BIOGRAPHY

Henry Ford Biography: Age, Net Worth, Family, Wife, Ford Motor Company, Career, and Cause Of Death

Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, was born on July 30, 1863, in Springwells Township, Wayne County, Michigan.

His parents were Mary (Litogot) and William Ford, and he was the oldest of four boys and two girls in the family.

William Ford, originally from County Cork, Ireland, immigrated to America in 1847 and settled on a farm in Wayne County.

From a young age, Henry Ford displayed a keen interest in mechanics. By the time he turned 12, he was already spending most of his free time in a small machine shop that he had set up himself.

At the age of 15, he even built his first steam engine.

Subsequently, Ford began his career as a machinist’s apprentice in Detroit, working at James F. Flower and Brothers’ shops and the Detroit Dry Dock Company.

After completing his apprenticeship in 1882, he spent a year in southern Michigan, setting up and repairing Westinghouse steam engines.

In July 1891, he secured a position as an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit, where he eventually became the chief engineer on November 6, 1893.

Throughout his life, Thomas Edison served as a mentor and close friend to Henry Ford.

On April 11, 1888, Henry Ford married Clara Jane Bryant, who hailed from Greenfield, Michigan.

Clara was the daughter of Martha (Bench) and Melvin Bryant, a farmer from Wayne County.

Clara lived until the age of 84, passing away on September 29, 1950. The couple had one child, a son named Edsel Bryant Ford, who was born on November 6, 1893.

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Born July 30, 1863

Died April 7, 1947 (aged 83)

Resting place St. Martha’s Episcopal Church Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan
Occupations
Years active 1891–1945
Known for
  • Founding and leading the Ford Motor Company
  • Pioneering a system that launched the mass production and sale of affordable automotives to the public
Title President of Ford Motor Company (1906–1919, 1943–1945)
Political party
Spouse

(m. 1888)

Children Edsel
Signature

Ford was recognized for his pacifist beliefs in the early years of World War I, however, his company later played a significant role as a weapons supplier during the war.

He advocated for the League of Nations. In the 1920s, Ford endorsed antisemitism through his publication The Dearborn Independent and the book The International Jew.

He was against the United States joining World War II, and was part of the America First Committee board for a period.

Following the death of his son Edsel in 1943, Ford took back control of the company but was unable to make decisions due to his declining health, leading to his subordinates taking over.

He passed on the company to his grandson Henry Ford II in 1945. Ford passed away in 1947, leaving the majority of his wealth to the Ford Foundation and the control of the company to his family.

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Henry Ford Career

Henry Ford began his journey as an automobile manufacturer in the winter of 1893, when his fascination with internal combustion engines drove him to create a small one-cylinder gasoline model.

The initial Ford engine came to life with a sputter on a wooden table in the kitchen of the Ford residence at 58 Bagley Avenue in Detroit.

A subsequent iteration of this engine propelled his inaugural vehicle, essentially a frame equipped with four bicycle wheels. This pioneering Ford car, known as the Quadricycle, was finalized in June 1896.

On August 19, 1899, he stepped down from his position at the Edison Illuminating Company and, alongside others, established the Detroit Automobile Company, which eventually filed for bankruptcy after approximately 18 months.

Meanwhile, Henry Ford designed and constructed multiple racing cars. In a notable victory, his car named Sweepstakes triumphed over Alexander Winton on a track in Grosse Pointe, Michigan on October 10, 1901. Just a month later, Henry Ford founded his second automobile venture, known as the Henry Ford Company. However, he would later depart from this enterprise, which eventually transformed into the Cadillac Motor Car Company, in early 1902. In another one of his racing cars, the 999, he set a world record for the mile, completing the distance in 39.4 seconds on January 12, 1904, on the frozen surface of Lake St. Clair.

