When Texans Headed To Chicago To Testify In Henry Ford’s Libel Lawsuit

Texans from the border region of the state were in Mount Clemens, Michigan on June 9, 1919 to testify in the ongoing litigation brought by car magnate Henry Ford against the Chicago Tribune for libel.

Ford sued the Tribune in 1916 after the newspaper published stories critical of Ford’s refusal to support President Woodrow Wilson in sending troops to the Texas border region to stop insurgents, including Pancho Villa. The newspaper called Ford ignorant and an anarchist.

“The proceedings before Judge J.C. Tucker introduced rangers, deputy sheriffs, a conspiracy of empire which involved the capture of Mexicans by the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and the southern part of California, sombreros, embroidered riding boots, cattle rustling, sanguinary raids by Mexican bandits,” and more.

Witnesses included Marcus A. Hines, now a customs official at Santa Maria, and Thomas S. Mayfield of Pharr. Both were deputy sheriffs and rangers in 1915 and 1916.

Thomas J. Alexander, postmaster and stood keeper of Sebastian Texas, also testified, claiming the area had eight families until the bandits scared them away.

Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict against the Tribune and in favor of Henry Ford, but awarded him damages of only six cents.

SOURCES:

Associated Press. “Border Texans In Boots and Spurs Testify In Ford-Tribune Libel Case,” The Houston Post, June 10, 1919, p. 1

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Vince Leibowitz

Publisher & Editor at Contemporary Texas History
Vince Leibowitz is a journalist, author, and historian. He is the Publisher and Editor of Contemporary Texas History.

He lives in Colorado County, Texas with his two dogs, Lyndon "Puppy" and Senfronia.

He serves on the Colorado County Historical Commission and as Managing Editor of The Colorado County Citizen.

He recently secured a Texas Historical Marker for Etta Moten Barnett. the first black woman to sing solo in the White House. In April, 2019, he was named South Texas Press Association Journalist of the Year for Division I.
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