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One morning early in 1922,
William Cameron arrived at his news office to find Henry Ford waiting for
him. "You're late aren't you," Ford commented. "I want you to cut out the
Jewish articles. Put all your thought and time to studying and writing
about this money question. The Jews are responsible for the present money
standard, and we want them on our side to get rid of it." Liebold arrived
moments later and tried to dissuade Ford: "We can deal with both subjects."
"No we can't," Ford retorted. "The Jewish articles must stop, and Cameron
must go to work on the money question.98
announced his intentions to the press while in Washington D.C. on January
17, 1922. He explained that The Dearborn Independent campaign "leads us
naturally into the money issue, because the 'International Jew' is the
greatest money merchant in the world." Ford had become convinced some time
before that the money question was "tremendously more important." Therefore,
he was determined to close up the campaign on the Jews and move on "to
the next line of attack."99 Others, however,
weren't convinced that Ford ended his campaign solely to concentrate on
the "money issue." E.G. Pipp provided two alternate motives. One was that
the articles stopped as the result of a conference Ford had with Gaston
Plantiff, who was his representative in New York City. While Ford sales
had been satisfactory as a whole, they had dropped dramatically in areas
with a large Jewish constituency. Others had already pointed this out,
including Ford's own son, Edsel. However, Ford greatly respected Plantiff
and listened to him when he brought up the problem. "Whatever his reputation
may be," Pipp pointed out, "the dollar appeals to Ford as strongly as to
any man on earth."100
even more important, factor involved Ford's hopes for a possible Presidential
bid. It appeared that Ford, in trying to appeal to popular sentiment through
anti-Semitism, had overlooked the electoral vote. In 1922, New York had
the most electoral votes with 45, while Ohio had 20, Illinois had 29, and
Pennsylvania had 38; there were more in these four states than in the whole
solid South. "Running through New York City, Philadelphia, Cincinnati,
Cleveland, and Chicago are strong Jewish influences," Pipp observed at
the time. "They seldom unite or act concertedly on political matters, but
with Ford attacking them, they naturally would be solid against him....
They are human and would not fall for putting their greatest enemy into
a high office."101
offered another explanation. Apparently, Ford's detectives had begun to
investigate Jewish film producer William Fox in their ongoing efforts to
connect Jews in the entertainment industry with the decline of morals.
In the mean time, Fox had decided to conduct an investigation of his own.
He soon reported to Ford that he had footage from "hundreds of cameramen
all over the country" of accidents and fatalities involving defects in
Ford automobiles. Fox planned to go through the footage and put the "best"
clips into the newsreels. "The effect of this notice was immediate. Henry
sent word to William that he had decided to stop the attack on Jews."102
somewhat less likely, possibilities have been suggested. These include
the influences of Ford's good friend Thomas Edison and of Ford's son Edsel,
as well as a private request from President Harding through mutual friend
Judson C. Welliver.103 Whatever his motive,
Ford halted a devastating campaign that had gone on for 21 consecutive
months. For those who thought that Ford's paper was totally through with
the subject of Jews, however, Ford had issued a foreboding statement in
his January 17 address: "We have enough material on the 'International
Jew' to keep up the campaign for five years. We have had offers of a great
deal more important material since I have been in Washington."104
Not surprisingly, many people felt that the halt in the anti-Semitic articles
signified no change on Ford's part. Pipp warned in his publication, "The
old hatred is there, the old influence is there, and all we have to say
to the Jews is, if Ford ever gets into power, look out!"105
Part of the reason
that Ford persisted in his beliefs was because he felt, incredibly, that
his articles were not anti-Semitic. He had once laughed at a news dispatch
which announced that he was trying to "make peace with the Jews," explaining
that he had never made war on them.106
He had always possessed a number of Jewish friends, though most of them
severed the relationship after the Independent campaign. Ford's old friend
and neighbor, Rabbi Leo Franklin, denounced Ford's actions in the press
even as he vainly tried to communicate with Ford on a personal level. For
several years, Ford had annually presented Franklin with a Ford automobile.
However, Franklin returned Ford's 1920 gift, writing to Ford that: "You
are determined to continue the series of articles that must inevitably
tend to poison the minds of the masses against the Jews. Under such circumstances,
I cannot in self-respect continue to be the beneficiary of your well-meant
courtesy. You claim that you do not intend to attack all Jews, but whatever
the thought in your own mind, it stands to reason that those who read these
articles -inspired and sanctioned by you- will naturally infer that it
is your purpose to include in your condemnation every person of the Jewish
faith...."107 Franklin received a typically
smug reply from Liebold: "It is of course to be regretted that you have
seen fit to.. .sever the relations of friendship which have heretofore
existed between you and Mr. Ford. I sincerely hope, however, that conditions
will so adjust themselves as to eventually convince yourself that Mr. Ford's
position is correct... the world and all its people may benefit thereby.
No man can follow a principle unless he is ready and willing to make whatever
sacrifices are necessary."108 Ford himself
was more direct, asking innocently, "What's wrong Dr. Franklin? Has anything
come between us?"109
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98. Nevins and Hill, 316.
99. New York Times, 17 January 1922, 6.
100. Pipp, 23.
101. Ibid., 24.
102. Sinclair 127.
103. Lewis, 141.
*104. New York Times, 17 January 1922, 6.
105. Pipp, 27.
106. Tolerance, 5 August 1923, 3.
107. Jardin, 143.
109. Lacey, 230.