Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chapter 21-23 (pg 316-352)


Chapter 21:

Fordlandia’s biggest challenges were the bugs and epidemics of the Amazon. The South American Leaf Blight was one that would started to ruin the entire operation. When the rubber trees top leaves began to touch it eased the spread of the leave blight throughout the plantation, many plants would die but some would continue to live. Belterra was approved by Henry Ford so that operation commenced. It continued on a track that was similar to Alberta, a city that Henry was building in the United States. Belterra was more desirable to the Americans that lived in Brazil than the amazon because it was much less isolated. Insects were also a problem on the plantations, caterpillars got so bad that they entire population of the plantations did a walk to pick all of them up and they collected over two hundred thousand.

Chapter 22:

Back in the United States labor unions began to grow in power and even though Ford was a strict opponent, eventually agreed to the labor unions terms. Similarly in the Amazon, Vargas’s government pushed for labor reform also. This made the workers less willing to do some of the tasks that the plantation required. This is at the point that the leaf blight really does start to ruin the plantations. By late 1940, nearly 70% of the plantations trees had been infected and started to die out. And then when WWII started, Johnson was called back to Dearborn to assist in setting up the plants to produce planes for the US military.  While Johnson was away, the blight continued to spread and spread.

Chapter 23:

At this point the operation was a complete failure. Ford was trying to sell of the plantations and during WWII the plantations became subsidiaries of the US government. The US government allied with South American countries, and said that they would invest millions into rubber cultivation, and pay a higher price that typical for the rubber. But the insects and the leaf blight never allowed the plantations to actually be profitable. The hospitals were turned into research centers, and the US built a runway Belterra because of German boats off the Brazilian coast. When Edsel died in 1943, Henry finally went off the wall and Henry’s grandson, Henry II, then took over the company. In 1945, he decided to sell off the Brazilian operations to the Brazilian government for much less than the company had put into the operation. Henry II also began to shut down other various Henry created cities in the United States, all of this caused by WWII and the prior Great Depression. In 1947, Henry Ford died, and the Fordlandia dream died with him.



This book is a great representation of environment ultimately limiting humans. The leaf blight completely destroys the planation no matter how hard everyone tries to avoid it. Not only do the insects and the blight diminish the plantations, but the weather and the hilly area make it impossible for easily sustained planation agriculture that they originally wanted.


WWII is what eventually allows the Ford company to release the plantations. The US government implemented various policies that made neighboring countries wanted to get along and cooperate with the American war effort. The American interaction with the world is what caused Fordlandia to ever be developed in the first place. Because of the ease of interaction and trading the idea of Fordlandia was born and able to be created.

Course outline:

In the years following World War I, the United States pursued a unilateral foreign policy that used international investment (Key Concept 7.2 II, C.)

The United States investing is the sole reason that Henry II was able to sell the planation back to Brazil, they felt that if they could cultivate the land themselves then they would be able to sell the rubber to the United States.

Chapter 17-20 (pg. 264-315)


Chapter 17:

Upon returning to Fordlandia, following the December 1930 riot, Americans were very hesitant because they were scared of another uprising, Ford sent Perini back to Fordlandia along with W. E. Carnegie and Archibald Johnson, these three were in charge in restoring the plantation up to grade. They focused on turning Fordlandia into a real town, one with complete housing for all who lived there and upgrade all of the other facilities. They build houses that were modern and even resembled the ones that Ford was constructing in his other settlements in the United States

Chapter 18:

One thing that Ford tried to do in both Fordlandia and in the US, was promote gardening. He told Johnson, the new leader of Fordlandia, to make house plots large enough so that the inhabitants could create their own garden. In Fordlandia both the workers and the Americans there would get bored quite easily because the plantation was located in such an isolated area. The solution to this was not only to create movie theaters and dance halls, but they build a 9-hole golf course for patrons to enjoy. The city started to look like a nice American town, exactly as Ford always wanted.

Chapter 19:

Lumber harvesting was an original goal for the plantation but it never went very smoothly, but Johnson outlined a new plan that would allow a good portion of the lumber to be exported to the United States, but because of the Great Depression, there was a very small market for the lumber. Johnson soon began to suggest that they move the plantation 50 miles north where it would be better suited for rubber growth, but he also believed that this would decrease the amount of money the company would have to pay in supporting the workers.

