The Dearborn Independent
The Dearborn Independent, also known as The Ford International Weekly, was a weekly newspaper established in 1901, but published by Henry Ford from 1919 through 1927. The paper reached a circulation of 900,000 by 1925, second only to the New York Daily News, largely due to a quota system for promotion imposed on Ford dealers. Lawsuits regarding anti-Semitic material published in the paper caused Ford to close it, and the last issue was published in December 1927.
- 1 Acquisition by Ford
- 2 Ford's motivations
- 3 Antisemitic articles
- 4 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
- 5 Republication in Germany
- 6 Reaction to the Dearborn Independent
- 7 Libel lawsuit
- 8 Action by the Anti-Defamation League
- 9 Unauthorized distribution of The International Jew
- 10 See also
- 11 Sources
- 12 References
Acquisition by Ford
In 1918, Ford's closest aide and private secretary, Ernest G. Liebold, purchased the Independent from Marcus Woodruff, who had been running it at a loss. The initial staff of the newspaper included E. G. Pipp, previously managing editor of the Detroit News, writers William J. Cameron (also formerly of the News) and Marcus Woodruff, and Fred Black as business manager.
The paper was printed on a used press purchased by Ford and installed in Ford's tractor plant in The Rouge. Publication under Mr. Ford was inaugurated in January 1919. The paper initially attracted notoriety in June 1919 with coverage of the libel lawsuit between Henry Ford and the Chicago Tribune, as the stories written by Pipp and Cameron were picked up nationally.
Henry Ford was a pacifist who opposed World War I, and he believed that Jews were responsible for starting wars in order to profit from them: "International financiers are behind all war. They are what is called the international Jew: German Jews, French Jews, English Jews, American Jews. I believe that in all those countries except our own the Jewish financier is supreme . . . here the Jew is a threat".
Ford believed that Jews, in their role as financiers, contributed nothing of value to society. He believed that Jewish business workers focused solely on price, and cheapened their products. Ford once bit into a candy bar and, finding it not as good as it once had been, said "The Jews have taken hold of it. They've cheapened it to make more money".
In 1915 Ford blamed Jews for instigating World War I, saying "I know who caused the war: German-Jewish bankers." Later, in 1925, Ford said "What I oppose most is the international Jewish money power that is met in every war. That is what I oppose - a power that has no country and that can order the young men of all countries out to death."
Ford ensured that everyone who worked for any of his companies accepted his views, and made sure not to hire a single Jew in office jobs, although he hired them for physical labor.
So began the articles with themes of a worldwide conspiracy by Jewish super-capitalists, that the Jews invented the stock market and gold standard just to corrupt the world and other peoples.
Pipp left the Independent in April 1920 in disgust with the planned antisemitic articles, which began in May. Ford did not write the articles. He expressed his opinions verbally to his executive secretary, Ernest Liebold, and to William J. Cameron, who replaced Pipp as editor. Cameron had the main responsibility for expanding these opinions into article form, although he did not agree with them. Liebold was responsible for collecting more material to support the articles.
One of the articles, "Jewish Power and America's Money Famine", asserted that the power exercised by Jews over the nation's supply of money was insidious, depriving farmers and others outside the banking coterie of money when they needed it most. The article asked the question: "Where is the American gold supply? ... It may be in the United States but it does not belong to the United States." It concluded that Jews controlled the gold supply and, hence, American money.
Another article, "Jewish Idea Molded Federal Reserve System," was a reflection of Ford's distrust of the Federal Reserve System and its proponent, Paul Warburg. Ford believed the Federal Reserve system was secretive and insidious.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
Around 1921, Ford became aware of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Upon learning of its existence, he published portions of it in the Independent. Also, in 1920-21 the Independent carried a series of articles expanding on the themes of financial control by Jews, entitled:
- Jewish Idea in American Monetary Affairs: The remarkable story of Paul Warburg, who began work on the United States monetary system after three weeks residence in this country
- Jewish Idea Molded Federal Reserve System: What Baruch was in War Material, Paul Warburg was in War Finances; Some Curious revelations of money and politics.
- Jewish Idea of a Central Bank for America: The evolution of Paul M. Warburg's idea of Federal Reserve System without government management.
