59's for years in his garage and I always liked them. He died and who knows where they went.
It sure does, we should compare notes sometime. That book you quoted "American Axis" is the one I mentioned earlier. If you can find a used copy (I paid $4 for mine) it's well worth it, even if it's not 100% accurate.
Great posts by everyone this may be the longest thread I've seen since I've been here, but Ill keep adding if it's not boring everyone!
Henry Ford and son Edsel, circa 1901-02
Add on Luke. I'll keep on reading until you get tired and stop.
I'll add two books about Henry Ford and the Jews- and they are both named 'Henry Ford and the Jews' but written by two different men. Neil Baldwin and Albert Lee. I, too, have read 'The American Axis'. I'm not sure Henry should be let off the hook so easily, because he owned and published a newspaper-the Independent and it's primary purpose was to showcase his anti-Semitism. A comment (made at the time), made by Rabbi Franklin, a close friend of Henry's: "Few thinking men have given any credence to the charges offered against the Jews. But Ford's publication has besmirched the name of the Jews in the eyes of the great majority, and especially in the small towns of the country, where Ford's word is taken as gospel. He has fed the flames of anti-Semitism throughout the world."
BTW the medal he received from Germany was the German Eagle on his 75th birthday. And that's all I'm going to say because I've been down this road before.
Sorry, I do have one more thing to say. The world should have held Henry to higher standards just because his word was seen as second only to the Bibles. People idolized him and he had the power to sway the opinion of millions. So if there was anti-Semitism during that day, those fires were flamed by Ford. That's not to say I don't love my T.
I've been told there was an IG Farben - Dupont connection, which resulted in a tetraethyl lead plant being built in Germany in about 1934. That was crucial to development of high powered planes for the Luftwaffe. It's been said that a second Nurenberg Trial should have been held in New Jersey (Standard Oil).
I know I'm going off on a tangent here, but Standard Oil had plants & refineries all over Germany, and one in a little town called Ploesti in Romania.
The Ford plant in Cologne, Germany got bombed often by Allied planes, probably a few Ford built B-24s dropped their loads on it too....
There was a German GM plant that was never bombed or touched by the allies. I forget where. In my GM collection I have several early books showing the GM engineers at a banquet and under the swastika as well as proudly standing next to german airplanes similarly marked. All prewar late 1930's.
By coreywalker on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 09:14 pm: http://www.mtfca.com/cgi-bin/discus/show.cgi?tpc=118802&post=255607#POST255607
"......I don't know if Hitler was Catholic but I'm sure he claimed to be........"
Very sure he was not, i did see a very good documentory on youtube that proved he was not & only claimed to lean in that direction for stratigic reasons. Not going to post a link to the documentory because it contains so much other controversial stuff
It appears that Edsel Ford's 'honeymoon house' is for sale.
Here's the link...
As I said I have over three hundred books (including those you cited) in my library on Henry Ford and I do not recall a corroborated reference to "the possibility that he financially backed Hitler".
So my question remains. Can you please give us a published reference to that information?
Ron the Coilman.
Does anybody have a photo of Henry & Clara standing in the church doorway at Edsels funeral service?? I have seen it somewhere but for the life of me can't find which book it's in. If you can post it here i would appreciate it. We have just been to that church and took many photos and just wanted to identify which door way it was.
Thanks Alan. Western Australia
If you can give me a day or so, I'll post it. I know I have that one & the one of Henry & Clara walking into a wedding.
It's your turn Susan so please step up to the plate! Bud.
I'll have to go check, Ron. I did the Ford research two years ago for a book that I wrote. It was on unions and the sit-down strike at the Flint Plant. So you see it may have been in those- OR the books I have on Henry. Let me go look it all up.
Regarding the whole Ford backing Hitler monetarily-
It might be published, but that doesn't mean it's factual.
Just like the rumor that Henry Ford was a member of the Black Legion ( a branch of the KKK), it's been printed, but that doesn't mean it's fact. Personally I think the whole notion of Henry being a Black Legion member is ludicrous.
