American Heroes, Myth and Reality

By Marshall W. Fishwick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
The Sign of the T: Henry Ford

"The Case of Little Reuben occurred only twenty- three years after Our Ford's first T-Model was put on the market." (Here the Director made a sign of the T on his stomach and all the students reverently followed suit.)-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

History is bunk. All the art in the world isn't worth five cents. Reading books musses up your mind. Literature is all right, but it doesn't mean much. The jagged crystals of sugar damage your stomach. Cows, horses, and creeds will disappear from the earth. Don't ruin a son by sending him to college. Anyone who smokes or drinks shouldn't be employed. The theory of evolution is part of the Jewish plot against the Gentile world. So was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

These statements and dozens like them were all made publicly by an American hero. He was no backwoods bigot or mere theorizer, but one of the most respected and practical men of our time; the last of the billionaires. People who never beard of Washington, Lincoln, or the Declaration of Independence knew his name well. It bounced over the world's highways daily. The name was Henry Ford; its bearer drove a tin lizzie up Olympus.

Ford had, as much as any man of his times, a sense of mission. "Machinery is the new Messiah," he claimed. If this be true, Henry Ford is a saint and his blueprints are Holy Writ. That our offspring will make the sign of the T and measure time A.F. (After Ford), as Aldous Huxley mischievously suggests, is unlikely, but they may well revere him as a miracle maker who assembled a brave new mechanical world. Outside his factory, he

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