- How Jewish International Finance Functions: The Warburg family and firm divided the world between them and did amazing things which non-Jews could not do
- Jewish Power and America's Money Famine: The Warburg Federal Reserve sucks money to New York, leaving productive sections of the country in disastrous need.
- The Economic Plan of International Jews: An outline of the Protocolists' monetary policy, with notes on the parallel found in Jewish financial practice.
The newspaper published The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was discredited by The Times of London as a forgery during the Independent's publishing run. The American Jewish Historical Society described the ideas presented in the magazine as "anti-immigrant, anti-labor, anti-liquor, and anti-Semitic." In February 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." During this period, Ford emerged as "a respected spokesman for right-wing extremism and religious prejudice," reaching around 700,000 readers through his newspaper.
Republication in Germany
During the Weimar Republic in the early 1920s, the Protocols was reprinted and published in Germany, along with anti-Jewish articles first published by The Dearborn Independent and reprinted in translation in Germany as a set of four bound volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World's Foremost Problem.
Steven Watts wrote that Adolf Hitler "revered" Ford. He quotes Hitler as saying, "I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany," and says that Hitler modeled the Volkswagen, the people's car, on the model T. Several themes from the Dearborn Independent articles appear in Mein Kampf. Hitler even quoted the Dearborn Independent in Mein Kampf and Henry Ford was the only American that Hitler specifically named: "Every year they [the Jews] manage to become increasingly the controlling masters of the labor power of a people of 120,000,000 souls; one great man, Ford, to their exasperation still holds out independently there even now."
On February 1, 1924, Ford received Kurt Ludecke, a representative of Hitler, at his home. Ludecke was introduced to Ford by Siegfried Wagner (son of the famous composer Richard Wagner) and his wife Winifred, both Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites. Ludecke asked Ford for a contribution to the Nazi cause, though this is denied by the Ford Motor Company.
In July 1938, prior to the outbreak of war, the German consul at Cleveland gave Ford, on his 75th birthday, the award of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal Nazi Germany could bestow on a foreigner. James D. Mooney, vice-president of overseas operations for General Motors, received a similar medal, the Merit Cross of the German Eagle, First Class.
Reaction to the Dearborn Independent
There was much negative press about the Dearborn Independent within Jewish communities, but there was also non-Jewish negative press as well.
There are many accounts of Jewish organizations coming together to fight the Dearborn Independent. The first major anti-semitic article about Jews was published on June 19, 1920. There were major repetitions on August 28th, then again in February, March, and November of 1921. The essay "Anti-Semitism- Will it Appear in the U.S.?" quoted Louis Brandeis, a Justice of the Supreme Court, who advocated for Jewish civil rights and said, "Organize, organize, organize, until every Jew must stand up and be counted." Louis Marshall noticed that The Cause of World Unrest was advertised on the back of one issue of the Independent, so he wrote a personal letter to the publisher, Major George Haven Putnam, condemning him for his intolerance. Marshall said that Putnam was using Jews as his scapegoat. Eventually Putnam apologized for his advertisement and for publishing the book.
The Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America published a resolution condemning Ford's propaganda and beliefs. In January 1921, a statement titled "The Peril of Racial Prejudice", denounced anti-Semitism as un-American and condemning the Independent for its anti-Semitic campaign. It was signed by more than one hundred prominent citizens of "Gentile birth and Christian faith," including president Woodrow Wilson, former president William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, Nicholas Murray Butler, Robert Frost, Samuel Seabury, Ida Tarbell, Paul Cravath and the presidents of Williams, Oberlin, and Dartmouth colleges as well as Princeton, Cornell, and Syracuse universities. However, this did not stop the Dearborn Independent from their negative press regarding Jews. 
While they explicitly condemned pogroms and violence against Jews, Ford's articles blamed the Jews for provoking incidents of mass violence (Volume 4, Chapter 80). San Francisco lawyer and Jewish farm cooperative organizer Aaron Sapiro filed a libel lawsuit in response. During the trial, the editor of Ford's "Own Page," William Cameron, 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 of the Independent and that Ford probably never read the articles. (He claimed he only read the headlines.)
Further court testimony alleged that Ford did know about the contents of the Independent in advance of publication. Investigative journalist Max Wallace noted that "whatever credibility this absurd claim may have had was soon undermined when James M. Miller, a former Dearborn Independent employee, swore under oath that Ford had told him he intended to expose Sapiro."
