The "Man Who Put America On Wheels"
By Alice Henry
February 4, 2016 1:16pm CST
Another nineteenth century personality was Henry Ford, born in 1863. He grew up on a Michigan farm and later, as a teenager, moved to Detroit. His mechanical skills were obvious at a very early age and eventually he became a chief engineer for the city’s power-generating company. He spent his spare time, however, developing a gasoline-powered automobile which he tested successfully in 1895. He then set up the Ford Motor Company, after he found some financial backers, and began building cars that he designed. He knew that for the automobile to sell, it had to be priced low, so that the average worker could afford to buy it, so he introduced the “no frills” Model T in 1908. Ford then refined the “mass-production assembly line” to turn out huge numbers of cars and paid the workers $5 per day, astounding the nation with this unheard-of wage. Henry Ford, in spite of his successes, was a very controversial man. He published an anti-Semitic newspaper, led a peace mission to Europe in 1916, and opposed the efforts to unionize his factories in the 1930s. The very first Model T Ford went on sale in the U.S. on August 12, 1908 at the cost of $850. Fifteen million Model T cars were produced. If you owned one today, I’m sure that it would be worth a whole lot more.