A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 08, 2013
“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him…”

"Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him, better take a closer look at the American Indian” is a quote that has been credited to American industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947) and has been popular during the presidency of Barack Obama (from 2009). There is no evidence that Ford ever said it.

“Those who are plugging for socialism in this country because they want government to take care of them, should look at the poor American Indians” was cited in print in a January 1950 newspaper column by Tex Reynolds in the Racine (WI) Journal-Times. “If yon think you’re going to be happy and prosperous by sitting back and letting the government take care of you— look at the American Indians!” was published in The Houghton Line magazine in March 1950.

“Sure you can trust the government—just ask an Indian”—with no credit to Henry Ford—has been cited in print since about 1998, when it appeared on T-shirts and bumper stickers.


30 September 1935, The Evening Tribune (Albert Lea, MN), “The Insecurity of Social Security,” pg. 4, col. 2:
If you want to consider what “social security” does for and to people look at the American Indian. He has been a ward of the government, all his materialist wants looked after. Foolish question: Has this helped or harmed him.

31 January 1950, Racine (WI) Journal-Times, “Between the Lines” by Tex Reynolds, pg. 1, col. 1:
One of the Fiends at Adjoining Desks has a thought, (which he should treat tenderly because it’s probably lonesome).

‘Those who are plugging for socialism in this country because they want government to take care of them, should look at the poor American Indians,” he says. “There is a classic example of how government takes care of people who depend upon it!”

31 March 1950, The Daily Journal-Gazette and Commercial-Star (Mattoon, IL), pg. 6, col. 1:
“If yon think you’re going to be happy and prosperous by sitting back and letting the government take care of you— look at the American Indians!”—Houghton Line, Magazine, E. F. Houghton Co.

4 May 1950, Boston (MA) Traveler, “Take It From Me” by Neal O’Hara, pg. 39, cols. 2-3:
Observes a cynic: “If you think you’re going to be happy and prosperous by sitting back and letting the government take care of you, look at the American Indian.”

28 March 1951, Newark (OH) Advocate and American Tribune, pg. 14, col. 4 classified ad:
IF YOU THINK you’re going to be happy and prosperous by sitting back and letting the government take care of you—look at the American Indian!
(Park Motor—ed.)

31 March 1951, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Rise in Government Payrolls, Taxes Hit by Safeway Official” by Werner Renberg, pt. 2, pg. 6, col. 4:
“If you think the government can take care of you,” Doe said, “look at the American Indian. Take a look at the predicament he’s in.”
(Rilea W. Doe of Oakland, Calif., vice-president of Safeway Stores, Inc.—ed.)

12 November 1952, Postville (IA) Herald, “As I See It” by C.W.D., pg. 10, col. 2:
If you think you’re going to be happy and prosperous by sitting back and letting the government take care of you . . . take a look at the American Indian.

HathiTrust Digital Library
Hearings, reports and prints of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office
1954
Pg. 285:
STATEMENT OF RITA A. WATKINS, HARDIN COUNTY, TEX.
Pg. 287:
Everyone keeps saying, don’t worry, the Government will take care of you. But just look at the American Indian.

7 May 1967, Daily Tribune (Great Bend, KS), “Once Over Lightly” by Bob Fairbanks, pg. 3, col. 1:
Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him should take a look at the American Indian.

topix—Offbeat
Did Henry Ford say this?
Always Wary
Jan 3, 2013
“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the American Government take care of him; better take a closer look at the American Indian.”

I can’t find anything to prove he did say it. Any suggestions?

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“A man who thinks he can be happy & prosperous letting Gov take care of him, better take a closer look at the American Indian."- Henry Ford
2:57 PM - 6 Nov 13

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Friday, November 08, 2013 • Permalink