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Title: Henry Ford's Own Story - How a Farmer Boy Rose to the Power that goes with Many - Millions Yet Never Lost Touch with Humanity
Author: Lane, Rose Wilder
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: HENRY FORD]


                         HENRY FORD'S OWN STORY

                   How a Farmer Boy Rose to the Power
                      That Goes With Many Millions
                          Yet Never Lost Touch
                             With Humanity

                              _AS TOLD TO_
                            ROSE WILDER LANE


                             ELLIS O. JONES
                     FOREST HILLS    NEW YORK CITY


                          COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY
                              THE BULLETIN

                          COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY
                             ELLIS O. JONES

           All rights reserved, including that of translation
           into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian



                          BY ROSE WILDER LANE

Fifty-two years ago[1] a few farmers' families near Greenfield,
Michigan, heard that there was another baby at the Fords'--a boy. Mother
and son were doing well. They were going to name the boy Henry.

Twenty-six years later a little neighborhood on the edge of Detroit was
amused to hear that the man Ford who had just built the little white
house on the corner had a notion that he could invent something. He was
always puttering away in the old shed back of the house. Sometimes he
worked all night there. The neighbors saw the light burning through the

Twelve years ago half a dozen men in Detroit were actually driving the
Ford automobile about the streets. Ford had started a small factory,
with a dozen mechanics, and was buying material. It was freely predicted
that the venture would never come to much.

_Last year--January, 1914--America was startled by an announcement from
the Ford factory that ten million dollars would be divided among the
eighteen thousand employees as their share of the company's profits.
Henry Ford was a multimillionaire, and America regarded him with awe._

Mankind must have its hero. The demand for him is more insistent than
hunger, more inexorable than cold or fear. Before a race builds houses
or prepares food with its hands, it creates in its mind that demigod,
that superman, standing on a higher plane than the rest of humanity,
more admirable, more powerful than the others. We must have him as a
symbol of something greater than ourselves, to keep alive in us that
faith in life which is threatened by our own experience of living.

He is at once our greatest solace and our worst enemy. We cling to him
as a child clings to a guiding hand, unable to walk without it, and
never able to walk alone until it is let go. Every advance of democracy
destroys our old hero, and hastily we build up another. When science has
exorcised Jove, and real estate promoters have subdivided the Olympian
heights, we desert the old altars to kneel before thrones. When our
kings have been cast down from their high places by our inconsistent
struggles for liberty, we cannot leave those high places empty. We found
a government on the bold declaration, "All men are born free and equal,"
but we do not believe it. Out of the material at hand we must create
again our great ones.

So, with the growth of Big Business during the last quarter of a
century, we have built up the modern myth of the Big Business Man.

Our imaginations are intrigued by the spectacle of his rise from our
ranks. Yesterday he was a farmer's son, an office boy, a peddler of
Armenian laces. To-day he is a demigod. Is our country threatened with
financial ruin? At a midnight conference of his dependents, hastily
called, he speaks one word. We are saved. Does a foreign nation,
fighting for its life, ask our help? He endorses the loan.

We contemplate him with awe. In one lifetime he has made himself a world
power; in twenty years he has made a hundred million dollars, we say. He
is a Big Business Man.

_Our tendency was immediately to put Henry Ford in that class. He does
not belong to it. He is not a Big Business Man; he is a big man in

It is not strange, with this belief of millions of persons that the men
who have been at the head of our great business development are greater
than ordinary men, that most of them believe it themselves and act on
that assumption. Henry Ford does not. His greatness lies in that.

With millions piling upon millions in our hands, most of us would lose
our viewpoint. He has kept his--a plain mechanic's outlook on life and
human relations. He sees men all as parts of a great machine, in which
every waste motion, every broken or inefficient part means a loss to the

_"Money doesn't do me any good," he says. "I can't spend it on myself.
Money has no value, anyway. It is merely a transmitter, like
electricity. I try to keep it moving as fast as I can, for the best
interests of everybody concerned. A man can't afford to look out for
himself at the expense of any one else, because anything that hurts the
other man is bound to hurt you in the end, the same way."_

The story of Henry Ford is the story of his coming to that conclusion,
and of his building up an annual business of one hundred and fifty
million dollars based upon it.


Footnote 1:

  July 30, 1863.



                I. ONE SUMMER'S DAY
               II. MENDING A WATCH
              III. THE FIRST JOB
               IV. AN EXACTING ROUTINE
               VI. BACK TO THE FARM
              VII. THE ROAD TO HYMEN
                X. "WHY NOT USE GASOLINE?"
               XI. BACK TO DETROIT
               XV. A RIDE IN THE RAIN
              XVI. ENTER COFFEE JIM
              XIX. RAISING CAPITAL
             XXVI. MAKING IT PAY


                         HENRY FORD'S OWN STORY

                               CHAPTER I

                            ONE SUMMER'S DAY

It was a hot, sultry day in the last of July, one of those Eastern
summer days when the air presses heavily down on the stifling country
fields, and in every farmyard the chickens scratch deep on the shady
side of buildings, looking for cool earth to lie upon, panting.

"This weather won't hold long," William Ford said that morning, giving
the big bay a friendly slap and fastening the trace as she stepped over.
"We'd better get the hay under cover before night."

There was no sign of a cloud in the bright, hot sky, but none of the
hired men disputed him. William Ford was a good farmer, thrifty and
weather-wise. Every field of his 300-acre farm was well cared for,
yielding richly every year; his cattle were fat and sleek, his big red
barns the best filled in the neighborhood. He was not the man to let ten
acres of good timothy-and-clover hay get caught in a summer shower and

They put the big hay-rack on the wagon, threw in the stone water jugs,
filled with cool water from the well near the kitchen door, and drove
out to the meadow. One imagines them working there, lifting great
forksful of the clover-scented hay, tossing them into the rack, where,
on the rising mound, the youngest man was kept busy shifting and
settling them with his fork. Grasshoppers whirred up from the winrows of
the dried grass when they were disturbed, and quails called from the
fence corners.

Now and then the men stopped to wipe the sweat from their foreheads and
to take long swallows from the water jugs, hidden, for coolness, under a
mound of hay. Then, with a look at the sky, they took up their forks.

William Ford worked with the others, doing a good day's task with the
best of them, and proud of it. He was the owner, and they were the hired
men, but on a Michigan farm the measure of a man is the part he takes in
man's work. In the cities, where men work against men, let them build up
artificial distinctions; on the farm the fight is against nature, and
men stand shoulder to shoulder in it. A dark cloud was coming up in the
northwest, and every man's muscles leaped to the need for getting in the

Suddenly they heard a clang from the great bell, hung high on a post in
the home dooryard, and used only for calling in the men at dinnertime or
for some emergency alarm. Every man stopped. It was only 10 o'clock.
Then they saw a fluttering apron at the barnyard gate, and William Ford
dropped his fork.

"I'll go. Get in the hay!" he called back, already running over the
stubble in long strides. The men stared a minute longer and then turned
back to work, a little more slowly this time, with the boss gone. A few
minutes later they stopped again to watch him riding out of the home
yard and down the road, urging the little gray mare to a run.

"Going for Doc Hall," they surmised. They got in a few more loads of hay
before the rain came, spattering in big drops on their straw hats and
making a pleasant rustling on the thirsty meadows. Then they climbed
into the half-filled rack and drove down to the big barn.

They sat idly there in the dimness, watching through the wide doors the
gray slant of the rain. The doctor had come; one of the men unhitched
his horse and led it into a stall, while another pulled the light cart
under the shed. Dinner time came and passed. There was no call from the
house, and they did not go in. Once in a while they laughed nervously,
and remarked that it was a shame they did not save the last three loads
of hay. Good hay, too, ran a full four tons to the acre.

About 2 o'clock in the afternoon the rain changed to a light drizzle and
the clouds broke. Later William Ford came out of the house and crossed
the soppy yard. He was grinning a little. It was all right, he said--a

I believe they had up a jug of sweet cider from the cellar in honor of
the occasion. I know that when they apologetically mentioned the spoiled
hay he laughed heartily and asked what they supposed he cared about the

"What're you going to call him, Ford?" one of the men asked him as they
stood around the cider jug, wiping their lips on the backs of their

"The wife's named him already--Henry," he said.

"Well, he'll have his share of one of the finest farms in Michigan one
of these days," they said, and while William Ford said nothing he must
have looked over his green rolling acres with a pardonable pride,
reflecting that the new boy-baby need never want for anything in reason.

Henry was the second son of William Ford and Mary Litogot Ford, his
energetic, wholesome Holland Dutch wife. While he was still in
pinafores, tumbling about the house or making daring excursions into the
barnyard, the stronghold of the dreadful turkey gobbler, his sister,
Margaret, was born, and Henry had barely been promoted to real trousers,
at the age of four, when another brother arrived.

Four babies, to be bathed, clothed, taught, loved and guarded from all
the childish disasters to be encountered about the farm, might well be
thought enough to fill any woman's mind and hands, but there were a
thousand additional tasks for the mistress of that large household.

There was milk to skim, butter and cheese to make, poultry and garden to
be tended, patchwork quilts to sew, and later to fasten into the
quilting frames and stitch by hand in herringbone or fan patterns. The
hired hands must be fed--twenty or thirty of them in harvesting time;
pickles, jams, jellies, sweet cider, vinegar must be made and stored
away on the cellar shelves. When the hogs were killed in the fall there
were sausages, head-cheese, pickled pigs' feet to prepare, hams and
shoulders to be soaked in brine and smoked; onions, peppers, popcorn to
be braided in long strips and hung in the attic; while every day bread,
cake and pies must be baked, and the house kept in that "apple-pie
order" so dear to the pride of the Michigan farmers' women-folk.

All these tasks Mary Ford did, or superintended, efficiently, looking to
the ways of her household with all the care and pride her husband had in
managing the farm. She found time, too, to be neighborly, to visit her
friends, care for one of them who fell ill, help any one in the little
community who needed it. And always she watched over the health and
manners of the children.

In this environment Henry grew. He was energetic, interested in
everything, from the first. His misadventures in conquering the turkey
gobbler would fill a chapter. When he was a little older one of the
hired men would put him on the back of a big farm horse and let him ride
around the barnyard, or perhaps he was allowed to carry a spiced drink
of vinegar and water to the men working in the harvest field. He learned
every corner of the hay-mow, and had a serious interview with his father
over the matter of sliding down the straw-stacks. In the winters,
wrapped in a knit muffler, with mittens of his mother's making on his
hands, he played in the snow or spent whole afternoons sliding on the
ice with his brothers.

Best of all he liked the "shop," where the blacksmith work for the farm
was done and the sharpening of tools. When the weather was bad outside
his father or one of the men lighted the charcoal in the forge and Henry
might pull the bellows till the fire glowed and the iron buried in it
shone white-hot. Then the sparks flew from the anvil while the great
hammer clanged on the metal, shaping it, and Henry begged to be allowed
to try it himself, just once. In time he was given a small hammer of his

So the years passed until Henry was 11 years old, and then a momentous
event occurred--small enough in itself, but to this day one of the
keenest memories of his childhood.

                               CHAPTER II

                            MENDING A WATCH

This first memorable event of Henry Ford's childhood occurred on a
Sunday in the spring of his eleventh year.

In that well-regulated household Sunday, as a matter of course, was a
day of stiffly starched, dressed-up propriety for the children, and of
custom-enforced idleness for the elders. In the morning the fat driving
horses, brushed till their glossy coats shone in the sun, were hitched
to the two-seated carriage, and the family drove to church. William and
Mary Ford were Episcopalians, and Henry was reared in that faith,
although both then and later he showed little enthusiasm for

Sitting through the long service in the stuffy little church,
uncomfortably conscious of his Sunday-best garments, sternly forbidden
to "fidget," while outside were all the sights and sounds of a country
spring must have seemed a wanton waste of time to small Henry. To this
day he has not greatly changed that opinion.

"Religion, like everything else, is a thing that should be kept
working," he says. "I see no use in spending a great deal of time
learning about heaven and hell. In my opinion, a man makes his own
heaven and hell and carries it around with him. Both of them are states
of mind."

On this particular Sunday morning Henry was more than usually
rebellious. It was the first week he had been allowed to leave off his
shoes and stockings for the summer, and Henry had all a country boy's
ardor for "going barefoot." To cramp his joyously liberated toes again
into stuffy, leather shoes seemed to him an outrage. He resented his
white collar, too, and the immaculate little suit his mother cautioned
him to keep clean. He was not sullen about it. He merely remarked
frankly that he hated their old Sunday, anyhow, and wished never to see

Mother and father and the four children set out for church as usual. At
the hitching posts, where William Ford tied the horses before going in
to the church, they met their neighbors, the Bennetts. Will Bennett, a
youngster about Henry's age, hailed him from the other carriage.

"Hi, Hen! C'm'ere! I got something you ain't got!"

Henry scrambled out over the wheel and hurried to see what it might be.
It was a watch, a real watch, as large and shiny as his father's. Henry
looked at it with awed admiration, and then with envy. It was Will's own
watch; his grandfather had given it to him.

On a strict, cross-your-heart promise to give it back, Henry was allowed
to take it in his hands. Then he cheered up somewhat.

"That ain't much!" he scornfully remarked. "It ain't runnin'!" At the
same moment a dazzling idea occurred to him. He had always wanted to see
the insides of a watch.

"I bet I c'n fix it for you," he declared.

A few minutes later, when Mary Ford looked for Henry, he was nowhere to
be found. Will was also missing. When, after services, they had not
appeared, the parents became worried. They searched. Inquiries and
explorations failed to reveal the boys.

They were in the Bennetts' farm "shop," busy with the watch. Having no
screw-driver small enough, Henry made one by filing a shingle nail. Then
he set to work and took out every screw in the mechanism.

The works came out of the case, to the accompaniment of an agonized
protest from Will; the cogs fell apart, the springs unwound. Altogether
it was a beautiful disorder, enough to delight any small boy.

"Now look what you've went and done!" cried Will, torn between natural
emotion over the disaster to his watch and admiration of Henry's daring.

"Well, you SAID you was goin' ta put it together," he reminded that
experimenter many times in the next few hours.

Dinner time came, and Will, recalling the fried chicken, dumplings,
puddings, cakes, of the Sunday dinner, grew more than restless, but
Henry held him there by the sheer force of his enthusiasm. The afternoon
wore along, and he was still investigating those fascinating gears and

When at last outraged parental authority descended upon the boys,
Henry's Sunday clothes were a wreck, his hands and face were grimy, but
he had correctly replaced most of the screws, and he passionately
declared that if they would only leave him alone he would have the watch
running in no time.

Family discipline was strict in those days. Undoubtedly Henry was
punished, but he does not recall that now. What he does remember vividly
is the passion for investigating clocks and watches that followed. In a
few months he had taken apart and put together every timepiece on the
place, excepting only his father's watch.

"Every clock in the house shuddered when it saw me coming," he says. But
the knowledge he acquired was more than useful to him later, when at
sixteen he faced the problem of making his own living in Detroit.

In those days farm life had no great appeal for him. There were plenty
of chores to be done by an active boy of 12 on that farm, where every
bit of energy was put to some useful purpose. He drove up the cows at
night, kept the kitchen wood-box filled, helped to hitch and unhitch the
horses, learned to milk and chop kindling. He recalls that his principal
objection to such work was that it was always interrupting some
interesting occupation he had discovered for himself in the shop. He
liked to handle tools, to make something. The chores were an endless
repetition of the same task, with no concrete object created.

In the winter he went to the district school, walking two miles and back
every day through the snow, and enjoying it. He did not care for school
especially, although he got fair marks in his studies, and was given to
helping other boys "get their problems." Arithmetic was easy for him.
His mind was already developing its mechanical trend.

"I always stood well with the teacher," he says with a twinkle. "I found
things ran more smoothly that way." He was not the boy to create
unnecessary friction in his human relations, finding it as wasteful of
energy there as it would have been in any of the mechanical contrivances
he made. He "got along pretty well" with every one, until the time came
to fight, and then he fought, hard and quick.

Under his leadership, for he was popular with the other boys, the
Greenfield school saw strange things done. Henry liked to play as well
as any boy, but somehow in his thrifty ancestry there had been developed
a strong desire to have something to show for time spent. Swimming,
skating and the like were all very well until he had thoroughly learned
them, but why keep on after that? Henry wanted to do something else
then. And as for spending a whole afternoon batting a ball around, that
seemed to him a foolish occupation.

Accordingly, he constructed a working forge in the schoolyard, and he
and his crowd spent every recess and noon during one autumn working at
it. There, with the aid of a blow-pipe, they melted every bottle and bit
of broken glass they could find and recast them into strange shapes. It
was Henry, too, who devised the plan of damming the creek that ran near
the schoolhouse, and by organizing the other boys into regular gangs,
with a subforeman for each, accomplished the task so thoroughly and
quickly that he had flooded two acres of potatoes before an outraged
farmer knew what was happening.

But these occupations, absorbing enough for the time being, did not fill
his imagination. Henry already dreamed of bigger things. He meant, some
day, to be a locomotive engineer. When he saw the big, black engines
roaring across the Michigan farm lands, under their plumes of smoke, and
when he caught a glimpse of the sooty man in overalls at the throttle,
he felt an ambitious longing. Some day----!

It was on the whole a busy, happy childhood, spent for the most part out
of doors. Henry grew freckled, sunburned the skin from his nose and neck
in the swimming pool, scratched his bare legs on blackberry briars. He
learned how to drive horses, how to handle a hay fork or a hoe, how to
sharpen and repair the farm tools. The "shop" was the most interesting
part of the farm to him; it was there he invented and manufactured a
device for opening and closing the farm gates without getting down from
the wagon.

Then, when he was 14, an event occurred which undoubtedly changed the
course of his life. Mary Ford died.