Here is a picture taken in 1943 at Edsel's funeral but it does not appear to be the formal picture you are seeking. A grief stricken Clara is being assisted, I think, by Edsel's son Henry II with Henry Sr. following close behind.
If Edsel confided in his mother, as to what he was being put through by his Father and Harry Bennett, I wonder what she was thinking at the funeral and if she had the same bitter feelings toward Henry that Henry II did. I wonder what Henry, Sr. was thinking, for that matter. Jim Patrick
In the meantime, check out John Stokes note above.
That looks more like Benson Ford, It's too skinny to be Henry II.
I don't think it was so much Edsel telling Clara directly about the mind games, but rather Eleanor telling Clara. Eleanor & Clara were quite close. I do know Clara did not care for Bennett at all.
While I am thinking about it,
Does anyone have a copy of the April 1975 issue of "Car Classics" magazine? I need one for my files, or if I can't get a whole magazine, I'd like photocopies of Part 2 of the Harry Bennett Interview.
Here's Harry Bennett in 1945.
Edsel, Henry & an impatient Charles Sorensen in the back seat.
Henry & Edsel in 1939.
D%&* it! I couldn't get the pics to post and I'm unaware of being able to edit your posts here.
Ok. I should have learned my lesson the first time these issues came up and watched how I phrased my words. SO- I'll clean up my act. There was strong inferences made at the time that Henry Ford was financing Hitler. And I quote: In December of that year (1922), the New York Times ran a small item headline "Berlin Hears Ford is Backing Hitler" long before most Americans or even Germans had ever heard of the politician. (A rumor is ciculating here that Henry Ford is financing Adolph Hitler's nationalist and anti-Semitic movement in Munich. Indeed, the Berlin Tageblatt has made an appeal to the American Ambassador in Berlin to investigate and interfere." (p.45 The American Axis).
"Three months later, the allegations seemed confirmed by the vice president of the Bavarian Diet (parliament), Erhard Auer...had come to the capital to express concern about Ford's interference in the affairs of a foreign government." p.45 Ibid.
Herr Auer later made the comment to Chicago tribune reporter..."Henry Ford, he charged, was financing the revolutionary program of a radical Austrian named Adolf Hitler because he was favorably impressed by Hitler's program supporting the "extermination of Jews in Germany."
Now I went on to research the reference Max Wallace used in his book The American Axis and these statements were supported by others. See the book: (I Knew Hitler) and (Who Financed Hitler by James Poole) and later Winifred Wagner claimed that "Ford told me that he had helped finance Hitler".
HOWEVER, fellas, there were contradictory statements made claiming this was not true and Ford did not help Hitler.
So I will change my statement to say that there was strong evidence to indicate Ford contributed to Hitler and this is supported by many historians, and then leave it at that. However, I will still standby my statement that Henry Ford printed the 'Dearborn Independent'- and was instrumental in the rise of anti-Semitism in the USA. AND THAT'S ALL I'm GONNA SAY.
Like all of us, Henry Ford had his talents and his faults. He put the world on automotive wheels but he did not walk on water.
Luke I'm sure you are probably right about that being Benson. If Henry II made it back from fighting overseas in time for the funeral, he would have probably been wearing his dress uniform.
As for Ford and Hitler. In 1922 Ford was a famous, universally admired figure, known to the world and Hitler was an ex-German Corporal, a minor political activist/anarchist/street fighter and soon to be jailbird, trying to survive in post War Germany. Not someone Ford would associate himself with. I believe that Ford's anti-semitic writings had a lot more influence on Hitler than Hitler had on Ford and, at this time, I doubt if Ford was even aware of the existence of Hitler.
Hitler gained more prominence in 1923 when he lead the unsucessful Beer Hall Putsch which resulted in the death of several of his followers and landed him in jail for a year. It was at this time that he had a lot of time on his hands so, he wrote "Mein Kampf", which outlined his political ideology for all to read.
