Part VIII: Henry Ford And The Aaron Sapiro Case
July 22, 2014
Henry Ford And The Aaron Sapiro Case
Enter The Speculator Bernard Baruch
This chapter will attempt to get Bernard Baruch’s involvement in Sapiro’s career a littler clearer. Always circumspect in his two volume auto-biography one gains the impression from Baruch that he is only telling you so much as he wants you to know. That so much is always of a very positive character regarding himself. Although Baruch frequently finds or at least obtains no success in his public career it is always that he was right but the other fellow isn’t quite quick enough to get Baruch’s meaning. Thus when FDR fails to take Barney’s advice it is inexplicable to himself and as he imagines to Roosevelt’s later regret. However everyone consults him with gratitude.
For instance here is an interchange with Thomas Edison, then considered America’s greatest inventive genius:
For many years I carried on a heavy correspondence with men who were in a position to help the farmer. One of these was Thomas A. Edison, whose interest in agriculture must have been as surprising to some people as my own. One day I received a call from Edison’s secretary. Edison was on his way over to see me at my home, he told me. I had never met the “genius of Menlo Park” and could hardly fathom why he should be calling on me. When he arrived he told me that, having heard of my interest in the farm problem, he wanted my views on a plan for credit and marketing which he had drafted at the suggestion of his friend, Henry Ford. I undertook to comment on Edison’s plan, and he accepted my criticism graciously. I felt highly complimented when he wrote: “You are the first man who has had imagination enough to throw off the trammels of the money religion and analyze the proposed scheme like an engineer.”
That is the general tenor of the hundreds of encounters with very prominent men, the majority of whom are Baruch’s friends, over the 800 pages or so of his auto-biography. Edison, who had a reputation as an anti-Semite second only to Ford, seems strangely to have selected not only a Jew to read his plan but a principal in the Lubin-Sapiro Cooperative farming plan. He could have received nothing but a negative reading.
Bernard Baruch was born in 1876 in the former Confederate State of South Carolina. His father, though Jewish, had fought for the slave states and in the aftermath of Reconstruction had been a Klansman. This was a small marvel to the young Bernard before he left home for New York to become notorious as one of the bears of Wall Street. Bears are never thought well of on the Street so that Baruch’s reputation was always on the negative side.
While he never tells us how large his fortune was at any rate he was able to give up Wall Street during the Great War to enter public service, as he says, at the insistence of President Woodrow Wilson himself. That’s the way it was with Barney, all the great men came to him for advice unsolicited.
More than financially secure he was able to dispense considerable largesse, as he says. He entered Wilson’s war administration as the head of the War Industries Board- the WIB. Here he began the collectivization of American industry somewhat like the industrial codes of Roosevelt’s NIRA. Bernard’s reputation was as a speculator on Wall Street and a bear at that so when he was chief of the WIB and demanded all industrialists submit their financial data to him this would have an invaluable asset to him for his speculations. In fact he was accused of the very thing.
One shouldn’t be too surprised then that there was strenuous opposition to his request. None was more strident than that of the automakers of Detroit including the most famous industrialist of all, Henry Ford. As in 1935 when the Supreme Court defused the same type of situation in which Ford was embroiled so the end of WWI defused this one, but Ford had had his first encounter with Baruch and Jewish collectivist methods.
During the War farmers had benefited as much or more so than industry. These were a couple fat years as prices rose and demand exceeded supply. Farmers are not actually businessmen. Wartime orders both made and destroyed companies. The orders were so large that companies had to expand their capacity at great expense. Some like the small arms manufacturers did so at great expense only to fall on hard times when orders ceased in 1918, but the expenses went on causing them great distress much like the farmers.
On the other hand Dupont was heavily criticized when having received a huge order from France they explained to the French that they would have to build a new factory and would only do so if the French paid for it. Thus, when the orders stopped Dupont’s expense stopped and they made the transition to peacetime easily.
The farmers were in the position of the small arms manufacturers. They had bought lots of equipment as farming became more mechanized. When their sales collapsed and expenses went on they were in a desperate situation as banks had no choice but to foreclose. Not being businessmen the farmers were slow at financials.