Chapter 20:

Originally there were no rubber experts present for the building of Fordlandia or the cultivation of rubber this was something that Johnson adamantly wanted to change. Edsel Ford recruited James R. Weir who did research for Goodyear on their rubber plantations. Weir taught plantation workers how to properly bud graft (a technique in creating better trees), and then he decided to go to get better buds from Asia where there were now enormous rubber plantations. He brought back a ton of trees, but many were either dead or just not good for the amazon, considering the conditions were different in Asia. Johnson and Weir constantly disagreed and Johnson wanted to get rid of Weir but Dearborn wouldn't let him. Weir decided that it would make more sense to stop planting at Fordlandia and move the planting to Belterra, which is farther south. Weir kept insisting on experimental practices, instead of ones that actually were known to work.



Throughout the section various ways of cultivating are talked about, and many of these techniques are either products of new ideas or new technology. This is a synthesis of both of these themes, as technology and the environment are so heavily collected within the planation life.


The Great Depression within the United States directly affected the entire world. Not only would it not allow Fordlandia lumber to be sold, but eventually the Brazilian economy would fall along with the US economy. This had direct effects on Fordlandia as people streamed in wanting jobs and better pay.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chapter 14-16 (pg 202-263)


Chapter 14:

This chapter goes into rather detail about John Rogge, who became the first person in command at Fordlandia after Perini went back to the states. Rogge was a real “mountain man” and was very happy to go to the amazon so that he could experience the real nature. Rogge takes off into the jungle, leaving Fordlandia, for two men who were sent to find good seeds, but have been using Ford money to buy alcohol and sex. Rogge thinks he can take on the jungle no problem, but all of the bugs eventually become a problem for him and he seeks the help of a church and its nuns that he finds along the way. After they nurse him back to health he catches up to the men and find that they have been paying a local tribe, with goods, not currency as Ford always wanted, to cut and collect seeds. Rogge fired these two men when he found them, and attempted to pay the natives with currency, but they all wanted to be paid in goods, so he continued to do this.

Chapter 15:

Fordlandia had a rough start, but it started to look up for the plantation until a new cook came onto the planation. This new cook wanted to have cafeteria style instead of all of the workers getting waited on, and this was something that the workers didn’t like. One worker was so detested that he went off on the cook, and trouble ensued, until a full out riot occurred. The Americans on the planation were forced to retreat either into the woods or onto boats that they floated down stream. Rogge sent for reinforcements from the Brazilian government so that they wouldn’t burn the entire planation down, and they actually sent them. When the rioting was all over, plantation leaders decided to fire nearly all of the workers and bring in new ones.

Chapter 16:

The person who always seemed on top of the world eventually would come to his own demise, and that would be Henry Ford himself. He was well known for his anti-Semitism, and many during WWII thought that he was supporting Hitler. He was suing for someone over a defamation claim, but the trial revealed he was nearly illiterate. Ford was now portraying himself as someone the world would have never considered him as. Ford soon became the largest collector in the world, he tried to collect anything and everything that related to the modernizing of America. Whether it was toasters or huge machinery, he had it shipped to the Rouge. He then assembled everything into a museum, but the museum was a whole idealistic city called Greenfield. Historians and critics didn’t like the museum because it had no order to it at all. Once Henry’s good friend Thomas Edison died, many said that henry officially went crazy.



Specifically for Henry Ford did this become a problem. No one wanted to be associated with Hitler during WWII and this was something that really hurt Henry’s reputation. Everyone knew Henry didn’t like Jews, and some even began to believe he was helping support Hitler’s goals of extermination them.


The power in Fordlandia was something that had to constantly be maintained. For most of the time the planation was in existence, a militia had been present to remain control. Not long before the riots these troops were removed, and this is part in why the riot did eventually occur. Without strict control, these workers tried to overthrow or destroy any power.

Course Outline:

Radical, union, and populist movements pushed Roosevelt toward more extensive reforms, even as conservatives in Congress and the Supreme Court sought to limit the New Deal’s scope. (Key Concept 7.1 III. B.)

