- Historic Sites
Letters To The Editor
Spring 2010 | Volume 60, Issue 1
An Outstanding Issue!
The short vignettes in the 60th Anniversary issue contained so many juicy tidbits: why the Pilgrims survived when preceding settlers failed (Charles Mann’s “Smallpox Epidemic”); how New York got its name (Russell Shorto’s “British Take Manhattan”); “little Jemmy Madison’s” finest moment (Joseph Ellis’s “Virginia Plan”); and Polk’s pivotal role in our nation’s expansion (Robert Merry’s “Mexican War”). I commend these outstanding authors for making us realize once again how tenuous and fortunate our nation’s fate has been from the very beginning.
—Jack S. Schroder, Jr.
Big Canoe, GA
Great Line-up, But I Want More
My only gripe about your worthy Winter 2010 issue was its coverage of the Modern Era. About two-thirds of this period was devoted to the Cold War. A few critical moments you missed: the Berlin Airlift; Truman’s argument with MacArthur; Nixon berating Brezhnev over Israel; Nixon going to China; the end of Vietnam; Reagan at the Canadian G7 summit; Reagan’s Challenger Speech; the fall of the Berlin Wall, and perhaps Charlie Wilson’s work in Afghanistan.
—William H. Bacharach
Reading the Fine
Print in the “$5 Day”
I wanted to add a couple of caveats to Robert H. Casey’s coverage of Henry Ford paying his workers in “The $5 Day,” which appeared in the 60th
Anniversary issue. According to Robert Lacey’s 1986 Ford: The Men and the Machine, Ford didn’t really set the workers’ wages at $5 per day as Casey noted. By 1913 the brutal working conditions at Ford factories had caused the worker turnover rate to exceed 300 percent. Starting in 1914, the workers were still paid $2.50 per day but given a bonus of $2.50 per day if they stayed on their job for six months. Those who quit before the bonus was paid forfeited the higher pay. In addition the worker had to be at least 22 years old (unless he was supporting a widowed mother or next of kin) to qualify for the bonus. Ford was not known for his benevolence to his employees.
—Vernon C. Hales
Mr. Hales is correct that not everyone received the $5 immediately. Ford had an intrusive Sociological Department that inspected worker’s homes and
living habits to make sure they wouldn’t squander their new-found wealth in high living. The exact conditions for the $5 day are spelled out in a number of books besides Lacey’s, including Ford: The Times, the Man, the Company by Allan Nevins; The People’s Tycoon, by Steven Watts; and The Five Dollar Day, by Stephen Meyer.
—Robert H. Casey
The Henry Ford
Rocking the Boat
Your Winter 2010 cover was clever and thought provoking. I recognized almost all of the faces without using the key on page eight, but number nine stumped me. I guessed Ernest Hemingway. I was surprised to find the man in front of Harriet Tubman to be Robert E. Lee.
You wrote, “these men and women all deserve credit for grabbing an oar and moving the ship of state forward.” I think that if General Lee had “grabbed an oar” he would have been rowing the other direction.
Cruising with Washington
I really enjoyed the 60th Anniversary cover’s version of Washington Crossing the Delaware. What I found interesting, however, is that your staff struggled over who would be in the boat. Probably what we really need is a cruise liner to be able to display all the people who have contributed to our country’s history. Now that is something of which we can all be proud.