By on April 8, 2014

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Just like yesterday night, April 7th, it was raining in Detroit on the night of April 7,1947. There was extensive flooding on the Rouge River and 83 year old Henry Ford had spent part of the day at he beloved Greenfield Village, making sure that it was not damaged. The next day he was planning on touring Ford facilities in southeastern Michigan to see how the flood had affected his factories. After returning to Fair Lane, the estate that Henry and Clara built on the Rouge, the two had dinner by candlelight, as the flood had also knocked out the estate’s powerhouse. That must have been a disappointment to Henry, as his primary interest seems to have been power. Before his automotive ventures, Ford was chief operating engineer of the Edison Illuminating Co. of Detroit.

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At dinner, Henry and Clara discussed the 100 mile trip he was planning for the next day. As was his custom, he retired to his bedroom at 9 p.m. A little bit after 11, Henry called Clara to his bedside. He complained of a bad headache and said that his throat was dry. He was having a stroke, though Clara did not know that. She gave him a glass of water. Clara then sent her maid, Rosa Buhler, to wake Robert Rankin, the Fords’ chauffeur who had an apartment above the estate’s garage, to tell him to fetch a doctor. The phone lines were out from the flood and Rankin had to drive over to the Ford Engineering Laboratories, about a half mile from Fair Line find a working phone. Rankin called Dr. John Mateer of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

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Clara Ford also sent for two other people to come to Henry’s deathbead. Her grandson, Henry Ford II, and Evangeline Dahlinger. Henry the second lived at his parents’ estate on Lake Ste Claire, north of Grosse Pointe. It’s probably not coincidental that Edsel and Eleanor built their home about as far away from Fair Lane as they could and still be somewhere in the Detroit area. Henry alternately doted on Edsel and, afraid that he’d be the effete and soft son of a rich man, Ford would embarrass his son in front of others, supposedly to toughen him up.

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Henry was a bit more consistent with the way he treated Evangeline Dahlinger. Unlike Edsel and Eleanor, Evangeline, lived close by to Henry in a stately home just up the Rouge from Fair Lane, a home that Henry built for her and her husband Ray, Ford’s former driver. She first met Henry, 30 years her senior, when she got a job in 1909 as a 16 year old stenographer in Ford’s Highland Park factory. After the Dahlinger’s marriage, Ray was given the job of traveling the world scouting out locations for Ford factories. That made it convenient for Henry’s nocturnal cruises up the Rouge in the quiet little electric boat he had made for Clara. A private staircase led from the Dahlinger’s boat well to Mrs. Dahlinger’s separate bedroom.

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It’s said that the only time Clara ever stood up to Henry, an indomitable man if there ever was one, was after the death of their only son Edsel in 1943. Years earlier, after buying out his partners and investors following the huge success of the Model T, Henry distributed Ford stuck thusly: 49% for himself, 48% for Edsel, and the remaining 3% for Clara. After Edsel died in 1943 and Henry reasserted operational control of Ford Motor Company, Clara and Eleanor threatened Henry that they would sell the 51% of Ford that they owned if he would not abdicate and let his grandson and namesake run the company. Though she stood up for her grandson, Clara was more tolerant of her husband’s behavior when it came to Evangeline Dahlinger, Henry’s longtime mistress and likely mother of a second Ford son. By his death, Clara obviously had made her peace with the role Evangeline played in Henry’s life.

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After waking the chauffeur, the maid returned to Henry’s bedroom where she heard Clara say, “Henry, speak to me.” He seemed to have stopped breathing and Mrs. Ford asked Buhler, “What do you think of it?” Rosa replied, “I think Mr. Ford will be leaving us.” By the time Dr. Mateer got to Fair Lane, the man who put the world on wheels was dead.

Unlike the Egyptian style tomb, complete with sphinxes were the Dodge brothers’ widows interred them, Clara buried Henry in a simple grave in the still well-kept private cemetery that had been used by her adoptive family, the Aherns (also spelled O’Hern) since before William Ford, Henry’s father, immigrated from Ireland. It’s on the south side of Joy Road (named after another automotive pioneer, Henry Joy, who made Packard a great marque), just west of Greenfield Road. The oldest date on a stone there that I could find was 1821. Before her death Clara left an endowment for an Episcopal church to be built next to the small cemetery. It’s called St. Martha’s and it’s still consecrated, and maintained, though it looks inactive and I haven’t been able to determine if it ever functioned with a congregation. Clara looks to have been the last person buried there. Most people assume the wrought iron above and around Clara and Henry’s final resting places is not for decoration but rather to prevent vandalism. The truth, though, is that only a relative handful of people who drive by have any clue who’s buried there.