Michael Barkun observed,
That Cameron would have continued to publish such controversial material without Ford's explicit instructions seemed unthinkable to those who knew both men. Mrs. Stanley Ruddiman, a Ford family intimate, remarked that 'I don't think Mr. Cameron ever wrote anything for publication without Mr. Ford's approval.'
Action by the Anti-Defamation League
The trial prompted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to begin a concerted effort to oppose the Independent. 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, which was supported not only by Jews, but also by several liberal Christian groups. In December 1927, Ford gave in and shuttered 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 letter to ADL president Sigmund Livingston recanting his anti-Semitic views.
Ford's 1927 apology was well received. "Four-Fifths of the hundreds of letters addressed to Ford in July 1927 were from Jews, and almost without exception they praised the Industrialist." In January 1937, a Ford statement to the Detroit Jewish Chronicle disavowed "any connection whatsoever with the publication in Germany of a book known as The International Jew."
Unauthorized distribution of The International Jew was halted in 1942 through legal action by Ford, despite complications due to a lack of copyright. Extremist groups often recycle the material; it still appears on antisemitic and neo-Nazi websites.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Dearborn Independent.|
- Ford R. Bryan: Henry's Lieutenants. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8143-2428-2
- Albert Lee: Henry Ford and the Jews. New York: Stein and Day, 1980. ISBN 0-8128-2701-5
- Max Wallace: The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of the Third Reich. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003. ISBN 0-312-29022-5
- Perry p 168-9. Perry quotes Ford.
- Albert Lee, Henry Ford and the Jews (New York:Stein and Day, 1980), 13-14
- Sward, Legend, 137
- Albert Lee, Henry Ford and the Jews (New York:Stein and Day, 1980), 13-14-15
- Geisst, Charles R.,Wheels of Fortune: The History of Speculation from Scandal to Respectability, John Wiley and Sons, 2003 p 66-68
- Norword, Stephen Harlan, Encyclopedia of American Jewish history, Volume 1, ABC-CLIO, 2008, p 181
- Foxman, pp 69-72
- Baldwin, Neil, Henry Ford and the Jews: the mass production of hate, PublicAffairs, 2002, pp 213-218
- Jewish influence in the Federal Reserve System, reprinted from the Dearborn independent, Dearborn Pub. Co., 1921
- Glock, Charles Y. and Quinley, Harold E. (1983). Anti-Semitism in America. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0-87855-940-X, p. 168.
- Watts, p. xi.
- *Perry, p 171
- see also Perry p 119
- see also: Raushning, Herman Voice of Destruction, pp 237-38
- Max Wallace The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich, (Macmillan, 2004), pp.50–54, ISBN 0-312-33531-8. Years later, in 1977, Winifred claimed that Ford had told her that he had helped finance Hitler. This anecdote is the suggestion that Ford made a contribution. The company has always denied that any contribution was made, and no documentary evidence has ever been found. Ibid p. 54. See also Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate, (Public Affairs, 2002), pp. 185–89, ISBN 1-58648-163-0.
- "Ford and GM Scrutinized for Alleged Nazi Collaboration". Washington Post. November 30, 1998. pp. A01. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
- Farber, David R. (2002). Sloan Rules: Alfred P. Sloan and the Triumph of General Motors. University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-23804-0, p. 228.
- Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews (New York: Public Affairs, 2001), 134
- Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews (New York: Public Affairs, 2001), 142-144
- Robert Rifkind, "Confronting Antisemitism in America: Louis Marshall and Henry Ford", American Jewish History (March/June 2008):7
- Blakeslee, Spencer (2000).The Death of American Antisemitism. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-96508-2, p. 83.
- Ford, Henry (2003). The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-7829-3, p. 61.
- Lewis, (1976) pp. 140–56; Baldwin p 220–21.
- Watts pp x, 376–387; Lewis (1976) pp 135–59.
- Wallace, p. 30.
- Barkun, Michael (1996). Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement. UNC Press. ISBN 0-8078-4638-4, p. 35.
- Lewis, David I. (1976). The Public Image of Henry Ford: An American Folk Hero and His Company. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1553-4., pp. 146–154.