When One of the Richest Men in the World Tried to Stop a War

How much money do you think it takes to stop a war?

» Top New Products

The Candlestick Trading Bible
cs_image_0

The  Most  Powerful  Trading  System  In  History  Used  By  Munehisa  Homma                                                                   

$47.00
Parenting and Families Products
cs_image_1

A  great  collection  of  eBooks  on  parenting    and    family  related  products.                                                       

$9.95
Protect Your e-Books and Videos
cs_image_2

Protect  your  digital  contents  with  the  best  protection  software  on  the  market.                                           

$27.00
Internet profits
cs_image_3

60  Entrepreneurs    and    Millionaires  Reveal  The  Secrets  In  Business    and    Life                                             

$7.95
Learn That Language Now
cs_image_4

Want  the  quickest,  fastest  method  to  learn  a  foreign  language?  Read  now                                                         

$29.00
Guide to resume writing
cs_image_5

With  simple  language  and  formatting  refinements  improve  your  response  rate  by  as  much  as  50%.             

$49.00
Model Train Layout Ideas
cs_image_6

Learn  The  Methods  That  Helps  You  Plan,  Build    and    Maintain  Amazing  Model  Train  Layouts  By  Your  Own 

$47.00
How To Spray Paint Your Car
cs_image_7

Learn  the  secrets  of  professional  car  spray  painting  and  body  work  repair  in  2  hours.                             

$37.00
Matlab Algorithmic Trading App
cs_image_8

MATLAB  App  for  Advanced  Algorithmic  Trading  Strategies  Development  in  Minutes,  not  Months.                   

$59.00
Training for rock climbing
cs_image_9

A  proven  plan  to  help  you  become  a  better,  stronger  and  more  technical  rock  climber.                               

$12.00
Solve Baby Sleep Problems
cs_image_10

3  Tear-free  tips  to  help  your  Baby  Sleep  Through  the  Night.                                                                                 

$37.00
Marathon training plan
cs_image_11

The  100  Day  Marathon  Plan.  Helps  All-level-runners  Achieve  Their  Marathon  Goals.                                       

$47.00

One of the richest men in the world, U.S. automaker Henry Ford, set out a century ago to answer that question and to test the boundaries of privately funded diplomacy. Frustrated with America’s strict isolationist stance under President Woodrow Wilson, the pacifist tycoon took matters into his own hands, organizing an independent delegation of “the biggest and most influential peace advocates in the country” and chartering a “Peace Ship” to take them across the Atlantic in the winter of 1915. Their mission was no less than to end World War I and restore peace in Europe.

The origins of Ford’s pacifism, as Steven Watts explores in The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century, are somewhat unclear. He prided himself on being a man of the people and believed that many of his fellow business leaders were commercial “parasites” eager to profit from the conflict in Europe. Perhaps the enormous human and material waste associated with war also offended his sense of economic efficiency.

The ship’s “peace pilgrims” quickly devolved into warring factions.

Whatever the reason, as World War I raged on, Ford became an increasingly outspoken opponent. “To my mind, the word ‘murderer’ should be embroidered in red letters across the breast of every soldier,” he told one reporter. He soon launched a national campaign of newspaper articles and advertising, vowing that he would “do everything in [his] power to prevent murderous, wasteful war.”

But by late 1915, Ford, a man of action more than words, had decided that it was time “to put a stop to the silly killings going on abroad.” “Well meaning but naive,” according to Watts, “he embraced an initiative that would eventually absorb huge amounts of time and money before degenerating into an international fiasco.”

In November, Ford traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Wilson and convince him that delegates from neutral nations should help mediate a peaceful end to the war. When Wilson demurred, the automaker decided to win the peace himself and held a press conference. “We’re going to try to get the boys out of the trenches before Christmas,” the straight-talking businessman told those assembled.

“Great War Ends Christmas Day; Ford to Stop it,” the next day’s headlines cynically proclaimed. Ford was stung by the ridicule but pressed on, leasing a ship and sending out invitations to well-known progressives and pacifists like William Jennings Bryan and Thomas Edison, as well as to the governor of each state. Most recipients declined the invitation, the initiative flailed and countless political cartoons lampooned the misguided diplomat (one depicted Ford as a clown dragging a deflated balloon labeled “Peace”). A circus atmosphere and a crowd of 15,000 greeted the Peace Ship as it departed from Hoboken, New Jersey, on December 5.

Ford peace ship 1915

Ford’s fellow passengers included a Denver judge and the governor of North Dakota — neither of whom were pacifists — 54 reporters, 18 college students and, as Watts puts it, “a motley collection of reformers advocating everything from temperance to sexual freedom, pacifism to vegetarianism.”

The plan was for the delegates to land at Oslo, Norway, and proceed with meetings in other neutral states like Denmark and Holland to mobilize opposition to the war and bring the belligerents to the bargaining table. But Ford’s earnest plan for world peace would soon turn into an epic farce on international waters.

The 13-day ocean journey was plagued by difficulties. Rampant seasickness gave way to a flu outbreak. The ship’s “peace pilgrims” quickly devolved into warring factions, feuding over tactics and strategy. Bored, drunken reporters looked to stoke and embellish the proceedings at every turn. Yet throughout, Ford persevered, giving reporters twice-daily briefings, broadcasting updates back to shore and cordially mingling with the ship’s passengers. Among the legions of activists and eccentrics aboard, reporters came to respect Ford for his honest and straightforward approach. “I came to make fun of the whole thing,” one reporter later confided, but “I believe in Henry Ford and I’m going to say so even if I lose my job for it.”

Ford himself took ill (some say rather conveniently), and when the ship finally sailed into Oslo’s harbor on a frigid December 18, the ailing industrialist was rushed to the city’s Grand Hotel. He emerged a few days later to meet with the press before quietly booking passage back to New York and washing his hands of the whole affair — though he continued to fund its operations for another year. Without the auto tycoon at the helm, the expedition rapidly lost momentum on European soil, degenerating, says historian John H. McCool, “into little more than an adolescent romp in fancy hotels and opulent ballrooms — all on Henry Ford’s tab.”

It is not known how much Ford’s dalliance in diplomacy cost him, but he maintained it was money well spent. “We got a million dollars worth of advertising out of it,” he would later explain, “and a hell of a lot of experience.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Post Author: martin

Avatar
Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of BriefNews.eu and PCHealthBoost.info Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.