It is just my opinion but I believe the only relation that can be made between Hitler and Ford in the mid twenties is the influence that Ford's anti-semitic writings had on Hitler's views of the Jews, which at the time, consisted only of complaints of their supposed dominance of the world and blaming them for all the World's (and especially, Germany's) woes including "The Great War", but not the wholesale extermination of them. That all came much later and I'd like to think that Ford was shocked and repulsed by the depth of Hitler's hatred and anti-semitism. Jim Patrick
REgarding Herr Auer's report to the Chicago Tribune, no date is given but if Hitler was still a radical Austrian then I suppose he was not yet Kanzler. I find it hard to believe that Ford, or even the Germans would back a person who planned on exterminating a people. Maybe deporting them, but not extermination. That's pretty extreme. I think the whole extermination thing came at a later date, after the war was well under way. (From what I have read) Hitler was impressed by Ford I suppose since he mentions him in his book. He does not, however, anywhere mention exterminating Jews in his book.
When did the "Fordson" Tractor Division come about and was it named in recognition of Edsel (Ford's son)? What was Edsel's role in Fordson? If Henry held Edsel in such contempt for his "weakness" you would think that he would not have honored him in this way, so there must have been some degree of love and respect for Edsel when he chose to include him in the name of this division. Henry could have just as easily called it "Fordtrac" or "Fordfarm" instead of "Fordson". Did the contempt come later? If so, what happened to bring it about? Jim Patrick
Originally it was called "Henry Ford & Son" (the tractor division) From what I have gathered Edsel was involved with the tractor development but to what extent I'm unsure.
Over time this was shortened to Fordson. Henry Ford & Son was founded around 1917, but Henry experimented with tractors for many years before that.
Also of note, Part of the area around Dearborn was called Fordson but was later annexed into Dearborn proper. There's still a Fordson High School however.
I thought I once read that the reason for the name "Fordson" was due to there already being a "Ford" tractor being produced by some rather small concern. Something about them wanting money for the rights to use "their" name for Henry's tractors.
I have been wrong before though.
I read that once too. I don't remember where, but I did read it.
Jim, I think the answer to your question is that Edsel was Henry and Clara’s son and no amount of displeasure or disagreement with the way his son lived his life would ever change that in Henry, or any other dad. Sometimes we are hardest on those who mean the most to us.
As for the development of the tractor and the name Fordson, Henry's interest in building tractors goes way back to his agrarian roots long before the Model T. However, it was the need for inexpensive tractors in Britain during WW1 that was the catalyst for serious development and then manufacturing, in Ireland (Cork) rather than the US.
Advance now to 1917 in Detroit. Henry had been trying to get rid of his shareholders (the parasites!). He did not want them sharing in any tractor development, and those efforts were happening outside the Ford Motor Co. It is another story why, but Ford & Son Ltd was created (incorporated) in Ireland in April 1917 – this is where his parents had emigrated to the US from. Fordson was the name of the product to be built by Ford & Son Ltd.
Back in Detroit, Henry’s shareholders had wanted profits distributed to them, and not re-invested as Henry had done, and they challenged him about that in the Supreme Court. Fearing that that the court decision would go against him, in 1918 he resigned as President of the Ford Motor Co, and Edsel replaced him. Henry announced he was going to pursue "other projects". He registered a new company in the US, called Henry Ford & Son, and it was believed one of those projects Henry would work on would be the tractor (he did not think the parasites should benefit from the tractor).
In May, 1919 the Supreme Court did rule against Henry. In response, he announced his other project was a new super-plant where he would build an even better car that was even cheaper than the Model T. The Ford Motor Co shareholders freaked out and, in their panic, sold out! This was just what Henry wanted.
The ownership of the Ford Motor Co was then re-distributed within the family - Henry had 55%, Edsel 42% I think, and Clara held the balance. Edsel stayed on as President - but Henry was, of course, the majority shareholder.
And the Ford Motor Company acquired the shares and the name Ford & Son (and later Ford & Son Ltd – ie the Irish branch) and retained the product name of Fordson.