Question about important Americans in history? Henry Ford?
I'm writing an essay for history class and have to choose the 3 most important people in american history. i think i'll do washington, MLK and henry ford. but having a little trouble writing about henry ford. a little help? so yeah he made the first car, but how can i expand
- VolusianLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
Henry Ford was founder of the Ford Motor Company and the man who ‘put America on wheels’ with his Model T Ford that was ‘affordable to the masses.’ It was hardly the first car, but fifteen million+ Model Ts were sold before production creased in 1927. Never before had a product been produced in such great numbers. It was all due to Ford’s optimization of the assembly line and MASS PRODUCTION; it is Mass Production that Ford is best noted and remembered.
Other myths and truths about Ford:
Henry Ford was a curmudgeon and an anti-Semite who was so full of himself that he tried to end WWI when he, along with other supporters, chartered a ‘peace ship’ to Europe. Ford could not and did not end the war. He had a close circle of friends, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone among them, but he was far from ‘loved’ by his employees and many, many other people.
Henry Ford did not have much compassion for the average factory worker. He did not increase his employees’ wages out of the kindness of his heart. Ford did nothing out of the kindness of his heart. He instituted the first $5 a day wage in 1914 for the company’s benefit rather than for his employees’ benefit. The $5 a day wage was more than twice the daily wage of the average factory worker in 1914.
Specifically, the turnover rate of employees on Ford’s assembly line was extremely high. Because of the low pay, hard work and long hours, many workers would quit, some in a month, others in weeks or days. This was a HUGE problem as, in 1914, demand for the Model T was peaking. This adversely affected production, i.e., the daily production could not keep up with the insatiable demand for the Model T. Ford knew he could sell more cars and he could only sell more cars by limiting turnover and keeping employees on the assembly line. Ford’s duplicitous $5 a day strategy worked although the general public was duped, or at the very least inferred, it was a magnanimous gesture by Ford. Applicants were lined up daily outside the Ford plant for months after this wage was implemented.
As an anecdote, Ford once, when touring his factory, saw what he thought was an employee goofing off sitting on a soapbox. Ford promptly ran over to him, kicked the soapbox out from underneath him and yelled, ‘You’re FIRED!” The worker slowly got up and brushed himself off and told Ford, “You can’t fire me! I work for Michigan Power & Light.”
While many people believe Henry Ford invented the assembly line, that honor goes to Ransom Olds who produced the Oldsmobile. Olds’ assembly line was quite primitive though and very much a manual operation. What Henry Ford did was take Ransom’s idea and so greatly improved it by mechanizing it, a Model T when first introduced in 1908 cost $950 but ended up costing less than $300 in the 1920s due to vast improvements in the assembly line, i.e., mass production. In 1927, the last model year of the Model T, the cars came off the assembly line at a rate of one every 24 seconds.
The only car Ford offered from 1908 to 1927 was the Model T. The Model A replaced it in 1928 but the Ford Motor Company did not truly diversify its product line until the 1950s, after the death of Henry in the late 1940s.
As an aside and contrary to popular belief, the first Model T Fords were not painted black. No one really knows if Henry Ford ever said that the buying public could have Model T Fords "in any color, so long as it's black", but it is commonly attributed to him. Some people attribute the saying to a long-forgotten Ford salesman. Regardless, while this saying is true for the model years after 1913, the first Model Ts cars were available in green (Brewster Green Medium), red (Carmine), blue (Midnight Blue) and gray. Ford switched to all black Model Ts in 1913 and it was likely due to Ford's optimization of the assembly line and to the fact that ‘Japan black’ paint was the fastest drying. This reduced the production time for each car. In 1926 colors other than black were once again offered in an attempt to boost sales for what had become an obsolete car after 19 years of production (over 15 million Model Ts were sold) with minimal design changes. Production of the Model T ceased in 1927 and replaced with the introduction of the more modern Model A Ford in 1928.
Personally, I believe Henry Ford’s greatest contribution to society was his WWII Willow Run factory that ultimately turned out a B24 bomber every 63 seconds. It was a massive undertaking for a huge facility and it was completed in record time. He also established Greenfield Village in Dearborn and the Henry Ford Museum. Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratory was moved board by board from New Jersey to Greenfield Village where it was reassembled and where you can visit it today. The Wright Brothers bicycle shop is also in Greenfield Village as are other historic buildings.
And since this question is in the history category, Henry Ford once said, “History is bunk.” This is the short form quote that most people are familiar with. What he actually said about history was:
"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history that we make today." (Chicago Tribune, 1916).
Many decades later when Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen was FIRED by Henry Ford I, Ford employees quickly played off the old Henry Ford “ History is bunk” quote and said, in company circles, “Bunkie is history.”
- 1 decade ago
Ford was extremely important because he essentially created the modern assembly line. Without that would would have no modern mass production. His company supplied higher paying jobs to large numbers of people. He basically revolutionized modern industry.