Welcome to this article about one of the most famous names in the automobile industry: Henry Ford! He is best known as the founder of the premier automobile company known as the Ford Motor Company. He was also in charge of developing the assembly line in the industry which could be used for mass production. Join us as we take a look into the life and the works of this accomplished individual!
Interesting Facts about Henry Ford
1. He was acquainted with machinery as a child.
Ford was born on the 30th of July, 1863 in Greenfield, Michigan. His family was originally from Somerset in England. Ford had two younger sisters and two younger brothers. Unfortunately, he lost his mother when he was thirteen, forcing him to take over farm work which he did not like. When he was a teen, he was gifted a pocket watch from his father which he consistently disassembled and reassembled. Thus he began as a watch repairman by fixing such timepieces.
2. Henry Ford worked as an apprentice to a machinist.
At the age of sixteen, Ford accepted an apprenticeship with a machinist in Detroit. The firm worked on shipbuilding. During the years that followed, Ford began to get familiar with operating and servicing steam engines while also working as a bookkeeper. These skills would help him to become the successful engineering business magnate in the future. Later, he married Clara Bryant in 1888 with whom he had one son, Edsel Ford.
3. His career began as an engineer and he was recognized by Thomas Edison.
Ford was employed as an engineer to the Detroit Edison Company in 1890. He showed great talent and promise and was therefore promoted to Chief Engineer. With this promotion, he chose to conduct individual experiments on engine systems. He built his first model, the Ford Quadricycle in 1892. When he met Thomas Edison in 1896, Edison approved of Ford’s experimentation and encouraged him to design and build further automobiles. In 1899, with the money given by his investors, Ford resigned from the Detroit company and left to pursue his own car-making business.
4. Henry Ford invented the Ford Model T.
In 1903, Ford merged another car company with his own business to form the Ford Motor Company. Following immense experimentation and studying, he designed the Model T, which was a cheap model that was simple to drive as well. By the late 1920s, the majority of Americans had learnt to drive the Model T. This development enabled the automobile industry to cater towards the middle-class American population as well. This essentially changed the view that the automobile was an expensive object only used by the wealthy to something that was practical to all people. This is one of the well-known Henry Ford facts that most people know.
5. The development of the assembly line came under his planning.
Ford is also credited for developing and incorporating the assembly line system into his automobile manufacturing process. This concept entails the manufacture of a large number of products which are made in a ‘step by step’ fashion by being passed down a line. This enabled mass production; a high volume of finished products could be manufactured within a short period of time, cutting down costs and making the entire process cheap. Ford applied this method to the automobile manufacturing method, allowing mass production of the cars at a cheaper price. This enabled his company to reach a high magnitude of effectiveness.
6. Henry Ford revolutionized the labor environment.
By introducing the concept of the ‘Five dollar wage’ (which is around $130 when adjusted for inflation), Ford increased the pay rate for workers, which turned out to be highly profitable in the long term by bringing the most trained mechanics. Ford also introduced the reduced workweek of five days where laborers would work for 8 hour days, five days a week.
7. He had varying political views.
Ford was reputed for being a pacifist, particularly during the period of the First World War. He opposed the war, considering it a waste and expressed support for opposing military intervention as well as the League of Nations. He even agreed to fund the peace ship to Europe.
Contrary to this, Ford was also known for his anti-Semitic views. He supported ventures such as that of The Dearborn Independent and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which were heavily anti-Semitic content. It was believed that these may have had an influence on Nazism and the future Holocaust.
8. His later years saw him considering presidency.
After Edsel Ford passed away in 1943, Ford decided to consider the presidency. This was met with objections from his advisors. Eventually, the Ford Motor Company began to decline. As his health began to fail as well, Ford resigned as the Chairman and retired. He eventually passed away on the April 7th, 1943 in Dearborn. At the time of his passing, Ford had earned a net worth of around $200 billion dollars (adjusted for inflation), making him one of the richest people to ever exist in history. He left his wealth for the Ford Foundation which focuses on human welfare causes.
I hope that you enjoyed learning more about Henry Ford. For more information on other historical people, visit historical people pages.