Henry Ford

Historical Figure Project - by Rylan Russell

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Background Information About Henry Ford

Henry Ford was born on a farm in Michigan. When he was young, he became fascinated with engines when he saw a steam boat powered by a steam engine. Eventually he got a job at Edison Illuminating Company, where he built and mounted an internal combustion engine (gas powered engine). Though he failed twice, he eventually figured it out. On the way to creating the model T, he encountered some problems. He was kicked out of his first company in 1902, the Henry Ford Company, because he was power hungry and overbearing. He then moved on to lead Ford Motor Company in 1903. He created the Model T in 1908 at Ford Motor Company. His company managers surprised him with a sleeker model in 1912, but Henry Ford hated it. It was at this company that he decided to make cheaper cars instead of better cars. In 1913, Ford created the assembly line. By 1920, the Model T represented almost half of the cars in the United States.

Henry Ford's Life Influences

Henry Ford grew up on a farm with his siblings and parents. On the farm, he many times found ways to get his chores done faster. He would also direct his siblings to do the chores, showing that he liked to plan out the chores but not actually do any of them. This was probably the start of his leadership style. He then went to lead his company where he directed people on what to do, but tried to stay away from the physical labor himself.

When he was a kid, he repaired watches as well. His father supported him in his endeavors, though Ford tried to make it seem as if he did everything on his own. He had a workbench where he had his tools and his equipment to fix watches, all given to him by his father. He fixed watches of everyone in the community that came to him. His dad allowing him to have a space to work and supporting his engineering pursuits probably helped Henry to follow his dream and later invent the Model T.

Ford saw a steam boat one day, and he was amazed at the power being produced by steam. Ford claims that seeing and watching how the steam boat ran created his fascination in steam engines.

Ford left his farm at 16 and took an apprenticeship as a machinist in Detroit. He learned to operate and service steam engines, which helped his passion for engines. His time here probably influenced him when he later built a steam powered engine, and then a gasoline powered engine.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” ― Henry Ford

Historical Summation of “Rise of the Automobile” - by David Blanke


Not many inventors can be credited with the long lasting cultural standard of Henry Ford. By creating the Model T and bringing automobiles to become the world-wide mode of transportation, Ford was a revolutionary inventor. The author notices that Henry Ford created his own firm in 1903 to create a low cost and easy to use the automobile for everyone. He counters this, however, by explaining that it took Ford five years to create the Model T, and the car was called the “Tin Lizzie” or “flivver” because the bouncing of the car was supposedly good for the liver. Ford also mastered the ability to create cars and sell them cheaper each time, and paid workers more and had them work fewer hours. The industries that produced materials to make Ford’s Model T’s also flourished, boosting the industrial economy. The introduction of the Model T allowed for a more free and luxurious culture led by the freedom of the automobile. The Model T also supported the time’s consumerism trend, where people bought material items to pursue personal happiness. The author notes that while it’s mainly ignored, Ford created an electric and steam engine, but both of them were less effective than the gasoline powered engine and were eventually discarded. The independently dominated industry of Henry Ford left a tough competition for anyone who might try to join and create new cars, which will all know did eventually happen. Henry Ford did a great job with the Model T, but the consumerism culture was left with wanting more, the next big thing, a newer and better product. I agree with the author, Ford did a great job with the Model T, but left some room for improvement. The author of this article uses an informative tone to explain himself. The author admits to Ford’s great accomplishments, but he also notices the areas where he lacked. Ford did not improve much on the Model T, other than making it cheaper. This left a wide gap for someone to make a product that had something new about it. Ford changed the culture with a new form of transportation and living standard. He also changed the industry by creating the assembly line. Both the car and the assembly line are still used today, and are bigger than ever, showing that Ford left a very big mark on America, and it’s easy to say that he was indeed one of the most influential inventors in American history.

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Political Cartoon Explanation

Obviously, the Model T did change slightly over time with different additions to the car. However, Henry Ford was very much against changing the Model T. He trashed many ideas that were suggested by his advisors because they changed the look. Ford wanted to keep all of his cars black and he wanted them all to look like the original Model T.

Compare/Contrast Time Periods

In the current time period (today), Henry Ford would have been perceived as a successful entrepreneur. Many people would see Henry Ford as comparable to Apple. Apple just released a cheaper phone so that more people could buy it, called the "iPhone SE". This is just like Henry Ford creating cars and selling them at a cheaper price, so that more people can afford them and buy them. The public would view Ford as revolutionary in this time period as well, because more and more things are being produced in factories. His assembly line idea would be a major help to almost every industrial company, and he would have a great amount of fame for this idea. The assembly line would likely be more revolutionary in this time period since there are more factories now than when he did come up with the idea.

If I had the skills of Henry Ford during this current time period, I would create a low cost product that I could mass produce, just as Henry Ford did. I would probably invent or improve on something that has low competition, as the car did during his time period. I would then dominate that industry, and it would later become very competitive as the automobile industry has become.

Additional Requirements

  • Henry Ford wanted to create a car that was affordable for the common man
  • From a very young age, Ford was interested in mechanics. A steam engine that he saw on a boat was very interesting to him, and possibly sparked his interest in engines.
  • Henry Ford created the assembly line to more effectively create automobiles, and created a cheaper car. The assembly line revolutionized industrial production.
  • Ford created cheaper cars instead of better cars in order to achieve his goal
  • Ford would have adopted Apple's idea of making products more affordable and cheaper for the common man, as that's exactly what he did during his time period.
The People's Tycoon

The People's Tycoon Video (Theme and Personal Evaluation)

The theme of this book was rags to riches. As a child, Henry Ford worked on a farm, and had nearly nothing. He slowly worked up to become a rich and wildly successful inventor and businessman.

I enjoyed this book. The author did a great job of making the life of Henry Ford seem more like a story rather than the usual factual based biography. I thought that The People's Tycoon was informative yet interesting. The author did a good job of keeping Ford's life interesting while still describing his life accurately.

Henry Ford's American Experience

Henry Ford achieved the American Dream. He had an idea, he pursued his idea, and he became extremely successful in what he did. He was a rags to riches sensation, from a lowly farm child to dying with a net worth of $199 billion dollars. He loved using mechanics, and he based his life off of that. He used his innovative thinking and his ideas of combining labor and management to create the assembly line. He appealed to the common man by creating a car that almost everyone could afford. Unlike other countries, he was able to do what he loved, and he was great at it. He is a great example of someone who had a dream and turned it into an American Dream.
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