When I visited Ford’s grave site yesterday, at least one other person remembered the date. Someone had left some kind of makeshift memorial at the foot of Henry’s grave consisting of two cups each of two different liquids, and four small pieces of what looked like bread. I’m not sure of the significance but I didn’t want to disturb it. I’m not sure if any Ford family members came to pay their respects, or if any have been there in years. Eleanor and her children are said to have blamed Henry at least in part for Edsel’s death.

As if to put an exclamation point on the location she and Edsel chose for their home, though it was a certainty that Henry would rest with his ancestors, Eleanor decided to bury Edsel at Woodlawn Cemetery on Woodward, near the grave of his good friend Hudson chief Roy Chapin. None of Henry’s five grandchildren are buried with him.

Henry, who had some backwards notions regarding ethnicity and religion, might show some surprise at his current neighbors. Across the street from the cemetery there’s an Obama branded gas station whose owners have named it after the first black president of the United State. From Henry’s grave site you can also see the green dome and minaret of the mosque next door to the church. On the other hand, if Henry’s spinning, it’s more likely because one great grandkid married a Jew and another married a black man.

Edsel, chief thug Harry Bennett and production whiz Peter Martin were about the only people who worked closely with Ford and didn’t eventually come to a parting of the ways with the man. Perhaps Henry’s most significant talent was surrounding himself with some people who were not just exceptionally talented but that could also work with a megalomaniac and get him to see things their way. One of my favorite books about Henry Ford was written by Samuel Marquis, an Episcopal clergyman who was the Ford family pastor. Ford eventually put his pastor on his payroll, heading Ford’s Sociology Department, but that didn’t prevent Marquis from seeing the truth about his parishioner and boss. Eventually, after Ford felt that Marquis spoke out of turn concerning Ford business he fired him. Bitter from his dismissal, Marquis published a book, Henry Ford: An Interpretation. It’s a nuanced but almost unvarnished look at the man. That’s undoubtedly why the Ford company and family actively suppressed it for decades. I say almost unvarnished because Marquis is uncharacteristically reticent when it came to Ford’s Jew-hatred. Still, it was the only critical book about Ford written by a close associate of his that was published during Ford’s lifetime.

Henry Ford undoubtedly changed the world. Pastor Marquis had his own interpretation of the man’s life. What’s yours? Did Henry Ford make the world a better place, or would we all have been better off if he’d stayed at Edison instead of tinkering around with his Quadricycle?

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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79 Comments on “Henry Ford: An Interpretation. Did He Make the World A Better Place, Or Not?...”


  • avatar
    carguy67

    It’s my understanding–caveat: I’m not an historian–that Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone conspired to suppress public transit in the US. I like cars as much as anybody but, in the big picture we’d probably be better off with more large and efficient public transit systems and fewer roads and cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Loki

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they did – but so did a crapton of other people with a vested interest: road construction, rubber suppliers, oil suppliers, carmakers, parking authorities…and however many other interests I may forget that undoubtedly had a hand in the pot. That’s capitalism, with a dash of corruption and cronyism.

    • 0 avatar
      doublechili

      I’m no historian either (I’m an architect/marine biologist – j/k), but I suspect the only conspiring-to-suppress-public-transit that Ford and Firestone needed to engage in was to produce cars and tires. The marketplace took care of the rest. People like cars.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        They liked the street cars too. Busses, tires etc. dumped on the market at below cost until the street cars are affordable to buy and destroy is only one interpretation of the “free market”.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          Ridership on street car lines was declining in the 1920s and 1930s, so fewer people liked them enough to ride them each year.

          Even more importantly, street cars lines LOST money, which is why they were generally owned by holding companies, and were subsidized by the parent company’s other businesses. This was particularly true of electric utilities, which owned many street car lines in the 1920s and early 1930s.

          When the federal government passed legislation barring utility companies from using other businesses to hide or reduce profits, many utilities sold their street car subsidiaries.

          Street car lines were hardly an example of the free market in action, nor were they destroyed by deliberately underpriced bus service.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Supposedly, GM was also heavily instrumental in the suppression of US public transit to increase auto sales.

