Essays On Henry Ford

Henry Ford was one of the first American industrialists. He is best known for his revolutionary achievements in the automobile industry. His love for automobiles started at the age of sixteen. But before that, he was just another small-town farmer.

The Ford farm was located near Dearborn, Michigan. It was here Henry Ford was born, on July 20,1863. He went to local district schools like the rest of the children from his town.

In 1880 Henry became a machinist’s apprentice in Detroit, where he learned the basics. Then only two years later Ford became a certified machinist, but returned to the family farm. 1888 to 1899 he was a mechanical engineer, and later chief engineer, with the Edison Illuminating Company. Ford married in 1891 and he and his bride, Clara Bryant, left the farm in Michigan and moved to Detroit.

His life prospered in Detroit and with the birth of his daughter Edsel, in 1893, many people believed he should get a job that was more stable than trying to build cars. Most believed they were simple toys and would never replace the horse-drawn carriage.

Then on the morning of June 4, 1896 Henry finished his first ever car, which became known as the Quadricycle. He took it for a drive around his block as many people stared. It was only big enough for him, 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 to car out to his parents home.

Finally having his work taken seriously, Henry formed the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Before his first year was up of owning the company the first Model A appeared on the market in Detroit. This would lead to many publicity events and even a law suit with the ALAM over the Selden Patent, which he eventually won. Then in 1908 he brought out the extremely popular the Model T.

By 1912 Ford had many new ideas on ways In 1913 Ford began using the same parts and assembly-line techniques in his plant. Even though Ford did not come up with the idea or was the first to us assembly-line ideas, he was mainly responsible for their general adoption and for the following great development of American industry and the raising of the American standard of living. Around early 1914 this improvement, even though it greatly increased production, had resulted in a monthly labor earnings of 40 to 60 percent in his factory, 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 pay from what the normal manual laborer was making, $2.50, to $5. This increased stability in his labor force and a large decrease in operating costs. These factors, along with the huge increase in output made possible by new hi-tech methods, led to a doubling in company profits in two years. They went from $30 million in 1914 to $60 million in 1916.

In 1927 the Model T was discontinued for a newer up-to-date version of the Model A. The company ended up selling almost 15 million cars. But in the next few years Ford’s leadership of the American car industry (as the largest producer and seller) dropped with his trouble of introducing a new car every year which had now become normal in the car business. During the 1930s Ford adopted the policy of the yearly changeover, but his company was unable to regain the position it had held before.

From 1937 to 1941, the Ford company 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 Ford in which Ford was found guilty of repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The findings against him were upheld on appeal to the federal courts. Ford was forced to make a standard labor contract after a successful strike by the workers at his main plant at River Rouge, Michigan, in April 1941.

In early 1941 the government granted Ford contracts which stated he was, at first, to manufacture parts for bombers and at one point an entire airplane. He then started the construction of a large plant at Willow Run, Michigan. His plant was a success, as it manufactured more than 8000 planes by the end of WW1.

Henry Ford had many other accomplishments other than just that of cars. He went on peace ship to try to help stop WW1, was nominated for U.S. senator from Michigan, but he was defeated. In the next year he built the 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.

Ford was forced to retire from the active work of his many enterprises in 1945. He died two years later on April 7,1947 of stroke. Most of Ford’s fortune, estimated to have been between $500 to $700 million, went to the Ford Motor Company and started the nonprofit organization called the Ford Foundation.

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Henry Ford 1863-1947

American industrialist and essayist.

One of the most esteemed figures in American industry, Henry Ford is credited with devising and implementing the continuous assembly line, thus making possible the era of mass-production, mass-marketing, and the modern, consumer society. Ford's efforts are additionally thought to have shaped American culture in the early twentieth century, tremendously speeding the process of urbanization by making the automobile available to the middle and working classes. Ford is also popularly regarded as a humanitarian who worked to elevate the economic status of the common man. This near-heroic view of the man, however, has been complicated by the study of Ford's paradoxical and controversial private persona, which contemporary critics have attempted to reconstruct in order to more fully understand this pioneering but enigmatic American.

