Henry Ford

These history lessons that are being prepared now, you will find more familiar as all of you should have some knowledge of the people I bring to your attention. For instance, who was the man who perfected the Model T, often referred to as the "Tin Lizzy" or "The Flivver?" Henry Ford. Here was a man who startled the world with the first assembly line in the manufacture of automobiles and started the modern transportation age.
Henry Ford was born near Dearborn, Michigan on July 30, 1863. He attended school up to t he age of 15, then dropped out of school to work as a machine shop apprentice in Detroit, Michigan. After his apprenticeship, he became a traveling repairman for a farm machinery firm. Next we find him operating a saw mill for several years until the age of 24, when he became chief engineer for the Edison Illuminating Co. of Detroit.
He built his first automobile in 1892, and for a while he was associated with the Detroit Automobile Company, a maker of custom or hand-made automobiles. It was here th at Henry Ford built a racing automobile which he named the "999." This was just about the turn of the century. In 1903, he organized the Ford Motor Company and six years later in 1909, he produced the Model "T" Ford, a standardized vehicle turned out on a mass-production assembly line.
This factory assembly line method made Ford a worldwide symbol of industrial technique and also sold millions of autos. In explaining his idea of mass production, Henry Ford said, "In our first assembling we si mply started to put a car together at a spot on the floor and workmen brought to it the parts as they were needed in exactly the same way as one builds a house. The undirected worker spends more of his time walking about for materials and tools; he gets small pay because walking is not a highly paid line. The first step forward in assembly came when we began taking the work to the men instead of the men to the work. We have two general principles in all operations-that a man shall never have to take mo re than one step, if it can be avoided, and that no man need ever stoop over. The net result of the application of these principles is the reduction of the necessity for thought on the part of the worker and the reduction of his movements to a minimum."
In 1914 Ford attracted national attention by introducing into his plants the 8-hour day and also a profit sharing plan for his employees. It has been said that Ford was holding a Directors meeting and they were discussing this question of costs, profits and wages. Henry Ford was discussing several ideas on wages and he told his Directors, most of whom were stockholders, that they were making huge profits and labor was not being given a fair share. Ford suggested a minimum salary of between three or four dollars a day when one of the stockholders sarcastically remarked, "Why don't you give them $5.00 a day. Ford replied, "That's a great idea. We will do it." The stockholders and directors protested, but Ford held firm. The result was the stockholders sued Henry Ford on the charge that he was paying out to labor a lot of money that should have been given to the stockholders as dividends. The case was finally settled when Ford agreed to buy out all of the stockholders, and the company became the sole property of the Ford family.
Henry Ford was a man interested in peace and in 1915, he chartered a ship named the "Oscar II" but was commonly known as the Ford Peace Ship. He sailed off to the Scandinavian nations with a group of paci fists, feminists and other idealists in an attempt to stop World War I by neutral mediation.
Ford served as president of the Ford Motor Company until 1919, and at the age of fifty-six turned the company over to his son Edsel. Edsel Ford died in 1943 and Henry Ford at the age of eighty again became president and served for four years until his death in 1947 at the age of eighty-four.
Henry Ford was a man who was different. He determined to build a light, cheap car for the millions in this country, not ju st for the rich. His reward came in the greatest automobile output in the history of the world. Human progress has often depended on the courage of a man who dared to be different. History should record the name of Henry Ford as one of the giants of the industrial world. He deserves it.

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