On June 16, 1903, Henry and 12 other individuals invested $28,000 to establish the Ford Motor Company. The first car manufactured by the company was sold on July 15, 1903. Henry held a 25.5% stake in the newly formed organization. He assumed the role of president and became the majority owner in 1906. In 1919, Henry, along with Clara and Edsel Ford, acquired the shares of all minority stockholders for $105,820,894, thereby becoming the sole owners of the company. Edsel, who succeeded his father as president in 1919, held the position until his passing in 1943, at which point Henry Ford returned to the role.

In September 1945, Henry Ford resigned from the presidency for the second time and recommended his grandson, Henry Ford II, as his successor. The board of directors followed his suggestion.

In 1946, Henry Ford received accolades at the Automotive Golden Jubilee for his significant contributions to the automotive industry.

In July of that same year, a crowd of 50,000 people gathered in Dearborn to celebrate his 83rd birthday.

Later in the year, the American Petroleum Institute presented him with its inaugural Gold Medal annual award in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the betterment of humanity.

In 1965, the United States government paid tribute to him by featuring his image alongside a Model T on a postage stamp as part of the Prominent Americans series.

Henry Ford was posthumously named the Businessman of the Century by Fortune magazine in 1999.

Edsel Ford Death

After the death of Edsel Ford in 1943, Henry Ford technically regained control of the company.

However, due to his deteriorating health and declining mental abilities caused by a series of strokes in the late 1930s, Ford was increasingly unable to actively participate in decision-making.

Consequently, a small group of senior executives, led by Charles Sorensen and Harry Bennett, took charge and made decisions on his behalf.

As time went on, Ford became envious of the attention Sorensen received and eventually forced him out in 1944.

Ford’s incompetence and the company’s precarious financial situation prompted discussions in Washington about potential solutions.

These discussions revolved around either government intervention or orchestrating a coup among executives and directors to restore the company.

However, no action was taken until 1945 when Clara Ford and Eleanor Ford, the wives of Henry Ford and Edsel Ford respectively, confronted him.

They demanded that he relinquish control of the company to his grandson, Henry Ford II, or else they would sell off their significant stock holdings. Faced with no other option, Ford reluctantly agreed to their demands.

Subsequently, Henry Ford II assumed control and promptly fired Harry Bennett as his first order of business.

Henry Ford Later Career and Death

When Edsel Ford, President of Ford Motor Company, passed away due to cancer in May 1943, the elderly and ailing Henry Ford made the decision to take on the role of presidency.

At that time, Ford, who was nearly 80 years old, had experienced several cardiovascular incidents (referred to as heart attacks or strokes) and displayed signs of mental inconsistency, suspicion, and overall lack of suitability for such significant responsibilities.

Despite the reluctance of most directors to see him as president, Ford had unofficially held control over the company for the past two decades.

The board and management had never truly opposed him, and this instance was no exception. He was elected by the directors and continued to serve until the end of the war.

During his tenure, the company faced a decline, with monthly losses exceeding $10 million ($169,120,000 today).

The administration of President Franklin Roosevelt had contemplated a government intervention to ensure ongoing war production, but the plan did not materialize.

As his health deteriorated, Ford relinquished the company presidency to his grandson Henry Ford II in September 1945 and retired.

He passed away on April 7, 1947, at the age of 83, due to a cerebral hemorrhage at his estate in Dearborn, Fair Lane. A public viewing took place at Greenfield Village, where thousands of individuals paid their respects.

Funeral services were conducted at Detroit’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul, and he was laid to rest in the Ford Cemetery in Detroit.

Honors and recognition

Henry Ford Net Worth

Henry Ford was an American entrepreneur who founded the Ford Motor Company.

At the time of his death, Henry Ford had a net worth worth equal to $200 billion dollars adjusted for inflation.

That makes him one of the wealthiest human beings who ever lived.

In the 1920s, Henry Ford controlled an estimated $1.2 billion in personal wealth. When a reporter once asked him to estimate his fortune, Henry replied:

I don’t know, and I don’t care!

Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation and arranged for his family to control the company permanently.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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