Ford would have been one of the conservatives in Congress. He personally wasn’t that affected by the depression because he had little money in the stock market because he didn’t trust the banks. Ford was a stark opponent of Theodore Roosevelt and this continued onto Franklin Roosevelt. Ford thought that the high control and excessive government plans would hurt the economy more. He thought that the country was actually thriving and was in a good place during the depression.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chapter 12-13 (pg. 165-203)


Chapter 12:

At this point, Brazil’s taxation of Fordlandia became a really large problem, one that Dearborn saw necessary to fix immediately, and to do this they sent William Cowling to deal with the problem. Cowling would only act on the offense trying to pursue the taxes being dropped to the local government, but with the federal government he attempted to befriend the officials in hope that they would skew legislation for Fordlandia benefit. At Fordlandia itself, Oxholm, who was no in charge, didn’t help the plantation that much. Fordlandia was supposed to make its money back on lumber alone, but the very diverse lumber they harvested was too hard/soft for the mill on the plantation, so they resorted to buying wood from locals for the use in building facilities. Almost every of Oxholm’s children died while they were in Brazil, so a few months after he arrived, he went back to Detroit. Fordlandia actually got lucky, with a new governor being elected that supported Ford’s mission.

Chapter 13:

This chapter goes into various men that Ford recruits from his own Detroit factories to go to Brazil. One of his first recruits was Victor Perini, a man who grew from the bottom of the industrial totem pole, to nearly the top, even running the biggest of Fords factories. Perini, and his whole family, which ford insisted on, picked up and moved to Fordlandia. Before Cowling had left Fordlandia he gave a speech to the workers about working hard, and they definitely listened, this was seen as Perini arrived, with Achilaus Weeks now mostly in charge. Pipes are various other common public works systems were being built into the town. Perini was put in charge, but Oxholm didn’t actually leave the plantation and still ruled over some of the employees. Other Americans were sent to the Amazon, many of them weren’t fond of their new stationing, and went home.



Again, this chapter highlights on a man vs. environment issue. Oxholm, who was trying to meet the one year one thousand acres of planted rubber clause, planted rubber during the dry season. This caused all of the rubber to grow in very thin, unhealthy ways, and when Perini arrived he decided to plow over the first plant and replant the rubber. This means that the planation would have to wait another 5 years before any rubber could be harvested.


Continually Ford executives try to enforce prohibition throughout the plantation, but this is in complete dissatisfaction for the locals. It is a part of typical culture for Brazilians to drink as they please, so it is very difficult for them to quit because someone else tells them that they need to.

Course Outline:

New technologies led to social transformations that improved the standard of living for many (Key Concept 7.1 I.)

Electricity and plumbing was revolution for these rural Brazilian towns, they had never seen anything like this. With new facilities being built after Oxholm’s reign, the standard of living in this area is greatly increased. No longer do they just live under the trees, but they might live in a wood build house with a proper roof and electricity. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chapter 8-11 (pg 120-164)


Chapter 8:

This chapter talks of the final transaction for Ford to actually purchase the estate within the Amazon. Blakely and Oz Ide are the actual two who negotiate the deal. They get about 2.5 million acres along the Tapajos River. A local governor named Bentes helped broker the deal, which gave much to Ford. The two men representing Ford tried to get everything they asked for, including all rights to minerals and oil, but the only thing they must do on the property is plant at least 1000, of the 2.5 million, acres with rubber trees within the first year of the contract. They purchased the entire property for $125,000 which was chump change for Ford at the time. It then goes on to talk about how the men must then purchase subsequent deeds from inhabitants of the land, the most significant is the Francos, who have lived on the property for over a hundred years, but after this is done the property is almost entirely Fords, with Blakely in charge. The Amazonian people are excited about the coming of Ford and various newspapers describe how he will bring riches to the area, but they all really want Ford himself to come, but he keeps delaying.