Agriculture through the twenties was in desperate shape. Ford who had a soft spot for farmers from his youth on the farm took a great interest in the problem working out his own solutions apparently with the help of his great friend and fellow ‘anti-Semite’ Tom Edison.
According to Baruch he also became interested in the farm problem. From the quote about Edison it would appear that he had been for at least a decade or so. This raises the question of whether or how much he knew about David Lubin.
Then, in 1922- Bernard Baruch, My Own Story Vol. II, The Public Years, p. 159:
By 1922, a total and tragic collapse of the tobacco market had brought Kentucky to the “verge of anarchy,” in the words of Judge Robert Bingham, publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times and later Ambassador the Court of St. James. At the suggestion of Arthur Krock, the editor-in-chief of the Louisville Times, Bingham asked me to join him in organizing the Kentucky tobacco growers, which I did.
The services of Aaron Sapiro, the foremost expert on the organization and management of cooperatives, were enlisted.
Who are you going to go to when you’ve got a tough problem? Why, Super Bernard Baruch of course. And Bernie, naturally, went to the top expert in the field his fellow Jew, Aaron Sapiro. But, had they known each other before, were they fellow conspirators? Baruch doesn’t say. Now, the reader unconsciously accepts Bernard’s opinion that Sapiro is THE foremost expert. That he was foremost implies that there were several other experts. So Sapiro is not alone in his field. According to Baruch, then, Sapiro was head and shoulders above all the others. Perhaps, but probably not, but what and how does Aaron know about cooperatives? After all, he began as a nickel and dime lawyer in San Francisco.
The Jewish cooperative movement of which Baruch and Sapiro were exemplars had begun back around the turn of the century under the leadership of the Jew David Lubin among Jewish orange growers around Sacramento, California. What was known as the Sapiro Plan was actually the Lubin plan.
Sapiro began as a shyster lawyer in San Francisco becoming known to Lubin who made him a cooperative ‘expert.’ Lubin who had grand international plans then departed for Europe where he managed to sell his plan to the king of Italy. Taken under the king’s wing, financed by him, Lubin set to work. A question is did Ford know about Lubin? As he mentioned that the Jews had an international plan, and Lubin was behind one, I’m guessing that he did. Unfortunately for Lubin and possibly for Sapiro he was cut down by influenza in 1919. After 1919 then Sapiro was on his own and appears to have begun drifting. His fortunes began declining so he was already on the skids when Baruch brought him into the Kentucky tobacco affair. By 1924 it may have been necessary for him to seek a million by suing Ford.
Ford had his newspaper, the International Dearborn Independent. During 1920-21 Ford had published 91 articles exposing Jewish machinations in the US. The articles were all true, that is, factually correct, but the Jews ever sensitive to criticism denounced Ford as an anti-Semite. Exposes had a long history and the debunking authors coming along on the heels of the muckrakers became prominent in the twenties so in that sense Ford was right in step with the times. Ford wasn’t doing anything that the Jews weren’t doing with the exception that he was doing it to the Jews.
Sapiro having come to his attention, in 1924 he began a series of 20 articles exposing what was the Lubin-Sapiro plan but Ford didn’t know of or at least didn’t mention David Lubin. Ford’s articles did couple Bernard Baruch’s name with Sapiro’s as well as those of fellow Jews Eugene Meyer and Albert Lasker.
In Volume II of his memoirs, The Public Years, Baruch discusses this involvement. 159-162:
It seemed to me that farmers could spare themselves many trials if, instead of trying to create an organization, they could acquire one already established, one with adequate facilities, experienced personnel, and a standing in the marketing field.
In other words, organized as businessmen, which they weren’t.
I approached J. Ogden Armour the meat packing tycoon, in the spring of 1923. I proposed that he sell his Armour grain company, one of the largest grain marketing houses in the country, to several farmer organizations. This idea was not without its implicit irony. Armour was then anathema to farmers, representing all that was evil in the creation and operation of the Chicago meat packing empires, which Upton Sinclair had execrated in his famous book, The Jungle.
So, the farmers have the leading Wall Street bear speculator getting a scourge of the farmers, Armour Packing Co., to sell that what appears to be a very profitable business. At what price?
