|The Sapiro Trial and Ford's Apology
Jews and others were outraged by The International Jew, and Ford received thousands of
complaints. In September 1920, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the National
Council of Jewish Women and B'nai B'rith asked ADL to counteract
The League released a pamphlet, The Poison Pen, that
targeted the Dearborn Independent and the men behind The International Jew.
More than 100 prominent citizens, including President Woodrow Wilson, former Presidents
Taft and Roosevelt, W.E.B. DuBois, Clarence Darrow, and William Jennings Bryan, signed The
Perils of Racial Prejudice, a statement that urged "all those who are molders of
public opinion" to "strike at" The International Jew, which it
characterized as "un-American, un-Christian agitation."
|While [The International Jew] once reached thousands, its reach is now even greater on the Internet.
Prominent lawyer Samuel Untermeyer penned a widely-published statement
describing the pernicious effects of the distribution of The International Jew. He
Wherever there was a Ford car there was a Ford agency not far away, and
wherever there was a Ford agency these vile libelous books in the language of the country
were to be found. They, coupled with the magic name of Ford, have done more than could be
undone in a century to sow, spread and ripen the poisonous seeds of anti-Semitism and race
hatred. These articles are so fantastic and so naïve in their incredible fantasy that
they read like the work of a lunatic, and but for the authority of the Ford name they
would have never seen the light of day and would have been quite harmless if they had.
With that name they spread like wildfire and became the Bible of every anti-Semite&
Despite these complaints, The Dearborn Independent continued to
attack Jews, even after the publication of the articles that constitute The
International Jew. In 1927, the paper printed accusations that Jewish lawyer Aaron Sapiro and
a group of Jewish bankers and merchants were seeking to control the nation's
wheat farming. Sapiro sued for defamation; his case came to trial in Detroit.
Though Sapiro's suit was directed personally at Ford, Cameron testified for
many days, claiming full responsibility for the articles. He even went so far as to assert
that Ford had never heard of Sapiro. This lie was swiftly exposed when James M. Miller, a
former Dearborn Independent employee, swore under oath that Ford had told him he
intended to expose Sapiro.
Just before Ford was to take the stand, he was injured in an auto
accident. While he recovered, Ford operatives demanded a mistrial after a juror spoke to a
news reporter. Following the declaration of a mistrial, Ford issued public statements and
apologies to individuals and Jews as a group. On July 16, 1927, an out-of-court settlement
of the Sapiro suit was announced.
Though Ford apologized for The International Jew and closed the Dearborn
Independent, he later accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Hitler's
Nazi government in July, 1938. Some remain skeptical of his apology, claiming that Ford
himself neither wrote nor personally signed it.
Ford again expressed his concern about the circulation of The
International Jew following America's entry into the war against Germany, for The
Protocols had become a staple of Nazi propaganda. In a 1942 letter to Sigmund
Livingston, then ADL national chairman, Ford wrote, "I do not subscribe to or
support, directly or indirectly, any agitation which would promote antagonism against my
Jewish fellow citizens." He pointed out that he "destroyed copies" of The
International Jew when he first apologized and had refused to give "permission or
sanction to anyone to use my name as sponsoring such publication, or being the accredited
In the decades following Ford's death in 1947, what was once a
privately-owned business became a corporation owned in large part by the public. Since then, the Ford
family and the Ford Motor Company have engaged in numerous projects and endeavors in the
public interest, including many that have been supportive of Jewish concerns. Ford's
grandson, Henry Ford II, consistently supported Jewish charities and cultural organizations.
In 1997, for example, the Ford Motor Company sponsored the first screening of
Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List," commercial-free,
on national network television.