      As to Ford’s often questionable decisions, one of my favorites is the Robertson screw story. The Robertson screw uses a square-drive socket and is a very good, practical design. It was initially what Ford wanted to use to replace the slot-head screw on the Model T but Robertson (a Canadian) refused to grant Ford an exclusive license. So, Ford, instead, went with the Philips head, cross-design screw where he could get his exclusive license.

      The result is that the Robertson screw, while common in Canada, is almost unheard of in the US, where the inferior Phillips head screw dominates.

    • 0 avatar
      celebrity208

      Please consider, also, that it’s not as if the bus lines and railroad powers of the time didn’t lobby/conspire to suppress cars. It’s also not as if Ford was rich to begin with, and suppressed public transit and that’s why his company grew. Rather his company grew without conspiracy or government coercion only then did he have the $ to lobby or suppress something he’d already beaten. As such I doubt what ever they did or didn’t do would have changed where we are today much.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Henry Ford I, GM, Harvey Firestone and the Standard Oil Company did not conspire to replace street car lines with buses. It was a combination of public preferences, along with the passage of a federal law in 1935 that barred electric utilities from using wholly owned street car subsidiaries as “loss leaders” to raise electric rates for residential and business customers.

      Ridership on mass transit lines had been declining throughout the 1920s and 1930s as more people bought cars. Most of those lines were not profitable even in the 1920s, but utilities and other companies wanted them for other (i.e., accounting) reasons.

      Also note that most municipalities were glad to get rid of street car lines, as they made repaving roads more difficult.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Yeah. The whole conspiracy theory thing just doesn’t pan out. Granted, car companies tend to lobby against their opponents, but public utilities and their suppliers do, too.

        And then there are public utility vehicles which those same manufacturers sell… voluntarily… to fleets… often at a loss or a very low margin.

        The problem with rail is it’s inflexible and requires extremely high start-up capital. While subsidy can get you the rail lines, you still have to pay for the trains, their maintenance and etcetera. And you have to charge a price low enough to get people to put up with the fixed routes and fixed time schedules. That only works in limited situations, but with America’s growing prosperity over the decades and the desire to have a big backyard away from the hustle and bustle of city life, suburban sprawl and car ownership simply trumped practicality.

        You can see this in newly developing nations. People commute when they can’t afford anything else. They buy cars when they can. That’s the biz.

  • avatar
    Josh_Howard

    Henry Ford was a great man, not without his faults. He did change the world. However, he failed just as much as he succeeded. It’s more important to note his hard work and ability to shrug off failure I think. He knew he had great ideas and pursued them. Though, from social standpoints, he was as backwards as any I’ve ever read about. It just goes to show you: Money and power and fame definitely don’t mean you won’t have those same faults magnified from before you had any of that stuff.

  • avatar
    bfisch81

    If Henry Ford’s only accomplishment had been the breaking of the patent on cars that was crippling the nascent US auto industry, he would still be remembered as a hero.

    I think, like all human beings he was flawed and in his case specifically, his success got the better of him.

    His wages fed and clothed hundreds of thousands and philosophy on cars fundamentally changed not just the US but the world.

    The freedom that an affordable car gives to the average man is something so radical in human history that its effects will be studied for centuries to come.

    We now take it for granted, that freedom and it would do well for us to remember it.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      Great post.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnny Canada

      Nailed it.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      There are very few of us who:
      -had a brilliant idea and executed it in a way the completely changed society;
      -built a company, suppliers, and subsidiaries that employed tens of thousands of people;
      -became one of the most wealthy, powerful, and feared men of his time;

      …would not also have some major personal flaws that our wealth and power would reveal to the world.

      Henry Ford accomplished what VERY few individuals have been able to do. His equals are Thomas Edison (GE, many utility companies), Vanderbilt (railroads), JP Morgan (banking), and Steve Jobs.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Steve Jobs ? If you had said Bill Gates I would really have been OK with it, but Steve Jobs did even less than Edsel Ford did….

        • 0 avatar
          Kevin

          Yes, Steve Jobs. Jobs helped usher in the era of personal computing in the late 70′s and early 80′s, along with a few of his contemporaries. Then in the 2000′s he helped kill it with the advent of the iPad. He also overhauled how media was distributed.

          All Gates did was build an OS, and a pretty lousy one at that. Jobs had his hands in all aspects of computing. Between founding Apple, his work at NeXT (which laid the foundation for Apple OS X), and his return to Apple which will be remembered mostly for the iPod/iPad, Jobs has Gates beaten hands-down.

