Discover the untold story of the “tractor wars,” the twenty-year period that introduced power farming—the most fundamental change in world agriculture in hundreds of years.
Before John Deere, Ford, and International Harvester became icons of American business, they were competitors in a forgotten battle for the farm. From 1908-1928, against the backdrop of a world war and economic depression, these brands were engaged in a race to introduce the tractor and revolutionize farming.
By the turn of the twentieth century, four million people had left rural America and moved to cities, leaving the nation’s farms shorthanded for the work of plowing, planting, cultivating, harvesting, and threshing. That’s why the introduction of the tractor is an innovation story as essential as man’s landing on the moon or the advent of the internet—after all, with the tractor, a shrinking farm population could still feed a growing world. But getting the tractor from the boardroom to the drafting table, then from factory and the farm, was a technological and competitive battle that until now, has never been fully told.
A researcher, historian, and writer, Neil Dahlstrom has spent decades in the corporate archives at John Deere. In Tractor Wars, Dahlstrom offers an insider’s view of a story that entwines a myriad of brands and characters, stakes and plots: the Reverend Daniel Hartsough, a pastor turned tractor designer; Alexander Legge, the eventual president of International Harvester, a former cowboy who took on Henry Ford; William Butterworth and the oft-at-odds leadership team at John Deere that partnered with the enigmatic Ford but planned for his ultimate failure.
With all the bitterness and drama of the race between Ford, Dodge, and General Motors, Tractor Wars is the untold story of industry stalwarts and disruptors, inventors, and administrators racing to invent modern agriculture—a power farming revolution that would usher in a whole new world.
|Publisher:||BenBella Books, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||9.00(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Recently, Neil has held a variety of leadership positions in archival organizations, with colleagues in some of the most prestigious archives and museums. Currently, he’s a member of the Kitchen Cabinet, the Food and Agriculture Advisory Board of The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and chair of the Society of American Archivists Business Archives Section, which includes more than five hundred corporate archivists.
Table of Contents
Key Tractors and Personnel xi
1 The Ford Tractor 1
2 John Deere: "The Newcomer" 13
3 The Tractor Works 27
4 "Divorce the Plow from the Tractor" 37
5 "The Great Awakening" 51
6 "Small Tractor Proposition" 61
7 Henry Ford Day 71
8 "A War to End All Wars" 79
9 "First Class All the Way" 91
10 "England Gets Them First" 103
11 The John Deere Tractor 111
12 "Ford Likes a Success" 123
13 Tractor City 133
14 "Better, Cheaper" 145
15 "Depression Is Awful" 155
16 Farmall 167
17 Iron Man 171
18 "Our Main Competition" 179
19 "Stick to It" 183
20 "A Vengeance" 189
21 "High Hopes" 195
22 "Power Farmer" 207
23 "The Layoff Will Be Brief" 215
24 "The Business of Raising Food" 219
Author's Note 229
Selected Bibliography 233