                              CHAPTER III

                             THE FIRST JOB

When Mary Ford died the heart of the home went with her. "The house was
like a watch without a mainspring," her son says. William Ford did his
best, but it must have been a pathetic attempt, that effort of the big,
hardworking farmer to take a mother's place to the four children.

For a time a married aunt came in and managed the household, but she was
needed in her own home and soon went back to it. Then Margaret, Henry's
youngest sister, took charge, and tried to keep the house in order and
superintend the work of "hired girls" older than herself. She was
"capable"--that good New England word so much more expressive than
"efficient"--but no one could take Mary Ford's place in that home.

There was now nothing to hold Henry on the farm. He had learned how to
do the farm work, and the little attraction it had had for him was gone;
thereafter every task was merely a repetition. His father did not need
his help; there were always the hired men. I suppose any need William
Ford may have felt for the companionship of his second son was
unexpressed. In matters of emotion the family is not demonstrative.

The boy had exhausted the possibilities of the farm shop. His last work
in it was the building of a small steam-engine. For this, helped partly
by pictures, partly by his boyish ingenuity, he made his own patterns,
his own castings, did his own machine work.

His material was bits of old iron, pieces of wagon tires, stray teeth
from harrows--anything and everything from the scrap pile in the shop
which he could utilize in any imaginable way. When the engine was
finished Henry mounted it on an improvised chassis which he had cut down
from an old farm wagon, attached it by a direct drive to a wheel on one
side, something like a locomotive connecting-rod, and capped the whole
with a whistle which could be heard for miles.

When he had completed the job he looked at the result with some natural
pride. Sitting at the throttle, tooting the ear-splitting whistle, he
charged up and down the meadow lot at nearly ten miles an hour,
frightening every cow on the place. But after all his work, for some
reason the engine did not please him long. Possibly the lack of
enthusiasm with which it was received disappointed him.

In the technical journals which he read eagerly during his sixteenth
winter, he learned about the big iron works of Detroit, saw pictures of
machines he longed to handle.

Early the next spring, when the snow had melted, and every breeze that
blew across the fields was an invitation to begin something new, Henry
started to school as usual one morning, and did not return.

Detroit is only a few miles from Greenfield. Henry made the journey on
the train that morning, and while his family supposed him at school and
the teacher was marking a matter-of-fact "absent" after his name, he had
already set about his independent career.

He had made several trips to Detroit in the past, but this time the city
looked very different to him. It had worn a holiday appearance before,
but now it seemed stern and busy--a little too busy, perhaps, to waste
much attention on a country boy of sixteen looking for a job.

Nevertheless, he whistled cheerfully enough to himself, and started
briskly through the crowds. He knew what he wanted, and he was going
straight for it.

"I always knew I would get what I went after," he says. "I don't recall
having any very great doubts or fears."

At that time the shop of James Flower and Company, manufacturers of
steam engines and steam engine appliances, was one of Detroit's largest
factories. Over one hundred men were employed there, and their output
was one to be pointed to with pride by boastful citizens.

Henry Ford's nerves, healthy and steady as they were, tingled with
excitement when he entered the place. He had read of it, and had even
seen a picture of it, but now he beheld for himself its size and the
great number of machines and men. This was something big, he said to

After a moment he asked a man working near where he could find the

"Over there--the big fellow in the red shirt," the man replied. Henry
hurried over and asked for a job.

The foreman looked at him and saw a slight, wiry country boy who wanted
work. There was nothing remarkable about him, one supposes. The foreman
did not perceive immediately, after one look into his steady eye, that
this was no ordinary lad, as foremen so frequently do in fiction.
Instead, he looked Henry over, asked him a question or two, remembered
that a big order had just come in and he was short of hands.

"Well, come to work to-morrow. I'll see what you can do," he said. "Pay
you two and a half a week."

"All right, sir," Henry responded promptly, but the foreman had already
turned his back and forgotten him. Henry, almost doubtful of his good
fortune, hurried away before the foreman should change his mind.

Outside in the sunshine he pushed his cap on the back of his head,
thrust his hands deep into his pockets, jingling the silver in one of
them, and walked down the street, whistling. The world looked like a
good place to him. No more farming for Henry Ford. He was a machinist
now, with a job in the James Flower shops.

Before him there unrolled a bright future. He was ambitious; he did not
intend always to remain a mechanic. One day when he had learned all
there was to know about the making of steam engines, he intended to
drive one himself. He would be a locomotive engineer, nothing less.

Meantime there were practical questions of food and shelter to consider
immediately and he was not the boy to waste time in speculations for the
future when there was anything to be done. He counted his money. Almost
four dollars, and a prospect of two and a half every week. Then he set
out to find a boarding house.

Two dollars and a half a week, not a large living income, even in 1878.
Henry walked a long time looking for a landlady who would consent to
board a healthy sixteen-year-old mechanic for that sum. It was late that
afternoon before he found one who, after some hesitation, agreed to do
it. Then he looked at the small, dirty room she showed him, at her
untidy, slatternly person, and decided that he would not live there. He
came out into the street again.

Henry was facing the big problem. How was he to live on an income too
small? Apparently his mind went, with the precision of a machine,
directly to the answer.

"When your reasonable expenses exceed your income, increase your
income." Simple. He knew that after he had finished his day's work at
the shops there would be a margin of several hours a day left to him. He
would have to turn them into money. That was all.

He returned to a clean boarding house he had visited earlier in the day,
paid three dollars and a half in advance for one week's board, and ate a
hearty supper. Then he went to bed.

                               CHAPTER IV

                          AN EXACTING ROUTINE

Meantime back in Greenfield there was a flurry of excitement and not a
little worry. Henry did not return from school in time to help with the
chores. When supper time came and went without his appearing Margaret
was sure some terrible accident had occurred.

A hired man was sent to make inquiries. He returned with the news that
Henry had not been in school. Then William Ford himself hitched up and
drove about the neighborhood looking for the boy. With characteristic
reserve and independence Henry had taken no one into his confidence, but
late that night his father returned with information that he had been
seen taking the train for Detroit.

William Ford knew his son. When he found that Henry had left of his own
accord he told Margaret dryly that the boy could take care of himself
and there was nothing to worry about. However, after two days had gone
by without any word from Henry his father went up to Detroit to look for

Those two days had been full of interest for Henry. He found that his
hours in the machine shop were from seven in the morning to six at
night, with no idle moments in any of them. He helped at the forges,
made castings, assembled parts. He was happy. There were no chores or
school to interrupt his absorption in machinery. Every hour he learned
something new about steam engines. When the closing whistle blew and the
men dropped their tools he was sorry to quit.

Still, there was that extra dollar a week to be made somehow. As soon as
he had finished supper the first night he hurried out to look for an
evening job. It never occurred to him to work at anything other than
machinery. He was a machine "fan," just as some boys are baseball fans;
he liked mechanical problems. A batting average never interested him,
but "making things go"--there was real fun in that.

Machine shops were not open at night, but he recalled his experiments
with the luckless family clock. He hunted up a jeweler and asked him for
night work. Then he hunted up another, and another. None of them needed
an assistant. When the jewelers' shops closed that night he went back to
his boarding-house.

He spent another day at work in the James Flower shops. He spent another
night looking for work with a jeweler. The third day, late in the
afternoon, his father found him. Knowing Henry's interests, William Ford
had begun his search by inquiring for the boy in Detroit's machine

He spoke to the foreman and took Henry outside. There was an argument.
William Ford, backed by the force of parental authority, declared
sternly that the place for Henry was in school. Henry, with two days'
experience in a real iron works, hotly declared that he'd never go back
to school, not if he was licked for it.

"What's the good of the old school, anyhow? I want to learn to make
steam engines," he said. In the end William Ford saw the futility of
argument. He must have been an unusually reasonable father, for the time
and place. It would have been a simple matter to lead Henry home by the
ear and keep him there until he ran away again, and in 1878 most
Michigan fathers in his situation would have done it.

"Well, you know where your home is any time you want to come back to
it," he said finally, and went back to the farm.

Henry was now definitely on his own resources. With urgent need for that
extra dollar a week weighing more heavily on his mind every day, he
spent his evenings searching for night work. Before the time arrived to
pay his second week's board he had found a jeweler who was willing to
pay him two dollars a week for four hours' work every night.

The arrangement left Henry with a dollar a week for spending money. This
was embarrassing riches.

"I never did figure out how to spend the whole of that dollar," he says.
"I really had no use for it. My board and lodging were paid and the
clothes I had were good enough for the shop. I never have known what to
do with money after my expenses were paid--can't squander it on myself
without hurting myself, and nobody wants to do that. Money is the most
useless thing in the world, anyhow."

His life now settled into a routine eminently satisfactory to him--a
routine that lasted for nine months. From seven in the morning to six at
night in the machine shop, from seven to eleven in the evening at work
with a microscope, repairing and assembling watches, then home to bed
for a good six hours' sleep, and back to work again.

Day followed day, exactly alike, except that every one of them taught
him something about machines--either steam engines or watches. He went
to bed, rose, ate, worked on a regular schedule, following the same
route--the shortest one--from the boarding-house to the shops, to the
jeweler's, back to the boarding-house again.

Before long he found that he could spend a part of his dollar profitably
in buying technical journals--French, English, German magazines dealing
with mechanics. He read these in his room after returning from the

Few boys of sixteen could endure a routine so exacting in its demands on
strength and endurance without destroying their health, but Henry Ford
had the one trait common to all men of achievement--an apparently
inexhaustible energy. His active, out-of-door boyhood had stored up
physical reserves of it; his one direct interest gave him his mental
supply. He wanted to learn about machines; that was all he wanted. He
was never distracted by other impulses or tastes.

"Recreation? No, I had no recreation; I didn't want it," he says.
"What's the value of recreation, anyhow? It's just waste time. I got my
fun out of my work."

He was obsessed by his one idea.

In a few months he had mastered all the intricate details of building
steam engines. The mammoth shop of James Flower & Co., with its great
force of a hundred mechanics, became familiar to him; it shrank from the
huge proportions it had at first assumed in his eyes. He began to see
imperfections in its system and to be annoyed by them.

"See here," he said one day to the man who worked beside him. "Nothing's
ever made twice alike in this place. We waste a lot of time and material
assembling these engines. That piston rod'll have to be made over; it
won't fit the cylinder."

"Oh, well, I guess we do the best we can," the other man said. "It won't
take long to fit it." It was the happy-go-lucky method of factories in
the seventies.

Men were shifted from job to job to suit the whim of the foreman or the
exigencies of a rush order. Parts were cast, recast, filed down to fit
other parts. Scrap iron accumulated in the corners of the shop. A piece
of work was abandoned half finished in order to make up time on another
order, delayed by some accident. By to-day's standards it was a
veritable helter-skelter, from which the finished machines somehow
emerged, at a fearful cost in wasted time and labor.

When Henry was switched from one piece of work to another, taken from
his job to help some other workman, or sent to get a needed tool that
was missing, he knew that his time was being wasted. His thrifty
instincts resented it. With his mind full of pictures of smoothly
running, exactly adjusted machines, he knew there was something wrong
with the way the iron-works was managed.

He was growing dissatisfied with his job.

                               CHAPTER V

                        GETTING THE MACHINE IDEA

When Henry had been with the James Flower Company nine months his wages
were increased. He received three dollars a week.

He was not greatly impressed. He had not been working for the money; he
wanted to learn more about machines. As far as he was concerned, the
advantages of the iron-works were nearly exhausted. He had had in turn
nearly every job in the place, which had been a good education for him,
but the methods which had allowed it annoyed him more every day. He
began to think the foreman rather a stupid fellow, with slipshod,
inefficient ideas.

As a matter of fact, the shop was a very good one for those days. It
turned out good machines, and did it with no more waste than was
customary. Efficiency experts, waste-motion experiments, mass
production--in a word, the machine idea applied to human beings was
unheard of then.

Henry knew there was something wrong. He did not like to work there any
longer. Two weeks after the additional fifty cents had been added to his
pay envelope he left the James Flower Company. He had got a job with the
Drydock Engine works, manufacturers of marine machinery. His pay was two
dollars and a half a week.

To the few men who knew him he probably seemed a discontented boy who
did not know when he was well off. If any of them took the trouble to
advise him, they probably said he would do better to stay with a good
thing while he had it than to change around aimlessly.

He was far from being a boy who needed that advice. Without knowing it,
he had found the one thing he was to follow all his life--not machines
merely, but the machine idea. He went to work for the drydock company
because he liked its organization.

By this time he was a little more than 17 years old; an active, wiry
young man, his muscles hard and his hands calloused from work. After
nearly a year of complete absorption in mechanical problems, his natural
liking for human companionship began to assert itself. At the drydock
works he found a group of young men like himself, hard-working,
fun-loving young mechanics. In a few weeks he was popular with them.

They were a clean, energetic lot, clear-thinking and ambitious, as most
mechanics are. After the day's work was finished they rushed through the
wide doors into the street, with a whoop of delight in the outdoor air,
jostling each other, playing practical jokes, enjoying a little rough
horseplay among themselves. In the evenings they wandered about the
streets in couples, arms carelessly thrown over each other's shoulders,
commenting on things they saw. They learned every inch of the water
front; tried each other out in wrestling and boxing.

Eager young fellows, grasping at life with both hands, wanting all of
it, and wanting it right then--naturally enough they smoked, drank,
experimented with love-making, turned night into day in a joyous carouse
now and then. But before long Henry Ford was a leader among them, as he
had been among the boys in the Greenfield school, and again he diverted
the energy of his followers into his own channels.

Pursuits that had interested them seemed to him a waste of time and
strength. He did not smoke--his tentative attempt with hay-cigarettes in
his boyhood had discouraged that permanently--he did not drink, and
girls seemed to him unutterably stupid.

"I have never tasted liquor in my life," he says. "I'd as soon think of
taking any other poison."

Undoubtedly his opinion is right, but one is inclined to doubt the
accuracy of his memory. In those early days in Detroit he must have
experimented at least once with the effects of liquor on the human
system; probably once would have been sufficient. Besides, about that
time he developed an interest so strong that it not only absorbed his
own attention, but carried that of his friends along with it.

He bought a watch. It had taken him only a few months to master his task
in the drydock works so thoroughly that his wages were raised. Later
they were raised again. Then he was getting five dollars a week, more
than enough to pay his expenses, without night work. He left the
jeweler's shop, but he brought with him a watch, the first he had ever

Immediately he took it to pieces. When its scattered parts lay on a
table before him he looked at them and marveled. He had paid three
dollars for the watch, and he could not figure out any reason why it
should have cost so much.

"It ran," he says. "It had some kind of a dark composition case, and it
weighed a good deal, and it went along all right--never lost or gained
more than a certain amount in any given day.

"But there wasn't anything about that watch that should have cost three
dollars. Nothing but a lot of plain parts, made out of cheap metal. I
could have made one like it for one dollar, or even less. But it cost me
three. The only way I could figure it out was that there was a lot of
waste somewhere."

Then he remembered the methods of production at the James Flower
Company. He reasoned that probably that watch factory had turned out
only a few hundred of that design, and then tried something else--alarm
clocks, perhaps. The parts had been made by the dozen, some of them had
probably been filed down by hand, to make them fit.

Then he got the great idea. A factory--a gigantic factory, running with
the precision of a machine, turning out watches by the thousands and
tens of thousands--watches all exactly alike, every part cut by an exact

He talked it over with the boys at the drydock works. He was
enthusiastic. He showed them that a watch could be made for less than
half a dollar by his plan. He juggled figures of thousands of dollars as
though they were pennies. The size of the sums did not stagger him,
because money was never concrete to him--it was merely rows of
figures--but to the young fellows who listened his talk was dazzling.

They joined enthusiastically in the scheme. Then their evenings became
merely so much time to spend up in Ford's room, figuring estimates and
discussing plans.

The watch could be made for thirty-seven cents, provided machinery
turned it out by tens of thousands. Henry Ford visualized the factory--a
factory devoted to one thing, the making of ONE watch--specialized,
concentrated, with no waste energy. Those eager young men planned the
whole thing from furnaces to assembling rooms.

They figured the cost of material by the hundred tons, estimated the
exact proportions each metal required; they planned an output of 2,000
watches daily as the point at which cost of production would be
cheapest. They would sell the watch for fifty cents, and guarantee it
for one year. Two thousand watches at a profit of thirteen cents
each--$260 daily profit! They were dazzled.

"We needn't stop there--we can increase that output when we get
started," Henry Ford declared. "Organization will do it. Lack of
organization keeps prices up, for its cost must be charged in on the
selling price; and high prices keep sales down. We will work it the
other way; low prices, increased sales, increased output, lower prices.
It works in a circle. Listen to this----" He held them, listening, while
he talked and figured, eliminating waste here and cutting expenses
there, until the landlady came up and knocked at the door, asking if
they meant to stay up all night.

It took time to get his ideas translated into concrete, exact figures.
He worked over them for nearly a year, holding the enthusiasm of his
friends at fever heat all that time. Finally he made drawings for the
machines he planned and cut dies for making the different parts of the

His plan was complete--a gigantic machine, taking in bars of steel at
one end, and turning out completed watches at the other--hundreds of
thousands of cheap watches, all alike--the Ford watch!

"I tell you there's a fortune in it--a fortune!" the young fellows in
the scheme exclaimed to each other.

"All we need now is the capital," Ford decided at last.

He was turning his mind to the problem of getting it, when he received a
letter from his sister Margaret. His father had been injured in an
accident; his older brother was ill. Couldn't he come home for a while?
They needed him.

                               CHAPTER VI

                            BACK TO THE FARM

The letter from home must have come like a dash of cold water on Henry's
enthusiastic plans. He had been thinking in the future, planning,
rearranging, adjusting the years just ahead. It has always been his
instinct to do just that.

"You can't run anything on precedents if you want to make a success," he
says to-day. "We should be guiding our future by the present, instead of
being guided in the present by the past."