          Whether you agree with Jobs’ model of controlling both the hardware and the software is up to you.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    Lord, Mr. Ford, what have you done?

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Did He Make the World A Better Place?

    No! He was a poo-poo nazi and a Bad Man.

    (How’d I do?)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The thing we often forget about leaders is we are only human and we are fallible. Is the world better off for having had Henry Ford a part of it? Undoubtedly. Does almost every invention/discovery come with some other problem that needs to be solved? Undoubtedly.

    As humans we create, we produce, we discover, we invent. Sometimes we are our own best friends, sometimes we are our own worst enemies. If you have no regrets than you really haven’t lived.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    How did Edsel die in 1943 ? .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Pastor Glenn

    Nate, technically Edsel Ford died of undulant fever caused by the unpasteurized (i.e. raw) milk provided by Henry Ford’s insistance to his family through (his?) farm, as well as stomach ulcers which allowed the bacteria to enter his body.

    In reality, Edsel died of humiliation and heartbreak from being so maltreated by the person who fathered him.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Thank you , this is why I enjoy reading the comments , they’re often more illuminating than the article .

      Henry was a poor Father then , that’s a shame .

      He had some really interesting ideas like the Stainless Steel ‘A’ Models I nearly bought one of when they were cheap oddities and the soy bean 1941 Sedan….

      He certainly transformed America then the world , I suppose someone else would have eventually but *he* did it in his own way , first , nothing can ever take away from that .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Did He Make the World A Better Place, Or Not?”

    Yes.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a philosophical question.

      On the plus side, he set the stage for decades of decently paying manufacturing jobs. Also on the plus side, I suspect the car contributed to women’s equality.

      On the minus side, I could list a lot of things, and I could probably list more on the plus side. but the car is so pervasive, both for good and for ill that I’d have to spend a lot of time thinking before I could come up with my own answer.

      Either way, I’m still going to keep enjoying the hell out of my car both for the fun I have driving it, and the mobility it gives me.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Sometimes, men are great because of their character; others have major character issues but are great because of what they contribute. Ford is definitely in the latter category. His behaviors cannot be excused, but his work helped create a better world.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    I don’t have any factual basis for this claim; I feel that if Henry had not invented the assembly line, someone else would have shortly thereafter. Between the Dodge Brothers, Henry Leland, Billy Durant, Johnathan Maxwell, Walter Chrysler, etc…someone would have started the automotive industry as Henry did.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s my opinion as well – there were lots of people thinking about this at the same time in Detroit/Midwest, he just came upon the real solution first.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        It wasn’t just his adoption of mass production that is significant. It’s that the car he produced using that method was an excellent car for that time considering the price.

        Plus, he purposely designed the Model T for use in rural areas, where roads were either terrible or virtually nonexistent.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Citroen did the same thing for modern France, in the 1970s!

          • 0 avatar

            right, except your timing is wrong. The 2CV came out soon after WWII. By the time I lived in Paris, 1965-66, they were all over the place. Along with the almost equally basic Ami 6.

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/review-1975-citroen-2cv/

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I was more commenting about how rudimentary France was into the 1970s, and the Citroen liquid hydraulic suspensions.

          • 0 avatar

            Oh. I’m not sure in what way you found it rudimentary, but I’m assuming automobiles. But those liquid hydraulic suspensions (and the ability to raise and lower the Citroen DSs came about in the (possibly late) ’50s. My family of origin got a Peugeot 404 wagon upon arrival. The car held the road and handled amazingly well, even after a Massachusetts winter had pocked the roads with potholes (we brought the car back). It had rack & pinion steering. It also had synchromesh for first gear, something that American cars of that era mostly lacked. The only thing rudimentary about it was the hole in the bumper where you could fit a crank in case the starter motor crapped out.

            Of course, the Deux Chevaux were basic, indeed, as were the Renault 4s, and various other cars, as well as the solexes.

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          More than that, the Model T was the first car that could be mass produced, due to innovation by Ford in many of the components. It was the first car with a head cast separately from the block, among other things.

    • 0 avatar
      dahammer

      But why didn’t they?

      Sorry to go on tilt, but when I hear this statement, my blood boils. For some reason, the term “thumb sucker” comes to mind, probably the only thing I remembered from an all day sales training seminar 20 years ago. Like when a former manager said to me “we would have gotten that order without you, dahammer”. Maybe so, but I got the customer to commit and place an order.