Chapter 9:

The next big issue is getting supplies to Fordlandia from Dearborn. Ford recently bought a multitude of ex-marine ships, and had most of them destroyed and used for parts, but kept two, the Ormoc and Farge. These were large cargo ships that would be in charge of sailing right up to the Fordlandia pier. But there was a problem that no one had considered to tell the people loading these two ships, only in the wet months would they actually be able to reach Fordlandia itself. When the ships were ready to go, in the dry months, Dearborn sent them anyways. When the ships arrived in Brazil they made it to Santarem, a port around 100 miles away from Fordlandia. Captain Oxholm was in charge of these ships and he didn’t to wait till the wet season to finish the journey so he unloaded the cargo onto smaller ships and sent them up river, which cost a huge amount of money, more than that of the initial purchase.

Chapter 10:

Fordlandia didn’t start out all that great, Villares and Blakely took charge of the plantation, but failed to clear the land with burning because they tried to do it at the wrong time which wouldn’t allow the trees to fully burn. Blakely kept reporting to Dearborn that the plantation was running well but another Ford dealer in the area reported that this wasn’t the case at all, as nearly half of the workers were sick with some type of disease or malnourishment. Much of the money being sent ended up in someone’s pocket, especially Blakely’s. Eventually story broke in Brazil of how Ford negotiators had gotten everything they wanted, even no export taxes, and no duties. Bentes was no longer governor of the area and Valle, the new governor, wanted to impose high taxes on the planation. They had to pay taxes on everything that the two ships brought in if it didn’t have to directly contribute to the cultivation of the rubber trees.

Chapter 11:

Labor was a big issue for the plantation. When Blakely was dismissed as overseer of the plantation, Oxholm took over and tried to recruit people from Brazil and other Latin American countries to come work on the plant, but the turnover rate was 300%. Various reasons caused the workers to come and go, the low wages, that workers actually go paid and weren’t indebted like previous system, and Fords enforcing of prohibition. Prohibition, which was now in effect in the United States, Ford had enforced on all of his institutions throughout the world. But people at Fordlandia didn’t like this very much. At Fordlandia a hospital had been established for the workers and their families, but it was way understaffed for the huge influx of workers and their large families that brought with them. Things were look very hard for the plantation.



It was impossible for the captain of the two ships ford had brought to get down to Fordlandia itself. This is example of how at times nature really does inhibit people. The only way that materials could get up the river during the dry season was the use of the smaller boats. To plant the new rubber trees, it was necessary for parts of the forest to be burned down and that’s exactly what they workers did, but this was a very dangerous process with the wild bugs and animals possibly killing every worker that came by.


A large issue in this section was the tariffs, something enacted by the government. Blakely hoped to achieve tariff free, but the failing Brazilian banks needed this tariff to help spark the economy. The ever changing power and the power struggle within both Brazil and Fordlandia itself, led to mass confusion and disorder with the town.


From all over Latin America, but mostly within Brazil, people moved to Fordlandia for a higher pay, although it was frequent that they stayed for long periods of time. It was constantly that workers would come to earn some wages, and then they would go back to wherever they came from so that they could work on their own small farms.

Course outline:

Corruption in government - especial as it related to big business. (Concept 6.3 I. A.)

This is again very pressing in this section, as the corruption actually comes into the public’s eyes. Similarly, in the United States, after corruption is made public, people within the government want to fix the problem and that was something Valle tried to fix and mostly did when he became the new local governor. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Chapter 6 and 7 (pg 86-119)

Chapter 6:
This chapter goes into the various inquiries that Ford makes about the Amazon. After visiting with Villares, Ford sends LaRue to the amazon to investigate the various forrest that for may buy. They talk about how the deal might be corrupt because LaRue's possible association with Villares. The land that is described is a vast forrest but it also has a very good environment for cultivating rubber and latex. But most importantly for fords perspective, the citizens of the local area are being held down by the landlords who indent them like in the sharecropping reconstructionist south.
Chapter 7:
Next, Ford sends Ide and Bennet to the Amazon to acquire about the property and establish a Ford office there. The book talks about Henry's, Edsel's, and Bennet's, relationship. Henry is very critical of his son Edsel and this carries onto bennet and Edsel's relationship. The son is often "bullied by the older two who constantly let him carry out task but completely destroy them when he completes them.

Both of these chapters are rather bogged down with detailed bits of small meaningless conversations.

ENV: This section goes into details about the environment of the Amazon. The specific area that is being looked into has already grown trees that yield the precious latex that Ford wants. The amazon is talked of as the biggest river system in the world, and it takes Ide and Bennet days on boat to get up just one of the various tributaries.

