Henry Ford
1863-1947
American industrialist, pioneer automobile manufacturer
by Rit Nosotro ( )

Henry Ford, the first of six children of William and Mary Ford, was born on July 30th, 1863 on a large farm in Dearborn, Michigan. He grew up on this farm helping his father until he was sixteen years old, when he ran away to Detroit. There he apprenticed himself to a mechanic because of his interest in machines and engines. He, over the next three years, learned how engines worked. When he returned to the Ford farm, he decided to open his own shop where he engaged in repairing steam engines as well as operating, experimenting and improving his own engines. Henry Ford on April 11, 1888, at the age of 25, married Clara Bryant and a couple years later moved back to Detroit to find work. He received a job with the Detroit Edison Company, and by 1891, advanced to the position of chief engineer. Ford loved this job because it allowed him to experiment with steam and combustion engines and innovate on other inventions. Ford built a gasoline engine in 1893and his first car, dubbed the “Quadricycle” in 1896. The Fords became the parents of their only child, Edsel, in 1893. After the creation of his car, Ford went to work at the Detroit Automobile Company, where he hoped to contribute his ideas to the company. When they scoffed at his ideas, he simply left the company and decided to create his own. After two unsuccessful attempts to create his own company, he decided to approach the issue from a different angle. He started building and occasionally even racing his own race cars. His cars impressed many citizens of Detroit and some decided to back him financially.

In 1903, with the help of eleven partners and over $28,000, Ford founded the Ford Motor Company. He started producing a few cars a day because of the method the workers assembled the cars. Ford changed the method of assembling the cars in 1905, when he incorporated the moving assembly lines into his factories. During the same time, Ford invented another model of his cars, the famous “Model T”. The Model T was sturdy, strong, convenient, fast and most importantly, cheap. This car appealed to the middle, average working-class. He had almost a monopoly for this market for all the larger car companies tried to please the elite, wealthy class. Ford quickly grew prosperous and sold fifteen million Model T’s within the next twelve year of production. With more income, he built a giant car complex which provided all the car parts necessary to build the model T. Also, during this time of expansion, Ford bought out all the other partners, becoming the owner of the whole company. His son became president of the company after Henry suffered a stroke, but after a quick recovery Henry still decided all of the large problems of the company. Throughout Edsel’s presidency, Ford continued to make all the decisions but accepted many of his son’s suggestions.

Henry Ford, for his time, proved very just to his employees in all the factories of his gigantic complex. He kept his factories clean, safe and often gave bonuses such as hosting company picnics and dances. During World War II, Ford mobilized his factories for the war movement and started producing jeeps, tanks and bombers to be used in the war. Though he physically opposed labor unions, his factories experienced less violence and dishonesty than other car companies, because of his kindness to them. Ford’s company also paid almost twice for a day of work than other car companies paid. Due to the success of his company, he was able to lower the price of his car immensely, which made his cars cheaper than the other companies could compete with. At the height of this time, Ford obtained over one billion dollars, much of which he spent on charity or educational projects. By this time, other car companies started finding other ways of promoting their cars over the Model T. They colored their cars different colors and added new components to the car. Additionally, they instated a customer credit plan, in which the buyer could pay in installments, which made cars seem more available to the working class. Ford refused to make such adjustments because the improvements and colors would elevate the price of his cars, something he refused to allow. Only when sales continued to drop, did he agree to build another model, Model A. This helped and sales went up again to a moderate level.

Unfortunately, the success started diminishing after his son’s death, in 1943. His popularity dropped around that same time when he spoke some prejudice comments to a Jew, who took him to court and accused him of anti-Semitism. The Ford Motor Company lost over 240 million dollars over the next two years. Though President Roosevelt ordered a government bailout because the company helped in the war effort, things did not improve until his grandson, Henry Ford II, became president of the company after Henry’s second stroke. After that, he went into retirement at his estate in Dearborn, called Fair Lane, until his death at the age of 83.

Over all, Ford lived a life trying to help many middle-class people, while everyone else only served the elite class, in hopes of earning more money. Ford tried many different ways to bridge the growing rift between traditional and industrial living. He also professed to believe in an almighty, all-knowing God. This is clearly obvious in his statement “I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn't need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?” He also showed an understanding of the Bible and Biblical prophesy because he believed the Jews would return to Palestine and have their own country back, which few during his time believed. Unfortunately, though he denied that wealth could give security , he thought that real security comes from human wisdom and knowledge instead of from a personal walk with his all-knowing God. Again, his quote shows his opinion, “The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability.”

ENDNOTES:

+9 direct quote from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/henry_ford.html

this is obvious from the statement he is accused for making against a Jew, http://www.123student.com/857.htm

10 If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability. Fords quote from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/henry_ford.html


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Anonymous (donator to 123Student), “Biography Of Henry Ford”, date unknown, http://www.123student.com/857.htm , (March 15th-March 24,2005) © 2005 123Student. All Rights Reserved

Anonymous, "Biographies on Henry Ford”, Peoples and Discoveries, date unknown, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/btford.html , (March 15th-March 24, 2005)

Robin Steward, Biography of Henry Ford, American's first automobile manufacturer, date unknown, http://ak.essortment.com/fordautomobile_rnyd.htm (March 15th-March 24, 2005), Copyright 2002 by PageWise, Inc

Stanley K. Schultz, Professor of History (William P. Tishler, Producer, Shane Hamilton, Web Editor), “Ford, Henry”, Who’s Who in American History, http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/bios/24.html , (March 15th-March 24, 2005) © 1999 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

K.B. Shaw (Rachel Sahlman, Researcher, Dick Strandberg, Artist), “Henry Ford”, SPECTRUM Home & School Magazine, http://www.incwell.com/Biographies/Ford.html
(March 15th-March 24, 2005), © K. B. Shaw

Various Authors, “Henry Ford”, http://www.brainyencyclopedia.com/encyclopedia/h/he/henry_ford.html, (March 15th-March 24, 2005)

Wikepedia contributors, “Henry Ford”, Wikepedia articles, http://www.answers.com/topic/henry-ford, (March 15th-March 24, 2005)

Henry Ford (collector unknown), “Quotes by Henry Ford”, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/henry_ford.html, (March 15th-March 24, 2005)

Anonymous, “The life of Henry Ford”, http://www.hfmgv.org/exhibits/hf/, (March 15th-March 24, 2005)

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