MAN OF THE YEAR: First Among Equals

  • Share
  • Read Later

Novus Ordo Seclorum.

When the Founding Fathers set these words—A New Order of the Ages—in the Great Seal of the United States, they had in mind a social order that would guarantee the individual political and personal freedom under law. They only dimly foresaw that they were also establishing a new economic order that would break the bonds of scarcity that had bound men's actions, thoughts, hopes and dreams in earlier times. In 1955 this new order of the world—the free, competitive, expanding American economy—not only showed the world the way to a plenty undreamed of only a few years ago, it was also the keystone of the defense of the West against the Communist world. Because the U.S. was strong, the West was strong —and more prosperous than it had ever been.

"Our prosperity could never exist," said Sir Norman Kipping, director general of the Federation of British Industries, "without a prospering United States."

"Let's face it," said Wilhelm Vorwig, general manager of the German Auto mobile Manufacturers' Association, "our present achievements are based on the copying of the American economy."

Because of the success of the American economic system, the U.S. rolled through 1955 in two-toned splendor to an alltime crest of prosperity, heralded around the world. Much of this prosperity was directly attributable to the manufacture and sale of that quintessential American product, the automobile. Some 8,000,000 of them were produced and sold, and a good half of them were made and marketed by General Motors under the direction of President Harlow Herbert Curtice—the Man of the Year.

Yet this production alone would not make Harlow Herbert Curtice, 62, the Man of the Year. Nor would the fact that he is president of the world's biggest manufacturing corporation—and the first president of a corporation to make more than $1 billion in net profits in a year. Curtice is not the Man of 1955 because these phenomenal figures measure him off as first among scores of equals whose skill, daring and foresight are forever opening new frontiers for the expanding American economy by granting millions to colleges, making new toasters that pop up twice as fast, or planning satellites to circle the earth. Harlow Curtice is the Man of 1955 because, in a job that required it, he has assumed the responsibility of leadership for American business. In his words, "General Motors must always lead."

How does Curtice lead?

Bet a Billion. In the early days of 1954, there was gloomy talk of a slowing —and possible end—to the postwar boom. Though the economy was still strong, business was falling off and the total of jobless was growing, along with uncertainty about the future. In this critical period, "Red" Curtice stood up before 500 of the nation's top businessmen and industrialists and gave his own pronouncement on the future. General Motors, he said, would spend $1 billion to expand its plants for the increase in auto sales to come. Screamed the headlines: G.M. BETS BILLION: NO SLUMP.

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10