Course Outline:
Corruption in government - especial as it related to big business. (Concept 6.3 I. A.)
This is evident in this section because of Bennet and others various ties to Villares. In early chapters in talks of how Villares is trying to pay off people so he can stand to make a higher profit if Ford buys the land that he is offering.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chapters 3-5 (pg 43-85)

1. Description

Chapter 3:

          This chapter focuses on how Henry Ford whole heatedly hates war. Many at the time even call him a pacifist. On the brink of World War I, Ford is trying to stop the United States from joining the war by any means possible, he takes this up as his devotion during the time period. His direct enemy during the time period was Theodore Roosevelt. The two would continuously go back and forth over how Ford disliked war and that Roosevelt was trying to start a war. Ford believed that industry could end all wars, he believed that if everyone worked for an industrial factory, that they would have something to do and wouldn’t be inclined to go to war. Ford was also an advocate for desecrating all federal borders, he thought that with the help of industrialism, national borders could dissolve and intern, war would seize.

Chapter 4:

          The chapter begins with Ford fighting various public opinions that he couldn't read. This was often the public opinion, but he didn't do anything to diminish it. Behind closed doors he enjoyed reading Emerson, because he believed that nature when intertwined with industry is taking full advantage of nature’s beauty. Ford also advocated for a “one foot in agriculture, one foot in industry,” policy. He believed that people had a downtime season whether in industry or agriculture, and during that time they should do the other profession. In an area called the Upper Peninsula which is in upstate Michigan near the great lakes, Ford purchased a huge tract of land that would be almost the size of his future Amazonian venture. In this area, he created various lumber towns that would also be able to practice agriculture. This idea is one that eventually dwarfs into his Fordlandia in Brazil. Earlier in the book it talks of how Ford pays $5 a day, but with that he enforces very strict rules. Now, this has become even worse, he has a team of men that are in the factories who scare workers into working faster and faster and to help cut down production times. Families and observers think this is quite harsh and equates to a form of slavery through industry.

Chapter 5:

          This chapter goes into the beginnings of Ford actually acquiring Fordlandia. A man named De Lima, is one of the people who are openly talking ford into purchasing the land, by telling him about the riches of rubber that ford could harvest there. But more importantly are the people who are working to get Ford to purchase the lot behind the scenes. Villares, who was a wealthy man in Brazil, did a lot of the behind the scene work. He secured rights form the Brazilian government to actually sell the land to Ford, but while doing this there was a lot of bribery going on because Villares could make a lot of money. Villares had paid off a couple of Ford’s men so that they would support the purchase, and eventually Villares went and talked to ford himself in Detroit offering up the land. 

2. Themes


Chapter 3 has a deep connection with the entire world. One of the main issues in the chapter is how the US will, or won’t join in on the World War that was plaguing Europe. The chapter talks of how Ford tried to send a ship to Europe to have a diplomatic peace, but that failed miserably. When US actually entered the war, even Ford converted some of his factories to aid in the war effort.


One of the things Ford tries to do, is integrate the future, industry, with the past, agriculture. He thinks that if these two mix then there will be a perfect world. Ford also hates the cow, reasons for this aren’t discussed but he thinks there are too many useless by products. Soybeans are what Ford thinks can be the savior of the world, ford comes up and uses various different soy foods and oils ranging from milk to car lubricants. The other very important thing that Ford tries to do is use everything from his lumber mills. He wants to get the most out of the environment and uses all of the scraps and some even end up in charcoal as the now biggest charcoal company.

3. Outline

Businesses and foreign policymakers increasingly looked outside U.S. borders in effort to gain greater influence and control over markets and nature resources in the Pacific, Asia, and Latin America. (Key Concept 6.1 1 B.)

Ford does the initially with expanding his car production into various Latin America countries. During WWI he can’t expand into Europe because it’s too difficult for the business, but in this time he built and sells cars within Latin America and eventually becomes the largest car company in the region controlling more than 60% of the sector. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Introduction and Chapter 1-2 (pg 1-42)

1. Description 

The Introduction.