      Henry Ford took the risk and made it happen. He did not invent the assembly line, he adapted it to automobile manufacturing.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        (Well that’s why I had said he came upon it first.)

        But agree on the risk taking. It was a big one.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr Imperial

        Replying to: Dahammer

        History does remember the risk takers, for better or for worse. Agreed, Henry made the choice.

        My opinion is just that. I still feel the “planets were aligned” just right, enough so that someone would have done what Henry did eventually.

        America was in the start of a manufacturing boom in the early 1900′s, rife with plenty of entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators. Would the world today be the same without Henry’s input? We’ll never know.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Somebody else eventually would have invented the light bulb, but Edison actually did it. Somebody else would have eventually would have invented a iphone type device, but Steve Jobs did it. The Allies would probably have eventually defeated Germany, but Eisenhower actually led the army that did it.

      Just because somebody else might have eventually come up with a similar idea does not make the person who actually did it less great. Is reducing people of great accomplishment some new form of post modernism that I missed in college?

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> Somebody else would have eventually would have invented a iphone type device, but Steve Jobs did it.

        Actually, others did beat him to it. The earliest I used were clunky conceptual prototypes based on Palm Pilots paired with cell phones (Panasonic EB-3551 at 1st, later the Mitsubishi T-250 PocketNet) as early as 1997 (although the 1997 prototype was data only). I used the 1997 version to read email and had an app that could turn on and off lights in my home using the internet.

        Eventually Skype came out on Windows mobile based PDAs and you had iPhone like functionality though a data capable cell phone (Toshiba PDA paired with Sony Ericsson 1130203). With a WiFi connection, you didn’t even need the cell phone. The next step was integrating the phone into the PDA which multiple manufacturers were doing. I was part of one of the product teams and still have 1997 and 2003 prototypes. So, Steve Jobs was not the first to put a phone app on a PDA.

      • 0 avatar
        andrewallen

        Errr no, that’s a popular misconception. Mr Swan patented the electric light bulb in the U.K long before Edison came up with his carbon filament. What Mr. Edison invented was the phonograph and an organised R & D management system.

        As for mass production on an assembly line using purpose built machinery that was invented by Isambard Kingdom Brunels dad, Marc Brunel (a Frenchman while in the U.S.)to make pulleys for the Royal Navy in 1799.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Ford didn’t invent the assembly line. He was the first to use a conveyor belt in an assembly line, which was a tremendous improvement that was widely copied.

      What Ford really invented was mass production. That was a tremendous advance because it increased throughput while reducing costs, which made it possible to get a lot more cars to a lot more people. That transformed the car from being a novelty into something that could (and did) change the world.

    • 0 avatar

      Ransom Olds was building automobiles on an assembly line long before Henry Ford did it. I think Ford’s primary contribution to the process was breaking assembly down to very simple tasks that could be done with minimal training. That made it a mind numbing job, forcing Ford to hire something like 45,000 new hires to keep 13,000 on the job in just one year. So he started paying $5/day (with conditions, of course).

      Speaking of Olds, I’ve been told it was the fire in his Lansing factory in March 1901 that gave Henry Ford a window of opportunity after the failure of the Detroit Automobile Co. To gain credibility with backers, he raced Alexander Winton with what Ford named the Sweepstakes car. After Ford won he was able to start the Henry Ford Company and was successful enough there while Olds was temporarily out of production and starting a new factory that after he was forced out by his backers (with Leland helping them turn it into Cadillac) he was able to get backers for FoMoCo.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    For better or worse, he is one of the men who made the world what it is today. He didn’t only put the world on wheels, but also was of importance when it comes to all kinds of modern mass-production and industria-lisation, even modern politics and economics have been inspired by him (sadly only different parts, used by different sides), him and his methods are still being used today.
    He sadly also was a great inspiration for Hitler, so by a stretch (even if he hated war) he could be blamed for both WW2 and the cold war (because he helped both the USA and Russia become superpowers through industrialisation.)
    Edsel Ford, who more or less saved Ford by forcing his dad to accept that you needed fast good looking cars to survive in the market, probably saved us all from having to drive cheap, boring, high quality cars…(and as a car enthusiast, if it weren’t for him I would have had some other random hobby)

  • avatar
    50merc

    Wonderful article, Mr. Schreiber. About old Henry’s long affair with Mrs. Dahlinger and their son: interesting that–as far as I remember–the authorized history of FoMoCo, “World on Wheels,” doesn’t mention it. When the Deuce took over the Dahlingers were run off.