Suddenly the past had come into his calculations. Henry spent a dark day
or two over that letter--the universal struggle between the claims of
the older generation and the desires of the younger one.

There was never any real question as to the outcome. The machine-idea
has been the controlling factor in his life, but it has never been
stronger than his human sympathies. It is in adjusting them to each
other, in making human sympathies a working business policy, that he has
made his real success.

Of course at that time he did not see such a possibility. It was a
clear-cut struggle between two opposing forces; on one side the splendid
future just ahead, on the other his father's need of him. He went home.

He intended at the time to stay only until his father was well
again--perhaps for a month or so, surely not longer than one summer. The
plans for the watch factory were not abandoned, they were only laid
aside temporarily. It would be possible to run up to Detroit for a day
or two now and then, and keep on working on plans for getting together
the necessary capital.

But no business on earth is harder to leave than the business of running
a farm. When Henry reached home he found a dozen fields needing
immediate action. The corn had been neglected, already weeds were
springing up between the rows; in the house his father was fretting
because the hired hands were not feeding the cows properly, and they
were giving less milk. The clover was going to seed, while the hogs
looked hungrily at it through the fence because there was no one to see
that their noses were ringed and the gates opened. Some of the plows and
harrows had been left in the fields, where they were rusting in the
summer sun and rain.

There was plenty of work for Henry. At first from day to day, then from
week to week, he put off the trip to Detroit. He worked in the fields
with the men, plowing, planting, harvesting, setting the pace for the
others to follow, as an owner must do on a farm. He was learning, so
thoroughly that he never forgot it, the art of managing men without
losing the democratic feeling of being one of them.

In the mornings he was up before daylight, and out to the barn-yard. He
fed the horses, watched that the milking was thoroughly done, and gave
orders for the day's work. Then the great bell clanged once, and he and
all the men hurried into the house, where, sitting at one long table in
the kitchen, they ate the breakfast Margaret and the hired girls brought
to them, piping hot from the stove. After that they scattered, driving
down the farm lanes to the fields, while the sun rose, and the meadows,
sparkling with dew, scented the air with clover.

The sun rose higher, pouring its heat down upon them as they worked, and
a shrill, whirring noise rose from all the tiny insects in the grass, a
note like the voice of the heat. Coats and vests came off, and were
tossed in the fence corners; sleeves were rolled up, shirts opened wide
at the neck.

"Whew! it's hot!" said Henry, stopping to wipe the sweat from his face.
"Where's the water jug? Jim, what say you run and bring it up? Let's
have a drink before we go on."

So they worked through the mornings, stopping gladly enough when the
great bell clanged out the welcome news that Margaret and the girls had
prepared the huge dinner their appetites demanded.

In the afternoons Henry, on the little gray mare, rode to the far fields
for a diplomatic, authoritative word with the men plowing there, or
perhaps he went a little farther, and bargained with the next neighbor
for a likely looking yearling heifer.

Then back at night to the big farm-yard, where the cows must be milked,
the horses watered, fed and everything made comfortable and safe for the

It was a very different life from that in the machine shop, and Henry
Ford thought, when he pored over his mechanic journals by the
sitting-room lamp in the evenings, that he was wasting precious time.
But he was learning a great many things he would find useful later.

Margaret Ford was by this time a healthy, attractive young woman, with
all the affairs of the household and dairy well in hand. The social
affairs of the community began to center around her. In the evenings the
young men of the neighborhood rode over to propose picnics and
hay-rides; after church on Sundays a dozen young people would come
trooping out to the farm with her, and Margaret would put a white apron
over her best dress and serve a big country dinner.

They had a rollicking time in the grassy front yards afterwards, or out
in the orchard when the plums were ripe. Late in the afternoon they
separated somehow into pairs, as young people will do, and walked the
three miles to church for the evening services.

It may be imagined that the girls of the neighborhood were interested
when Henry appeared in church again, now a good-looking young man of
twenty-one, back from the city. The social popularity of the Ford place
must have increased considerably. On this point Ford is discreetly
silent, but it does not require any great effort of fancy to see him as
he must have looked then, through the eyes of the Greenfield girls, an
alert, muscular fellow, with a droll humor and a whimsical smile.
Moreover, the driver of the finest horses in the neighborhood, and one
of the heirs to the big farm.

However, he is outspoken enough about his own attitude. He did not care
for girls.

Like most men with a real interest, he kept for a long time the small
boy opinion of them. "Girls?--huh! What are they good for?"

He was interested in machines. He wanted to get back to Detroit, where
he could take up again his plans for that mammoth watch factory.

In a few weeks he had brought the farm up to its former running order,
the crops were doing well and the hired men had learned that there was a
boss at the head of affairs. Henry had a little more time to spend in
the shop. He found in one corner of it the absurd steam engine he had
built five years before, and one day he started it up and ran it around
the yard.

It was a weird-looking affair, the high wagon wheels warped and wobbly,
the hybrid engine on top sputtering and wheezing and rattling, but none
the less running, in a cloud of smoke and sparks. He had a hearty laugh
at it and abandoned it.

His father grew better slowly, but week by week Henry was approaching
the time when he could return to the work he liked.

Late summer came with all the work of getting in the crops. The harvest
crew arrived from the next farm, twenty men of them, and Henry was busy
in the fields from morning to night. When, late in October, the last
work of the summer was done and the fields lay bare and brown, waiting
for the snow, Margaret Ford gave a great harvest supper with a quilting
bee in the afternoon and corn husking in the evening.

All the neighbors came from miles around. The big barns were crowded
with their horses and rows of them were tied under the sheds. In the
house the quilting frames were spread in the big attic, and all
afternoon the women sewed and talked. In the evening the men arrived and
then the long supper table was spread with Margaret's cooking--hams,
sausages, fried chickens, a whole roast pig, pans of beans and
succotash, huge loaves of home-made bread, pats of butter, cheese,
cakes, pies, puddings, doughnuts, pitchers of milk and cider--good
things which disappeared fast enough before the plying knives and forks,
in bursts of laughter, while jokes were called from end to end of the
table and young couples blushed under the chaffing of their neighbors.

Clara Bryant was one of the guests. Her father was a prosperous farmer
who lived eight miles from the Ford place and Henry had scarcely seen
her that summer. That night they sat side by side and he noticed the red
in her cheeks and the way she laughed.

After supper there was corn husking in the big barn, where each young
man tried to find the red ears that gave him permission to kiss one of
the girls, and still later they danced on the floor of the hay-barn
while the fiddler called the figures of the old square dances and the
lanterns cast a flickering light on the dusty mounds of hay.

The next week Henry might have returned to Detroit and to the waiting
project of the watch factory, but he did not. He thought of Clara Bryant
and realized that his prejudice against girls was unreasonable.

                              CHAPTER VII

                           THE ROAD TO HYMEN

With William Ford's complete recovery and the coming of the long,
half-idle winter of the country there was no apparent reason why Henry
Ford should not return to his work in the machine shops. The plans for
the watch factory, never wholly abandoned, might be carried out.

But Henry stayed at home on the farm. Gradually it became apparent to
the neighborhood that Ford's boy had got over his liking for city life.
Farmers remarked to each other, while they sat in their granaries
husking corn, that Henry had come to his senses and knew when he was
well off; he'd have his share in as good a farm as any man could want
some day; there was no need for him to get out and hustle in Detroit.

Probably there were moments when Henry himself shared the prevailing
opinion; his interest in mechanics was as great as ever, but--there was
Clara Bryant.

He made a few trips to Detroit, with an intention which seemed to him
earnest enough to revive the plans for the watch factory, but the
thought of her was always tugging at his mind, urging him to come back
to Greenfield. His efforts came to nothing, and he soon lost interest in

He was in his early twenties then. His ambition had not yet centered
about a definite purpose, and already it had met the worst enemy of
ambition--love. It was a choice between his work and the girl. The girl
won, and ten million fifty-cent Ford watches were lost to the world.

"I've decided not to go back to Detroit," Henry announced to the family
at breakfast one day.

"I thought you'd come around to seeing it that way," his father said.
"You can do better here in the long run than you can in the city. If you
want to take care of the stock I'll let one of the men go and pay you
his wages this winter."

"All right," Henry said.

His work as a machinist seemed to all of them only an episode, now
definitely ended.

He settled into the work of the farm as though he had never left it.
Rising in the cold, lamp-lit mornings while the window panes showed only
a square of darkness, sparkling with frost crystals, he built up the
kitchen fire for Margaret. Then, with a lantern in his hand and milk
pails clanking on his arm, plowed his way through the snow to the barns.

A red streak was showing in the eastern horizon; buildings and fences,
covered with snow, showed odd shapes in the gray dawn; his breath hung
like smoke on the frosty air.

Inside the barns the animals stirred; a horse stamped; a cow rose
lumberingly; old Rover barked when he heard Henry's hand on the door
fastening. Henry hung his lantern on a nail and set to work. He pitched
down hay and huge forksful of straw; he measured out rations of bran and
corn and oats; he milked the cows, stopping before he carried the
brimming pails to the house to pour out some of the warm, sweet smelling
milk for Rover and the cats.

Back in the kitchen Margaret had set the table for breakfast. She was
standing at the stove frying sausages and turning corn cakes. The other
boys came tramping in from poultry yards and hog pens. They took turns
at the tin washbasin set on a bench on the back porch, and then in to
breakfast with hearty appetites.

Afterward they husked corn in the big granaries, or shelled it, ready to
take to mill; they cleaned the barn stalls, whitewashed the hen houses,
sorted the apples in the cellar. In the shop Henry worked at the farm
tools, sharpening the plows, refitting the harrows with teeth, oiling
and cleaning the mowing machines.

After supper, when he had finished the day's work, milked the cows
again, filled the racks in the calves' yard with hay, spread deep beds
of straw for the horses, seen that everything was snug and comfortable
about the big barns, he saddled the little bay and rode six miles to the
Bryant farm.

It was a courtship which did not run any too smoothly. Henry was not the
only Greenfield farmer's son who admired Clara Bryant, and she was
minded to divide her favor evenly among them until some indefinite time
in the future, when, as she said, "she would see." Often enough Henry
found another horse tied to the hitching post, and another young man
inside the house making himself agreeable to Clara.

Then, welcomed heartily enough by her big, jovial father, he would spend
the evening talking politics with him while Clara and his rival popped
corn or roasted apples on the hearth.

But Henry built that winter a light sleigh, painted red, balanced on
cushiony springs, slipping over the snow on smooth steel runners. No
girl in Greenfield could have resisted the offer of a ride in it.

In the evenings when the moon was full Clara and Henry, warmly wrapped
in fur robes, flashed down the snowy roads in a chime of sleighbells.
The fields sparkled white on either hand, here and there lights gleamed
from farm houses. Then the sleigh slipped into the woods, still and
dark, except where the topmost branches shone silver in the moonlight,
and the road stretched ahead like a path of white velvet. Their passing
made no sound on the soft snow.

There were skating parties, too, where Henry and Clara, mittened hand in
hand, swept over the ice in long, smooth flight, their skates ringing.
Or it happened that Henry stood warming his hands at the bank and
watched Clara skating away with some one else, and thought bitter

Somewhere, between farm work and courtship, he found time to keep up
with his mechanics' trade journals, for his interest in machinery was
still strong, but he planned nothing new at this time. All his
constructive imagination was diverted into another channel.

More than the loss of the Ford watches is chargeable to that laughing,
rosy country girl who could not make up her mind to choose between her
suitors. The winter passed and Henry, torn between two interests, had
accomplished little with either.

Spring and the spring work came, plowing, harrowing, sowing, planting.
From long before dawn until the deepening twilight hid the fields Henry
was hard at work. Until the pressure of farm work was over he could see
Clara only on Sundays. Then summer arrived, with picnics and the old
custom of bringing a crowd of young people out from church for Sunday
dinner at the Fords'. Now and then there were excursions up to Detroit
for an outing on the lake.

By the end of that summer it was generally accepted among the Greenfield
young folks that Henry Ford was "going with" Clara Bryant. But she must
still have been elusive, for another winter passed with nothing
definitely decided.

The third spring of Henry's stay on the farm arrived. Henry went over
his bank account, a respectable sum, made up of his earnings on the farm
and a few ventures in cattle buying and selling.

"Well, father," he said one day, "I guess I'll be getting married."

"All right," his father said. "She's a good, capable girl, I guess. I'll
give you that south forty, and you can have lumber enough from the
timber lot to build a house when you get ready."

Apparently Henry had made up his mind to settle the matter. No doubt,
behind the ardor he showed Clara there was an unconscious feeling that
he had spent enough time in courtship; he was impatient to get back to
his other interests, to have again an orderly, smooth routine of life,
with margins of time for machinery.

In April he and Clara went up to Detroit and were married. A couple of
weeks later they returned to Greenfield, Clara with plans for the new
house on the south forty already sketched in a tablet in her suitcase;
Henry with a bundle of mechanics' trade journals, and the responsibility
of caring for a wife.

"A wife helps a man more than any one else," he says to-day. And adds,
with his whimsical twinkle, "she criticizes him more."

                              CHAPTER VIII

                        MAKING A FARM EFFICIENT

The young couple went first to the Fords' place, where the big roomy
house easily spared rooms for them, and Margaret and her father gave
them a hearty welcome. Clara, having brought her belongings from her old
home, put on her big work-apron and helped Margaret in the kitchen and

Henry was out in the fields early, working hard to get the crops
planted. Driving the plowshare deep into the rich, black loam, holding
it steady while the furrow rolled back under his feet, he whistled to

He was contented. The farm work was well in hand; his forty would bring
in an ample income from the first year; in the house his rosy little
wife was busy making the best butter in the whole neighborhood. He
revolved in his mind vague plans for making a better plow than the one
he was handling; he remembered noticing in his latest English magazine
an article covering the very principle he would use.

In the evening, after the last of the chores was done, he settled
himself at the table in the sitting-room, moved the big lamp nearer and
opened the magazine. But Clara was busy correcting the plans for the new
house; she must have the lamp light, too. Henry moved the lamp back.

"Would you have the kitchen here, or here? This way I could have windows
on three sides, but the other way I'd have a larger pantry," said Clara,
stopping to chew her pencil.

"Fix it exactly to suit yourself. It's your house, and I'll build it
just as you say," Henry replied, turning a page.

"But I want your advice--and I can't see how to get this back porch in
without making the bedrooms too small," Clara complained. "I want this
house just so--and if I put the chimney where I want it to come in the
kitchen, it will be in the wrong end of the sitting-room, best I can do.
Oh, let those horrid papers alone, and help me out!"

Henry let the horrid papers alone and bent his head over the problems of
porch and pantry and fireplace.

When the pressure of spring work was over, he set to work a gang of men,
cutting down selected trees in the timber lot and hauling them down to
the little sawmill which belonged to his father. There he sawed them
into boards of the lengths and sizes he needed and stocked them in neat
piles to season and dry. From the shorter pieces of timber he split
"shakes," or homemade shingles, and stacked them, log-cabin fashion. He
was preparing to build his first house.

It rose little by little through that summer. Henry built it himself,
helped by one of the hired men. It was a good, substantial,
Middle-Western home, 32 × 32 feet and containing seven rooms and a roomy
attic. In the evenings, after supper, dishwashing and the chores at the
barn were finished, he and Clara strolled over in the twilight to
inspect the day's progress.

They climbed together over the loose boards which made temporary floors,
looked at the skeleton partitions of studding, planned where the stoves
should be set and what kind of paper should be chosen for the walls.
Then they walked around the outside, imagined with pride how well the
house would look when the siding was on and painted white, and planned
where the flower beds should be in the front yard.

"Let's be getting on back," said Henry. "I saw an article in that French
magazine that came to-day about a Frenchman who invented some kind of a
carriage that runs by itself, without horses--sort of a steam engine to
pull it."

"Did you?" said Clara. "How interesting! Oh, look! The moon's coming

They loitered back through the clover fields, sweet smelling in the dew,
climbed over the stile into the apple orchard, where the leaves were
silver and black in the moonlight, and so came slowly home. Margaret had
cut a watermelon, cooled in a basket in the well, and all the family sat
on the back porch eating it.

Long after midnight, when every one else was sound asleep, the lamp was
burning in the sitting-room, and Henry was reading that article about
the horseless carriage. The idea fascinated him.

The new house was finished late in the fall. Clara had made a trip to
Detroit to purchase furniture, and all summer she had been working on
patchwork quilts and crocheted tidies. When everything was ready, the
sitting-room bright with new carpet and shining varnished furniture, the
new range installed in the kitchen, the cellar stocked with apples,
vegetables, canned fruits, Henry and Clara moved into their own home.
They were proud of it.

"It's a fine place yet, as good as anybody could want," Henry Ford says
now. "We still have it, and we like to go down there in the summers and
stay awhile. All the furniture is there, exactly as it was then. I
wouldn't ask any better place to live."

It must have been a happy time for both of them. They had a comfortable
home, plenty to eat and wear, they were surrounded by friends. There was
a simple neighborly spirit, a true democracy, in that little country
community. There were no very poor families there; no very rich ones;
every one had plenty, and wanted no more.

Henry's hired men ate at the table with him, slept under the same roof,
called him "Hen" as a matter of course, just as he called them "Hi" and
"Dave." They worked together to plant, care for and harvest the crops.
Their interests were the same, and if at the end of the year Henry had a
more improved farm to show for the year's work, it was the only
difference between them. He had lived no better, spent no more, than the

It was in those years that he laid the foundation for his philosophy of

He found that the work of the farm progressed faster and produced more
when every one worked together with a good will, each doing his own
share and doing it well. He found that men, like horses, did their best
when they were well fed, contented and not overworked. He saw that one
unruly horse, or one surly, lazy man, delayed the work of the whole
farm, hindered all the others.

"The only plan that will work out well in the long run is a plan that is
best for every one concerned," he decided. "Hurting the other fellow is
bound to hurt me sooner or later."