Biographical Information

Ford was born in Springwells Township, an area that is now occupied by Dearborn, Michigan, in 1863. He grew up on his father's farm and attended public school during the winter months between 1871 and 1879. In bis youth Ford displayed an extraordinary mechanical aptitude and excelled in mathematics at school. Though his father hoped that he would continue working on the farm, he left to find work in nearby Detroit in 1879. He undertook a series of apprenticeships in Detroit, working at the Flower Brothers Machine Shop and then the Detroit Drydock Company by day, and augmented his income by repairing watches in the evening. He met his wife, Clara Bryant, in 1886 and married her two years later. The couple lived together on forty acres of land provided by Ford's father on the condition that it be used for farming. Ford instead cleared the land of trees and sold the lumber for industrial purposes. By 1891 the timber was gone and Ford returned to find work in the city, this time as an engineer. He worked for the Edison Illuminating Company between 1893 and 1899, quickly rising through the ranks. During this period, he also designed and constructed his first "horseless carriage," an automobile prototype that Ford called a "quadricycle."

His desire to produce an improved version of the vehicle led to the creation of the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, with Ford as its chief engineer. The company proved unsuccessful and Ford turned his attention to automobile racing, for which he gained a measure of national notoriety by 1901. He then parlayed his successes into the creation of the Ford Motor Company in 1903. The company grew rapidly, and by 1906 Ford had become its primary shareholder. He then began to make his pronouncement that he would produce a car "so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one" into a reality with the unveiling of the Model 'T' in October of 1908. The vehicle proved extremely popular, with sales reaching the one million mark in seven years and totaling fifteen million by the late 1920s. Meanwhile, Ford was making a name for himself as a humanitarian. In 1914 he raised employee wages to five dollars per day (more than double the average for factory workers at the time) and initiated an eight hour work day (lowering the number of hours from a standard of ten to twelve). Ford's reputation suffered, however, from his public stance against World War I. His lost bid for a seat in the United States Senate in 1916 also prompted a bitter reaction from Ford, who blamed the defeat on the machinations of international financiers and Jewish political influence. By 1920 Ford, already one of the most wealthy men in the country, had solidified his control of the Ford Motor Company as sole owner and weathered numerous lawsuits. His public anti-Semitism, however, continued to grow, peaking in the early 1920s with the printing of a series of essays attacking Jews. The articles appeared in his Dearborn Independent, a weekly periodical published between 1919 and 1927 in which Ford frequently offered his opinions and insights. After litigation, Ford eventually apologized for the views he had represented. Despite incredible growth in the 1920s, Ford's company began to suffer by the end of the decade, slipping from its position as America's largest automaker to third rank behind General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation by 1936. Disputes over management and labor, particularly his refusal to negotiate with the United Auto Workers union until 1941, damaged both the company and Ford's reputation. Failing health and growing signs of senility forced him into retirement in 1945, allowing his grandson Henry Ford II to take control of the company. Ford died less than two years later at his home in Dearborn, Michigan.

Major Works

Ford's writings are generally brief essays or statements containing his views on a variety of subjects, ranging from personal observations to his perspective on the world of technology and industry. 365 of Henry Ford's Sayings (1923) is a collection of aphorisms that testifies to Ford's growing popularity as a national hero in the 1920s. Today and Tomorrow (1926) and My Philosophy of Industry (1929) present his vision of America's current and future strengths, while Edison as I Know Him (1930) is a personal reminiscence of a man Ford ardently admired. Perhaps Ford's most wellknown publication is the series of essays entitled The International Jew, which first appeared in the Dearborn Independent in 1922. Violently anti-Semitic, these articles postulate a worldwide Jewish conspiracy at the center of nearly all of the problems of modern civilization and notably accuse Jews of instigating World War I, as well as labelling Judaism as an insidious enemy of Christianity. After considerable bad press and a public suit of libel was brought against Ford, he formally retracted any anti-Semitic statements he may have made in The International Jew.

Critical Reception

The impression of Ford during his lifetime has been largely allied with the success of his Ford Motor Company. As his popularity grew, reaching its zenith in the mid-1920s, Ford became one of the world's richest men and an individual of near folk hero status in the minds of many Americans. His anti-Semitic remarks in the 1920s and stubborn opposition to labor unionism in the 1930s, as well as his vocal hostility to the war effort in the early 1940s led to a marked decline in his popularity late in life. Contemporary critics and biographers have since inquired into the nature of Ford's personality and discovered that he was a man of deep-set inconsistencies: at times visionary, charitable, and forward-looking, at others ignorant, bitterly selfish, and reactionary in his views. Such explorations of his personality, however, have done little or nothing to change the estimation of Ford as among the most compelling, innovative, and influential industrialists in world history.


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