Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist, entrepreneur, and inventor, best known for founding the Ford Motor Company and revolutionizing the automobile industry through the development of the assembly line production method. His innovations made automobiles affordable and accessible to the masses, transforming transportation and the American economy.
## Early life and career
Henry Ford was born on a farm in Greenfield Township, Michigan, to William Ford and Mary Litogot. He developed an interest in machinery and mechanics at an early age, dismantling and reassembling watches and other gadgets. Ford's formal education was limited, but he was an avid reader and pursued self-education.
Ford left the family farm at 16 to work as an apprentice machinist in Detroit. He worked at various companies, including the Michigan Car Company and Westinghouse Electric, before returning to the family farm in 1882. During this time, he continued his education in machinery and engineering through courses and self-study.
In 1891, Ford joined the Edison Illuminating Company as an engineer. Within two years, he was promoted to Chief Engineer. This position provided him with financial stability and the opportunity to work on his personal experiments with internal combustion engines.
## Automotive innovations
In 1896, Ford built his first automobile, the Quadricycle. It was a simple vehicle with a gasoline engine mounted on a carriage frame. In 1903, he founded the Ford Motor Company with a group of investors, including Horace and John Dodge.
Ford's most significant contribution to the automotive industry was the introduction of the moving assembly line in 1913. This innovation revolutionized manufacturing by significantly reducing the time it took to produce a single automobile, from 12 hours to just 1.5 hours. As a result, the cost of production was significantly reduced, making automobiles more affordable for the average consumer.
### The Model T
In 1908, Ford introduced the Model T, a reliable and affordable car that was easy to maintain. The Model T became a tremendous success, selling over 15 million units between 1908 and 1927. It transformed the automobile industry and became a symbol of America's progress and industrial prowess.
### Ford's labor philosophy
Henry Ford believed in paying his workers a fair wage, which led him to introduce the $5 per day wage in 1914, more than double the average wage at the time. This move attracted workers to Ford's factories and created a stable workforce. Ford's philosophy of higher wages and shorter workdays contributed to the growth of the American middle class and helped establish a new standard for industrial labor.
## Ford's politics and anti-Semitic beliefs
Henry Ford's political activities and anti-Semitic beliefs were also a significant aspect of his life, and they have been widely criticized -- tarnishing his image as an inventor and automotive entrepreneur.
### Political activities
Ford was actively involved in politics throughout his life. In 1918, he ran for the United States [[Senate]] as a Democrat from Michigan but lost by a narrow margin. He was a strong advocate of pacifism and opposed U.S. involvement in [[World War I]]. Ford organized a Peace Ship expedition to Europe in 1915 to promote his views and seek an end to the conflict, but the mission was unsuccessful and widely ridiculed in the media.
Ford's political views were a mix of [[populism]], anti-elitism, and [[isolationism]]. He was critical of banks and financial institutions, which he believed wielded too much power over the economy and the government. His opposition to the League of Nations, support for disarmament, and skepticism towards international treaties were some other notable aspects of his political beliefs.
### Anti-Semitic beliefs
Henry Ford was a known anti-Semite, and his views on Jewish people were highly controversial. He was responsible for the publication of a series of anti-Semitic articles in the Dearborn Independent, a newspaper he owned, during the early 1920s. These articles were later compiled into a book titled "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem."
The articles and the book propagated [conspiracy theories](https://doctorparadox.net/why-do-people-believe-conspiracy-theories/) about Jewish people, accusing them of controlling global finance, media, and politics (aka [global cabal theory](https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/global-cabal/)). Ford's anti-Semitic ideas were widely disseminated through his publications, and they contributed to the spread of anti-Semitism in the United States and abroad.
In 1927, Ford was sued for libel by a Jewish lawyer named Aaron Sapiro, which ultimately led to a public apology from Ford. He claimed that he was unaware of the content of the articles published in the Dearborn Independent and blamed his subordinates for their publication. However, the sincerity of his apology has been a subject of debate among historians.
Ford's anti-Semitic views and writings found admirers in Nazi Germany, with [[Adolf Hitler]] praising Ford in "Mein Kampf" and referring to him as an "inspiration." Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, a Nazi decoration, in 1938, further illustrating his connection to the Nazi regime.
See also: [[isolationist]], [[antisemitism]]