He was a good farmer. His mechanical, orderly mind arranged the work so
that it was done smoothly, and on time, without overworking any one or
leaving any one idle. His thrifty instincts saved labor and time just as
they saved the barn manure to spread on the fields, or planned for the
turning in of the last crop of clover to enrich the soil.

His granaries were well filled in the fall, his stock was sleek and fat,
fetching top prices. Clara kept the house running smoothly, the pantry
filled with good, simple food, the cellar shelves stocked with preserves
and jams for winter.

In the evenings Henry got out his mechanics' journals and pored over
them, while Clara sewed or mended. He found now and then a mention of
the horseless carriage.

"That looks to me like a good idea. If I was in Detroit now, where I
could get a good machine shop, I believe I could do something along that
line myself," he said.

"Probably you could," his wife replied, rocking comfortably. "But what's
the use? We've got everything here we need."

"Yes; but I'd just like to try what I could do," Henry said restlessly.

A few days later he inspected his farm shop and announced that he was
going up to Detroit for a day to get some materials.

                               CHAPTER IX

                     THE LURE OF THE MACHINE SHOPS

It was an unconscious subterfuge, that statement of Henry Ford's that he
was going up to Detroit to get material. He knew what he wanted; sitting
by the red-covered table in his own dining and sitting room some evening
after Clara had cleared away the supper dishes he could have written out
his order, article by article, exactly what he needed, and two days
later it would have arrived by express.

But Henry wanted to get back to Detroit. He was tired of the farm. Those
years of quiet, comfortable country living among his Greenfield
neighbors were almost finished. They had given him his viewpoint on
human relations, they had saved his character, in the formative period,
from the distorting pressure of the struggle of man against man in the
city. They had been, from the standpoint of Henry Ford, the man, perhaps
the most valuable years in his life.

At that time he saw in them only an endless repetition of tasks which
had no great appeal for him, a recurring cycle of sowing, tilling,
harvesting. He thought he was accomplishing nothing. A little more money
in the bank, a few more acres added to the farm--that was all, and it
did not interest him. Money never did. His passion was machinery.

So he gave his orders to the hired man, pocketed a list of things to buy
for Clara, and caught the early train to Detroit that morning with a
feeling of keen anticipation. He meant to spend one whole day in machine

From the station in Detroit he hurried direct to the James Flower Iron
Works. The broad, busy streets, jammed with carriages and drays, the
crowds of hurrying people, did not hold his attention for a moment, but
when he came into the noisy, dirty turmoil of the machine shop he was in
his element again. He took in a dozen details at a glance. Scarcely a
change had been made since he had first seen the place years before when
he was a boy of sixteen looking for a job.

The old foreman was gone and one of the men who had worked beside Henry
in those days was in charge.

"Well, hello there, Ford!" he said heartily. "What're you doing these
days? Not looking for a job, are you?"

"No, I'm farming now," Ford replied. "Just thought I'd drop in and have
a look around."

Together they wandered over the works, and the foreman, shouting to make
himself heard in the clanging, pounding uproar, pointed out here and
there a new device, an improved valve, a different gearing. Ford saw it
all with interest, he was wider awake, more alive than he had been for

When he was leaving the shop some time later he had a sudden expansive
impulse which broke through his customary reticence.

"I'm thinking of building an engine myself," he said. "A little one, to
use on the farm. I figure I can work something out that will take the
place of some of my horses."

The foreman looked at Ford in amazement. It is hard to realize now how
astounding such an idea must have seemed to him. Here was a man who
proposed to take a locomotive into his cornfield and set it to plowing!
The wild impossibility of the plan would have staggered any reasonable
person. The foreman decided that this was one of Ford's quiet jokes. He
laughed appreciatively.

"Great idea!" he applauded. "All you'll need then'll be a machine to
give milk, and you'll have the farm complete. Well, come around any
time, glad to see you."

Ford made the rounds of Detroit's machine shops that day, but he did not
mention his idea again. It was gradually shaping itself in his mind, in
part a revival of his boyish plan for that first steam engine he had
built of scraps from his father's shop, in part adapted from the article
he had read about the horseless carriage.

He was obliged to keep enough horses to handle the work of the farm when
it was heaviest; in the slack season and during the winter the extra
animals were necessarily idle, wasting food and barn space, and waste of
any kind was an irritation to his methodical mind. It seemed to him that
a machine could be built which would do a great part of the horses' work
in the fields and cost nothing while not in use.

That the undertaking was revolutionary, visionary, probably ridiculous
to other people, did not deter him; he thought he could do it, and that
was enough.

"Precedents and prejudice are the worst things in this world," he says
to-day. "Every generation has its own problem; it ought to find its own
solutions. There is no use in our living if we can't do things better
than our fathers did."

That belief had been steadily growing in him while his inherited thrift
and his machine-ideas improved on the farming methods of Greenfield; it
crystallized into a creed when his old friend laughed at his idea of
replacing horses with a machine.

He had visited the shops which interested him, ordered the material he
wanted, and was on his way to the station to take the train home when he
remembered the shopping list Mrs. Ford had given him, and her repeated
injunctions to attend to it "the very first thing he did."

With the usual exclamation of a husband saved by a sudden thought on the
very brink of domestic catastrophe, Henry Ford turned and hurried back
to make those purchases. Aided by a sympathetic clerk at the ribbon
counter, he completed them satisfactorily, and came out of the store,
laden with bundles, just at the moment that Detroit's pride, a new
steam-propelled fire engine, came puffing around the corner.

It was going at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, with impressive
clatter and clang, pouring clouds of black smoke from the stack.
Detroit's citizens crowded the sidewalks to view it as it went by. Henry
Ford, gripping his bundles, stood on the curb and looked at it. Here was
his first chance to see a steam engine built to run without a prepared
roadbed and rails.

It was the original of one of those pictures we sometimes see now with a
smile, murmuring, "How quaint!" A huge round boiler, standing high in
the back, supplied fully half its bulk. Ford made a hasty calculation of
the probable weight of water it carried, in proportion to its power.

The result appalled him. He thoughtfully watched the engine until it was
out of sight. Then he resumed his way home. On the train he sat in deep
thought, now and then figuring a little on the back of an old envelope.

"I couldn't get that steam engine out of my mind," he says. "What an
awful waste of power! The weight of the water in that boiler bothered me
for weeks."

                               CHAPTER X

                        "WHY NOT USE GASOLINE?"

One sympathizes with young Mrs. Ford during the weeks that followed. In
two years of marriage she had learned to understand her husband's
interests and moods fairly well; she had adjusted herself with fewer
domestic discords than usual to the simple demands of his good-humored,
methodical temperament.

She had begun to settle into a pleasant, accustomed routine of managing
her house and poultry yard, preparing the meals, washing the dishes,
spending the evenings sewing, while Henry read his mechanics' journals
on the other side of the lamp.

Now everything changed. Henry had returned from that trip to Detroit
with something on his mind. In reply to her anxious inquiries he told
her not to bother, he was all right--a statement that had the usual
effect of confirming her fears. She was sure something terrible had
occurred, some overwhelming business catastrophe--and Henry was keeping
it from her.

From the kitchen window she saw him sitting idly on the horse-block in
the middle of the forenoon, twisting a straw in his fingers and frowning
intently at the side of the barn.

Sometimes after supper, instead of settling quietly down with his
papers, he walked up and down, up and down, the sitting-room, with his
hands behind his back and that same frown on his forehead. At last she
could endure it no longer. She begged him to tell her the worst.

He replied, surprised, that it was a steam engine--he couldn't figure
out the ratio of power to weight satisfactorily. The blame thing
bothered him.

"Oh, is that all?" Mrs. Ford said indignantly. "Well, I wouldn't bother
about it if I were you. What does an old steam engine matter, anyhow?
Come and sit down and forget about it."

It was the one thing Ford could not do. His mind, once started on the
project of building an engine to use on the farm, remained obstinately
at work on the details. He spent weeks considering them one by one,
thinking out adaptations, new devices, in an effort to overcome the

Still he could not see how to construct a cheap engine which would pull
across his soft fields, carry the necessary weight of water, and still
develop enough free power to be useful.

He was still struggling with the problem three months after his trip to

"I declare to goodness, I don't know what's got into you, Henry. You act
like a man in a dream half the time," the wife said, worried. "You
aren't coming down with a fever, are you?"

"I should say not!" Henry replied hastily, with visions of brewed
snakeroot and wormwood. "I feel fine. Where's the milk pail?"

He took it and his lantern and hurried out to the barn, but even while
he sat on the three-legged stool, his practiced hands sending streams of
warm milk foaming into the pail, his mind returned to that problem of
the steam engine. He was sure a machine could be made to do the work of
horses; he was confident that he could make it if he persisted long

The trouble was the weight of the water. He must have it to make steam;
he must have steam to develop power, and the whole power was required to
haul the water. It looked like an inexorable circle. He went over it
again, looking for the weak spot in the reasoning--and suddenly he saw

Steam was not necessary. Why not use gasoline?

The thought opened a door into unknown possibilities. Up to that time,
as far as he knew, no one had ever dreamed of a self-propelling gasoline
engine. A thousand obstacles rose immediately before his mind--the
gearing, the drive, the construction of the engine itself--a dazzling
array of problems to be faced and solved.

Difficulties innumerable stood in the way of his carrying out the
idea--difficulties apparently so insurmountable that ninety-nine men in
a hundred would have abandoned the idea as impossible after one glance
at them. Henry Ford was the hundredth man. They were mechanical
difficulties, and he loved mechanics. He was eager for the struggle with

"It seemed to take me a year to finish the chores, so I could sit down
some place and figure it out," he says.

He finished the milking, fed the waiting circle of gleaming-eyed cats,
flashed his lantern down the rows of stalls to be sure the horses were
well fed and comfortable, fastened the barn doors and hastened into the
house with the milk. Every moment seemed wasted until he could reach the
quiet sitting-room, spread paper and pencils in the lamplight and begin
to work out some of those problems. He had never disliked the chores so

From that time his distaste for farm work grew. Nature would not delay
her orderly cycle because Henry Ford wanted to spend his days in the
little farm shop. Weeds sprang up and must be cut, crops ripened and
must be harvested, morning came with a hundred imperative demands on his
time and strength, and night brought the chores. All the farm tasks were
to Ford only vexing obstacles in his way to his real work, and they kept
him from it till late at night.

Then, when all Greenfield was asleep, and Mrs. Ford, after a long
struggle to keep awake, had gone yawning to bed, he sat alone and worked
over the problem of his gasoline engine. He ransacked the piles of
mechanics' journals for suggestions; where they failed him he tried to
think his way ahead without help.

While he worked through the night, in a stillness broken only by the
crowing of a rooster in some distant farmyard and the sputtering of the
lamp, the possibilities of his idea gradually grew in his mind. He was
not an imaginative man--the details of the engine absorbed most of his
attention--but now and then as the night wore on toward morning he had a
dim understanding of the possibilities of horseless transportation. He
thought what it might mean to the world if every man had a machine to
carry him and his goods over the country at a speed of twenty or even
twenty-five miles an hour. It was a fantastic vision, he admitted, but
he set his teeth and declared that it was not an impossible one.

Sometimes he worked all night. Usually weariness overcame him in the
small hours and he was forced to stop and go through another day's work
on the farm before he could get back to his real interests again.

If the farm was to prosper he must give it his attention every day. The
margin of time it allowed for his work on the gasoline engine plans was
far too little. By the end of that summer he had made up his mind that
he could not spare his time for the farm. He told his wife that he had
decided to lease it to his brother and move to Detroit.

"My goodness, Henry, what for? We're doing well here; I'm sure you're
going ahead faster than any one in the neighborhood," she said in

"I want to get back to work in the machine shops. I can't do any work on
my gasoline engine here. Even if I had the time I haven't the
equipment," he explained.

"Well, I must say. Here we've worked hard, and got a comfortable home,
and a fine farm, that pays more every year, and sixteen head of good
stock--and you're going to leave it all for a gasoline engine that isn't
even built. I don't see what you're thinking of," said poor Mrs. Ford,
confronted thus suddenly with the prospect of giving up all her
accustomed ways, her old friends, her big house with its stock of linens
and its cellar filled with good things.

"You can't begin to make as much in the city as you do here," she argued
reasonably. "And suppose the engine doesn't work, after all?"

"It'll work, all right. I'm going to keep at it till it does," Ford

                               CHAPTER XI

                            BACK TO DETROIT

Mrs. Ford's opinion was now shared by the whole Greenfield neighborhood
as soon as it learned Ford's intention of leaving his fine, paying farm
and moving to Detroit to work in a machine shop.

"You had this notion once before, you know, when you were a youngster,"
his father reminded him. "I thought you'd made up your mind to stay
here, where you can make a good living and have some peace and comfort."

He listened to his son's explanation of the possibilities in a
self-propelling gasoline engine and he shook his head.

"I guess you can build it if anybody can, but you can't ever tell about
these inventions. Looks to me you'd better stick to a good farm, where
you're your own boss, and there's always plenty in the cupboard whatever
happens, instead of going off to a city job. You may build that
contrivance of yours and then again you may not, and look how you'll be
living in the meantime."

But Henry was firm, with a determination which is called obstinacy when
it goes with failure and great will power when it is coupled with
success. He was going to the city. That settled it.

After her first protest Mrs. Ford accepted the situation and set herself
with what philosophy she might to packing her linen and wrapping the
furniture. She had no great interest in the gasoline engine--machinery
in general was to her merely something greasy and whirring, to hold her
skirts away from--but if Henry was going to Detroit, of course she was
going, too, and she might as well be cheerful about it.

The rosy, teasing country girl who had kept Henry Ford from his beloved
machines nearly five years before by her laughing refusal to choose
between her suitors, had developed into a cheerful, capable little
housewife--the kind of woman whose place is in the home because there
she does her best work.

She could never invent a gasoline engine, but she was an ideal person to
take care of Henry Ford while he did it, to keep the house clean and
comfortable, cook good meals, cheer him a bit when he was depressed and
never have "nerves." She went briskly to work and in no time she had
packed away the thousand articles that meant home to her and they stood
wrapped, crated, labeled, ready to move to Detroit.

Meantime Ford had arranged for the lease of the farm and for the storage
of the furniture until he should have found a house in the city. Mrs.
Ford was going there with him, and they would live in a boarding house
until he got a job. On the last morning when he picked up the telescope
bags, ready to start to the station, his wife went over to the house for
the last time to see that everything was snug and safe to leave.

Then she came into the parlor where he was waiting and looked around the
bare room stripped of its bright Brussels carpets, lace curtains and
shiny furniture.

"Well, we'll come back some day, won't we," she said, "when the gasoline
engine is built?"

She had spoken for the first time a phrase they were to repeat
frequently, with every accent of expectation, hope, discouragement and
irony, during the next ten years, "When the gasoline engine is built!"

A crowd of their friends gathered at the station to say good-by. With an
intention of being tactful, they avoided any mention of Henry's purpose
in leaving Greenfield.

"Sorry to lose you, Ford. Hope you'll be coming back before long," they
said, and he knew the neighborhood had learned of his intention to
invent something and thought him suddenly become a fool.

As soon as they reached Detroit and found a boarding house where he
could leave his wife he started out to get a job. He wanted one where he
could learn something about electricity. So far his knowledge of it was
purely theoretical, gained from reading and thinking. Electric lights
had come to Detroit since he left it; the Edison Electric Lighting and
Power Company had established three power stations there. He asked
nothing better than a chance to work in one of them.

Charles Gilbert, manager of the plants, was having a hard time that
morning. By one of those freaks of Fate which must be left out of any
fiction plot because they are too improbable, two of his engines had
chosen that day to break down simultaneously. One of the engineers who
had been responsible had been summarily discharged; the others were
working on the engine in the main plant, and one of the sub-stations was
entirely out of commission, with no prospect of getting to work on it
until the next day.

Into this situation Henry Ford walked, and asked for a job.

"He looked to me like any tramp engineer," Charles Gilbert says to-day.
"A young fellow, not very husky-looking--more of a slight, wiry build.
You wouldn't have noticed him at all in a crowd. He talked like a
steady, capable fellow, but if he had come in on any other day I'd have
said we couldn't use him. As it was, I thought I might as well give him
a chance."

He listened to Ford--looked him over.

"Know anything about steam engines?" he asked him. Ford said he did.

"Well, the engine at sub-station A quit this morning. I got a couple of
mechanics working on it, but they don't seem to be doing much. Get out
there and see what you can do, and let me know."

"All right, sir," Ford replied, and went. It was then about ten in the
morning. Gilbert, busy with the troubles in the main plant, heard no
more from sub-station A until 6 o'clock that evening. Then a small boy
arrived with a message: "Engine running O. K.--Ford."

Gilbert went out to the sub-station. The engine, in perfect order, was
roaring in the basement. On the first floor the dynamos were going at
full speed. His worries with sub-station A were over. He went down to
the engine and found Ford busy with an oil can.

"Want the job of night engineer here?" Gilbert asked him. "Pays
forty-five a month."

"Go to work right now if you say so," Ford assured him.

"All right. I'll have another man here to relieve you at six in the
morning. Come down to the office some time to-morrow and I'll put your
name on the payroll."

In one day Ford had got the very opportunity he wanted--a job where he
could study electricity at first hand.

An hour later Mrs. Ford, who had spent the day drearily unpacking trunks
and putting the telescope bags under the bed in a hopeless attempt to
make a boarding-house bedroom homelike, received an enthusiastic note.

"Got fine job already. Working all night. Go to bed and don't worry.
Everything is settled splendidly.--Henry."

He had forgotten to mention that his wages were forty-five dollars a

                              CHAPTER XII

                       LEARNING ABOUT ELECTRICITY

Forty-five dollars a month and a twelve-hour-a-day job--for these Henry
Ford had traded his big, pleasant home, with its assured comfort and
plenty, and his place as one of the most prosperous and respected men in
Greenfield. The change would have been a calamity to most men.

