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Barring Jewish Issue from Ford-sapiro Trial, Senator Reed Promises to Prove Charges Against Sapiro

March 20, 1927
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

Henry Ford has never read the articles which are the basis of the $1,000,000 libel suit being brought against him by Aaron Sapiro, Senator James A. Reed, Chief of the defense counsel, declared in his opening address to the jury.

This fact, coupled with Senator Reed’s evident intention of keeping out of the testimony every reference to the Jewish race, indicates that Ford will not be on the witness stand for more than a minute or two when he is called upon to testify next Monday. Spectators at the trial were of the opinion that Ford will be of little use as a witness since he cannot express himself on the Jewish race and knows nothing about Sapiro or his activities.

Reed reached further into the contents of the alleged libelous articles and told the jury that Aaron Sapiro had assured tobacco producers in North Carolina that he could get “all the money he wanted” from the war financiers, headed by Eugene Meyer, Jr., one of the several prominent men mentioned in the articles. Speaking at a meeting of tobacco growers in Washington, North Carolina, Sapiro quoted Meyer to the effect that he would back cooperative marketing “to the last ditch”, Senator Reed told the jury.

Senator Reed further confined the already narrow limits of the case by saying, “This is not the case of the Hebrew race against Ford and the Dearborn Publishing Company, nor the case of the Farmers’ Cooperative Association against Henry Ford and the Dearborn Publishing Company, but simply the case of Aaron Sapiro against the two defendants I have just named.”

Referring to Henry Ford’s knowledge of the case, Senator Reed said, “I think the evidence will show that Henry Ford never saw these charges and never read them to this blessed hour. He is president of the Dearborn Publishing Company, it is true, but it is a corporation. That corporation printed these charges, and there will be no dispute at all about their having been published as alleged in the declaration. You will observe that the thing narrows down to the question whether this man was injured by the publications of the ‘Dearborn Independent’.”

The circulation of the “Dearborn Independent” was put at 600,000 by Senator Reed, who added that the circulation is very extensive among the farming population of the country. “The paper is partially a magazine in character,” he said, “carrying articles on various subjects including agricultural problems and it is taken largely by farmers and the people in the small towns of the country. The evidence will show that these articles concerning Sapiro”, Senator Reed said, “were printed in good faith, not printed in malice, and after every reasonable precaution to ascertain their truth. We expect to show, in substance and effect, all of them were true.”

Senator Reed then launched into a detailed explanation of Sapiro’s farming activities, from the time he became Secretary of the California State Industrial Board to the period of the “Dearborn Independent” attack. His description of Sapiro’s activities, differing greatly from that given by Mr. Gallagher, chief counsel for Sapiro, contained frequent inuendos as to alleged irregularities in the Sapiro farming organizations. Frequently there were statements about these irregularities, to which Gallagher vigorously objected.

It is expected that the first witness, W. J. Cameron, editor of the “Dearborn Independent”, will be called on Friday to the stand to establish the fact that the alleged libelous articles were printed.

In attacking the motives of Aaron Sapiro as an organizer of farm cooperatives. Senator Reed couched his address in ironic tones.

“This is the case.” Mr. Reed said, “of Aaron Sapiro, or Shapiro–I don’t know just what way the name is pronounced–“

“Sapiro,” prompted Mr. Gallagher, pronouncing it as though spelled “Sapeero.”

“He went to the farmers if not as the Moses who was to lead them out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land of Prosperity, then at least he went to them as Aaron the Talker.

“We will show you that the scope of his scheme was almost unlimited,” said Mr. Reed, “and that he proposed to advocate the organization and control of every staple farm product, wheat, corn, rye, barley, potatoes, cotton, tobacco and dairy products; that he had, or at least there was printed in the papers, his picture over the title of ‘The Wheat King.’ although he had never raised a bushel of wheat in his life.

“We will show that he was put forward as the friend of the farmer, and now I want to challenge your attention to this: In substantially all of his discourses, and I think that he made hundreds of them, he specifically repeated that he was not working for money, and that his sole interest was the welfare of the American farmer. He stated in express terms that his heart bled for the farmer, and that he had no sordid influences. His heart was not tainted with cupidity.”

Senator Reed, who is reported as receiving $100,000 from Henry Ford as his counsel in this trial, put forward the charge that Sapiro received $92,000 for organizing the cotton growers.

“We think the Court will tell you that Mr. Sapiro cannot capitalize and recover here on any sympathy that may be felt for the people of his race.

“He stands here as an individual asking for a million dollars of money from these two defendants. That is what we are going to try in this case.”

The site of the mansion of the late W. K. Vanderbilt at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-second Street, New York, purchased for $4,000,000 in the Spring of 1925 by Benjamin Winter, was sold by him on Thursday at $5,000,000 to the Schulte Real Estate Co.

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