Henry Ford was known for mass producing cars and for the first time the average family
had the chance to own one. Henry was born to the name Henry William Ford. His parents William
and Mary Litigot Ford were married in 1862 waiting just one year to have Henry as their first
born on July 30, 1863 in Springwells Michigan a suburb of Dearborn.


His childhood was an average for a farm boy. He went to a couple of different farm
schools through out his boyhood. When he was not studying he working on the farm or reading one
of his father’s McGruffy Readers just for fun. Just like any boy he did not like to work on the
farm, but instead of not doing it he did it while day dreaming of building a machine that would
cut work time dramatically. For his birthday at the age of twelve he was given a watch. It was
not long after that he started to take it apart, study it, then put it back together. When
people noticed how good a job he did on his own watch people gave him theirs to fix. One day
when his father approached him and asked Henry why he was doing it for free he said, “Why should
I charge when I enjoy doing it so much.” He fixed watches until 17 when he left school and
walked to Detroit to get a job at Michigan Car Works making repairs for $1.10 a day. He then
received a apprenticing job at Dry Dock Engine Company where he was a natural at designing
engines and repairing them. After mastering the machinists trade he went back home to go to a
small business college for three months. At home he met and courted Clara Bryant a daughter of
a neighboring farmer.

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They were wed on April 11, 1888. Their home was on a 40 acre farm his father had given
him. He was not happy working on a farm and Clara knew it. So she insisted on them moving to
Detroit whether or not he had a job. Luckily he found a job fairly quickly and he began doing
what he loved and wanted to do build cars. He designed and built a car in a shed behind his
house on Bagley Avenue. People were in awe when he would ride about town almost bragging that
he had built a car. Soon after he was working as chief engineer at Detroit Edison Co. making
$1,800 a year; an extremely high salary for the ’90’s. At the same time business man after
business man approached Henry offering him great sums of money to build their cars in his spare
time.


In 1901 Henry and many investors started the Henry Ford Company with $60,000. This
project was short lived though because of disagreements with Ford and investors. After a short
time he met Alex Malcomson and started the Ford ; Malcomson Company but again the company failed
because of money troubles. After another short time he met James Couzens. In June 1901 with
Alex, James, and eight other investors Henry started the Ford Motor Company. Ford made Couzens
in charge of money, Malcomson in charge of production, and Ford himself began designing the
cars. With $100,000 of capital Ford was soon to produce the Fordmobile, later know as the Model
A, on the market for $850. Utility, not beauty was Ford’s aim, but the Model A was not an
instant success.This did not faze Ford he was quick in introducing the Model B for $2,000.
Again the B was not an instant success. So Ford presented the Model C a cheaper more reliable
Model B. The C did catch on. Ford then moved his company to much bigger plant and produced
five more cars. In 1908 Henry began designing the T. He introduced it to the public, the
demand became so great he had to create mass production. It was to become “Ford’s best known
car, a noisy, uncomfortable, unattractive , but efficient automobile” (Current Biography 218).
After a half a million T’s on the road it was center of jokes and cartoons which Ford recognized
as good advertising. The company was then worth $2,000,000. Due to the workers reports of
demoralizing speed and monotony, nobody wanted to work for Ford. Lawyers wanted to get into the
act finding workers that would be willing to sue Ford. Henry then made an unprecedented
announcement in January 1914 that workers would make a minimum wage of $5.00 a day for an eight
hour work day. These reports ended as quickly as they started. One immediate result of the new
wage announcement was the appearance of hundreds of workers clamoring for work. Many were
dispersed when a fire hose was turned on them.


Ford was not in favor of war. Though when asked by President Wilson to help in building
war ships for the first World War he was quick to do it. He built motors, cylinders, caisons,
steel helmets, and Eagle boats. In 1919 he was also called an anarchist by the Chicago Tribune
who wrote a column in their paper stating that Ford was against the expedition into Mexico in
pursuit of Villa. The suit was found in Ford’s favor and he was awarded six cents in damages.
The Dearborn Independent, a paper that Ford owned, started to publish attacks on Jews
collectively and individually stating that they were going to take over the world. From this he
was called a Nazi and an anti-Semite. He later retracted through the paper and a pamphlet and
asked for forgiveness and friendship with the Jews.


On December 31, 1918 Henry Ford resigned from the company presidency in favor of his
son, Edsel Ford. Couzens and Malcomson did the same and in turn Henry bought all the remaining
stock for his family. Henry retired as a trustee in the motor company living with his wife on a
farm in Dearborn for many years. In 1943 the entire Ford empire shook. Edsel Ford died. Henry
then took over the company on account of Edsel’s son Henry II not yet experienced enough to run
the company.


On April 7, 1947 Henry Ford died. Known for making a low priced, high quality
automobile and introducing mass production into the car market Henry revolutionized the
automobile industry. In just a few days marking the fiftieth anniversary of his death everyone
should look back and see just how he made the world a better place to live in by just making a
inexpensive automobile.

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