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Facts about Henry Ford for Kids

Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and the sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production.

  • Although Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he developed and manufactured the first automobile that many middle class Americans could afford. In doing so, Ford converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into a practical conveyance that would profoundly impact the landscape of the twentieth century. It was so cheap at $825 in 1908 ($21,730 today) (the price fell every year) that by the 1920s, a majority of American drivers had learned to drive on the Model T. Ford created a huge publicity machine in Detroit to ensure every newspaper carried stories and ads about the new product.
  • His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry.
  • In 1879, Ford left home to work as an apprentice machinist in Detroit, first with James F. Flower & Bros., and later with the Detroit Dry Dock Co.
  • The race driver Barney Oldfield, who named this new Ford model “999” in honor of the fastest locomotive of the day, took the car around the country, making the Ford brand known throughout the United States.
  • Always on the hunt for more efficiency and lower costs, in 1913 Ford introduced the moving assembly belts into his plants, which enabled an enormous increase in production.
  • Although the nation was at war, Ford ran as a peace candidate and a strong supporter of the proposed League of Nations.
  • Henry started another company, Henry Ford and Son, and made a show of taking himself and his best employees to the new company; the goal was to scare the remaining holdout stockholders of the Ford Motor Company to sell their stakes to him before they lost most of their value.
  • Labor philosophy[edit] The five-dollar workday[edit] Ford was a 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.
  • Detroit was already a high-wage city, but competitors were forced to raise wages or lose their best workers.
  • By the time he wrote his 1922 memoir, he spoke of the Social Department and of the private conditions for profit-sharing in the past tense, and admitted that “paternalism has no place in industry.
  • To forestall union activity, Ford promoted Harry Bennett, a former Navy boxer, to head the Service Department.
  • In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Edsel—who was president of the company—thought Ford had to come to some sort of collective bargaining agreement with the unions because the violence, work disruptions, and bitter stalemates could not go on forever.
  • By 1932, Ford was manufacturing one third of all the world’s automobiles.