Car Creator Henry Ford

In what kind of car do you ride to sports practice or to the grocery store? Do your parents or any of your relatives drive a Ford? You might not know, but when the Ford Motor Company was founded, American industry was changed forever. Henry Ford founded the company in 1902 and he led it to become one of the best-known and successful companies in the world.

Ford: Who was Henry Ford and why is he an important person to know about?

American History: A few facts about Henry Ford that most people don’t know.

Henry Ford Info: A short biography or Henry Ford that explains where he grew up and why he was important.

Early Life

Henry Ford was born in 1863 in Wayne County, Michigan. He had seven brothers and sisters. When he was born, the country was split between the Union and the Confederacy and the Civil War was being fought. As a boy, he helped out his father on the family farm. When he was just 16 years old he left his father’s farm and moved to Detroit city. There, he began experimenting with the internal-combustion engine (an important car part) and eventually built a tractor for his parents. In 1888 he married Clara Bryant whom he had grown up with. They had one son named Edsel Bryant Ford, born in 1893. In 1896 he built a “quadricycle,” which was a motorized horse carriage mounted on four bicycle wheels. In 1899 he formed the Detroit Automobile Company, which later became the Henry Ford Company. However, his partners all left the company because Ford was not willing to release an automobile to the public unless it was perfect. He left the company himself in 1902 and then organized the Ford Motor Company. In 1908, the company released the Model T, a car that would go on to sell 15.5 million in the United States.

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Controlling Ford Motors

Ford developed a process of making cars called an assembly line. What this means is that every worker was in charge of one task and the car was passed down a line to the next worker until the car was finished. By doing this, the Ford Motor Company could complete a car in just 93 minutes (almost 8 times faster than other car companies!). Having more cars led to selling more cars which led to greater profits for Ford. Giving back to their employees for all their hard work, the Ford Motor Company set the minimum wage at $5/day during a time when the industry average was only $2.34/day. The company also kept the price of the cars well below competition. Model Ts were only $950 when they were first released in 1908 and were as cheap as $290 by 1927 when the company was making one every 24 seconds! Other companies such as Dodge were upset that the Ford Motor Company was growing so fast and they were worried about their own sales. Ford was taken to court a number of times and even lost a few cases. However, the Ford Motor Company stayed strong and it is still popular and powerful in the Twenty-First Century.

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Later Years

Henry Ford gave up control of the Ford Motor Company to his son Edsel in 1918. That year he tried to become a Michigan senator but lost the election. Instead, he stayed involved with his company. Other car companies developed new features for their cars but Ford rejected them. When Ford did release a new car, the Model A, it was outsold by Chevrolet and Chrysler models. The company was also hit very hard by the Great Depression in the 1930s and had to lower wages. Ford became president of the Ford Motor Company once more in 1943 when his son Edsel died, but passed away himself in 1947. While the public opinion of Ford was mixed at the time of his death, his legacy continues. The Ford Motor Company is still a successful business being run by his family and his style of assembly line is being used by companies all over the world.

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