I suggested a plan which he readily endorsed. Under its terms a farmer organization would purchase the Armour Grain Company. Its duration would be entrusted temporarily to a board comprising the present management, representatives of the farmers, and representatives of the public. When the farmers’ indebtedness to Armour was liquidated, direction would be left entirely to the farmers.
Not clear exactly what Baruch is smoking here. I can see about twenty things that could go very wrong here. First we have sharpers vs. rubes. Very bad start. Then we have ‘entrusted temporarily’. Two bad words there, trust and temporary. And skipping over to the end, direction by farmers. Farmers are farmers busy farming. They aren’t going to direct any of this. They are going to have to trust permanently after having given up their independence. My daddy always said you can’t trust anybody and I found that to be true. I couldn’t even trust daddy.
The farmers weren’t going for any of it and between Baruch and Armour I don’t blame them. Now, we’re getting a little closer to the bone after this carefully worded preface:
Many people who admired the doctrines of competition, more in theory than in practice, professed to see in the cooperative marketing movement a violation of the anti-trust laws at the very least; and, at worst, a dangerous form of collectivism.
Yes, it was a dangerous form of collectivism. The farmers wouldn’t be any better off and they would be bound by the collective of which Baruch and his group would be the beneficiaries. There were other cooperative plans so farmers seeing their plan as a number of violations wasn’t necessarily opposition to cooperatives.
One of the loudest voices in the hostile pack was Henry Ford’s who used his mouthpiece, the Dearborn Independent to unleash a particularly violent an bigoted attack on cooperative marketing, labeling it the handiwork of Jews and Communists, and naming Aaron Sapiro and me as among the alien influences responsible for this un-American idea.
I don’t see how being opposed to an unsound plan makes one evil as Baruch says here. I don’t know how you can be bigoted against the concept of cooperative marketing while I don’t believe Ford was actually opposed to farm coops. I may be wandering but I’m not sure farm coops and Baruch’s use of cooperative marketing are the same thing.
To my knowledge the Sapiro articles from the Independent haven’t been published in book form so I haven’t read them but I am unwilling to accept Baruch’s self-serving characterization of them. After all, what we have here is an us vs. them situation. One can’t expect fair play from Baruch and the rest.
Following the above Baruch gives a long paragraph of character assassination of Ford. Then, as if to vilify Ford further he gives us this diatribe, p. 162:
Beginning with the issue of May 22, 1920, and leading with a front-page editorial captioned “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem” the Independent had carried on one of the most violent and sustained anti-Semitic attacks ever seen in this country. Its pages were filled with it for ninety-one consecutive issues. It was an operation as fantastic in its planning as in its execution. E.G. Liebold, a Ford executive, had established a detective agency in New York City to investigated the private lives of Jews and providing fodder for the Independent campaign. Many of the agency’s men had numbers like 121X. It was this bureau that bought a translation of the spurious “Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Zion,” a notorious and classic anti-Semitic document, which provided the Independent with material for a year and a half.
One day the Independent appeared with a headline and story proclaiming me as the “pro-consul of Judah in America’ and a Jew of Super-Power,” the head and front of a dictatorial conspiracy.
I ignored these assaults, but Sapiro was irate.
The detective agency would have been part of Ford’s Service Department. I can’t fathom why Baruch was irate because the Xs were spying on the private lives of Jews. While I find that, if true, offensive however the fact is that the American Jewish Committee and the ADL keep files on 3,000,000 of what they presume are American anti-Semites of which there is a file on me. Believe me it can be quite an invasion of privacy.
Currently some of my essays are displayed on the ADL site as examples of anti-Semitism which I consider defamation. No one thought to ask me. So, Bernard is being somewhat disingenuous here.
As far as his being a pro-consul, whatever is meant by that, I believe he probably was an officer of the international Jewish government. As far as being a Jew of Super-Power, any reading of his auto-biography would indicate he obviously thought of himself as that.
So here in these quotes from four carefully written pages of Baruch’s we have a principal participants view of what the thought was happening and how he was involved in it. He carefully selects what information to release but it isn’t that difficult to read between the lines.
Tracking down Eugene Meyer and Albert Lasker’s involvement looks to be more difficult however the more one looks into this issue the more Henry Ford is exonerated.