By: Josh Standefer
-From an early age, Ford was interested in mechanics
-He taught himself to fix watches and even befriended steam engine operators in order to learn more about how these machines work
-This early exposure to intricate mechanisms served as a sort of textbook for Ford when designing machines of his own
-Henry's father wanted him to work on the farm as he did, but Henry had other ideas
-In 1879, Ford left his Father's farm to apprentice at the Michigan Car Company (railroad cars)
-Although his father would have liked him to stay on the farm, Henry was still inspired by his parents
-His father inspired him to use machines on the farm and his mother influenced his interest in tinkering, his obsession with efficiency, and his work ethic.
"A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business."
Historiography: Rise of the Automobile
In David Blanke's "Rise of the Automobile", Blanke reveals the keys to Henry Ford's innovation in the automobile industry through his analysis of the content of history books. Blanke's tone is critical of the textbook, but informational when discussing the accomplishments of Ford. Blanke is somewhat correct in his analysis of the textbook's view of the rise of this industry. While textbooks cannot all fit the entire story of the automobile industry, they should not downplay Henry Ford's tremendous contribution to this industry. According to Blanke, textbooks don't do enough to properly portray the downside of Henry Ford's Model T. While Blanke agrees that people should know about economic, cultural, and personal impacts of Henry Ford's innovations, he also believes there is more that people should know about this iconic story. In Blanke's mind, rapid takeoff of the automobile industry made it harder for other possible industries to establish their place in the transportation market. However, this suggestion is insignificant as it merely considers alternate outcomes that could have taken place if Ford was less successful. If this suggestion were in textbooks, it would only cloud the message by somehow suggesting that this industry might have grown further if Ford had less success. Also, Blanke asserts that the automobile industry was helped along by the building of roads whereas other industries were not. This is true as is shown by the interstate system and government funded roads. However, this decision by the government was most logical and paid off in the long run. As cars became more affordable thanks to Ford, more people began to buy them whereas railway monopolies were perfectly content to make their money off of the few people who could afford their atrocious costs. And as the number of car owners grew, the government had no choice but to build public roads. Clearly, the automobile industry was helped into its rise by its opening up to the common man. Another mistake Blanke says textbooks make is downplaying the role that the Model T had in creating a consumer culture of debt. While Blanke is partially correct, the soaring stock market of the 1920s also played a role in this cultural change. The Model T inevitably led people to a fascination with owning material goods. This is what Blanke blames for the consumer culture of debt. However, he fails to see that the capability for this consumer culture was always present in our American economic system. This new fascination with materials was bound to come along, it just needed a revolutionary businessman like Henry Ford to facilitate its growth. This economic and cultural change was would taken place with or without Henry Ford, so I am thankful that it brought such a great innovation with it. David Blanke attempts to inform the readers of more of the negative results that came with Henry Ford's success in the automobile industry through the analysis of the content of textbooks. The success of the Ford motor company had many positive impacts culturally and economically and it is impossible to tell what may have happened without it.
Henry Ford Today
Henry Ford: activist or scientist?
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