There are many accounts of the type of person Henry Ford was and how he lived his life. Most of what I’ve read is very similar in content. All agree that Ford was a man with an obsessive idea to build a practical automobile that was affordable to everybody.
Everyone also agrees that Ford and his obsession emerged at the right time and place in history. America was ready for the automobile, the steel and coal industry were ready to produce the steel to build them and the railroads were extensive enough to transport raw steel to the automobile plants and finished automobiles to the country at large. Add to the mix the availability of cheap, readily available labor, and couple it with the business genius of Henry Ford to complete a formula that would dramatically change the world and the life of everyone in it, forever.
By most accounts Ford was a reclusive man who was taciturn and abrupt with everyone around him. He allowed no argument and little to no discussion of any decision he made.
Henry Ford—by the accounts I’ve read was a megalomaniac, who believed himself superior to the rest of the world and was entitled to do whatever he wanted, when he wanted and how he wanted.
Ford experienced dramatic success after tremendously hard work and sacrifice. At this point in history, the public revered industrial giants. These factors when combined with Ford’s own personality made him an easy candidate for Megalomania. He did not hesitate to use premeditative violence where he felt it was expedient, such as with his battles with unions and his own employees.
While Ford changed the world with his production of the automobile, he not only resisted, be fought against the societal changes occurring in the world around him. These included everything from movies and music to new styles in dress as well as government regulation of business.
Early on in his rise to greatness, from 1910 to 1918, Henry became voracious in his open hatred of immigration, liquor and the labor movement. Henry also was prolific in his condemnation of Jews and his anti-Semitism was destined to negatively affect him in the near future.
Ford was insulated—at his own insistence—from the rest of the world and never gave a thought to the actions he took. Believing the rest of the world wanted and needed his views on current events, he hired a staff to write a weekly column entitled “Mr. Ford’s Page”.
In this weekly column, Henry asserted that the Jews were involved in a conspiracy to take control of the world. Additionally, he charged Jews with instigating World War One in order to profiteer from it. Closer to home, he attacked Jews for undermining his automobile dealerships as well as manipulating the financial markets for their own purposes.
The old newspaper column morphed into a new one entitled “The International Jew: The World’s Problem.” For a year and a half the column perpetuated Ford’s radical views. He hired retired military intelligence experts to dig up “evidence” to support his theories. The weekly column became progressively more rabid and far-reaching in its charges and assertions.
This bizarre campaign continued for an additional seven years after the Russian Government forged a document entitled “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” that “proved” everything that Ford believed was true. A Russian operative met with Ford and presented him with the document.
Finally—in 1927—after multiple lawsuits from libeled Jews, Ford was brought to his knees by fears of a Jewish boycott of his automobiles and apologized publically while asserting his belief in Jewish virtue and promising his support of Jewish issues and the Jewish people in the future. The barrage of apologies was humiliating and embarrassing for him and the Ford Company.
However, the old Ford was alive and well and placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of his underlings and newspaper staff—firing everyone concerned—while maintaining he was too busy to keep up with what was written.