Ford Suit Against Chicago Tribune
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FORD SUIT AGAINST CHICAGO TRIBUNE
STARTS IN MOUNT CLEMENS—DEFENSE WILL ATTEMPT TO PROVE FORD WAS AN ANARCHIST THREE YEARS AGO.
The $1,000,000 libel suit of Henry Ford against the Chicago Tribune got under way late this week at Mount Clemens. Mich., with the selection of a complete jury after much legal wrangling and challenging. Each venireman was closely examined as to his ideas on preparedness, anarchy and pacifism and as to his attitude in the Ford-Newberry senatorial contest.
Mr. Ford's complaint is that on June 23, 1916, the Tribune editorially called him “an anarchist,” and “ignorant idealist,” “an anarchist enemy of the nation” and charged that he was “so incapable of thought that he cannot see the ignominy of his own performance.” The editorial was entitled “Ford Is an Anarchist” and was based upon Mr. Ford's alleged statement, at the time the National Guard was being called for service at the Mexican border, that the Ford Motor Company would not hold open the positions of any of its men who quit for military service, nor pay their salaries, nor care for their dependents.
Mr. Ford's attorneys state the alleged statement is untrue.
It was indicated early in the week that the Tribune intends to bring a mass of evidence tending to show that Mr. Ford was an anarchist at the time the editorial was written and heated debates on this point took place between the opposing attorneys. Elliot G. Stevenson, an attorney for the Tribune, said:
“We will prove that Mr. Ford was ananarchist; we are here to prove that he was an anarchist at the time this article was published, an anarchist in the sense that I have outlined, an anarchist in the sense that this editorial was written, an anarchist in the sense in which readers of this paper would understand that t was used from what was said in he paper and what preceded it, this being the culmination of a long discussion on this subject.
“It is the claim of the defense that when the editorial appeared, it wasnecessary that men should be encouraged to aid their country and that Mr. Ford took a stand before his employes which was inimical to the best interests of the country and in that sense, Mr. Ford was an anarchist. We are not going to show that he is a bomb-thrower, but we intend to show that in the sense of the definition of anarchy, he is an anarchist.”
Mr. Stevenson read from a volume of United States Supreme Court decisions a series of definitions of anarchy, the last of which was:
“Anarchy is an absence of government or an insufficiency of government.”
“In the sense that Mr. Ford was trying to cripple and make insufficient the government, the defence in this case will prove that Mr. Ford was an anarchist,” said Mr. Stevenson.
This view of the case was objected to by Mr. Ford's attorneys, one of whom said:
“This case is to be decided on the understanding of that editorial as obtained by the persons who read it and not by the views of some scholarly individuals in the secrecy of an editorial sanctum. It is not the sense meant, but the sense conveyed that is the criterion.
“Senator Lodge and about half the other Senators might be called anarchists under the definition applied to Henry Ford.”
The Fourth Estate no. 1316 (May 17, 1919): 21.