Henry Ford might be the most widely-recognized name in the history of automobiles. Ford is remembered not only for his achievements with four wheels but also for his contributions to production and the labor market. Keep reading to learn more about his impactful life.
#1 A True Innovator
Henry Ford holds more than 160 patents in his name. With each invention, he strived to improve the quality of work and help employees work smarter, not harder. He is most widely credited with creating the first assembly line (which continuously moved), and it would go on to become the standard in industrial plants across the world.
While he is sometimes credited with inventing the automobile, this isn’t *quite* the case. He did, however, invent the Model T which was the first affordable and widely-produced vehicle. Eventually, the production time of the Model T was reduced to 24 seconds and cost $290.
#2 Henry Ford The Politician?
Did you know Henry Ford ran for Senate? In 1918, Ford ran against Truman Handy Newberry as a Democrat. President Woodrow Wilson convinced him to run, despite Ford not having a huge interest in politics. He ultimately lost the race, but only by 4,500 votes, and he did not spend a dime on his campaign.
There was also a small group of people that wanted Ford to run for President in 1961. They even made “Ford for President” paraphernalia and distributed it. Ford did not throw his name in the hat, and a young Massachusetts Senator, John F. Kennedy, would go on to win that race.
#3 A Pioneer for the Disabled
Second to his passion for innovation, Ford had a strong desire to help the disabled population. During his lifetime and tenure at Ford Motor Company, those with disabilities accounted for roughly 20% of the workforce. Remember too, this was a time when the disabled population was treated poorly and often sent to live in institutions.
In October 1915 the Henry Ford Hospital opened in Michigan with 877 beds. Today, there are 29 medical centers, eight hospitals, 24 pharmacies and eight emergency departments with more than 1,200 physicians in the Henry Ford Medical Group.
#4 Henry Ford the Author
Ford worked with Samuel Crowther in his retirement to write several books. His autobiography, My Life and Work, was published in 1922 and has inspired entrepreneurs for generations. This book is great for those interested in both the history of the automobile and those who would like to learn about business. Today and Tomorrow is a must-read for every business leader and employee in pursuit of a great business. This book is a great way to gain insight into Ford’s mind. Moving Forward was Ford’s third book and discusses various topics for forward progress in society. Edison, As I Know Him was published in 1930 and is a tribute to one of his greatest friends and a man he truly admired.
#5 Ford + Edison = BFFs
Ford began working at the Edison Illuminating Company as an engineer in 1891. He was promoted to chief engineer in 1893 and picked up a lifelong friend and mentor in Thomas Edison. The two exchanged birthday gifts, traveled together, and even purchased next-door vacation homes. It’s also said that when Ford introduced the Model A, he gifted the first example car to Edison.
At the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, you can find some strange things, but among the strangest is a vial said to contain one of Edison’s last breaths.
Learn More about Henry Ford at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
Henry Ford was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993. An innovator, businessman, and contributor to the global economy, it’s safe to say Ford accomplished more than most in his 83 years. Come see us at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., where you can learn more about Ford and other famous names in the automotive industry. We are open seven days a week for self-guided tours. Plan your visit online or give us a call at 256-362-5002.