Detroit Free Press statement by Henry Ford I

Henry Ford to Push World-Wide Campaign for Universal Peace
by Henry Ford

Published August 22, 1915 in the Detroit Free Press


Will Devote Life and Fortune to Combat Spirit of Militarism Now Rampant.


Scores Hypocrites Who Pretend to Be Religious, Yet Foster War For Sordid Gain.

"I will do everything in my power to prevent murderous, wasteful war in America and in the whole world; I will devote my life to fight this spirit which is now felt in the free and peaceful air of the United States, the spirit of militarism, mother to the cry of 'preparedness' preparedness, the root of all war."

These words, uttered Saturday by Henry Ford, hater of war and visualizer of vast foresight, marked the beginning of what will henceforth be the life-work of the man to strike with everything he commands at what he declares to be the direct cause of all wars and all national antipathies that breed war "preparedness."

"I would teach the child at its mother's knee," said Mr. Ford, "what a horrible, wasteful and unavailing thing war is. In the home and in the schools of the world I would see the child taught to feel the uselessness of war; that war is a thing unnecessary; that preparation for war can only end in war.

Will Give Much to End Wasteful "Preparation" Edit

"I have prospered much, and I am ready to give much to end this constant, wasteful 'preparation.' Not by building palaces of peace, not by inspiring fearful peace by powerful armament, but by teaching the men, women and children of America that war does not threaten us, that war will not reach us, that the fullness of peace is their inheritance, not the burden of militarism with its heavy hand that curbs liberty and its foul sustenance upon the blood, the labor and the toil-earned happiness and goods of the worker.

Entire World United in Demand for Peace Edit

"This I would make a world work, for all the world cries for peace, and there can be no peace while there remains one set of these militaristic parasites who encourage war and who damn all whose ideas of patriotism and love of their fellowmen does not call for arming brother against brother.

"I confess I do not know how it is best to undertake this work in an organized manner. I realize it is a vast undertaking. Yet I want to see this nation and all the nations of the earth nourishing that feeling, already deeply implanted in the minds and hearts of millions, that is expressed in the words: 'We do not want war. We will not have war. We will not have amongst us the breeders of war, be they men who cry out that the enemy seeks us, and we must prepare for him, or be they only those who would dazzle with the false glory that has been the cloak of murder for centuries.'

"The seed of this project is right here in the Ford organization, in hundreds of organizations throughout the country. We have to develop it and nourish its growth. The workshops, the farms, fair and just conditions, equitable prices and commercial unselfishness are the things we wish to improve.

People of All Lands Cry Out Against War Edit

"By some remote and providential scheme a little good might result through the use of guns, warships, shrapnel and torpedo. To my mind this is the last and most remote means that could possibly be suggested to gain the national or world-wide end that most sober-minded men wish to obtain.

"When men think and work, they do right, and the voice of the people, I do believe, in every land under the sun, cries out against war. The trouble is that they do not make enough noise, and the yell of the few who, for monetary gain, want war just at this particular time, seems to prevail.

"We who can, ought to help in the right direction. It's a pathetic sight and positive fact that most men who pose as standing for the best things in life and who pray to God in churches on Sundays for peace (the very pillars of the church, they are called) are busiest nowadays in obtaining the orders that will enable them to convert their factories into workshops for making shot and shell for destroying mankind and defeating the finest and loftiest things in the world homes, happiness, prosperity.

Public Must Control Actions of "Rulers" Edit

"Nowadays men are prone to think they have nothing to do with and cannot control their own destinies. It is everybody's business to know how the moneys of the country are spent and how the wisdom and judgment of the chief executives is directed, and the sooner we come to understand this the sooner will be stopped the wanton waste of money for murderous and destructive agencies, such as warships, guns and arms.

"I hate war, because war is murder, desolation and destruction, causeless, unjustifiable, cruel and heartless to those of the human race who do not want it, the countless millions, the workers. I hate it none the less for its waste, its uselessness and the barriers it raises against progress, and the development of the world, human and material.

"Aside from the burning fact that war is murder, the waster of lives and home and lands, and that 'preparedness' has never prevented war, but has ever brought war to the world aside from all this is the utter futility (from a cold, hard business view alone) of the equipment of an army today with weapons that are obsolete tomorrow.

"We build a vast naval machine today. A few months hence it is surpassed by that of another country and is practically useless. We give our soldiers a death-dealing rifle. Tomorrow another nation's soldiers have a weapon that surpasses ours.

"The United States has spent more than a billion dollars on a navy and army that was to cope with an invasion that never occurred and never will occur. And yet the very 'war experts' who were responsible for that burdensome army and navy admit that our army and navy never would have been able to meet, with any hope of success, those of other so-called powers.

"And with all their prophecies of war fallen flat, they cry for still greater waste.

"The people of the United States have been compelled to throw a billion dollars into a junk pile, and these men would have another billion go the same way. If one-tenth of what has been spent on preparation for war had been spent on the prevention of war, the world would always have been at peace.

"Why, if the United States is threatened by another nation, have we lived in peace for 100 years? Our army and navy never was able to stop the 'paper invasions' that the war-breeders talked of, and yet we have lived unmolested, happy and at peace with all races of men.

Isolation is Thorough Protection of United States Edit

"The isolation of the United States is a perfect safeguard against successful invasion, and if this fact would not prevent a landing of hostile armies the very vastness of the country and the enormous population would make such an attempt futile. We are neither Aztecs nor East Indians.

"The writers of military treatises showing how Japan, or Germany, or any other nation could invade the United States, under the guise of history and 'military probabilities,' are trying to fill the minds of the people with fear by the use of their high-sounding nonsense that is what the whole thing is, nonsense.