Henry Ford was happy. The new job gave him a chance to work with
machinery, an opportunity to learn all about electricity. His
contentment, as he went whistling about his work after Gilbert left,
would have seemed pure insanity to the average person. Forty-five
dollars a month!

"You see, I never did bother much about money," he says. "My wages were
enough for food and shelter, and that was all I wanted. Money matters
always seemed to sort of take care of themselves, some way. It's always
that way. If a man is working at something he likes, he's bound to work
hard at it, and then the money comes. Worrying about money is about the
worst thing a man can do--it takes his mind off his work."

His philosophy apparently justified itself.

In the months that followed sub-station A had no more breakdowns. Now
and then Manager Gilbert inquired how the new man was getting along. "A
wizard at machinery--had some trouble with the dynamo last night, and he
had it fixed in no time," he heard. Or, "Say, where'd you get him? He
knows more about this plant than the man that built it."

Ford himself was not in evidence. The manager, quitting work at about
the time Ford arrived at the sub-station for the night shift, did not
see him again until one day at the end of three months the engine at the
main plant stopped. The engineer in charge looked at it and shook his

"Can't do anything with it till to-morrow," he said. "We'll have to take
it down." It was late in the afternoon, and the engine was needed to
keep Detroit lighted that night. Gilbert, remembering the reports of the
new man, sent for Ford. He came and fixed the engine.

It was all in the day's work, as far as he was concerned. He went back
to sub-station A and forgot the incident. He does not remember it now.
Gilbert remembered it, but he did not go out of his way to pay any
attention to Ford. He simply forgot about the mechanical work of
sub-station A. He knew Ford would take care of it. A manager spends his
time and thought on the poor workmen; a good man he leaves alone.

When Ford had been with the Edison Company six months, drawing his
forty-five dollars regularly and handing it to Mrs. Ford to pay the
landlady, he knew the Edison plants from the basements up. He had become
enthusiastic over electrical problems. In his idle time, after his
twelve hours' work at the sub-station, he was planning the batteries and
spark-plugs for his gasoline engine.

About that time a shift in the force left vacant the place of manager of
the mechanical department. Gilbert sent for Ford.

"Think you can handle the job?" he asked him.

"Yes, I can handle it," Ford said. Gilbert gave him the job. When he
drew his pay at the end of the month he found he was getting $150.

"Now," he said to himself, "I've got to have a place of my own, where I
can work on my gasoline engine at night."

"Now we can have a home of our own, and get away from this awful
boarding-house," Mrs. Ford exclaimed, when he told her the news, and he,
contrasting the supper he had just eaten with memories of her excellent
cooking, heartily agreed. Besides, it seemed to him that paying rent was
wasting money. He proposed to buy a lot and build on it.

They talked it over, walking up and down Detroit's wide, tree-shaded
streets in the evening. Next morning early Mrs. Ford put on her hat and
went down to the real estate offices. Before night two hustling young
city-lot salesmen had interviewed Ford at the Edison plant, and when he
came home that night another one was waiting on the boarding-house

That week was a busy one. Ford worked from six in the morning to six at
night in the Edison plant, hurried home to find Mrs. Ford waiting,
bright-eyed with eagerness to tell him of the lots she had seen that
day, and before he had finished his supper he was snatched away from it
to hear an enthusiastic salesman describe still other bargains in
Detroit real estate.

Impatient to be at work on his drawings for the gasoline engine, he was
taken from end to end of the city to inspect homesites. He was
experiencing that agony of all workers, being obliged to spend so much
time preparing a place to work that there was none left for the work.

"This thing has to stop," he said in desperation to his wife one
evening. "I've been inquiring around a little, and I think the best
place to buy is out on Edison avenue. Put on your hat and we'll go out
and decide on one of those lots we saw last Saturday."

They went out and looked them over. On one of the lots was an old shed.
Ford examined it.

"If this place suits you, we'll take it," he said. "This shed will make
a shop without much fixing. I'll build the gasoline engine here."

Mrs. Ford looked about at the scattered little houses and bare lots. It
was spring; the grass was beginning to sprout, and the smell of the damp
earth and the feeling of space reminded her of the country. She liked

"All right, let's buy this one," she said.

A few days later they signed the contract. The lot cost seven hundred
dollars, fifty dollars down and the rest in monthly payments. Ford drew
from the savings bank two hundred dollars, his bank balance at the time
he left the farm, and bought lumber. After that he spent his evenings
building the house.

While he hammered and sawed Mrs. Ford was at work in the yard. She set
out rose bushes, planted a vegetable garden behind the shed. The
neighboring women came over to get acquainted, and asked her to come in
some time and bring her sewing as soon as she got settled. After those
six months in a dreary boarding house it must have been pleasant to her
to see the beginnings of a home and a friendly circle again.

"This seems to be a nice neighborhood; I think we're going to enjoy it
here," she said later to her husband, holding the lantern while he
nailed down the floors, long after dark.

"That's good--glad you like it," he answered. "I wish the place was
finished, so I could get to work."

Meantime, at the Edison plant, he was making his first experiments in
applying his machine-idea to the managing of men.

                              CHAPTER XIII

                    EIGHT HOURS, BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF

When Henry Ford became manager of the mechanical department the workmen
in the Edison plants were working twelve-hour shifts as a matter of
course. In those days the theory of practically all employers was that
men, like the rest of their equipment, should be worked to the limit of
their strength.

"We had about forty men on the regular list and four or five substitutes
who were kept busy filling in for the regular men who were sick or tired
out," he said. "I hadn't been in charge long before it struck me there
was something wrong. If our machines had broken down as often as our men
did anybody would have known we weren't handling them right.

"No good engineer will run a machine at the limit of its power and speed
for very long. It hurts the machine. It isn't sentimentalism to take
care of the machine; it's plain common sense and efficiency. It isn't
sentimentalism to look out for the interests of the men.

"The sooner people get over the idea that there's a difference between
ideals of brotherhood and practical common sense the sooner we'll do
away with waste and friction of all kinds and have a world that's run
right. The only trouble now is that people haven't the courage to put
their ideals to work. They say, 'Oh, of course, theoretically we believe
in them--but they aren't practical!' What's the use of believing in
anything that isn't practical? If it's any good at all it's practical.
The whole progress of the world has been made by men who went to work
and used their impractical theories.

"Well, I figured over the situation quite a while and I found out that
by putting the substitutes on the regular list and shifting the men
around a little I could give them all an eight-hour day without
increasing the pay roll. I did it.

"Yes, there was a howl from the stockholders when they heard about it.
Nobody had ever tried it before; they thought I was going to turn
everything upside down and ruin the business. But the work was going
along better than before. The men felt more like work, and they pitched
in to show they appreciated being treated right. We had fewer breakdowns
after that; everything went better.

"After the thing was done it was easy enough to prove that it paid, and
the stockholders quieted down after one or two complaints.

"As a matter of fact, I don't believe in any hours for work. A man ought
to work as long as he wants to, and he ought to enjoy his work so much
that he wants to work as long as he can. It's only monotonous, grinding
work that needs an eight-hour day. When a man is creating something,
working to get results, twelve or fourteen hours a day doesn't hurt

Ford put this theory into practice as apparently he had done with all
his theories. He himself worked more than fourteen hours a day.

From 6 to 6 he worked in the Edison plant, for his eight-hour régime did
not apply to himself. Then he hastened home to the little house on
Edison avenue, ate supper and hurried out to his improvised workshop in
the old shed. He turned on the big electric lights and there in the
glare lay materials for his self-propelling gasoline engine--his real
work, which at last he could begin!

Until late at night the neighbors heard the sound of his tools and saw
the glare of light through the cracks.

"The Smiths are giving a party to-night--I suppose we can't go?" Mrs.
Ford said one evening, wistfully. "Oh, well--when the gasoline engine is
finished--how long do you think it's going to take?"

"I don't know--I'm working on the cylinder now. I'll have to have a
larger bore to get the speed--and then there'll be the transmission."
Ford stopped speaking and was lost in the problems. He finished supper
abstractedly and pushed back his chair.

"Oh, about the party. Too bad. I hope you don't mind much. When I get
the gasoline engine finished," he said apologetically, and hurried out
to work on it. In a few minutes he was absorbed with the cylinder.

He had found that day a piece of pipe, thrown into the scrap heap at the
Edison plant, and it had struck him at once that it would do for his
cylinder, and that using it would save him the time and work of making
one. He brought it home, cut it to the right length and set it in the
first Ford engine.

Meantime, in the house Mrs. Ford cleared away the supper dishes, took
out her sewing and settled down with a sigh. The neighbors were going by
to the Smiths' party. She could hear them laughing and calling to each
other on the sidewalk outside. In the shed her husband was filing
something; the rasp of the file on the metal sounded plainly.

After all, she thought, she might as well give up the idea of parties.
She couldn't give one herself; she knew Henry would refuse to leave his
hateful engine even for one evening. She was very homesick for

The months went by. Ford worked all day at the Edison plant, half the
night in his own shop. The men he met in his work had taken to looking
at him half in amusement, half in good-humored contempt. He was a
"crank," they said. Some of the younger ones would laugh and tap their
foreheads when he had gone past them.

One night he came home and found Mrs. Ford crying. The neighbors were
saying that he was crazy, she sobbed. She'd told Mrs. Lessing just
exactly what she thought of her, too, and she'd never speak to her
again! But, oh, wouldn't he ever get that horrid engine finished so they
could live like other people?

It all hurt. No man was ever friendlier, or enjoyed more the feeling of
comradeship with other men than Ford. But it was a choice between that
and his automobile. He went on with his routine of work, fourteen or
sixteen hours of it every day, and he drew more into himself, became
more reserved with every month that passed.

If any man ever followed Emerson's doctrine of self-reliance, giving up
friends and family in his devotion to his own work, that man was Henry
Ford in those days.

There was nothing dramatic about it--just an obscure machinist with an
idea, willing to give up social pleasures, restful domestic evenings,
the good opinion of his neighbors, and work hard in an old shed behind
his common little house. Only an ordinary man turning his back on
everything most of us want, for an "impractical" theory. That was all.

He continued to work for two years. He built the engine slowly, thinking
out every step in advance, drawing every casting before he made it,
struggling for months over the problem of the electrical wiring and
spark. Sometimes he worked all night.

"Sick? No, I never was sick," he says. "It isn't overworking that breaks
men down; it's overplaying and overeating. I never ate too much, and I
felt all right, no matter how long I worked. Of course, sometimes I was
pretty tired."

One day he called his wife out to the shed. The little engine, set up on
blocks, was humming away, its flywheel a blur in the air. The high-speed
revolutions that made the automobile possible were an accomplished fact.

"Oh, Henry! It's done! You've finished it!" she said happily.

"No, that's just the beginning. Now I've got to figure out the
transmission, the steering gear and a--a lot of things," he replied.

                              CHAPTER XIV

                     STRUGGLING WITH THE FIRST CAR

Ford was now a man of nearly 30, an insignificant, unimportant unit in
the business world of Detroit, merely one of the subordinate managers in
the Edison plant. Seeing him on his way home from work, a slender,
stooping, poorly dressed man, the firm set of his lips hidden by the
sandy mustache he wore then, and his blue eyes already surrounded by a
network of tired wrinkles, men probably looked at him half-pityingly,
and said: "There's a man who will never get anywhere."

He had his farm, unprofitable since he had left it, a small home partly
paid for, and the little gas engine, to show for fourteen years of hard

Probably he received more than one letter from his father and brothers
in Greenfield, urging him to come back to the farm, where he and his
wife might live comfortably among their old friends, and he need not
work so hard. It would have seemed a wise move.

But with the completion of the little one-cylinder, high-speed engine,
Ford was more than ever possessed by his idea. He brought one or two of
the men from the Edison shop to see it. They watched it whirring away on
its pedestal of blocks, they examined its large cylinder, its
short-stroke piston, noted its power, and looked at Ford with some
increased respect. But most of them were nevertheless doubtful of the
success of the automobile. The idea of a horseless carriage in general
use still seemed to them fantastic.

"Well, looks like you could make it go," they conceded. "But it's going
to be pretty expensive to run. Not many people'll want to buy it. And
where will you get the capital to manufacture it?"

"I'm making it cheap. I'm going to make it cheap enough so every man in
this country can have one before I'm through," Ford said.

Already his belief that "a thing isn't any good unless it's good for
everybody" was taking form. He did not intend to make a few high-priced
toys for wealthy men; he planned to make something useful for thousands
of men like himself, who were wasting money in keeping idle horses, as
he had done on the farm. He still meant to make a farm tractor, as soon
as he had worked out the principle of a self-propelling machine.

As to the capital, he believed that question would take care of itself
when the time came. His job was to make the machine, and he did not
waste time telling himself that there was no chance for a poor man.

The problem of transmitting the power of the engine to the wheels now
engrossed his attention. He brought home materials for a light buggy
frame and built it. Four old bicycle wheels were repaired, fitted with
heavy rims and large pneumatic tires, and placed on the axles. The
question then was how to attach the engine.

To us, familiar with automobiles, it seems simple enough, but when Ford
stood in the old shed, looking at the buggy frame and then at the little
engine, he was attempting a feat that had never been accomplished.

Always before, carriages had been pulled. Naturally enough his first
thought was to apply the power of the engine to the front wheels. Then
how should he steer? What mechanism should he use, powerful enough to
turn the hind wheels, against the pull of the engine, and flexible
enough to respond quickly and make a sharp turn?

Then there was the problem of the throttle, and the gears. The machine
must be able to go more slowly, or to pick up speed again, without
shutting off the power. The driver must be able, when necessary, to
throw off the power entirely, and to apply it quickly again, without
stopping the engine.

All these vexing questions, and many minor ones, were to be solved, and
always there was the big question of simplicity. The machine must be

"I'm building this thing so it will be useful," Ford said once while he
was in the thick of his perplexities. "There isn't any object in working
at it unless it will be useful, and it won't be useful unless it's cheap
enough so common people can have it, and do their work with it."

The essential democracy of the man spoke then. It is the distinctly
American viewpoint of the man who for years had fought sun and wind and
weather, tearing his food and shelter from the stubborn grasp of the
soil, and who now struggles with mechanical obstacles, determined in
spite of them to make something for practical use. His standards of
value were not beauty or ease of luxury. He wanted to make a machine
that would do the greatest possible quantity of good, hard work.

His third winter in the house on Edison avenue arrived, and still the
automobile was not completed. When he went out to work in the old shed
after supper he lighted a fire in the rusty heating stove, set up in a
corner, and often Mrs. Ford came out and sat on a box, watching while he
fitted parts together or tried different transmission devices.

He had settled finally on a leather belt, passing over the flywheel and
connecting with the rear axle. A pulley arrangement, controlled by a
lever, tightened or loosened this belt, thus increasing or decreasing
the speed of the automobile. That broad strip of leather, inclosed,
running from the engine on the rear axle to the pulley under the front
seat, was the parent of the planetary system of transmission.

Ford worked on it all winter. It was a lonely time for Mrs. Ford, for
the general attitude of the neighborhood toward her husband had roused
her good country temper, and she "refused to have anything to do with
people who talked like that." She knew Henry was perfectly sane, a
better husband than most of them had, too, and anyhow it was none of
their business how Henry spent his time, and if they didn't like, they
could lump it.

Nevertheless, as the winter days followed each other in an apparently
endless procession, she grew moody. The baby was coming, and she was
homesick for Greenfield and the big, comfortable country home, with
friends running in and out, and the sound of sleighbells jingling past
on the road outside.

She put the little house to rights in the morning, and faced a long,
lonely day. She sewed a while, wandered about the rooms, looking out on
the dreary little street, with its scattered houses and dirty trampled
snow, yawned, and counted the hours till her husband would come home for

When he came, she had the house warm and bright, the table set, hot
biscuits browning in the oven. She dished up the food, poured the tea,
brought the hot plates. They sat down to eat and talk, and the minutes
seemed to fly. Before she had said half she had stored up through the
day, before Henry had more than begun to talk, he pushed back his plate,
drank his tea, and said: "Well, I must be getting to work." Then he went
out to the shed and forgot her in the absorbing interest of the

"Oh, when is it going to be finished!" she said one night, after she had
been sitting for a long time in silence, watching him at work on it. She
began the sentence cheerfully, but she caught her breath at the end and
began to cry. "I c-can't help it, I'm sorry. I w-want to go home to
Greenfield!" she said.

Ford was testing the steering gear. He dropped his tools in surprise,
and went over to comfort her.

"There, there!" he said, I suppose patting her back clumsily, in the
awkward way of a man unaccustomed to quieting a sobbing woman. "It's
done now. It's practically done now. It just needs a little more----"

She interrupted him. She said his horrid old engine was always "just
needing a little more." She said she wanted him to take her back to
Greenfield. Wouldn't he please, just for a little while, take her home
to Greenfield?

                               CHAPTER XV

                           A RIDE IN THE RAIN

Tears, almost hysterics, from the woman who for seven years had been the
quiet, cheerful little wife, humming to herself while she did the
housework--it was more than startling, it was terrifying.

Ford realized then, probably for the first time, how much the making of
the automobile had cost her.

He quieted her as well as he could, and promised that he would take her
back to Greenfield. He would give up his job at the Edison plant and
move to the farm to live, since she cared so much about it, he said. His
work on the machine could wait.

He took her into the house and made her a cup of hot tea. When she was
sitting comfortably warming her feet at the heating stove and sipping
the tea, he said he would just run out and fasten the shed door for the

The machine was almost finished. A few more screws, a tightening of the
leather belt, the placing of the steering lever, and it would be
complete. He had spent four years of hard work, and harder thought, on
its building--delayed first by his poverty, then by the building of the
house, and always held back for twelve hours out of every day by his
work at the Edison plant. Now he would have to put it aside again, to
spend precious days and weeks disposing of his equity in the house,
moving, settling in Greenfield, struggling with new hired men, beginning
again the grind of managing a farm.