    Greenies and the Left cherish the myth that streetcar lines were destroyed by auto, oil and tire companies. It’s true that GM (not Ford) and allies joined to acquire streetcar lines for conversion to motor buses. But the great majority converted to buses on their own, if they hadn’t already gone broke. Streetcars were obnoxious dinosaurs in the motor age.

    Romanticism about rail, “light” or not, ignores streetcars’ often-troubled past. From Wikipedia:
    “Between 1895 and 1929, almost every major city in the United States suffered at least one streetcar strike. Sometimes lasting only a few days, more often these strikes were “marked by almost continuous and often spectacular violent conflict,” at times amounting to prolonged riots and civil insurrection.

    Streetcar strikes rank among the deadliest armed conflicts in American labor union history. Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor called the St. Louis Streetcar Strike of 1900 “the fiercest struggle ever waged by the organized toilers” up to that point, with a total casualty count of 14 dead and about 200 wounded. The San Francisco Streetcar Strike of 1907 saw 30 killed and about 1000 injured. Many of the casualties were passengers and innocent bystanders.

    The 1929 New Orleans streetcar strike was one of the last of its kind. The rise of private automobile ownership took the edge off its impact, as an article in the Chicago Tribune observed as early as 1915.”

  • avatar
    stingray65

    If you have traveled more than 30 miles from your birthplace during your life and enjoyed it – you can thank Henry Ford. Before the mass-market Model T, most people never ventured farther from the family farm than a day’s journey by horse. The Ford Tri-Motor was also the first safe and cost effective airliner, so it might be argued that he also played a major role in the development of air travel. It is also important to remember that the car was seen as the savior of the city because of the hundreds of thousands of annual deaths attributed diseases spread via horse manure and improperly “recycled” dead horses – not to mention the smell on a warm summer day.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Excellent point about the problems with horses. Also note that it wasn’t uncommon for overworked horses to literally drop dead in the street during the summer months in most cities. For this reason, animal welfare advocates of the time praised the use of trucks instead of horses.

      As for the smell – during the late 19th century, it was said that you could smell New York City long before you could actually see it.

    • 0 avatar

      HUndreds of thousands sounds like a huge overstatement to me, since populations of major cities during that era were in the low millions. In 1900, the population of NYC, the biggest city, was 3.4 million. It was followed by Chicago, at 1.7 million, and Philly, at 1.2 million, and St. Louis, at a little over half a million. But i you have any data to that effect, it would be very interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Here is a link to an article estimating annual deaths in NYC at 20,000 from horse manure related diseases. I think on a national level it would easily be 100,000 per year.

        http://www.banhdc.org/archives/ch-hist-19711000.html

  • avatar
    hi

    The Captains of Industry were men with personal goals and great ideas that built America into a world power and a Nation that its citizens prospered.
    Today, there is a paucity of business men of the Henry Ford caliber.
    He CREATED JOBS for America and paid his employees well. Building the middle class in the process. Creating futures for Americans and America.

    He and others icons of business had their faults, but they managed to do things that better America, its citizens and the world.
    Ford and others used their monies to aid countries abroad as well as in America. Their munificence help make the world a better lot.

    Now, we have GREEDY CEO’s running the big companies today. Moving jobs overseas for cheap labor and destroying the middle class in the process. The have no loyalty to this Nation, Its Citizens, or their customers. Just taking care of themselves and have purchased the political clout to get out of paying taxes or helping America or its citizens. Even the Supreme Court has forsaken the citizens of this Nation for the benefit of the Money Crowd.

    They do not want to share the wealth with the employees that do all their sweating in making their products. Sad state of affairs in today’s working environment.

    Politicians are helping them in destroying wages and benefits for its workers. Yet, the politicians keep increasing their pay and benefits, big and quick pensions for themselves.

    If the elected leaders of this country and it business leaders do not put this Nation and its citizens as paramount in their actions, we will become a Third World country.
    Like Mexico, Wealthy and the very poor.

    That is not Democracy.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know if the CEOs of yore had better motivations than those of today. While it is certainly true that a lot of manufacturing jobs are now shipped overseas, I suspect that in much of the last century it would have been too expensive to do so, rather than that CEOs didn’t do it out of loyalty to our nation. Additionally, there are a lot of types of jobs that exist today, which didn’t exist in most of hte last century that are very easy to ship overseas (call centers).

