Henry Ford, son of farmers of Irish descent, moved to Detroit in 1888 where he was hired by the electricity company of Thomas Edison, one of the fathers of the light bulb. During his spare time he dedicated himself to the construction of a car with an internal combustion engine invented by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler a few years earlier. The first prototype of quadricycle built by Ford, in the garage of his home, was tested on the road on June 4, 1896.
In 1899 he quit his job and entered as a chief engineer in the Detroit Automobile Company. After three years he decided to leave it and found Ford, where in order to contain the prices of goods produced through the reduction of processing times, he introduced the assembly line working system. The Ford T is famous, a simple and economical car, the first to be produced on a large scale. It was 1908 when the first Ford T saw the light, the legendary Lizzie, so they called it the Americans. It was produced until 1927 and 15 million copies were built. He was also the inventor of the Hemp Body Car, a car made entirely of hemp fibers and powered by hemp ethanol (the fuel was refined by the seeds of the plant). In fact, combining passion for nature and undoubted flair for business, the American businessman wanted at all costs to be built a car that "came out of the earth". In order to carry out this project, he engaged in the research the flower of his engineers who, in 1941, after 12 years of research, gave a concrete form to the project. Ford died six years later and in 1955 the cultivation of hemp was banned in the United States.
Since 1967 his name has been included in the Automotive Hall of Fame, which brings together the most distinguished personalities in the automotive field, an award assigned by an association whose current seat is in his city of birth. It seems that Henry Ford was an admirer of the Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo: his is in fact the famous phrase dictated to the president of the Italian family Ugo Gobbato «When I see an Alfa I take off my hat».
On the occasion of his 75th birthday, in 1938, Adolf Hitler awarded him the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle, which is the highest honor of the Nazi regime conferred to a foreigner, for the commitment of his Ford subsidiary in Germany, in supplying the Nazi army with armored vehicles and in giving all the profits to the Nazi cause. In addition, Ford, for several years during the Nazi regime, pledged to pay US $ 50,000 in support of Hitler's party.
Initiated in Freemasonry, he was made Master Mason in 1894 in the Lodge "Palestine Lodge No. 357" in Detroit and reached the 33rd and last degree of the Ancient Scottish Rite and accepted in 1940.
In 1938, Ford left the company in the hands of his son Edsel, who, since 1922, had managed Lincoln, the luxury brand of the Ford group. However, the senior patriarch still maintained control of the activities, albeit from behind the scenes: he had in fact passed the command of former security chief Harry Bennett, thus making Edsel's office merely a facade.
When the son died of cancer on May 26, 1943, the day before the funeral Henry Ford (already eighty and plurinfartuato) made known his wishes: Bennett would continue to run the business on his behalf until his grandchildren had not turned 32 . His wife Clara and his daughter-in-law Eleanor convinced him, however, to immediately transfer the managing powers to his twenty-six year old nephew Henry Ford II.
He was appointed president of the Ford Motor Company on September 21, 1945 and, starting in 1949, began the process of restructuring the company advocated by his father Edsel as early as 1934 but categorically rejected by his grandfather Henry ever since.
Henry Ford is the author of a booklet in 4 volumes entitled "The international Jew" ("The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem"). The libretto, which describes the project of domination of the world by the Jewish people, was widespread in Germany during Nazism and was a source of inspiration for Hitler. Ford also supported the authenticity of the Protocols of the Savi of Zion and had an edition printed at his expense, giving autographed copies of the book; later however he ordered to withdraw the copies from the trade.
Ford dies in 1947 and today he rests in the cemetery, named after him in Detroit, Michigan.