It was only another delay, he said doggedly to himself; he would make
the machine run yet. In the meantime he could not resist taking up his
tools and working on it, just a minute or so.

The engine was in place, the gears adjusted. He tightened the leather
belt and tested the pulley again. Then he set the rear axle on blocks of
wood, lifting the wheels from the ground and started the engine. The
cough of the cylinder quickened into a staccato bark, the flywheel
blurred with speed. Then Ford tightened the pulley, the broad leather
belt took hold. The rear wheels spun.

She was running!

It remained only to test the machine in actual going on the ground. Ford
went to work on the steering gear. He had thought it all out before, he
had made all the parts. Now he must put them together, fit them into
place and test them.

He forgot about his wife, waiting in the house; he did not notice that
the fire in the stove was getting low and the hour was growing late. He
bent every thought and energy to placing the steering gear.

At midnight he was still working. At 1 o'clock he had the front wheels
blocked up and was testing the steering lever. It needed some changes.
At 2 o'clock they were finished. He started the engine again and it
missed fire. Something was wrong with the spark.

At 3 o'clock, grimy, hollow-cheeked, absorbed, he was hard at work when
he felt a hand on his arm and heard his wife say, "Henry!"

"My dear, what's the matter? I'm coming in right away. Why, you're all
wet!" he exclaimed, seeing her dripping shawl.

"It's raining hard. Didn't you know it?" she said.

"You shouldn't have come out; I thought you were going right to bed," he

"Well, I couldn't sleep very well. I got to thinking--Henry, we mustn't
go back to the farm. It was just a notion of mine. I guess I was tired,
or something. I've changed my mind. We'd better stay right here till you
get the machine finished."

He laughed.

"Well, little woman, I guess that won't be so very long. It's finished
right now," he said. "You wait a minute and you'll see me running it."

She stood and watched, more excited than he, while he started the engine
again, nailed a couple of old boards together for a seat and opened wide
the shed doors. The rain was falling in torrents and underfoot the light
snow had turned to thin slush on the frozen ground. It was very dark.

He pushed the machine into the yard and hung a lantern over the
dashboard for a headlight. Inside the shed Mrs. Ford, in a voice shaking
with excitement, begged him to wait until morning, but he did not
listen. The engine and steering gear were protected from the rain and no
discomfort could have equaled for him the disappointment of another

The time had come when he could prove his theories. He would not waste
one minute of it.

The engine was already running. He stepped into the car, sat down, and
slowly, carefully, tightened the pulley.

Then, in the first Ford automobile, he rode away from the old shed.

When he felt the machine moving under him he tightened his grasp on the
steering lever. Suddenly the light of the lantern showed him a dozen
things he had never noticed in the yard before. The clothes-pole loomed
menacingly before him, a pile of flower pots seemed to grow out of all
proportion to its ordinary size.

The machine wobbled unsteadily, while he desperately struggled to drive
it in a straight line. He turned it from the flower pots, jerked it back
in time to avoid running into the fence, and headed straight for the
clothes-pole. It seemed to jump at him.

At the last minute he thought of the pulley. He loosened the leather
belt, the engine spun wildly, the car stopped. Henry Ford got out,
breathing hard, and pushed the machine around the clothes-pole.

"You see, I not only had to make the machine, but I had to get into it
and learn how to steer it while it was running," he says. It occurred to
him that he would like a good wide space for the job.

After he had rescued the machine from the clothes-pole he turned it
toward the street. Chug-chugging away, he passed the house, drove over
the gravel sidewalk, and turned down Edison avenue. The scattered houses
were dark and silent; every one was asleep.

The little machine, rattling and coughing, proceeded through the thin
slush in jerks and jumps, doing valiantly with its one cylinder. Perched
on the rough board seat, Henry Ford battled with the steering lever,
while on the sidewalk Mrs. Ford, wrapped in her shawl, anxiously kept
pace with them. It was not difficult to do, for the car was not breaking
any future speed limits.

At the end of the first block Ford turned the car successfully, and rode
down the side street, zig-zagging widely from side to side in his effort
to drive straight ahead. Fortunately, Detroit's streets are wide.

When he had passed the second block he began to wonder how to turn and
drive back. At the end of the third block he solved the difficulty. He
stopped the car, jumped out, lifted it around, and headed it for home.

By this time the engine was missing again, but it continued gallantly to
jerk and push the light car forward until Ford had reached his own yard.
Then he stopped it, pushed the machine into the shed, and turned to Mrs.

"Well, it runs all right. Guess I'll have some breakfast and go to bed,"
he said, and Mrs. Ford hurried in to make coffee.

"How did I feel? Why, I felt tired," he explains now. "I went to bed and
slept all next day. I knew my real work with the car had just begun. I
had to get capital somehow, start a factory, get people
interested--everything. Besides, I saw a chance for a lot of
improvements in that car."

                              CHAPTER XVI

                            ENTER COFFEE JIM

Probably the disposition to rest on our laurels is more than anything
else responsible for the mediocrity of the individual and the slow
progress of the race. Having accomplished something, most of us spend
some time in admiring it and ourselves. It is characteristic of big men
that past achievements do not hold their interest; they are concerned
only with their efforts to accomplish still more in the future.

Henry Ford had built an automobile. His four years' work had been
successful, and that little machine, scarcely larger than a bicycle,
with its pulley-clutch, puffing little one-cylinder engine, and crude
steering apparatus, stood for an epoch in human progress.

He might be pardoned if he had spent a month or two in
self-congratulation, in driving the car up and down Detroit's streets
and enjoying the comments of the men who had laughed at him so long.

But apparently it did not occur to him. He saw already a number of
possible improvements in the little machine. He was as indifferent to
the praise of other men as he had been to their ridicule.

After that one day of rest he resumed almost the old routine. When a few
men at the Edison plant laughingly inquired how he was getting along
with the great invention he remarked quietly that the machine was
running; he had been riding in it already. Then at 6 o'clock he hurried
home and out to the shed for the usual evening's work. He was trying to
plan an engine which would give more power; incidentally in his odd
moments he was working to improve the steering apparatus.

One imagines the incredulity, the amazement, that followed his quiet
statement that the thing was actually running. The men at the plant
began to drop around at the Ford place to look at it. They came
doubtfully, prepared either to laugh or to be convinced. After they had
examined the engine and looked over the transmission and steering gear
they went away still hesitating between two conclusions.

"It works, all right," they said. "There's no question the blamed thing
runs. How do you suppose he ever happened to stumble onto the idea? But
where's he going to get the capital to manufacture it? After all, there
won't be much of a market--a few rich fellows'll buy it, probably, for
the novelty. After all, you can't make a machine that will do the work
of horses to any great extent."

Some of them took a different view. They became enthusiastic.

"My Lord, Ford, there's millions in this thing. Millions!" they said.
"You ought to get out and organize a company--a big company. Incorporate
and sell stock and make a clean-up right away. And then build a machine
like a phaeton, with big leather cushions and carriage lamps and a lot
of enamel finish--why, there are hundreds of men that could afford to
pay two or three thousand dollars for one of 'em. You could make a
hundred per cent profit--two hundred per cent."

Ford listened to all of them and said little. He was busy improving the
machine; it did not suit him yet; he felt he could make it much more
powerful and efficient with a little more work. Meantime he revolved in
his mind plans for putting it on the market. Those plans included always
one fundamental point. He was resolved to make the automobile cheap.

"I've got a machine here that saves time and work and money," he said.
"The more people who have it the more it will save. There's no object in
building it so only a few rich men can own one. It isn't the rich men
who need it; it's the common folks like me."

News of the amazing machine to be seen in the old shed behind the little
house on Edison street spread rapidly. About this time news dispatches
carried word of two other automobiles built in this country. A man named
Duryea of Springfield, Ill., and another named Haynes, in Kokomo, Ind.,
had been working on the same idea. A reporter found Ford at work on his
engine, interviewed him and wrote a story for a Detroit paper.

One or two wealthy men hunted Ford up and talked about furnishing the
capital to manufacture the machine. They saw, as some of Ford's friends
had done, an opportunity to float a big company, sell stock, and build a
high-priced car.

Ford considered these offers for a time. Building an automobile had been
only half of his idea; building it cheap had been the other half, and he
would not abandon it.

He figured it out in dollars and cents; two hundred per cent on a small
quantity of cars, or a smaller profit on a larger quantity. He showed
that the most sound basis for the company was the manufacture of a large
number of machines, at a profit sufficient merely to keep enlarging the
plant and building more machines. The idea did not appeal to the men who
were eager for large immediate profits for themselves.

In the end the men with money dropped the matter. Ford was obstinate,
but he was a small man with no capital, merely a crank who had hit by
accident on a good idea; he would come around all right in time, they

Ford continued to work at the Edison plant and spend his evenings trying
to improve his machine. He had taken Mrs. Ford to Greenfield, where she
would stay with her mother until the baby was born. After that one
hysterical outburst on the night the automobile was finished, she had
returned to her cheerful acceptance of his interest in the car. Indeed,
she herself had become enthusiastic about its possibilities.

"You stay right here and keep your job with the Edison people," she
said. "I'll be perfectly all right with mother, and maybe by the time I
come back you'll have a company organized and a whole factory going, who
knows? Only, mind you don't work too late at night, and promise you'll
eat your meals regular."

Ford promised, but when he returned to the dark little house at night
and faced the task of building a fire and cooking supper for himself it
seemed to him a bigger job than building the automobile had been. He
heated some coffee on the gasoline stove, burned some bread into a
semblance of toast, and scrambled a few eggs. Then he spread a newspaper
on the kitchen table, set the frying-pan on it, and managed to make a

Naturally about midnight he grew hungry. He came into the kitchen,
looked at the cold, greasy frying-pan, still setting on the kitchen
table, remembered that he was out of bread, and thought of an all-night
lunch wagon that stood near substation A, where sometimes he bought a
cup of coffee when he was working there.

The automobile stood waiting in the shed; he told himself that he wanted
to test the steering gear again, anyway. He went out, started the
engine, climbed in and chug-chugged away through the silent, deserted
streets to the lunch wagon.

Coffee Jim, loafing among his pans and mounds of hamburg steak, was
astonished to see the queer little machine, jerking and coughing its way
toward him. He remembered Ford, and while he sliced the onions and cut
the bread for Ford's midnight luncheon they talked about the automobile.
Afterward Coffee Jim examined it in detail and marveled. When Ford took
him for a little ride in it he became enthusiastic.

Soon it was part of Ford's routine to drive the little car to the lunch
wagon at midnight, have a cup of coffee and a hot sandwich and a chat
with Coffee Jim. They became friends.

It was one of those accidental relationships which have great
consequences. A hundred thousand Ford automobiles to-day owe their
existence largely to that chance friendship between Ford and Coffee Jim.

                              CHAPTER XVII

                          ANOTHER EIGHT YEARS

If Ford had been unduly elated over his success in making an automobile
the years that followed that night ride in the rain would have been one
succession of heart-breaking disappointments.

Men with money enough to build a factory were not seeking business
ventures in the nineties. Money was scarce, and growing more so. The few
financiers who might have taken up Ford's invention, floated a big issue
of common stock, and sold the cars at a profit of two or three hundred
per cent, saw no advantage in furnishing the Capital to start a small
plant on Ford's plan.

He himself was close pressed for money. Payments on the little house,
with their interest, the cost of his wife's illness and of providing for
the new baby, his own living expenses, took the greater part of his
salary. The situation would have been disheartening to most men. Ford
set his teeth and kept on working.

The one-cylinder engine bothered him. It did not give him the power he
wanted. After he had worked with it for a time he took it down, cut
another section from the piece of pipe and made another cylinder. The
two-cylinder result was somewhat better, but still the little car jerked
along over the ground and did not satisfy him.

He fell back into the old routine--twelve hours at the Edison plant,
home to supper and out to the shed to work the evening through on the
machine. Mrs. Ford was in charge of the house again, busy keeping it
neat and bright, nursing the baby, making his little dresses, washing
and ironing, keeping down the grocer's bills.

Meantime other men, with machines no better than Ford's, were starting
factories and manufacturing automobiles. Once in a while on his way home
from work Ford saw one on the street--a horseless carriage, shining with
black enamel, upholstered with deep leather cushions, ornamented with
elaborate brass carriage lamps. Usually they were driven by steam

They were a curiosity in Detroit's streets, a luxury which only the very
rich might afford.

Crowds gathered to look at them. Ford must have seen them with some
bitterness, but apparently he was not greatly discouraged.

"I didn't worry much. I knew I could put my idea through somehow," he
says. "I tell you, no matter how things may look, any project that's
founded on the idea of the greatest good for the greatest number will
win in the end. It's bound to."

He went home, ate the supper Mrs. Ford had waiting and doggedly resumed
work in the old shed.

The chronicle of those years from the standpoint of an onlooker would be
merely a wearisome record of the machine shop--a detailed record of
pistons, number of revolutions per minute, experiments in spark-timing.
Only the knowledge of their result, or Ford's own story of his hopes,
disappointments, mental struggles, would make them interesting. That
part of his story Ford will not dwell upon.

"I kept on working another eight years," he says quietly. Eight years!

Some time during them he saw what was needed. Heretofore the crank shaft
had made a complete revolution on a single power impulse. Ford perceived
that two impulses, properly placed, would increase both the power and
the smoothness of the running.

The result of that quiet eight years' work was the first practical
two-cylinder opposed engine mounted on a motor car. In the little shed,
working alone through the long evenings, while his neighbors rested and
visited on their front porches, and his wife sang the baby to sleep in
the house, he built the four-cycle engine that made the gasoline
automobile a possibility.

In the spring of 1901 he finished it, mounted it on the old car which he
had made nine years before of discarded bicycle wheels and rough boards,
and drove it out of the shed. It was nearly midnight of a quiet star-lit
spring night. The lights in near-by houses had gone out long before; in
his own home Mrs. Ford and the boy were sleeping soundly. Ford turned
the car down Edison avenue and put on full power.

The engine responded beautifully. The car raced down the avenue, under
the branches of the trees whose buds were swelling with spring sap,
while the wind lifted Ford's hair and blew hard against his face. It was
pleasant, after the long hours in the shed. The steady throb of the
motor, the car's even progress, were delightful.

"By George! I'll just ride down and show this to Coffee Jim," said Ford.

His circle of acquaintances in Detroit was small; his long hours of work
prevented his cultivating them. At the Edison plant his pleasant but
rather retiring manner had won only a casual friendliness from the men.
This friendliness that had grown since his success with the motor had
replaced their derision with respect, but still it was far from intimate

He knew no one with money. He was still a poor man, working for wages,
with only his brain and hands for equipment. Nearly thirteen years of
hard work had produced his motor car, but he had very little money and
no financial backing for its manufacture. His closest friend was Coffee

Coffee Jim examined the car with interest that night. He left his lunch
wagon and took a short ride in it. He listened while Ford explained its
mechanical principle.

"You've got a winner there, all right," he said heartily. "All you need
is capital." Ford agreed with him. He had been revolving in his mind
plans for getting it; when he left Coffee Jim at his lunch wagon and
rode slowly home he continued to think about it. That morning he drove
to the Edison plant in the car, and on his way home at night he made a
detour through Detroit's principal streets.

He wanted people to talk about the car, and they did. Every one in
Detroit heard more or less about it in the months that followed.
Meantime Ford took a few days' leave from the Edison plant now and then
and personally made efforts to interest financiers in its manufacture.
He interviewed his banker and most of the big business men of the city,
outlined his plan for a factory, demonstrated the car. Every one showed
some interest, but Ford did not get the money.

Late that fall he discussed the situation with Coffee Jim one night.

"I've got the car and I've got the right idea," he said. "It's bound to
win in time. The trouble is these men can't get an idea until they see
it worked out with their own eyes. What I need is some spectacular
exhibition of the car. If I could enter her in the races next year she'd
stand a chance to win over anything there'll be in the field--then these
men would fall over themselves to back me."

"Well, can't you do it?" Coffee Jim inquired. Ford shook his head.

"Cost too much," he said. "I've laid off work a lot this summer, trying
to get capital, and the boy's been sick. I'd have to buy a new car for
the racing. I might rake up money enough for material, but I couldn't
make the car in time, working evenings, and I can't afford to give up my
job and spend my whole time on it."

                             CHAPTER XVIII

                             WINNING A RACE

Coffee Jim pondered the situation. He knew Ford thoroughly; he believed
in the car. To win the Grosse Point races would give Ford his chance--a
chance he was missing for lack of money. Coffee Jim thought of his own
bank account, which had been growing for years, nickel by nickel, dime
by dime, from the profits on fried-ham sandwiches and hamburger and

"See here, Ford," he said suddenly: "I'll take a chance. I'll back you.
You go on, quit your job, build that car and race her. I'll put up the

Ford accepted the offer without hesitation. He believed in the car.
Coffee Jim waved aside Ford's suggestion of securing the loan by his
personal note, or by a mortgage on the little house.

"Take the money; that's all right. Pay it back when you can. Your word's
good enough for me," he said. He believed in Ford.

It was a demonstration of the practical value of friendship--a pure
sentiment which had come unexpectedly to the rescue when all material
means had failed.

Hard work, real ability, business sagacity, had been unable to give Ford
the start which his friendship with the owner of the little lunch wagon
had brought him. It was one of those experiences which helped to form
Ford's business philosophy, that philosophy which sounds so impractical
and has proved so successful.

"Any man who considers everything from the standpoint of the most good
to the most people will never want for anything," he says. "No, I don't
mean mental influence, or psychic attraction, or anything like that. I
mean plain common sense. That's the attitude that makes friends--all
kinds of friends, everywhere, some that you never even hear about--and
friends bring all the rest."

