automobile

Mr. Ford Goes to Washington

Ford Motor Company super-fan Ernest Franke, a retired D.C. baker, drove circles around the White House hoping to show off his 1921 Ford model to Henry Ford when the car magnate met with FDR on April 27, 1938. Franke eventually was shooed away by guards. (Source: Library of Congress)

Tonight at 9pm on WETA Television, American Experience premieres a new documentary about Henry Ford, so we thought we’d look back upon one of Henry Ford’s more anticipated trips to D.C.

In April 1938, the country was still trying to pull itself out of the Depression and there was a lot of conversation and debate about the role of government in business. (Hmmm… Sound familiar?) So, when car magnate – and frequent critic of FDR’s regulatory New Deal policies – Henry Ford accepted the President’s invitation to come to the White House for a private luncheon and discussion, it was big news -- especially for one local Ford Motor Company super-fan.