      Nonetheless, the motivation behind CEOs generally and silicon valley ceos seeking “immigration reform” is to flood the market with cheap labor.

      http://www.cjr.org/essay/it_doesnt_add_up.php?page=all

      • 0 avatar
        hi

        WE should Stop ALL immigration when the employment level is down below a agreed percentage. We can educate and trail Americans for these jobs that Tech wants to bring into this country to replace more expensive labor.
        Business are bring in cheap laborers to keep the wages low and lower why do you thing the BIGGEST LOBBYIST AGAINST CLOSING THE BOARDERS IS THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. They want the cheap laborers. When business pay low wages, the taxpayers is supporting this company with food stamps and health care for its employees. Wal mart is a prime example of low wages employees and high % on food stamps.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          This line of thinking seems to be based on the assumption that there is a finite amount of jobs, and once they’re filled, there are no more. Scarcity mentality at its worst.

          Net immigration grows the economy and creates jobs. More people = greater need for goods and services = more trade and employment opportunities. If the US of A had closed the borders a century ago, it never would have grown into what it is today. Stopping all immigration now would stifle the economy even more.

          • 0 avatar

            Danio,

            Read the article for which I provided the URL. WE have unemployed tech workers in the hundreds of thousands, who are qualified for available jobs, and the Mark Zuckerbergs of Silicon Valley want to bring in more so that they can keep wages down. They are laying off people even while they are calling for immigration reform.

            Meanwhile, those unemployed are having to get unemployment insurance and Obamacare subsidies, which is, of course, a drain on the economy.

            Sure, you add people and the overall GDP grows. But the GDP per capita shrinks, and we become more like Indian and China, and less like Scandinavia.

            There is nothing wrong with immigration, but as President Clinton said about the economy, it’s the numbers, stupid! And the “immigration reform” bill from the senate would double legal immigration, to the equivalent of one New York State every decade, not including guest workers, who will probably be allowed to stay, or illegal immigrants, which the senate bill does nothing to stop.

            The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Senate bill wouild raise unemployment and reduce wages during the first ten years. And that’s comparing it to business as usual–a half a New York State’s worth of legal immigrants and another half a NYS of illegal immigrants every decade. If you were to compare it to reducing legal immigration to a couple of hundred thousand, and passing a national mandatory E-Verify, which would do more than any other policy to reduce illegal immigration, there would be huge benefits.

            This notion that you can bring in people and things will get prosperous, given that this is a mature economy, and that tech jobs produce an order of magnitude fewer jobs than the industrial jobs of the post war era, is nonsense.

          • 0 avatar

            @Danio

            I generally find what you have to say very interesting, and respect your point of view. In this case, I strongly suggest you read the article from the URL I posted, by a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in the well-respected Columbia Journalism Review.

            In any case consider:

            1. Silicon Valley and similar tech creates very few jobs, maybe 2 orders of magnitude fewer per dollar than the industrial companies of the post-war era.

            2. More generally, we are a mature economy, without the frontier we used to have, and jobs just don’t grow on trees anymore. We have huge unemployment in the tech sector, and huge unemployment among the low-skilled, no-skilled workers. At present, and for the last 4 decades or so, most immigrants have been low-skilled, no skilled workers. All this unemployment is a drain on the economy that is not suddenly going to get better when we start importing even more workers to compete with them.

            In the case of low-skilled, no-skilled workers, you might want to google “compassion that hurts,” for Nicholas Kristof’s analysis of how mass immigration of these workers has taken American jobs. Kristof, a NYT columnist, changed his mind on this issue after he examined it carefully.

            3. No-one is advocating stopping immigration. But 2 million a year (one New York State a decade), which has been the rate of immigration in many of the last 20 years, and more than 3 million a year (the Senate bill would double legal immigration to 2 million a year; some of the 750k annual guest workers under that bill would probably find a way to stay, and the bill would do little to stop illegal immigration, 500k-1m/year, since it has absolutely no teeth) is way too much for our economy to absorb.

            200k a year would be fine.

            Too much immigration may boost GDP, but it will shrink GDP per capita, and make us more like China and India, and less like Scandinavia.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/05/opinion/sunday/bye-bye-baby.html?hpw&rref=opinion

          • 0 avatar
            chevron

            Sure, but does net immigration grow the economy and create more jobs Per Capita?

