Henry Ford

Henry Ford Henry Ford Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863 to William and Mary Ford. He was the first of six children. He grew up in a rich farming household in Dearborn, Michigan. He enjoyed a typical childhood, spending his days in a one-room schoolhouse and doing farm chores. Ever since he was young, he showed an interest for the mechanical aspect of things, and how they worked and functioned.

He used to take things apart and put them back together to get an idea of the inner workings of basic mechanical tools (Nevins, 47 – 50). In 1879, at a young age of 16, he left his home to travel to the near by city of Detroit to work as an apprentice for a machinist. He occasionally returned home to work on the farm. He remained an apprentice for three years and then returned to Dearborn. During the next few years, Henry divided his time between operating and repairing steam engines, finding occasional work in Detroit factories, and working on his fathers broken down farm equipment, as well as lending an unwilling hand with other farm work.

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Henry got married to Clara Bryant in 1888 Henry supported himself and his wife by running a sawmill (Collier, 145 – 152). In 1891, Henry became an engineer with the Edison Illumination Company. This was an important event in his life because it signified that he had made a conscious career move into industrial pursuits. He was promoted to Chief Engineer in 1893. This gave him enough time and money to devote attention to his personal experiments on internal combustion engines (Lacey 13 – 14). The high point of this research came with the completion of his own self-propelled vehicle, the Quadricycle.

This bike had four wire wheels and was steered with a tiller, like a boat. It had two forward speeds, and no reverse. Although this was not the first self-propelled vehicle, it set Henry Ford as one of the major pioneers whom helped this nation become one of motorists (Head 22 – 24). Ford decided that he wanted to become an automobile manufacturer. After two unsuccessful tries, Ford motor company was finally incorporated in 1903 with Henry Ford as the Vice President and Chief Engineer. When the company first started it was only producing a few cars a day at the Ford factory on Mack Avenue in Detroit. A group of two or three men would work on one car from components made to order by other companies (Lewis 99 – 100) Ford realized his dream of producing an automobile that was reasonable priced, reliable and efficient with the introduction of the Model T in 1908.

This vehicle iniated a new era in personal transportation. It was easy to operate, maintain, and could handle rough roads. It was also very reasonably priced at 850 dollars. The cars sold fast and for the first time, the middle class could afford a car. By 1920, about 4 million Model T’s were sold (Lewis, 103 – 105).

The model T revolutionized America in many different ways. For example, while the Model T was in production, the assembly line was used on a large scale. The assembly line was a powered chain that brought the chassis of the car to each of its parts. The parts were then attached to the chassis of the car and moved on to the next station. It usually took fourteen hours to build one Model T, and with the assembly line it only took six.

Henry built a huge factory based on the assembly line. The assembly line added more jobs and significantly lowered the cost of production (Nevins, 65 – 67). Since the assembly line, Ford was able to produce many more cars than usual, therefore increasing profits. Since the profits were increased, Henry was able to raise the workers’ salaries from $2.50 an hour to $5.00 an hour. He also cut the workday to only eight hours a day, making the workers very happy.

People from all over the nation tried to get a job working at the Ford Motor Company because the wages were so good. Also since the assembly line increased profits, Henry was able to sell Model T’s for a cheaper price. In 1915, the price of the Model T’s went down to $490 (Lacey, 27 -29). Fords assembly lines didn’t always manufacture cars. In early 1941 the Ford was granted government contracts whereby he was to manufacture parts for bombers and later, the entire airplane.

He then launched the construction of a huge plant at Willow Run, Michigan. By the end of the War, the plant had manufactured more than 8000 planes (Collier, 160). In the period of 1937 to 1941, the Ford Company became the only major manufacturers of automobiles in the Detroit area that had not recognized any labor unions as the collective bargaining representative of employees. The company was later found guilty of repeated violation of the national Labor Relations Act (Nevins, 69 -70). Henry Ford was active in many other fields besides those of automobile and airplane manufacturing. In 1915, he had world peace on his mind.

He chartered a peace ship, which carried him and a number of like-minded individuals to Europe, where they attempted without success to persuade the close-minded to end WWI (Lacey, 33). While still working at his company, Henry was also nominated for the U.S. Senate for the state of Michigan in 1918, though he was defeated. In 1919 Ford laid out 7.5 million of his own money to erect the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit (Head, 27 – 28). As Ford was getting older, he retired from the active direction of his gigantic enterprise in 1945.

