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10 Things You Should Probably Know About Henry Ford

Updated on August 21, 2017

The Best And Worse Of An American Legend


The great American industrialist, Henry Ford (born 30th July, 1863) and died on (7th April, 1947) is well known as the founder of the great Ford Motors Company. He transformed the transport industry with the development of the Ford Model T automobile that enabled the middle-class to own cars;which had previously been affordable for the upper class citizens only.He is also credited with pioneering mass production and establishing better working conditions for employees.

Henry died at the age of 83, leaving behind a remarkable, curious and quite a controversial legacy.

Here are 10 things you probably didnt know about the great Henry Ford:

1.He Named a Company After His Brother-in-Law.

Ford’s brother-in-law helped broker the site chosen for Ford’s charcoal manufacturing plant. Because of this, Henry Ford named the company Kingsford Charcoal after his brother-in-law. He Also Started the Ford Airplane Company. In 2002, Ford was recognized as a pioneer of aviation; however, the Ford Airplane Company, which Ford started during World War I, shut down by 1933 because of poor sales.

2.Henry Ford had peace mission.

Ford personally regarded war as a tremendous waste(which is true). In 1915, Ford embarked on a peace mission to Europe, aboard his ocean liner Oscar II, otherwise known as “The Peace Ship”. Dipping into his own fortune, Ford and a number of prominent peace activists of the era departed the U.S., headed for Europe on their unique mission for peace.Henry Ford aspired to generate enough publicity for the notion of world peace that he would inspire an end to World War I. Henry Ford’s endeavor was generally ridiculed by the media, often referring to the voyage as the “Ship of Fools”. Furthermore, the trip was marred by illness and, ironically, infighting among the various peace activists. Finally, Ford turned the ship back to the U.S., with a failed mission.


3.He Strongly Opposed Labor Unions.

Though all sorts of manufacturers were unionizing their workforces, Ford was the last to do so.He thought they were too heavily influenced by some leaders who, despite their good motives, would end up doing more harm than good for workers.According to Ford most unions wanted to restrict productivity as a means to foster employment, but Ford saw this as self-defeating because, in his view, productivity was necessary for any economic prosperity to exist.

He believed that productivity gains that obviated certain jobs would nevertheless stimulate the larger economy and thus grow new jobs elsewhere, whether within the same corporation or in others. Ford also believed that union leaders had resorted to socio-economic crisis as a way to maintain their own power. Meanwhile, he believed that smart managers had an incentive to do right by their workers, because doing so would maximize their own profits. Ford did acknowledge, however, that many managers were basically too bad at managing to understand his point of view.

4.He Raced Cars.

Ford was actually a racecar driver growing up because he wanted to show other people that his engineering designs could create reliable and effective vehicles for the future of transport. He built and drove his own cars, but later he turned the wheel over to hired drivers. He entered stripped-down Model Ts in races, finishing first (although later disqualified) in an "ocean-to-ocean" (across the United States) race in 1909, and setting a one-mile oval speed record at Detroit Fairgrounds in 1911 with driver Frank Kulick.

5.He May Have Been Anti-Semitic. Ford owned a newspaper called

The Dearborn Independent.

The newspaper regularly published anti-semitic articles that subsequently hurt Ford’s image.He was a prominent member of the anti-Semitism movement, admiring Adolf Hitler and Germany. In 1937 Henry accepted the Nazi regime’s highest medal for a foreigner: the Grand Cross of the German Eagle.Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his "inspiration," explaining his reason for keeping Ford's life-size portrait next to his desk.

6.He Ran for Senate.

Woodrow Wilson liked Ford so much that he convinced him to run as a democrat for a seat on the Senate in 1918. Henry Ford refused to spend any money on his campaign, and he later wrote, “If they want to elect me let them do so, but I won’t make a penny’s investment.” He lost by just 4,500 votes.If he had invested he surely could have won the seat.Ford was defeated in a close election by the Republican candidate, Truman Newberry , a former United States Secretary of the Navy.


7. Ford didn’t invent the assembly line method, but he perfected it.

His idea for the automobile industry came from the moving assembly from the meat-packing industry.Although Ford is often credited with the idea, contemporary sources indicate that the concept and its development came from employees Clarence Avery , Peter E. Martin , Charles E. Sorensen, and C. Harold Wills.

8.He adopted a policy to reform his workers’ lives both at home and at work.

He was known to enter the houses of his workers to make sure they were living in cleanliness and weren’t drinking or abusing their families. If they were found to be acting undesirable, the worker was fired.Henry Ford was also the pioneer of "welfare capitalism ", designed to improve the lot of his workers and especially to reduce the heavy turnover that had many departments hiring 300 men per year to fill 100 slots. Efficiency meant hiring and keeping the best workers.And that was the policy he always used.

9.Henry Ford Embarked in Brilliant, (but Questionable Business Practices).

In 1918, in what would prove to be a genius move, Ford handed the presidency of the Ford Motors Company to his son, Edsel Ford. However, Henry Ford still had the final say over each decision made. Meanwhile, Henry established the business Henry Ford and Son, for which he employed his most skilled workers from the Ford Motors Company.Henry’s objective was to gain complete control of the Ford Motors Company, by scaring stockholders into selling their shares, thinking that the Ford Motors Company would no longer be profitable without the leadership of Henry. His plan succeeded, with Henry soon obtaining complete control of his company.


10.In 1896, Ford attended a meeting with Edison executives, where he was introduced to Thomas Edison . Edison approved of Ford's automobile experimentation. Encouraged by Edison, Ford designed and built a vehicle, which he completed in 1898 backed by the capital of Detroit lumber baron William H. Murphy.Later Henry Ford resigned from the Edison Company and founded the

Detroit Automobile Company on August 5, 1899. However, the automobiles produced were of a lower quality and higher price than Ford wanted. Ultimately, the company was not successful and was dissolved in January 1901.

Henry Ford was an incredibly headstrong, outspoken entrepreneur who accelerated expand of the middle class with his assembly line ideals. But his inspirations, failures, and role model only made him a great legend.

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    • jobsmart profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Thanks for reading it alun....there is always more to a story than meets the eye..

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      2 years ago from Essex, UK

      Clearly a clever, complex and controversial character job. He seems to have had a lot of practical common sense, but was by all accounts perhaps not a very likeable man. Thanks. Alun.


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