Fordlandia was the brain child of Henry Ford, and the book begins in 1928 at Ford's unveiling of his second car, the Model A, with Thomas Edison and Ford's son, Edsel, is at his side. While the media focuses on the car, Ford is more concerned with his new project, Fordlandia. But why create this new city in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon nearly 18 hours from the nearest city? The book outlines that there’s a European monopoly on rubber and latex that is mostly focused in Asia, and US businesses, specifically Ford and Harvey Firestone, are concerned of a spike in latex prices, that are so crucial to tire production within the United States. The introduction also talks of how there’s a mystery that surrounds the Amazon. At many times there have been people who go into the rainforest and either don’t come back out or they don’t come back the same person. This is an influential idea within the Brazilian culture, but Ford completely ignores this in hopes of establishing his community. Included, is Greg Grandin’s personal account of traveling to where Fordlandia once was, and seeing how no matter how much Ford tried, the city failed. He talks of how Ford no only wanted to prefect the production of rubber, but he wanted to prefect the city, he wanted a better society that he could not achieve in the United States. This part of the book is slightly confusing as it jumps around between mental theories of people’s perceptions and actual events. It also jumps between Grandin’s present explorations and what was going on back in 1928, and even before then.

Chapter 1.

          The year is 1925, Firestone is all about combating the European rubber issue that is being perpetuated by Winston Churchill, who’s trying to limit the production of rubber which would cause the price to rapidly rise. Herbert Hoover, who was secretary of state at the time, even helped fund explorations into rubber production into Latin America, a place that would eventually be looked at by Ford, and become the home of Fordlandia. Ford tasked his secretary Liebold with finding a good place for rubber production and came back with the southern Amazon. This had once been home to bustling rubber cities which had a monopoly on rubber tapping because of huge rubber trees, but a British imperialist took seeds and transported them to the Asian countries where monopolies now exist. The original trappers of the Amazon were in dept to the people they sold their rubber to and in all it was a very imperial system in which few lords held huge amounts of wealth.

Chapter 2.

          This chapter goes back in time to talk of how Ford originally got its success, with Henry Ford putting together existing manufacturing techniques which intern perfected it. Ford was able to churn cars out but had a problem with the employees and eventually began to pay five dollars a day, way more than other companies in the time, but this came with a stipulation. Ford wasn't just a capitalist, he wanted to perfect society, and because of that he had his “sociological department,” follow around his employees and make sure they were living good lives and not wasting it away. It also goes into how Ford was not only an entrepreneur at the time, but his ideas turned him into a philosopher of sorts. His philosophies often changed, and they contradicted themselves, but at the same time he became one of the most respected men in the United States.

2. Themes


In this section, it’s all centered on the necessities of the industrial revolution. Without Ford’s invention of the mass produced and affordable car, then there would never be any need for Fordlandia and its rubber production. On the world context, the exchange of rubber between the European imperialists and the US economy is a pressing issue, as the drastic increase in price even looms the idea of war because of the economic issues.


The controversy over Churchill’s rubber policies is a political issue as it could cause hostility between the US and Britain. The US can control imports like oil because of the close proximity of their existence to the United States, but rubber is completely out of the US’s hands. Many companies such as Goodyear, don’t try to find new sources, because their politically associated with Britain and don’t want to get on their bad side.


Rubber trees/vines need a specific environment to grow, and originally only exist within the Amazon rainforest, but it takes the export of these seeds to Asian counties to change the world monopoly a distribution of wealth based on the trade of rubber. The problem with the rainforest is that it has a large amount of insects and animals that will disturb rubber production if it is all centered on large plantations. The section also talks of how Grandin returns to Fordlandia and he can see all of the remnants, as the one large water tower still looms over the desolate city below. In this case, the environment has triumphed over humans.


In the introduction specifically, it is talked of the mystery that surrounds the Amazon. Many of the locals are concerned with the forest and all that it has power over, whether real or not in the eyes of Ford.

3. Outline

Large corporations came to dominate the U.S. economy as it increasingly focused on the production of consumer goods, driven by new technologies and manufacturing techniques. (Key Concept 7.1 1A.)

Ford’s society is the first of a major industrial society. He has perfected manufacturing techniques to mass produce his cars, all he needs is an efficient source of raw materials that he hopes to industrialize.