Henry Ford was one of the first American industrialists. He is best known for his revolutionary achievements in the automobile industry. His true passion for automobiles started at the age of sixteen. However, before he became the world-famous creator of the first gasoline-powered horseless carriage, Ford was just another small-town farmer.
The Ford farm was located near Dearborn, Michigan. This is where Henry Ford was born, on July 20, 1863. Just like the rest of the kids his age, the boy attended local district schools in his town.
In 1880, Henry became a machinist’s apprentice in Detroit, where he learned the basics of the industry. Then, only two years later, Henry Ford became a certified machinist. However, he decided to return to the family farm. During the period from 1888 to 1899, he was a mechanical engineer. Later, he became chief engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company. In 1891, he married Clara Bryant. The woman had grown up on a farm located not far from the one that belonged to the family of Form. After the wedding, Henry’s wife left the farm in Michigan and moved to Detroit.
With the birth of his daughter Edsel, in 1893, Henry’s life prospered in Detroit. A lot of people believed he had to a job that was more stable than just trying to build cars. The majority of them believed they were simple toys and would never replace the horse-drawn carriages. All the efforts of a mechanical genius were called pointless.
It was early in the morning on June 4, 1896, when Henry Ford finished his very first car. Today, we know his first work as the Quadricycle. He took it for a drive around his block, and many people watched the whole scene with astonishment. But the reality is that it was a big deal for him only, even though his wife was excited about taking a ride in the horseless carriage. Soon she would get the experience when he made the seat bigger and took the car out to his parents’ place.
Finally, being proud of his work, Henry established the Ford Motor Company in 1903. The production went up, and the first Model A appeared on the market in Detroit during the company’s first year of operation. This would lead to many public events and even a lawsuit with the ALAM over the Selden Patent, which he eventually won. In 1908, Henry Form brought out the extremely popular – the famous Model T.
By 1912, Henry Ford had many new ideas on how to develop the field of automobiles. In 1913, he began to use the same parts and assembly-line techniques at his plant. Even though Ford did not come up with the first assembly-line ideas, he was mainly responsible for their general adoption and for the great development of the American industry that followed. It was Henry Ford, who raised the American standards of living. Around the early 1914s, the mass production of automobiles resulted in a monthly labor earnings rise from 40% to 60% in his factory. It happened mostly because of the unpleasant dullness of assembly-line work and repeated increases in the production quotas assigned to workers. Ford met this trouble by increasing his workers’ salaries from what the normal manual laborer was making ($2.50) to $5. This, in turn, increased stability in his labor force and a large decrease in operating costs. These factors, along with a huge increase in output, provided enough room for the brand-new hi-tech methods, as well as led to a doubling in company profits in two years. They went from $30 million in 1914 to $60 million in 1916. It is also important to mention that together with all his innovations, Henry Form was famous for providing jobs for all people. The man was ready to hire handicapped people. For instance, deaf, blind, and those people, who have lost some of their limbs in accidents or in the war, were provided with job opportunities. By 1919, over 20% of the employees at Ford Motor Company has some kind of disability.
In 1927, the company stopped production of the Model T. The latter was replaced by a newer up-to-date version of the Model A. The company ended up selling almost 15 million cars. Nevertheless, in the next few years, Ford’s leadership of the American car industry (as the largest producer and seller) dropped due to the fact that the man failed to introduce a new car every year. It was a typical practice in the car business. During the 1930s, Ford adopted the policy of the yearly changeover. But the reality is that his company was unable to regain the position it had held before.
From 1937 to 1941, the company of Henry Ford was the only major manufacturer of automobiles in the Detroit area that did not have any labor union as the collective bargaining spokesperson of employees. There were hearings in front of the National Labor Relations Board vs. Ford Motor Co. As a result, Henry Ford was found guilty and accused of the repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The findings against him were upheld on appeal to the federal courts. In April 1941, Ford was forced to make a standard labor contract after a successful strike organized by the workers at his main plant that was located at River Rouge, Michigan.
At the beginning of 1941, the government granted Ford contracts. From that moment, the company automakers began to produce pieces for bombers and aircraft. It is also known that at one point, the company produced an entire airplane. It is at this point that Henry Ford started the construction of a large plant at Willow Run, Michigan. As part of the bomber plant, the project was a real success, as it manufactured more than 8000 planes by the end of WWI.
Henry Ford had many other accomplishments in addition to car production. For instance, he went on a peace ship in order to help to put an end to WWI. What is more, Henry Ford was nominated for U.S. senator from Michigan; however, he did not win this electoral race. Next year, he built the famous Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, which cost nearly $7.5 million. In 1919, he became the publisher of a weekly journal called the Dearborn Independent. While working for the Dearborn Independent, Henry Ford published a range of anti-Semitic works. The latter were later collected and published under the title The International Jew – a 4-volume set.
Henry Ford was forced to retire from the active work at many of his enterprises in 1945. He died two years later, on April 7, 1947. The owner of one of the largest automotive manufacturers had a stroke. According to some findings, most of Ford’s fortune is estimated to be between $500 to $700 million. Almost the whole sum went to the Ford Motor Company and became the basis for the nonprofit organization called the Ford Foundation.