            Clearly it depends on the character of the immigration.

            The Australian/Canadian model of mostly wealthy educated asians immigrating seems to keep Real Estate markets afloat and doesn’t obviously depress per capita incomes, like the American model appears to.

            Also note that the USG did act to restrict immigration 90 years ago, generally to privilege wealthy north and western europeans over impoverished south and eastern europeans, as well as others.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_Act_of_1924

            This law was in place straight through to 1965, and it would be difficult to construct a narrative for American cohesion and middle class prosperity during this period that didn’t largely attribute it to these immigration policies. This is, if you’ll recall, the period when the USA grew into what it is today.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_Act_of_1965

            Enacted in 1968. Gee I wonder why we’ve had growing income inequality since then.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      If you believe business leaders of the late 19th centuries were fine upstanding individuals, please google “robber barons”. What do they teach in history these days?

      • 0 avatar
        hi

        Agree that Robbers Barons were bad but they created jobs, too. Today’s Robber Barons are Greedy CEO’s that are destroying jobs, taking away benefits and paying lowest wages possible, even in low wage countries.
        I would take the ones of yore, if I had to choose. Teddy Roosevelt, we need someone like that today and business that want to create jobs and businesses in this country.
        While we are at it, do away with these FREE TRADE Zones, is just really TAX FREE ZONES for businesses to escape taxes, period. They have not created jobs and have destroyed Mexico with their cheap factories.

  • avatar
    hi

    We do not bring in the people with the skills we actually need and people that would not be the dole or with criminal records. WE bring in all types mostly unskilled uneducated and not needed, except by crooked businesses that want to force wages down.
    Until we get control of the boarders, close them up. If you are illegal, ship them back and are never allowed to acquire citizenship.
    Put the business leaders that hire them in jail along with the illegals.

  • avatar
    wmba

    The man was a bit of a country boy to begin with. After introducing “mass production” of large crude castings put together by men with mallets, he thought he could stop WW1 by chartering a peace ship to Stockholm in 1915. That went well. After that he went more and more off the rails. Jews were bad he thought in the 1920s, customers needed only a Model T not a more modern alternative in the late 1920s, and those workers had better toe the line or get their heads cracked in during the 1930s.

    A looney tune by then if not before.

    Plus as I’ve said before US watch manufacturing from the 57 Waltham on was mass production, making stuff requiring real tolerances and bespoke machines mak e the parts 50 years before Ford and his blacksmith grade machinery. It was obvious that mass production and the moving line would happen.

    Probably chocolate candy bar production and wrapping beat Ford by 20 years. But the publicity machine goes on and on, hallowing Ford for doing the obvious. Kind of like making Daimler the first car maker rather than that obscure Austrian. Incorrect, just popular lore aided by official state revisionism, or corporate revisionism, they’re much the same to me.

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    I think the world is a better place overall in part due to Henry Ford. Was he perfect? No. By the standards of the day, he was a pretty good fellow.

    The world was much larger then with the average person knowing and experiencing much less outside of the circles of their own lives – naturally making them more fearful of the unknown and more conservative in general. The funny thing is, despite his conservatism, Henry Ford made the world a lot smaller and less conservative.

    Taphophile trivia question: What was the make of the automobile that Henry took his very last ride in (to the cemetery)?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      It was a Packard hearse, shipped to Detroit just for his funeral so that he wouldn’t take his final ride in a Cadillac.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        There were no Lincoln hearses available?

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          I found an image:

          http://vintagefordfacts.blogspot.com/2011/01/william-hamilton-funeral-home-detroit.html

          http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1942-Packard-160_2.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          haroldingpatrick

          My understanding is that Lincoln did not produce commercial chassis’ from which to build hearse and ambulance bodies on. Cadillac and Packard did. I’m sure Lincoln hearses existed, but probably were not common due to the trouble and expense of taking a regular car and converting it.

          Who wouldn’t want to take their last ride in a Packard!

  • avatar
    css28

    St. Martha’s was a functioning parish until about 5 or 6 years ago.

    As you noted, the building’s still in use. It’s very difficult to keep mainstream churches going in an area that has sunk to the extent that that area has.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    Thank you Ronnie, for sharing this!

    I decided to take a ride over there today, and my little dog and I paid our respects to Mr. Ford.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Great history lesson, Ronnie – thanks!

  • avatar
    andrewallen

    Say what you want about Henry but the model T Ford was “the machine that changed the world”


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