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Q: Henry Ford defamation of character lawsuit ( No Answer,   1 Comment )
Subject: Henry Ford defamation of character lawsuit
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: pbernstein-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 13 Feb 2004 17:44 PST
Expires: 14 Mar 2004 17:44 PST
Question ID: 306615
Henry Ford sued Westbrook Pegler (name may not be spelled correctly)
because Mr. Ford was accused of not being very smart and, if I recall
correctly, not being college educated.  As the folkslore goes, Mr.
Ford sued and demonstrated just how smart he was due to his building a
very successful business and how he had top graduates in every area of
business and the law that anyone could want.

What I am looking for is a case citation or links to articles that
discuss the matter and the law suit that Mr. Ford filed for defamation
of character.

Request for Question Clarification by majortom-ga on 16 Feb 2004 16:49 PST
Are you absolutely certain this was a defamation case against Pegler?

I ask because there is a famous libel case Henry Ford lost against the
Chicago Tribune, and a famous libel case Westbrook Pegler lost in
which Henry Ford was not the defendant.  I would be happy to provide
you with information about both of these cases, as well as some
background on Westbrook Pegler.

I have not been able to find any references of a Ford v. Pegler suit.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 16 Feb 2004 17:02 PST
Hello there.

Please have a look at this excerpt from a book, "Protecting the Best
Men: An Interpretive History of the Law of Libel"

"...When in 1919, two industrial giants, Henry Ford and Colonel
McCormick of the Chicago Tribune, met in a dramatic libel case, both
of the disputants formed their own publicity teams and regularly
issued bulletins on their respective views of the lengthy trial's
progress. When celebrated trial lawyer Louis Nizer published his
memoirs, he devoted two chapters to his excursions into libel law,
including his involvement in the headline-grabbing clash between
Quentin Reynolds and the Hearst columnist Westbrook Pegler."

Is it possible that your memory has merged these two well-known cases
-- one involving Ford, the other involving Pegler -- into a single

Memory can be tricky that way.  If you find you'd like information on
either the Ford case or the Pegler case mentioned above, let me know,
and I'll be happy to assist you.


Clarification of Question by pbernstein-ga on 16 Feb 2004 18:43 PST
It is certainly possible that my memory is in error.  The "substance"
of what I am looking for related to statements that Henry Ford was not
an intelligent person, allegedly not having progressed very far in
school.  His response, in part, as I recall, was to testify or state
that if he had a legal problem, he could push a button on his desk and
several top Harvard Law School graduates would quickly enter his
office to do his bidding....similarly, if he had an engineering
problem...push another button and severl MIT top grads would enter his
office to assist with THAT problem, etc.

My goal is to demonstrate to a board of directors I am on that a
college degree, although great to have and a very valuable asset, is
NOT the only credential that can make for a great leader and business

Hope this helps.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 16 Feb 2004 19:46 PST
Hello again.

Thanks for your follow up comment, but I'm not sure the Henry Ford
libel suit is really the one you want to use to make your case. 
Consider the following excerpt from an article about the libel suit:'s+Time+Machine&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

"...Seizing on Ford's "history is bunk" assertion, one of McCormick's
lawyers bombarded the auto maker with questions designed to
demonstrate he was indeed an "ignorant idealist." The tactic succeeded
all too well. Ford, who as a boy obtained only a skimpy education in a
rural school, knew nothing about the Civil War campaigns of Generals
Grant and Sherman, confused the War of 1812 with the American
Revolution, and when asked to identify famous traitor Benedict Arnold
replied: "He is a writer, I think." Laughter erupted in the courtroom,
laughter echoed in print by the nation's newspapers and magazines.

There was more laughter when, on August 14, the jury announced its
verdict: McCormick's Tribune was guilty of libel, but Ford, one of the
wealthiest men in the world, was awarded a derisory six cents in

It's your call as to whether the legal history on this one will really
help win the day with the board of directors.  But if you'd like, I
can certainly find some additional information for you on the case.

Let me know.  

There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Henry Ford defamation of character lawsuit
From: justaskscott-ga on 18 Feb 2004 13:12 PST
I looked for Westbrook Pegler in the index of a few biographies of
Henry Ford, and found no references.  I also looked for Ford in two
biographies of Pegler, and found two passing references -- but nothing
about a libel suit, only that Pegler didn't like Ford.

One of the Ford biographies discussed five cases in which Ford was
involved.  The only case that was relevant was the one mentioned by
Majortom and Pafalafa.

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