Us History Henry Ford Was A Brutal Anti-Semite Who Tried To Start A Society In The Jungle  

Erin Wisti
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Henry Ford's contribution to manufacturing is well known. However, many aspects of Henry Ford's biography are not common knowledge. And the man behind the modern car was not without his flaws. In reality, facts about Henry Ford may leave you reassessing your opinion of the automobile tycoon. You also might consider leaving those 'inspiring' maxims and quotes from Henry Ford behind. 

While the Henry Ford assembly line revolutionized labor, Ford enforced a strict moral code on his employees. He published controversial opinions in his paper, The Dearborn Independent, and was starkly opposed to World War I. Facts about Henry Ford show he was a complex, fascinating, and deeply imperfect human being who managed to make his way into a celebrated Mexican muralist's depiction of Detroit. 

He Tried To Build A City Called Fordlandia In The Amazon

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Hoping to create his own rubber supply, Henry Ford purchased land in the Amazon in the 1927. Here, he attempted to found a city for his workers. And not just any city either; he planned for Fordlandia to be a "jungle utopia," with tennis courts, swimming pools, and a golf course for the employees. The idea was to create a Midwestern environment in the middle of the jungle. Things did not go well.

There was a cultural clash between the American arrivals and the area's native inhabitants. Workers were also frustrated by living arrangements, the food provided, and the oppressive heat. In addition, Ford ignored the advice of experts and tried to enforce mass industrial production in a jungle environment, which was nearly impossible given the conditions. Eventually, workers abandoned the city and returned to the Midwest. 

He Was An Outspoken Anti-Semite Who Blamed Jews For WWI

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Photo: Humus sapiens/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In 1919, Henry Ford published a newspaper called The Dearborn Independent and used it to broadcast disturbing anti-Semitic views. Ford was convinced Jewish financiers were to blame for World War I and felt Jewish automobile dealers were undermining the Ford Motor Company. Ford hired writer William J. Cameron to help chronicle these and other similarly bigoted sentiments in a column for The Dearborn Independent that ran for seven years. The most popular (and offensive) of these stories were reprinted in a series of four pamphlets from 1920-1922, The International Jew. During that same period, Ford was sued for libel by multiple members of the Jewish community.

He Went On A Mission To Stop World War I

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Henry Ford was a vehement pacifist and deeply opposed to World War I, so much so that he took it upon himself to facilitate peace in Europe. In 1915, he purchased an ocean liner he dubbed The Peace Ship and set sail to Oslo, Norway, alongside numerous prominent peace activists with the mission of facilitating peace between the warring factions. The mission was unsuccessful and widely mocked by the press and public. Ford abandoned the mission five days after arriving in Oslo. He refused to sell war materials to foreign states before and during the war; however, from 1917-18, Ford's factories produced materials for the American war effort. 

He Had Strict Rules Regarding His Employees' Morals

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At Ford Motors, employees who stayed with the company for at least six months could become eligible for profit sharing in the company. Perceived moral character, however, was a major factor in the selection process. Ford's Social Department monitored activities such as drinking and gambling amongst employees. Only employees who demonstrated what Ford perceived as high moral character were chosen for the profit-sharing program.