Investor’s Business Daily writer Scott Stoddard recently noted “Henry Ford built cars, William Boeing built airplanes, and Cornelius Vanderbilt built railroads. But Henry J. Kaiser built just about everything.”
Henry J. Kaiser (1882-1967) was a household name in the United States between the 1940s and the 1960s, but today few know much about him and what he accomplished.
Stoddard’s article “Industrialist Henry Kaiser Made Everything His Business” under the “Leaders & Success” section goes a long way toward elevating his stature as a significant American figure of the 20th century.
And more than that, much of what Kaiser accomplished sought to improve social conditions. At Grand Coulee Dam in 1938 he and Sidney Garfield, MD, offered employees an affordable and effective prepaid health plan. In 1942 he founded what would become Kaiser Permanente, which today is one of the nation’s largest integrated health plans.
The noted California historian Kevin Starr, quoted in the article, once told an audience at the Commonwealth Club that “Kaiser the industrialist was powerful enough, but the Kaiser Plan, with Sidney Garfield… it’s the great big social idea to come out of the war.”
Several biographies on Henry J. Kaiser help to tell his story, as well as regular articles in this History of Total Health blog that cover his role in such diverse topics as housing, support for merchant mariners, and employment discrimination. The blog also looks into his more idiosyncratic pursuits, which included race cars, the iconic Jeep, geodesic domes, and catamarans.
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