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Sapiro Libel Suit Against Ford Opens in Detroit Tomorrow

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The $1,000,000 libel suit of Aaron Sapiro against Henry Ford for charges made in the “Dearborn Independent” that Sapiro and other leading American Jews participated “in a Jewish conspiracy” will be opened here Tuesday in the United States District Court. Judge Fred S. Raymond will try the case.

The trial is a direct outcome of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic campaign which he started in 1920 with the publication of his “International Jew.” More directly, the farmers’ cooperative marketing movement in the United States, in which Aaron Sapiro had a leading part, will be the subject of examination by the court. It was on the basis of Sapiro’s work in the farmer’s cooperative marketing movement that he was charged by the “Dearborn Independent” with participation in a “Jewish conspiracy.”

On May 22, 1920, the “Dearborn Independent” began the publication of a series of vicious attacks upon the Jewish people entitled, “The International Jew” which was based largely upon the spurious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” This series ran from May to October, 1920.

Another series attacking Jewish activities in the United States and an alleged Jewish control of money, theatres, moving pictures, etc., continued from October, 1920 to March, 1921. This series continued in June and July of 1921 and charged an alliance of the Jews with the Bolsheviks on the one hand, and the Capitalists on the other hand.

SOME OF FORD’S CHARGES

In December 1921, until January 1922, additional articles were published attempting to link the Jews with Benedict Arnold and treason to America. This series ended with a promise to publish additional articles of the same nature but along different lines.

On April 12, 1924, the “Dearborn Independent” began the publication of a new series of attacks upon the Jews under the heading of “Jewish Exploitations of Farmers Organization.” This series charged that a conspiracy existed among certain prominent Jews to seize control of the agricultural products of America and to exploit the American farmer for the financial profit of a band of Jews and for the interest of the “higher control,” namely, “The International Jewish Banking Ring.” This series of articles continued from April, 1924, until April 11, 1925, and after that date sporadic repetitions have appeared up to the present time.

These articles gave names and specifically charged that Aaron Sapiro was one of the authors and the principal spokesman for this conspiracy of Jews, and had used cooperative marketing associations as a trap in the “scheme of Jewry” to get control of the American farmers. The articles charged that Otto Kahn, Julius Rosenwald, Albert Lasker, Eugene Meyer, Jr., Paul Warburg, Barney Baruch and Herbert Mortimer Fleishaker were associated with Aaron Sapiro in this conspiracy and were helping him “loot” the American farmer.

Aaron Sapiro filed his suit against Ford on April 21, 1925. It was brought by Aaron Sapiro individually. Henry Ford has been served and brought into court as a defendant; as has his company, the Dearborn Publishing Company. The declaration charges that each one of the publications from April 1924, to April 11, 1925, are libels. To a large extent the personal libels are disregarded and 141 separate libels are set forth in almost all of which the charge is made that a conspiracy of Jews existed to exploit agriculture. Mr. Ford was given an opportunity to prove the charge that he has so frequently made in the columns of the “Dearborn Independent,” and to disclose the facts in support of his claim of an international conspiracy of Jews to control the world. However, Mr. Ford did not avail himself of this opportunity, but sought, first, delay, and second, to cloud the issue by claiming that no Jewish question was involved but purely an economic question concerning the value of cooperative marketing as advocated by Aaron Sapiro.

For more than one year Ford has taken depositions continuously. Depositions have been taken in practically every state in the Union.

Tens of thousands of pages of testimony were taken by Ford and his corps of lawyers, and thousands of exhibits have been collected by Ford’s agents and lawyers throughout America. None of this testimony relates to the principal issue of the alleged Jewish conspiracy.

