Henry Ford Broke His Promises.

One of the defining features of narcissism is the frequency of broken promises, by a person who is loyal only to himself and tends to view himself as the real “victim.” Henry Ford, the narcissist, was not a man one could trust with his word. In the immediate aftermath of World War I, Ford welched on two major promises in order to substantially increase his personal wealth.

First, during the War Ford promised that he would return all war profits obtained by the Ford Motor Company from government supply contracts. He never did. (While he repeatedly accused Jewish bankers of promoting the war in order to line their own pockets, he was not above taking a cut for himself.)

Second, he obtained the support of Henry M. Leland, a founder of the Lincoln Motor Company, for the purchase by the Ford Motor Company of the Lincoln company out of receivership in 1922, by orally promising to make the original cash investors in the company whole. (Lincoln originally produced airplane engines during the war, but ran into a cash crunch after its first Lincoln automobile after the war.)

Leland later filed suit to enforce the oral agreement after Ford declined to honor it. While never denying the existence of the contract, Ford filed a motion to dismiss asserting that the contract was unenforceable because 1) the contracted was against public policy in that it worked to the advantage of Leland and some, but not all, of the shareholders; 2) that it was within the Statute of Frauds requiring a written contract because its purpose was to answer for the debt of another; and. 3) it was a contract to stifle bidding at a judicial sale.

Ford’s motion to dismiss was overruled by the trial court, but Ford appealed and on February 1, 1929, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled for Ford in a 4 to 3 decision, the majority finding that Leland failed to act on behalf of all, not just the original shareholders.

 

 

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