Henry Ford was born and raised on a farm outside Detroit, Michigan.
Ford was raised Episcopalian, and believed in God, but doesn’t appear to have spent a great deal of time thinking about it.
Religion, like everything else, is a thing that should be kept working. I see no use in spending a great deal of time learning about heaven and hell. In my opinion, a man makes his own heaven and hell and carries it around with him. Both of them are states of mind.
When he was 26 however, he discovered the concept of reincarnation, which made more sense to him than anything the Episcopalians were talking about. He didn’t completely ditch the Christian theology, but incorporated reincarnation into his faith.
Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives.
But Ford’s real passion lay less in his embrace of Christianity or reincarnation, but in his hatred of Jews. In fact, his antisemitic zeal, detailed in a series of writings under his name called The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, prompted Hitler to call Ford his “inspiration.” The man responsible for the death of nearly six million Jews kept a life-sized portrait of the American automaker next to his desk.
Despite his prejudices, Henry Ford’s legacy in the United States is as a great entrepreneur, capitalist, and friend of the middle class. Ford was a leading “welfare capitalist” who doubled wages in 1914 in an effort to reduce turnover and create a loyal, more productive workforce. But he only offered the five-dollar-a-day wage to workers to who passed inspections into their private lives regarding, among other things, cleanliness of their homes, regular bank deposits, and their children’s school attendance records.
He was also an enemy of unions–he so resisted the unionizing of him employees that he sent out thugs to attack organizers.
Ford opposed World War I, but his opposition to the war was not rooted in pacifism:
My opposition to war is not based upon pacifist or non-resistant principles. . . . But the fighting never settles the question. It only gets the participants around to a frame of mind where they will agree to discuss what they were fighting about.
He was more concerned that those who financed the war were just looking to make a profit at the expense of human life.
Although he did not officially align with either political party, his prominence as a successful industrialist prompted Woodrow Wilson to convince him to run for Senate as a Democrat. He narrowly lost that race, and although he had copious support for a presidential bid in 1924, never ran for office again.
By the 1930s, thanks to the wide circulation of his antisemitic literature, Ford was much admired by the Nazis. In 1938, Nazi Germany bestowed on Ford the highest honor they could award a foreigner. It’s no surprise that Ford wasn’t very enthusiastic about entering World War II. He did eventually start producing planes to aid in the war effort, but his plants in Germany were supplying the other side while Ford profited at home.
So in the end, not only profiting from war, but profiting from both sides of the war became Ford’s game. He chose not a political party nor even a country with which to be loyal; he chose only Ford Motor Company.