On numerous occasions the case has been set for trial. It was first definitely set for trial in March, 1926. Mr. Ford engaged Senator Reed of Missouri to secure a continuance and after a battle by Sapiro to secure a trial and by Ford to secure a postponement, Judge Tuttle of the United States District Court in Detroit granted Ford a continuance on condition that the case go to trial on September 14, 1926. Ford used the intervening six months taking testimony from California to Maine, but when the trial date arrived Senator Reed and seven prominent lawyers, engaged to aid in the defense, again asked for a further continuance. Judge Tuttle denied their request and announced that he would try the case on September 14, 1926, as ordered. Thereupon, Henry Ford filed an affidavit disqualifying Judge Tuttle from trying the case. Judge Hough of Columbus, Ohio, was then designated to hear the Ford motion for a continuance, and granted Ford a further delay of six months and set the case for definite trial on March 7, 1927. On February 1, 1927. Ford filed an amended answer of over 200 typewritten pages, divided into 400 paragraphs in which the attempt is made to justify the libels published in the pages of the “Dearborn Independent.”

Throughout the answer the claim is nowhere made that any Jewish conspiracy or “Jewish ring” to exploit agriculture or anything else exists in America or elsewhere. The word “Jew” or “Jewish” is not mentioned in the plea.

Aside from setting up the legal defense of privilege and fair comment, the plea is devoted to proving that the economics of cooperative marketing is unsound and that the plans of cooperative marketing advocated by Aaron Sapiro have not always functioned perfectly.

Because of the failure of the Ford answer to meet the issue or to justify the libels published in the “Dearborn Independent”, Counsel for Aaron Sapiro moved the court to strike the entire Ford plea from the files. This motion was heard by Judge Raymond of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who has now been designated to try the case. The motion was heard on February 28, 1927, in the United States District Court at Detroit. It was presented on behalf of Mr. Sapiro by his Counsel, William Henry Gallagher of Detroit, and former Judge Robert S. Marx of Chicago. It was opposed by Senator James Reed of Missouri on behalf of Mr. Ford, assisted by counsel including Judge Hanley, Mr. Choate, Mr. Langley, Mr. Middleton of Detroit, Mr. Higgins, Mr. Watson of Kansas City, and Mr. Bruce of Kentucky.

Judge Raymond announced that in his judgment the entire Ford plea of justification from paragraphs 13 to 400, inclusive, was defective and ordered that it all be stricken from the files.

Counsel for Ford then stated that this action of the court left them with no defense unless they were granted more time to file another amended pleading. Upon the request of Senator Reed, Judge Raymond granted Ford and the “Dearborn Independent” another week’s delay in which to file a new defense, but ordered that the case go to trial definitely on March 15th, barring some unforseen catastrophe, and that the jury be impaneled on that date.

Henry Ford, in his present plea, repeats the charges published in the “Dearborn Independent.”

The plea even goes further than the articles, William Henry Gallagher, Sapiro’s atorney, declared today. Gallagher said nearly all the plea did not relate to his client’s activities as pictured in the “Independent”. He was confident much of it would be stricken from the records when Judge Fred S. Raymond hears argument Monday.

The plea contains 50,000 words. Part of it reads:

“Defendant avers that the plaintiff is in fact a member of the Jewish race and that the statement he is a Jew casts no reflection upon him and is not defamatory; and in association with certain Jews, among others Julian F. Lagnan, Arthur A. Goldsmith, Stanley M. Arndt. David Levy, Lawrence Levy, Milton D. Sapiro, Sidney G. Rubinow, Abe Waldauer and Victor Victor: and in association with certain Gentiles, among others Mark Grimes, E. M. De Pencier, H. G. Coykendall and many other Jews and non-Jews, endeavored to and did oppress, burden, hamper and exploit the American farmers and attempted to create a monopoly of farmers’ products for the benefit of himself and his associates; and said plaintiff used a certain plan known as the ‘Sapiro Plan’ as a means and as a cover for his operations.”

Eugene Meyer, Jr., chairman of the War Finance Corporation, is mentioned in the plea that he lauded Sapiro’s efforts in organizing the Oklahoma Cotton Growers’ Association and called upon Sapiro for reports and other data that he might pass them on to other cooperative organizations.

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