He took Coffee Jim's money, gave up his job at the Edison plant, and
went to work on the little racer.

"It seemed pretty good to be able to work all day on the car, as well as
the evenings," he says.

He took down the engine and entirely rebuilt it, substituting the best
of material for the makeshifts he had been obliged to use. He spent long
hours designing a racing body, figuring out problems of air-resistance
and weight.

Eight months of careful thought and work went into that car. At last, in
the early summer of 1902, it was finished. At 4 o'clock one morning,
business being over at the lunch wagon, he and Coffee Jim took it out
for a trial.

It ran like the wind. Down the quiet, vacant streets of Detroit, in the
gray chill of early morning, they raced at a speed that made the houses
on either side blur into a gray haze. Coffee Jim clung breathlessly to
the mechanic's seat, while Ford bent over the steering lever and gave
her more power, and still more power.

"Holy Moses, she sure does run!" Coffee Jim gasped, when the car slowed
down smoothly and stopped. "You'll win that race sure as shooting."

"Yes, she's a good little car," Ford said, looking it over critically.
"She's a pretty good little car." He stood looking at it, his hands in
his pockets.

"I've got an idea for a four-cylinder motor that will beat her, though,"
he said. "It's too late to build it now; we'll have to put this one in
the race. But I'll make a car yet that'll beat this as much as this
beats a bicycle."

It was not a boast; it was a simple statement of fact. The little racer
was finished, thoroughly well done; he spent no more thought on it.
Already his mind was reaching ahead, planning a better one.

It may be imagined with what anxiety the Fords awaited the day of the
races. Ford was to be his own driver, and Mrs. Ford's dread of losing
the race was mixed with fear for his safety if there should be an
accident. She had seen the car in the tryout, and its speed terrified
her, though Ford assured her, with masculine clumsiness, that even
greater speed had been made in previous races. Alexander Winton of
Cleveland, then the track champion of the country, had beaten it more
than once. On the racetrack, Ford said, he was confident he could do
better. Later there was a quiet tryout on the racetrack that showed Ford
he was right, though he kept secret the exact time he had made.

On the day of the races enormous crowds gathered at the Grosse Point
tracks. It was the first automobile track meeting ever held in Michigan,
and excitement ran high. Alexander Winton was there, confident and
smiling in his car, which had broken so many records. The crowds cheered
him wildly.

Ford, quiet and perhaps a little white with the tension, drove his car
out on the tracks, was greeted with a few uncertain cheers.

"Who's that?" people said.

"Oh, that's a Detroit man--let's see, what is his name? Ford--never
heard of him before. Funny little car, isn't it?"

"Maybe he's been put in to fill out. He's the only man against Winton in
the free-for-all. They couldn't get a real car to race Winton."

"Hi, there's Cooper! Cooper! Rah!" The crowd got to its feet and cheered
Tom Cooper, the bicycle champion, who strolled on to the field and
chatted with Winton.

Ford was outside it all. He had been too busy working on his car, had
had too little money, to be on intimate terms with the big men of the
automobile business, or to become friendly with champions.

One supposes he wasted no regrets on the situation. He had his car, the
concrete form of his mechanical ideas. The time had come to test their
value. If they were right he would win the race; if they were wrong he
would go back to his shed and work out better ones. He examined the car
again, looked to the gasoline and oil, and was ready.

Coffee Jim, slapping him on the shoulder, said, "All right, Ford, go to
it!" and hurried up to his seat in the grandstand, where Mrs. Ford and
the boy were already sitting, tense with excitement and apprehension.

Winton waved his cap in a last response to the roar from the crowd,
pulled it down tight and settled back into his seat. The signal came.
Ford, bending over his steering lever, threw on the power and felt the
car jump forward. The race was on.

It happened thirteen years ago, but there are still people in Detroit
who talk of that race. They describe the start, the enthusiasm for
Winton, the surprise of the crowd when the little car, driven by nobody
knew whom, hung on grimly just behind the champion, to the end of the
first stretch, through the second stretch, well on to the third.
Winton's car shot ahead then. The crowd cheered him madly. Then the roar
died down in amazement. The little car, with a burst of speed, overtook
the champion, and the two cars shot past the grandstand side by side and
sped into the second lap.

Into the silence came a yell from Coffee Jim: "Ford! Yah, Ford! Go it,
go it, go it! Ford!" The crowd went crazy.

No one knew clearly what was happening. "Ford! Ford! Winton! He's ahead!
Go it, go it! Winton! Come on, come on! Look at 'em! Look at 'em! Ford!"
they yelled.

Then the two cars swept into the final stretch abreast; the crowd, wild
with excitement, hoarse, disheveled, was standing on the seats, roaring,
"Come on, come on, come on! Ford! Ford!"

Every detail of that race must still be distinct in Ford's mind, but he
sums them all in one concise sentence:

"It was SOME race. I won it."

                              CHAPTER XIX

                            RAISING CAPITAL

Ford sat in his little car, white, shaken, dusty--the track champion of
this country.

He was surrounded by a small crowd of automobile enthusiasts, promoters,
bicycle champions, all eager to meet and talk with the unknown man who
had taken the honors away from Winton. Among them was Tom Cooper.
Grasping Ford's hand, he looked with interest at the slightly built,
thin-cheeked man who had won the race, and said: "Bully work, the way
you handled her on that last turn. Whose car is it?"

"Mine," said Ford.

"I mean"--Cooper looked at the lines of the car--"I mean, whose engine
did you use?"

"It's my engine--I made it," Ford replied.

"The deuce you did!" Cooper exclaimed. "Well, I must say you did a good
job. I'd like to look it over some time."

"Sure; come out to my house any time. Glad to show it to you," said Ford

It was the beginning of an association which was to be highly profitable
to both of them.

Other men of national prominence in the world of sports greeted Ford
enthusiastically as one of themselves, while the crowd in the grandstand
still cheered spasmodically. Reporters hurried up with camera men, and
Ford stepped back into the little car and posed somewhat sheepishly for
his first newspaper pictures. Men who had formerly passed him on the
street with a careless nod, now stopped him, clapped him on the shoulder
and talked like old friends.

He was beyond question the hero of the day. He took it all in a
matter-of-fact manner; his car had done no more than he had expected all
along, and it was the car, not himself, which filled his mind. He hoped
that the publicity would bring him the necessary capital to start his

Within a week he received offers from wealthy men of Detroit. The local
papers had printed pictures of Ford, his car and the old shed where it
had been built, with long accounts of his years of work and his efforts
to organize a company. Detroit had been awakened to the fact that there
was a real opportunity for men with vision and sufficient capital to
carry it out. But without exception these men insisted on one
thing--absolute control of the company to be organized.

From their standpoint that proviso was reasonable enough. If they
furnished the money and Ford merely the idea, of course they should keep
not only the larger share of the profits, but entire control of the
venture as well. Without their money, they argued, his idea was

On the other hand, in spite of his eight years of struggle for lack of
capital, Ford still maintained that the idea was the really valuable
part of the combination. He insisted on controlling the organization
which was to manufacture his cars.

While he had been working alone in the little shed at night, he had
thought out his plan for a factory, mentally picturing its methods, its
organization, the handling of material from the raw iron to the finished
cars, fully assembled, rolling away in an endless line. He had figured
costs to the fraction of a cent; planned methods of arranging the work,
standardizing the product, eliminating waste and friction at every
possible point.

Now that the car was finished, the factory plan took its place in his
mind. He did not intend to abandon it until he had made it a reality. He
was going to build that factory, as he had built his engine, in spite of
any obstacles or opposition. To do it, he must control the company's

It was a deadlock. To the man with money it seemed sheer insanity to put
control of a business venture into the hands of an obstinate mechanic
who had happened to hit on an idea for an automobile engine. Ford would
not dispose of his patents on any other condition. In a short time the
discussions were dropped, and he was where he had been before the track

That spectacular race, however, had brought him many acquaintances, and
many of them developed into close friends. James Couzens, a small
hardware merchant of Detroit, was one of them, and C. H. Wills, a
mechanical draughtsman, was another. With Tom Cooper, the bicycle
champion, they spent many evenings in the old shed, or on the front
steps of the Ford house, discussing projects for the Ford factory.

Couzens, who had a talent for business affairs, formed a plan for
interesting a small group of other merchants like himself and financing
Ford. He brought negotiations to a certain point and found himself
confronted again by their demand for control of the company.

"We must do something that'll show them that they've got to have you on
your own terms--something big--startling--to stir them up," he reported.

"How about winning another race?" Cooper suggested. "They're pulling one
off in Ohio this fall."

"No, it must be right here, so I can take my men out and let them see
it," Couzens objected. "It takes a lot to jar any money loose from those

"I could enter at the Grosse Point tracks next spring," Ford said. "But
it wouldn't show them any more than they've already seen, if I race the
same car. I can't afford to build another one."

He was still in debt to Coffee Jim for the cost of his first racer.
Coffee Jim, professing himself satisfied with the results of the
race--doubtless he had judiciously placed some bets on it--had left
Detroit in the meantime, but Ford nevertheless counted the loan among
his liabilities.

"Think you can beat that car?" Cooper inquired.

"I know I can," Ford replied quietly.

"Then you go to it and build her. I'll back the scheme," Cooper said.

It was another debt on Ford's shoulders, but he accepted it and
immediately began to work on another racer. With the intention of
startling Couzens's group of sedate business men, he obeyed Cooper's
injunction to "build her big--the roof's the limit." The result was
certainly startling.

Four enormous cylinders gave that engine eighty horsepower. When it was
finished and Cooper and Ford took it out one night for a trial, people
started from their sleep for blocks about the Ford house. The noise of
the engine could be heard miles. Flames flashed from the motor. In the
massive framework was one seat. Cooper stood thunderstruck while Ford
got in and grasped the tiller.

"Good Lord, how fast do you figure she'll do?" he asked.

"Don't know," Ford replied. He put on the power, there was a mighty
roar, a burst of flame, and Cooper stood alone on the curb. Far down the
street he saw the car thundering away.

A few minutes later it came roaring back and stopped. Ford sat in it,

"How far did you go?" Cooper asked. Ford told him.

"Do you mean to say she makes a speed like that?" Cooper ejaculated,

"She'll make better than that. I didn't dare to give her full power,"
Ford replied. He climbed out and stood beside Cooper, and the two looked
at the car in awe.

"See here, I hope you don't think I'll drive that thing in the races,"
Cooper said after a time. "I wouldn't do it for a gold mine. You'll have
to do it."

"I should say not!" Ford retorted. "I won't take the responsibility of
driving her at full speed to win every race that was ever run. Cooper,
if that car ever gets really started it will kill somebody, sure."

                               CHAPTER XX

                        CLINGING TO A PRINCIPLE

Ford and Cooper regarded the juggernaut car for some time in meditative

"Well, I guess you've built a real racer there, all right," Cooper said

"Yes, it looks as if I had," Ford answered. "The question is, what good
is it? Is there a man on earth who'd try to drive it?"

"Well, I've got some nerve myself, and I don't want to," Cooper
admitted. He walked around the car and then looked again at the engine.
"How fast would the darn thing go, I wonder?" he said.

"Get in and try her," Ford suggested. Cooper climbed in, Ford cranked
the engine, and again sleeping Detroit jumped from its bed. The car
leaped and shot down the avenue.

When it roared back again Cooper stopped it in the middle of the street.

"That settles it for me," he said. "She must have made forty miles an
hour, and she wasn't half running, at that. I won't take her out on the

They confronted the situation gloomily. Couzens was depending on the
success of the car at the races to bring his men in line for the
organization of a company; here was the car, built at the cost of months
of work and some hundreds of Cooper's money, and it developed such speed
that it was not safe to enter it for the race.

Suddenly Cooper had an idea.

"See here! I know a man--if there's a man on earth who would take that
car out he's the one!" he said. "He isn't afraid of anything under the
shining sun--a bicycle rider I raced against in Denver. Oldfield's his
name--Barney Oldfield."

"Never heard of him," said Ford. "But if you think he would drive this
car let's get hold of him. Where is he?"

"He ought to be in Salt Lake now," Cooper answered. "I'll wire him."

The message went to Oldfield that night. Couzens was told of the
situation, and the three men waited anxiously for a telegram from Salt
Lake. It came late the next day, asking some further questions about the
car and stating that Oldfield had never driven an automobile. Cooper
wired again.

The track meeting was to be held the next month. Time was short.
Oldfield, if he came, would have to learn every detail of handling the
machine. Even with an experienced man, the danger of driving that car in
the races was great. Cooper and Ford haunted the telegraph offices.

At last the final reply came. Oldfield would drive the car. He would
arrive on the 1st of June, exactly one week before the date of the race.

It was a busy week. Ford and Cooper bent every energy to teaching
Oldfield how to drive the car. They crammed his mind with a mass of
facts about the motor, the factor of safety in making quick turns, the
way to handle the steering lever. On the day before the races he took
the car out on the tracks and made one circuit safely, holding it down
to slow speed.

"I can handle her all right. I'll let her out to-morrow," he reported.

The day of the track meeting dawned. Ford and Cooper, tense with
anxiety, went over the car thoroughly and coached Oldfield for the last
time. Couzens, hiding his nervousness under a bland, confident manner,
gathered his group of business men and took them into the grandstand.
The free-for-all was called.

Half a dozen cars were entered. When they had found their places in the
field Barney Oldfield settled himself in his seat, firmly grasped the
two-handed tiller which steered the mighty car, and remarked, "Well,
this chariot may kill me, but they'll say afterward that I was going
some when the car went over the bank."

Ford cranked the engine, and the race was on.

Oldfield, his long hair snapping in the wind, shot from the midst of the
astounded field like a bullet. He did not dare look around; he merely
clung to the tiller and gave that car all the power it had. At the end
of the first half mile he was far in the lead and gaining fast.

The crowd, astounded, hysterical with excitement, saw him streak past
the grandstand a quarter of a mile ahead of the nearest car following.
On the second lap he still gained. Grasping the tiller, never for a
second relaxing that terrific speed, he spun around the course again,
driving as if the field was at his heels.

He roared in at the finish, a full half mile ahead of the nearest car,
in a three-mile race.

News of the feat went around the world, and in one day Ford was hailed
as a mechanical genius.

Couzens brought the group of business men down to the track, and before
Oldfield was out of the car they had made an appointment to meet Ford
next day and form a company. The race had convinced them.

"Some people can't see a thing unless it is written in letters a mile
high and then illustrated with a diagram," Ford says meditatively.

During the following week a company was formed, and Ford was made
vice-president, general manager, superintendent, master mechanic and
designer. He held a small block of stock and was paid a salary of $150 a
month, the same amount he had drawn while working for the Edison

He was satisfied. The salary was plenty for his needs; apparently he
waved that subject aside as of little importance. At last, he thought,
he had an opportunity to put into practice his plans for manufacturing,
to build up an organization which was to be as much a Ford factor as his
car was a Ford car.

The machine idea was to be its basis. The old idea for the fifty-cent
watch factory, altered and improved by years of consideration, was at
last to be carried out. He planned a system of smooth, economical
efficiency, producing enormous numbers of cheap, standardized cars, and
he began work on it with all the enthusiasm he had felt when he first
began building his car.

But almost immediately there was friction between him and the men who
furnished the capital. They insisted on his designing not cheaper cars,
but more luxurious ones. They demanded that his saving in reduced costs
of production should be added to their profits, not deducted from the
price of the car. They were shrewd, successful business men, and they
intended to run their factory on business lines.

"I prefer not to talk about that year," Ford says to-day. "Those men
were right, according to their lights. I suppose, anyway, some of them
are still building a fairly successful car in the $3,000 to $4,000
class, and I don't want to criticize other men in the automobile field.

"The trouble was that they couldn't see things my way. They could not
understand that the thing that is best for the greatest number of people
is bound to win in the end. They said I was impractical, that notions
like that would hurt business. They said ideals were all very well, but
they wouldn't work. I did not know anything about business, they said.
There was an immediate profit of 200 per cent in selling a high-priced
car; why take the risk of building forty cheap cars at 5 per cent
profit? They said common people would not buy automobiles anyway.

"I thought the more people who had a good thing the better. My car was
going to be cheap, so the man that needed it most could afford to buy
it. I kept on designing cheaper cars. They objected. Finally it came to
a point where I had to give up my idea or get out of the company. Of
course I got out."

Over thirty years old, with a wife and child to support, and no capital,
Henry Ford, still maintaining that policy of "the greatest good to the
greatest number" must win in the end, left the company which had given
him an opportunity to be a rich man and announced that somehow he would
manufacture his own car in his own way.

                              CHAPTER XXI

                       EARLY MANUFACTURING TRIALS

Again Henry Ford's talent for friendliness helped him. Wills, who had
been working with Ford as a draughtsman, came with him into the new
company. He had a few hundred dollars, which he was willing to stake on
Ford's ability. Couzens, who had helped organize the first company, came
also, and turned his business talents to the task of raising capital to
start the new concern.

While he was struggling with the problems of organization, Henry Ford
rented an old shack on Mack avenue, moved his tools from the old shed,
and, with a couple of machinists to help him, began building his cheap

News of his venture spread in Detroit. The cars sold before they were
built. Men found their way to the crude shop, talked to Ford in his
greasy overalls, and paid down deposits on cars for future delivery.
Often these deposits helped to buy material for the same cars they

Ford was working on a narrow margin. Every dollar which could be
squeezed from the week's earnings after expenses were paid went directly
into more material for more cars. At first his machinists went home at
the end of their regular hours; then Ford worked alone far into the
night, building engines. Before long the men became vitally interested
in Ford's success and returned after supper to help him.

Meantime a few men had been found who were willing to buy stock in the
new company. It was capitalized at $100,000, of which $15,000 was paid
in. Then Ford set to work in earnest.

