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June 16: The Ford Motor Company and the Dearborn Independent

June 16, 2013
424px-Dearborn_IndependentHenry Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Company on this date in 1903, with eleven investors and $28,000 in capital. He sold his first automobile, a Model A, to a Detroit doctor one month later. Ford perfected factory assembly-line production, turned the car into a middle-class necessity, and transformed the American economy. He also published the Dearborn Independent, an anti-Semitic weekly with a circulation of 900,000, which popularized the anti-Jewish forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A libel suit brought by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith and a Jewish-led boycott of Ford products caused Ford to shut down his newspaper in 1927 (by which time his company had sold more than 15 million Model T cars) and to issue an apology. In 1938, on the eve of World War II,Ford (who considered himself a pacifist) accepted Nazi Germany’s Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal bestowed by Germany on foreign citizens. “I am fully aware of the virtues of the Jewish people as a whole, of what they and their ancestors have done for civilization and for mankind and toward the development of commerce and industry, of their sobriety and diligence, their benevolence and their unselfish interest in the public welfare.” —Henry Ford, 1927