Who was Rev. Bradford?
"The Forgotten Man's Hour"
Father Charles Coughlin
The Ford Hunger March
The River Rouge Plant
African Americans and the Success of the CIO
Lewis Bradford
Harry Bennett
The Battle of the Overpass
Layoffs and Intimidation
Muriel Lester
Lewis is Attacked
Lewis Dies
Locating the Autopsy
A City Mourns
Who Knew?
UAW Wins at Ford


Harry Bennett-"Closer to Ford than his only son"

Ford and Bennett saw red. Two of the Big Three auto companies, General Motors and Chrysler, had fallen. Henry's only child, Edsel, had sympathies with the workers, and encouraged co-operation and negotiation with the union, but Ford would have none of it. He told Edsel he needed to toughen up - and try to be more like Harry Bennett - Ford was fond of saying, "Bennett knows how to hold himself in an argument." Edsel had been expected to take over the running of the company from Henry Ford, but his father undercut him, and favored Bennett, again and again. Even the most sympathetic biographers of Ford agree that he treated his son cruelly. One of the Ford grandchildren was quoted as saying Ford "killed my father," Edsel. (p. 413, Ford: The Men and the Machine, by Robert Lacey, 1986).

Ford's and Bennett's relationship deepened at this critical juncture during the organizing of the Rouge. The two would meet every day in Bennett's basement office off Schaeffer Road. Bennett boasted that he was "closer to him even than his only son." (p. 5, We Never Called Him Henry, by Harry Bennett, as told to Paul Marcus, 1951). Ford entrusted important business decisions to him. Also, when Ford had inappropriate relationships with servant girls, it was Bennett's job to cover up so no one would know. There was one place all Ford executives knew where to find Ford: Bennett's office. Bennett was expected by many to become the next head of the Ford Motor Company.

I spoke with Victor Reuther, the famous United Auto Workers organizer, who was interested to hear about Bradford. He's over 90 now, but he remembers to the 1/2-cent what women workers were making at Kelsey Wheel in November 1936. After I described Lewis Bradford and how he was killed by thugs under Harry Bennett, Victor said slowly, and under his breath, "There were others. My brother Walter and I were victims of assassination attempts by the same people. . . We lost many good organizers picked off by Harry Bennett's thugs." (Telephone interview with Victor Reuther, June 7, 2001).

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