On This Day in History: July 23
The first Ford car
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By the end of World War I, half of all cars in America were the Model T Ford. Henry Ford did many great things. He also really hated Jews.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: July 23, 1903--
The Ford Motor Company was incorporated mid-June 1903. A little over a month later, on July 23, the company sold its first car. As a boy growing up in Michigan, Ford said fuck this farming bullshit and apprenticed himself to a machinist in Detroit, starting down a career path that would lead him to transform the assembly-line method of mass production.
Because of Ford, the motor vehicle went from being an expensive method of transportation for rich people to something the middle-class could afford, which is why we have gridlock, pollution, and 3,700 global deaths a day from car accidents. Well, if Ford hadn’t done it, someone else would have. But there are admirable things about the way he did it. He was committed to lowering manufacturing costs and the price of his cars, coupled with aggressive marketing, to grow the company into a behemoth. Ford became one of the richest men in America.
And he shared the wealth. Ford abhorred employee turnover, hiring and endeavoring to retain quality workers by paying them a generous wage that many considered exorbitant and coupling it with a shortened (five-day) work week. The best mechanics flocked to his company. He also hired Black workers, women, and people with disabilities at a time when few others did.
He also launched the Ford Foundation, dedicated to improving human welfare. The foundation is one of the wealthiest charitable organizations in the world, donating to the arts, the fight for civil rights, microloans, and fighting the AIDS epidemic.
But yeah, that antisemitism though.
Ford bought an obscure newspaper from his hometown, the Dearborn Independent. Running from 1920 to 1927, all Ford franchises were required to carry and distribute the paper to their customers. It reached hundreds of thousands of readers and spread toxic tales of how a vast Jewish conspiracy infected America. It said Jews had started the war, and that they basically ran a cabal that could be blamed for every imaginable ill in the world.
The antisemitic stories spread, given weight because they came from such a powerful man. Hitler was a big fan. Ford helped create a state of complacency in America regarding Germany’s treatment of Jews; the United States turned away countless thousands of Jewish people fleeing Nazi extermination.
Get the book ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY SH!T WENT DOWN.