Two years later, on April 7 1947, Ford died in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford left behind a personal fortune estimated between 500 and 700 million (Lacey, 20-21). In conclusion, Henry Ford was a very important part of our society. He was responsible for many inventions, including the Model T. His biggest contribution was revolutionizing and perfecting the assembly line.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford was one of the most important and influential inventors and businessmen in the short history of America. He revolutionized the business world and he changed forever the efficiency of factories around the world. One of the reasons that Henry Ford can be considered such an important man is that his ideas and concepts are still used today.
Boron on July 30, in the year of 1863, Henry Ford was the oldest child of the family. His parents, William and Mary Ford, were “prosperous farmers” in his hometown of Dearborn. While they we’re well off for farmers, Ford certainly wasn’t spoiled and fed from silver spoons. Ford was just like any other typical young boy during the rural nineteenth century. From early on there we’re signs that Henry was going to be something more than a farmer. He looked with interest upon the machinery that his father and himself used for their farming, and looked with disdain at the rigorous chores of a farmer.

In the year 1879, Henry being a meager 16 years old, he moved to the city of Detroit where he would work as an apprentice machinist. Henry would remain in Detroit working and learning about all varieties of machines. Although he occasionally came back to visit Dearborn, he mostly stayed in Detroit, picking up more and more valuable knowledge. This apprenticeship allowed him to work in the factories of Detroit and learn what a hard working blue-collar job was like. When he did return to Dearborn he was always tearing apart and rebuilding his fathers machines, along with the dreaded farm chores. Henry Ford was a hard worker and that was proven by him getting fired from one of his jobs in Detroit because the older employees we’re mad at him because he was finishing his repairs in a half hour rather than the usual five hours.
Clara Bryant would represent the next step in now twenty-five year old Henry Ford’s life. The two lovers we’re married in 1888 and would endure good times as well as bad. In order to support his new wife Henry was forced to work the land as he ran a sawmill that was given to him by his father. His father actually attempted to bribe Henry to stay in the farming business as he gave him the land only under the condition that he would continue on as a farmer. Think of what the world would be like if Henry had stayed on as a farmer.

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The year was 1891 when Ford was employed as an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company, located in Detroit. This move also put an end to any chance of Ford becoming a farmer. In just two years Henry’s hard work and dedication paid off as he was promoted to chief engineer. Not only was it a boost in position and confidence but it also gave him the necessary funds and time to start with his personal experiments, starting with internal combustion engines. His interest in this type of engine also shows his creative side, as he was not one to do what everyone else was doing and use the steam engine.

In just 5 short years of many experiments and ideas, Henry Ford completed his self-propelled Quadricycle. It appears to be a bike with an engine on it. The quadricycle had two gears, no reverse gear, four heavy bike tires, and was steered with a tiller, similar to a boat. While it was a great achievement at the time period, it was just the beginning of Henry’s self-propelled vehicles.
Henry was like any other entrepreneur, he had his ups and downs and it took him a few tries before he was able to run a successful business. In 1899 Ford founded the Detroit Automobile Company. It was the first car plant in Detroit, which is now known as “Motown” because of all the car plants that were and are still there, although in dwindling numbers. The Detroit Automobile Company floundered and fell under in late 1900. Ford, not discouraged, took up to it again with the Henry Ford Company, founded around November of 1901. This company was brought down by an internal dispute, which brought forth Ford’s resignation. After two totally unsuccessful tries at the car industry, wouldn’t you think Henry Ford would be discouraged?
Ford was too determined to let a few bumps in the road stop him and he created the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Ford was the vice president and the chief engineer. In 1908, approximately five years after the first Model A was sold, the Model T was produced. It was reasonably priced, reliable and efficient, and it sent Ford off to a whole new level. Without the Model T who knows what would have happened to Fords company. However this car would become so popular that 10 years after its arrival, it was driven by half of all car-owning Americans.
Many people know Ford as an innovator as far as cars are concerned but it was more a matter of his “combined precision manufacturing, standardized and interchangeable parts, a division of labor, and, in 1913, a continuous moving assembly line” (quote taken from Henry Ford Museum website) that made him able to take off in the car industry. The assembly line was so incredibly important as not only did it increase production rates but also it decreased prizes and allowed for people to become specialists in one area of car building.
Ford remembered his days as a hard working blue-collar employee and he made an excellent business move in January of 1914. He raised pay up to what was a very nice five dollars a day and shortened his workers days from nine hours to eight hours. His rivals we’re furious and the move immediately cost him about ten million dollars. However in the long run it paid off and it was such a great move that other companies followed in his footsteps soon after.
Henry Ford spent the rest of his life devoted to his cars and he was truly a blessed man as he was able to do something that came naturally, and it was something that he loved. Henry Ford died on April 7, 1947. He lived a very fulfilling and productive 84 years. Upon his death, newspaper editorials looked at him as a hero, a patriot, economist, reformer, and plenty more things. The effect that Henry Ford left on American factories and business was important and everlasting.