It's a good joke to see these big business men, now in the newspapers, spending a few weeks' vacation learning the art of soldiering. I wonder if they are really frightened by the stories?

"The pity of it is that this same war talk is allowed to take up the columns of newapapers and magazines that could be used toward the inspiration of peace.

"The advice of militarists as to the need of a vast army and navy is about the same as the advice of a group of professional gamblers would be in the framing of civil laws. The only difference is that the military men would gamble with human lives and the peace and plead for 'national honor' when they mean 'personal glorification' or 'blood-money.'

Edison Won't Aid in Destroying Human Life Edit

"They have called in Thomas Edison to help their war plans. Let me say that Thomas Edison never has and, in my opinion, never will use his great brain to make anything which would destroy human life or human property. He could destroy nothing. His mind is a constructive mechanism that abhors destruction, and war is destruction. He is a man of peace, for he realizes the true meaning of war wanton, unnecessary and unreasoning destruction, death and disruption of all that peace has builded.

"I believe that the time is at hand when the man who works will forever put an end to the system that can tear him away from his home and family to send him forth to a death against his will; death inflicted by another human worker who bears him no ill-will and to whom he is a brother; death that can bring nothing but sorrow to those he leaves behind; death hurled out by the pressure of a finger moving at the order of one whom the worker has placed above him as a leader, and who thus betrays him to murder and the danger of death.

"I believe that this same worker is going to end the conditions that allow the man he places above him to give that murderous order; to cause him to seek the life of a brother worker in another land and send that brother searching in turn for his blood.

"And I would assist this worker to educate his children from the cradle to think only in terms of peace, to hate war, and all the accoutrements of war, and strive forever to drive from the world this spirit of murder, destruction and chaos.

"The present war's end will, I believe and hope, see the end of the military spirit and the military castes in all Europe; the death of the military party in Germany; and those very workers who are today performing wonders of arms against the whole of Europe under the eyed of an emporer and a Fatherland may be the very ones who will end that reign of militarism.

"So that it may be said: 'We have ended war forever; we have done away with the parasites that breed war in the world.' And from every nation in Europe, in the world, will come the echo of the words, 'We have ended war forever.' That cry will be the cry of the man who works, the man created to love and be loved by his fellows, to enjoy peace and to share that joy with all."

World Big Enough to Give Peace to All Edit

"Surely the world is big enough for all to live in at peace with all. If nations want colonies they can have them without killing their sons and devastating homes and lives. If Germany, as many of her opponents claim, wanted colonies, she could have secured a very extensive 'place in the sun' by direct purchase a business transaction for a fraction of the terrific cost she is now paying in warfare.

"I could today make vast sums from warfare if I so chose, but it would be better to die a pauper than that anything I have helped to make, or that any thought, word or act of mine should be used for the furtherance of this slaughter.

"I shall expect the sneers and condemnation of those whose business is war and of those who profit by war. But I can weigh against this the feeling for peace and against war and the spirit that brings war, which, I know, burns in the hearts of the masses the world over, and in this I will feel that I am right.

"I shall raise my voice in no controversy with those who cry out that such peace would bring destruction upon us by martial nations, but who really mean that they would have peace by enforcing their will upon others with cannon, and whose constant cry of 'prepare* cloaks their damnable aims. The very thought of such men and such ideas cannot but bring the strongest words of condemnation and reproach from any man.

"The building of armament by the United States is not only a waste of itself and a war-breeding policy, it is worse still, it is an example that the nations of Latin America and all the world have followed, adding the burden and the danger to the peoples in those lands.

"The nations of the world need an example to lead them away from war, and this, the country we live in, is, I believe, the land destined to show the world the way toward the end of this murder. The world has followed the United States for generations in all that goes for progress. Let us have disarmament; let us show that we mean peace when we say the word, and the world will follow in that, too.

"I feel, and I have the world's history and the spirit of a world's people back of me, that the 'preparedness' now being preached is nothing but a criminal waste, a call to slaughter, and a disgrace to a nation that has been the guiding star of the world towards liberty, happiness and peace.

"I realize only too well that since the beginning of history the overpowering, unanswerable weapon of wealth always, down to this very day, has been on the side of slaughter, and this, I know, has stood as the great barrier to the peace that men have craved since civilization was born.

"If I can but see the world and America is the brain of the world and the brain the guide of all moving toward that day when war shall cease, when nations shall not burden the workers with the enormous expense of huge armaments and then destroy the workers with those very armaments, I shall be content to end my days where I began, an humble worker in a peaceful world.

"Millions of men, every one of them a husband, a son, a father or a brother, have gone to their death within a year on the battlefields of Europe. There is sorrow in millions of homes, a dozen nations are paralyzed and filled with mangled, crippled men and boys who by the laws of nature can only produce children who will in some way bear, in part, the burden and mark of their parents' suffering. And all for nothing.

"It is horrible to contemplate. If these men who brought on the war were insane, we could comprehend the cause of the war. But when we think that all is done coldly, deliberately by these militaristic parasites, and that millions of men are torn from the life that is theirs by right of birth, and driven to slaughter by the system of murder that envelopes these nations, we are crushed by the enormous crime.

"The very thought of this makes me feel that I know of nothing to which I would rather give my life, nothing that would give me a more certain feeling that I was doing a man's work, nothing that would make me feel more content in the knowledge that I had done a great duty that had been placed before me, than to use that which I have to help bring to an end 6,000 years of this unjustified hatred, ruthless waste, destruction and murder. *

"In all the history of civilization I cannot find one man who has justified war, who did not publicly brand it as the curse of man and the work of Cain. Yet these same men are often the very ones who call for the 'preparedness' that brings on war. What can we think of men who cry aloud against murder and yet fly eagerly to place in the hands of their children, or more frequently the children of their more humble brothers, the implements of murder?


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1947, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


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