July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947
Henry Ford was supposed to be a farmer, but he had other dreams and plans. Born on July 30, 1863 in Michigan, he was the oldest of 6 children. His mother died while he was a boy.
He grew up on a farm, but wanted to be an engineer. Henry loved working on mechanical things and always had tools and trinkets in his pockets. He was always taking things apart, like the pocket watch he received when he was a boy. His father was very upset with him because he thought he was tearing it up, but Henry was fascinated with moving parts.
He left the farm when he was 16 years old to work in machine shops. He married Clara and had a son named Edsel. Henry soon became an engineer for Thomas Edison of the Edison Illuminating Company and worked there for 8 years.
Ford is often credited for inventing the first automobile. That is not accurate. He is responsible for many of the automotive mechanisms that improved the automobile. He is best known for revolutionizing the auto industry by improving the assembly line and reducing the amount of time it took to build a car.
The first automobile that he made was the Quadricycle (the first gasoline engine) that he drove through the streets of Detroit and drew crowds everywhere. He then created race cars.
He became the Chief Engineer of the Detroit Automobile Company and soon organized Henry Ford Company. Due to financial problems, it became the Cadillac Motor Car Company. 2 years later in 1903, the Ford Motor Company became incorporated and the Model A hit the streets of Detroit.
In 1908, the Model T was introduced and known as the “Tin Lizzie” or the “Flivver” and was sold for $950. It was known as a touring car. Over 15 million Model T Cars were sold.
Ford improved the assembly line by using conveyor belts to produce automobiles cheaper and faster. He passed the savings on to the public and sold over 1 million automobiles in 1915 when he dropped the price of the Model T to $250.
Ford created better working conditions for his employees by increasing minimum wages and establishing the 40 hour work week. He also hired handicapped employees.
He worked in aviation by building airplanes and was assigned a government contract to build parts for bombers and then entire airplanes. He also experimented with plastics developed from agricultural products by working with George Washington Carver. Plastics made from soybeans were used in the automobiles in the 1930s.
Ford died April 7, 1947 in Michigan.
Henry Ford revolutionized that way America moved by making automobiles affordable for everybody.
Some quick facts about Henry Ford.
A great biography for kids with FREE printables, games and tests can be found here.
We love Your Story Hour cds of great Americans. You can learn more about Henry Ford on Volume 2.
American History Unit Study Bundle has a section on Henry Ford.
Visit the other bloggers participating in Birthday Lessons in July to learn more:
- Visit Heather at Blog She Wrote to learn more about Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine. Mr. Howe was born July 9, 1819.
- Visit Ami at Walking by the Way to learn more about acclaimed Charlotte’s Web author E.B. White, who was born July 11, 1899.
- Visit Lauren at Mama’s Learning Corner to learn more about legendary Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, who was born July 12, 100BC.
- Visit Tricia at Hodge Podge to learn more about author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Mr. Thoreau was born July 12, 1817.
- Visit Amy at Milk and Cookies to learn more about using Star Trek to teach homeschool, in honor of actor Sir Patrick Stewart. Sir Stewart was born July 13, 1940.
- Visit Christine at Fruit in Season to learn more about the famous painter Rembrandt Van Rijn. Rembrandt was born July 15, 1606.
- Visit Tiany at Social Savvy Mom to learn more about South African President Nelson Mandela. President Nelson was born July 18, 1918.
- Visit Lisa at Chaos Appreciation to learn more about pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart, who was born July 24, 1897.
- Visit Jodi at Granola Mom 4 God to learn more about acclaimed children’s author Beatrix Potter. Miss Potter was born July 28, 1866.
- Visit Mary at Homegrown Learners to learn more about Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who was born on July 31, 1965.