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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/2209/henry-ford-fdr-and-the-automobile-code/

Henry Ford, FDR, and the Automobile Code

July 3, 2004 by

Who can forget the heroic Henry Ford, when he was the only major manufacturer in the auto industry to not sign Hugh (Old Ironpants) Johnson’s Automobile Code under the National Industrial Recovery Act?

Entrepreneurs who kowtowed to FDR’s “voluntary” codes could place the State logo, the NRA blue eagle symbol, in their windows and on the packaging of their goods. Said Ford of the atrocious Blue Eagle: “Hell, that Roosevelt buzzard. I wouldn’t put it on the car.” The National Industrial Recovery Act was eventually declared unconstitutional by the Supremem Court, but Ford held his ground against Roosevelt, even as FDR led a boycott against Ford products.

In 1934, Roosevelt went so far as to sign an executive order requiring Ford to comply with the NRA’s automobile code, or face the elimination of government contracts. This lasted until the end of the year, when government agencies swallowed their bitter pill and resumed purchases from Ford.

From The Public Image of Henry Ford: An American Folk Hero and his Company by David L. Lewis:

Although Henry Ford was heavily criticized for his attitude toward the NRA during August and September 1933, the tide of public opinion, as the stalemate continued, began to run heavily in his favor. “The cheering and marching for NRA,” said Business Week in October 1933, “seems to have generated little if any public resentment against Mr. Ford.” The magazine added that a newsreel’s fleeting shot of Henry Ford, which followed several hundred feet of film on General Johnson [NRA administrator] and NRA activities, elicited applause in the theatres when it was shown.

** From 15 Statement on the Extension of the Automobile Code January 31, 1935:

First, the plan involves introduction of new models of passenger cars in the fall instead of the winter. This should result in a greater regularity of work and in lessening the spread between the peaks and valleys of employment.

{ 3 comments }

Paul D July 5, 2004 at 4:44 pm

Ford also fought the ridiculous patent scheme by which lawyer George Selden was extorting money from every automobile maker in the country (even though Selden himself had never built a car).

The patent was overturned on a technicality, and Ford’s victory allowed everyone (not just the Ford Motor Co.) to freely innovate and build cars.

Good old Ford! Too bad my Tempo is a disgrace to his name.

David July 7, 2004 at 9:44 pm

Henry Ford was no denying a brilliant businessman, but he was no capitalist.

He was a vehement Jew-hater and usually racism in general is not far behind, and would have been right at home with the NAZIS.

He furthermore supported the movement against unions and employed force.

When a businessman such as Ford is anti-capitalist, the rise and entrenchment of collectvism is never far behind.

Ken June 3, 2011 at 8:50 am

That could be the most idiotic statement I have ever seen. Pick up a history book on the auto industry. And see who placed ads in the south to get blacks to migrate north to Detroit. I’ll save you the headache of reading and tell you it was Ford. Spend some time in Michigan and you will find a lot of people who trace their roots south, and their families migrated there because of the auto industry.

Being anti-union is totally a capitalistic mindset. Labor unions are based on re-distribution of income and the socialistic ideal that all workers make the same pay while regulating the amount of profit the company should be able to keep. Regardless that some workers are better than others and deserve more and the simple fact that the company is the one who puts forth the capital risk of success or failure.

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