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    Aboard the "Ford Peace Ship," Henry Ford Describes His Mission to Negotiate an End to the War in Europe in 1915

    Henry Ford Typed Letter Signed in full. 3.5 pages, 5.25" x 8.25", foldover lettersheet from the Scandinavian - American - Line Ship Oscar II, at sea, December 11, 1915, to an unknown correspondent. He writes, in part, "When I resolved to undertake this peace mission...I said in my telegram...'the time has come for a few men and women with courage and energy irrespective of the cost impersonal inconvenience, money, sacrifice and criticism to free the good will of Europe that it may assert itself for peace and justice WITH THE STRONG PROBABILITY THAT INTERNATIONAL DISARMAMENT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED' ...we have tried to clarify and crystallize the purpose of the mission through addressed, study meetings and the like... our difficult mission can be fulfilled only by a body of people closely united in purpose and spirit and working with unanimity toward the desired end... when we started aboard it was with the announced intention to 'prevent future wars through the abolition of COMPETITIVE ARMAMENTS'... For the first time in the history of the United States, there is a widespread movement to plunge us into the race for military supremacy... there has been nothing to shake our faith in the great humane purpose upon which we have set out..."

    Before America entered World War I, Ford, a pacifist, agreed to fund a peace ship to Europe for himself and about 170 others. Though he discussed the mission with President Woodrow Wilson, the trip had no official government support. The group went to neutral Sweden and the Netherlands to meet with peace activists, but Ford left the ship as soon as it reached Sweden due to much public ridicule. Prominent writers of the period disagreed about his efforts. G. K. Chesterton called him "the celebrated American comedian" and made light of Ford's comments that the financiers of war planned the sinking of the Lusitania. H. G. Wells

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    October, 2007
    25th-26th Thursday-Friday
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