He died much as he was born, by lamplight on the Fairlane Estate near the farm where he was raised. But much changed during his 83 years, and Henry Ford had a hand in much of that transformation.
His name can still be found on millions of automobiles produced in plants around the world, from Beijing to Britain and, of course, Detroit. And while the assembly line concept he pioneered has gone through major updates it remains the heart of modern manufacturing. He was a global visionary and an advocate for peace who also helped supply the American military machine through two world wars.
Henry Ford might have helped put America on wheels and helped make modern consumerism possible, but he also tinkered with social engineering during an era when millions of Americans moved from farms to factories. Henry Ford’s grand goals were tarnished, in the eyes of many by his naiveté and anti-Semitism.
“Henry Ford was a very complex man and someone who was very contradictory in many ways,” says Bill Chapin, head of the Automotive Hall of Fame which is located near Ford Motor Co. headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan and on the campus of the Henry Ford, a museum devoted to Americana and American ingenuity.