The force was increased to nearly forty men, and Wills became manager of
the mechanical department. Carloads of material were ordered, on sixty
days' time, every pound of iron or inch of wire calculated with the
utmost nicety so that each shipment would be sufficient to build a
certain number of completed cars without the waste of ten cents' worth
of material.

Then Ford and Couzens set out to sell the cars before payment for the
material came due. Ford set a price of $900 a car, an amount which he
figured would cover the cost of material, wages and overhead and leave a
margin for buying more material.

A thousand anxieties now filled his days and nights. Fifteen thousand
dollars was very little money for his plant; wages alone would eat it up
in ten weeks. The raw material must be made into cars, sold, and the
money collected, before it could be paid for. Many times a check from a
buyer won the race with the bill from the foundry by a margin of hours.
Often on pay day Ford faced the prospect of being unable to pay the men
until he should have sold a shipment of cars not yet built.

But the cars sold. Their simplicity of construction, their power, above
all their cheapness, in a day when automobiles almost without exception
sold for $2,500 to $4,000, brought buyers. In a few weeks orders came
from Cleveland for them; shortly afterward a dealer in Chicago wrote for
an agency there.

Still the success of the venture depended from week to week on a
thousand chances. Ford, with his genius for factory management, reduced
the waste of material or labor to the smallest minimum. He worked on new
designs for simpler, cheaper motors. He figured orders for material. His
own living expenses were cut to the bone--every cent of profit on sales
went into the factory.

Nearly a thousand cars were sold that year, but with the beginning of
winter sales decreased, almost stopped. The factory must be kept
running, in order to have cars for the spring trade. Close figuring
would enable them to keep it open, but an early, brisk market would be
necessary to save the company in the spring.

In this emergency Ford recalled the great advertising value of racing.
He had designed a four-cylinder car to be put on the market the
following year. If he could make a spectacular demonstration of
four-cylinder construction as compared with the old motors, the success
of his spring sales would be assured.

Ford announced that in November he would try for the world's speed
record in a four-cylinder car of his own construction.

The old machine in which Barney Oldfield had made his debut as an
automobile driver was brought out and overhauled. The body was rebuilt,
so that in form it was much like the racing cars of to-day. Ford himself
remodeled the motor.

The test was to be made on the frozen surface of Lake St. Clair. The
course was surveyed. On the appointed day, with Ford himself as driver,
the motor car appeared for its second trial.

A stiff wind was blowing over the ice. The surface of the lake,
apparently smooth, was in reality seamed with slight crevices and
roughened with frozen snow. Ford, muffled in a fur coat, with a fur cap
pulled down over his ears, went over it anxiously, noting mentally the
worst spots. Then he cranked the car, settled himself in the seat and
nodded to the starter. The signal came, Ford threw on the power and was

The car, striking the ice fissure, leaped into the air, two wheels at a
time. Ford, clinging to the tiller, was almost thrown from his seat.
Zig-zagging wildly, bouncing like a ball, the machine shot over the ice.
Twice it almost upset, but Ford, struggling to keep the course, never
shut down the power. He finished the mile in 39-1/5 seconds, beating the
world's record by seven seconds.

The success of next year's sales was certain.

The following day when Ford reached the factory, Wills met him with an
anxious face. It was pay day and there was no money.

"We didn't bother you about it last week because you were so busy with
the race," Wills said. "We thought up to the last minute that the check
from Chicago would come. It was due two days ago. We wired yesterday and
got no answer. Mr. Couzens left this morning on the early train to find
out what is wrong. You know how it is; the men want their money for over
Christmas. The ---- Company wants men and they're offering more money
than we can pay. I'm afraid our men will quit, and if they do and we
can't get out the Cincinnati order next week----"

Ford knew that to raise more money from the stockholders would be
impossible. They had gone in as deeply as they could. To sacrifice a
block of his own stock would be to lose control of the company, and
besides it would be difficult to sell it. The company was still
struggling for existence; it had paid no dividends, and other automobile
manufacturers were already paying the enormous profits that led in the
next few years to wild, disastrous expansion in the automobile business.
The Ford company had no marketable assets--nothing but the rented
building, the equipment and a few unfilled orders.

"Well, if we pull through the men will have to do it," said Ford. "I'll
tell them about it."

That evening when the day's work was over and the men came to the office
to get their pay they found Ford standing in the doorway. He said he had
something to tell them. When they had all gathered in a group--nearly a
hundred by this time--he stood on a chair so that all of them could hear
what he had to say, and told them the exact situation.

"Now, men, we can pull through all right if you'll help out now," he
concluded. "You know the kind of car we're selling, and the price, and
you know what the new one did yesterday. We can get through the winter
on our unfinished orders if we never get that Chicago check. Next year
we'll have a big business. But it all depends on you. If you quit now
we're done for. What about it, will you stay?"

"Sure, Mr. Ford." "You bet we will, old man!" "We're with you; don't you
forget it!" they said. Before they left the plant most of them came up
to assure him personally that they would stand by the Ford company. Next
day they all arrived promptly for work, and during the week they broke
all previous records in the number of cars turned out.

"War between capital and labor is just like any other kind of war,"
Henry Ford says to-day. "It happens because people do not understand
each other. The boss ought to show his books to his employees, let them
see what he's working for. They're just as intelligent as he is, and if
he needs help they'll turn in and work twenty-four hours a day, if they
have to, to keep the business going. More than that, they'll use their
heads for him. They'll help him in hundreds of ways he never would think

"The only trouble is that people make a distinction between practical
things and spiritual qualities. I tell you, loyalty, and friendliness,
and helping the other man along are the only really valuable things in
this world, and they bring all the 'practical' advantages along with
them every time. If every one of us had the courage to believe that, and
act on it, war and waste and misery of all kinds would be wiped out over

                              CHAPTER XXII

                       AUTOMOBILES FOR THE MASSES

In a short time Couzens returned from Chicago, bringing not only the
delayed check, but several orders as well, which he had obtained largely
because of the astounding record made by the Ford car in its race over
the ice on Lake St. Clair.

The Ford company was not yet firmly established, but prospects were
bright. America was awaking to the possibilities of the automobile, not
merely as a machine for spectacular exhibitions of daring and skill at
track meetings, or as the plaything of wealthy men, but as a practical
time and labor-saver for the average person.

The automobile industry rose almost overnight. Orders poured into the
offices of companies already organized; new companies were formed by
dozens, capitalized at millions of dollars. Fly-by-night concerns sprang
up like mushrooms, flooded the country with stock-selling schemes,
established factories where parts of motor cars, bought elsewhere, were
assembled. Fortunes were made and lost and made again. Almost every day
saw new cars on the market.

Every one wanted an automobile. It was a luxury, it appealed to our
longing to have something just a little better than our neighbors could
afford. At the same time its obvious usefulness was an argument which
overcame economy. The comic supplements, those faithful reflectors of
American life in terms of the ridiculous, played with every variation of
the theme, "He mortgaged the home to buy an automobile."

Amid this mounting excitement, in spite of millions to be made by
building a car bigger, finer, more beautiful and luxurious than those of
his competitors, Henry Ford still clung firmly to his idea. He seems to
have been, at that time, the only automobile manufacturer who realized
that the automobile supplied a real need of the average man, and that
the average man is a hard-working, frugal individual, used to living
without those things he must mortgage his home to get.

"The automobile of those days was like a steam yacht," Ford says. "It
was built for only a few people. Now anything that is good for only a
few people is really no good. It's got to be good for everybody or in
the end it will not survive."

Radical philosophy, that. You might hear it from a street corner orator,
one of that dissatisfied multitude which will insist, in spite of all
the good things we have in this country, that merely because those
things are not good for them they are not good. There is something of
Marx in such a statement, something of George Washington, even something
of Christianity. No wonder men were astounded by the notion that success
could be founded on a theory like that.

"It's plain common sense, I tell you," Ford insisted, and in spite of
good advice, in spite of sound business reasoning, that obstinate man
went on in his own way and acted on that belief.

The Ford cars were cheap. Already underpriced nearly a thousand dollars
in comparison with other cars, they were to be sold still cheaper, Ford
insisted. Every cent he could save in construction, in factory
management, in shrewd buying of material was deducted from the selling

The cars sold. Orders accumulated faster than they could be filled in
the shop on Mack avenue. The profits went back into the factory. More
men were added to the pay-roll, more machinery was installed, and still
the orders came and the output could not keep up with them.

Mrs. Ford could afford to buy her own hats instead of making them, to
get a new set of furniture for the parlor, to purchase as many gloves
and shoes as she wanted. She did these things; she even talked of
getting a hired girl to do the cooking. But Ford himself made little
change in his way of living. He had always dressed warmly and
comfortably, eaten when he was hungry, slept soundly enough on an
ordinary bed. He saw no way to increase his comforts by spending more
money on himself.

"More than enough money to keep him comfortable is no use to a man," he
says. "You can't squander money on yourself without hurting yourself.
Money's only a lubricant to keep business going."

He continued to work hard, designing simpler, cheaper cars, struggling
with business difficulties as they arose, planning a new factory. Most
of all he was interested in the new factory.

The success of his four-cylinder car provided money enough to warrant
building it at last. A small tract of land on Piquette avenue was bought
and Ford prepared to move from the rented Mack avenue place.

The watch-factory dream was finally to be realized. Henry Ford declared
that by a large equipment of special machinery and a sympathetic
organization of the work, cars could be produced at a hitherto
unheard-of price. He planned to the smallest detail, to the most minute
fraction of space, time, labor, the production of those cars.

Every part was to be machined to exact size. No supplementary fitting in
the assembling room was to be necessary. From the time the raw iron
entered one end of the factory till the finished car rolled away from
the other end, there was not to be a moment's delay, a wasted motion.
The various parts, all alike to the fraction of an inch, were to fit
together with automatic precision. And Ford announced that he would
produce 10,000 cars in a single year.

The manufacturing world was stunned by the announcement. Then it
laughed. Very few people believed that Ford would go far with such a
radical departure from all accepted practice. But the new building was
finished, Ford installed his machinery according to his plans, and when
the wheels began to turn the world learned a new lesson in efficiency.

Still Ford's success in the automobile field was not easily won. As a
poor, hard-working mechanic, he had fought weariness and poverty and
ridicule, to build his motor car; as an unknown inventor, still poor, he
had struggled for a foothold in the business world and got it; now he
was in for a long, expensive legal battle before he should be able to
feel secure in his success.

The Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, a combination of
seventy-three of the biggest motor car companies, brought suit against
the Ford company to recover tremendous sums of money because of Ford's
alleged violation of the Seldon patent.

Seldon held a basic patent covering the use of the gasoline engine as
motive power in self-propelled vehicles. When automobiles began to be
put on the market, he claimed his right under that patent to a royalty
on all such vehicles. Other automobile manufacturers almost without
exception acceded to his claim and operated under a lease from him,
adding the royalty to the selling price.

Henry Ford balked. He had been running a self-propelled gasoline engine
long before Seldon had applied for his patent; furthermore, the
royalties interfered with the long-cherished dream of cheapening his
cars. He flatly refused to make the payments.

The lessees of the Seldon rights, perceiving in Ford a dangerous
adversary in the automobile field, who would become still more dangerous
if he succeeded in eliminating the royalty payments from his
manufacturing costs, immediately began to fight him with all the
millions at their command.

                             CHAPTER XXIII

                       FIGHTING THE SELDON PATENT

By sheer force of an idea, backed only by hard work, Henry Ford had
established a new principle in mechanics; he had created new methods in
the manufacturing world--methods substantially those which prevail in
manufacturing to-day; now he entered the legal field. His fight on the
Seldon patent--a fight that lasted nearly ten years--was a sensation not
only in the automobile world, but among lawyers everywhere.

The intricacies of the case baffled the jurists before whom it was
tried. Time and again decisions adverse to Ford were handed down. Each
time Ford came back again, more determined than before, carried the
contest to a higher court and fought the battle over again.

On one side the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers was
struggling to save patent rights for which they had paid vast sums of
money, to maintain high prices for automobiles, and to protect their
combination of manufacturing interests. On the other, Ford was fighting
to release the industry from paying tribute to a patent which he
believed unsound, to smash the combination of manufacturers, and to keep
down his own factory costs so that he could make a still cheaper car.

With the first adverse decision, the A. L. A. M. carried the fight into
the newspapers. Most of us can recall the days when from coast to coast
the newspapers of America blossomed with page advertisements warning
people against buying Ford cars, asserting that every owner of a Ford
car was liable to prosecution for damages under the Seldon patent

Those were chaotic years in the industry. The hysteria which followed
the huge profit-making of the first companies, checked only temporarily
by the panic of 1907-8, mounted again in a rising wave of excitement.
Dozens of companies sprang up, sold stock, assembled a few cars, and
went down in ruin. Buyers of their cars were left stranded with
automobiles for which they could not get new parts.

It was asserted that the Ford Motor Company, unable to pay the enormous
sums accruing if the Seldon patent was upheld, would be one of the
companies to fail. Buyers were urged to play safe by purchasing a
recognized car--a car made by the licensed manufacturers.

Ford, already involved in a business fight against the association and
its millions, thus found himself in danger of losing the confidence of
the public.

The story of those years is one which cannot be adequately told. Ford
was working harder than he had ever done while he was building his first
car in the old shed. He was one of the first men at the factory every
morning, and long after Detroit was asleep he was still hard at work,
conferring with lawyers, discussing with Couzens the latest disaster
that threatened, struggling with business problems, meeting emergencies
in the selling field, and always planning to better the factory
management and to lower the price and increase the efficiency of the

The car sold. Ford had built it for common men, for the vast body of
America's middle-class people, and it was cheap enough to be within
their reach. Ford knew that if he could keep their confidence he could
win in the end.

He met the attack of the A. L. A. M. by printing huge advertisements
guaranteeing purchasers of his cars from prosecution under the Seldon
patents, and backed his guarantee by the bond of a New York security
company. Then he appealed the patent case and kept on fighting.

In 1908 the farmer boy who had started out twenty years before with
nothing but his bare hands and an idea found himself at the head of one
of America's largest business organizations. That year his factory made
and sold 6,398 cars.

Every machine sold increased his liabilities in case he lost the patent
fight, but the business was now on a firm foundation. Agencies had been
established in all parts of the world, orders came pouring in. Profits
were rolling up. Ford found his net earnings increasing faster than he
could possibly put them back into the business.

At the end of that year he and Couzens sat in their offices going over
the balance sheets of the company. The size of the bank balance was most
satisfactory. The factory was running to the limit of its capacity,
orders were waiting. Prospects were bright for the following season.
Ford leaned back in his chair.

"Well, I guess we're out of the woods, all right," he said. He put his
hands in his pockets and looked thoughtfully at the ceiling. "Remember
that time in the Mack avenue place," he began, "when that Chicago check
didn't come in, and we couldn't pay the men?"

"I should say I do! And the day we got the first order from Cleveland.
Remember how you worked in the shop yourself to get it out?"

"And you hustled out and got material on sixty days' time? And the boys
worked all night, and we had to wait till the money came from Cleveland
before we could give them their overtime? That was a great bunch of men
we had then."

They began to talk them over. Most of them were managers of departments
now; one was handling the sales force, another had developed into a
driver and won many trophies and broken many records with the Ford car;
Wills was superintendent of the factory.

"I tell you, Couzens, you and I have been at the head of the concern,
and we've done some big things together, but if it hadn't been for the
men we'd be a long way from where we are to-day," Ford said at last.

"Now we have some money we don't need for the business, we ought to
divide with them. Let's do it."

"I'm with you!" Couzens said heartily, and reached for his pencil.
Eagerly as two boys, they sat there for another hour figuring. They
began with checks for the men they remembered, men who had been with
them in the first days of the company, men who had done some special
thing which won their notice, men who were making good records in the
shops or on the sales force. But there seemed no place to draw the line.

"After all, every man who's working for us is helping," Ford decided.

"Let's give every one of them a Christmas present." Couzens agreed.
"We'll have the clerical department figure it out. The men who have been
with us longest the most, and so on down to the last errand boy that's
been with us a year. What do you say?"

Ford said yes with enthusiasm, and so it was settled. That year every
employee of the company received an extra check in his December pay
envelope. Ford had reached a point in his business life where he must
stop and consider what he should do with the money his work had brought
him, and those extra checks were the first result.

For twenty years Ford had spent all his energy, all his time and thought
in one thing--his work. If he had divided his interests, if he had
allowed a liking for amusement, ease, finer clothes, admiration, to
hinder his work in the old shed, he would never have built his car. If
he had cared more for personal pleasure and applause than he did for his
idea, he would have allowed his factory plan to be altered, twisted out
of shape and forgotten when he first found capital to manufacture the
car. But from the day he left his farm till now he has subordinated
everything else to his machine idea.

He applied it first to an engine, then to a factory. He fought through
innumerable difficulties to make those ideas into realities. He
destroyed old conceptions of mechanics and of factory management. He
built up a great financial success.

Now he found himself with a new problem to face--the problem of a great
fortune piling up in his hands.

                              CHAPTER XXIV


The response to that first Christmas gift from the Ford company to its
employees was another proof of Ford's theory that friendliness pays. In
the following month the production of cars broke all January records.
Salesmen, with a new feeling of loyalty to the firm, increased their
efforts, worked with greater enthusiasm and their orders jumped.

The fight with the association still raged in the courts and in the
newspapers, but the factory wheels were turning faster than ever before.
More cars were pouring out, more people were buying. That year the Ford
organization made and sold 10,607 cars. Ford had made good his prophecy
that the new factory would produce 10,000 cars in one year.

The phenomenal growth of his business had begun. His own fortune was
doubling and doubling again. America had produced another self-made

Ford himself believes that any one who will pay the price he has paid
can make a financial success as great.

"Poverty doesn't hold a man down," he says. "Money doesn't amount to
anything--it has no real value whatever. Any young man who has a good
idea and works hard enough will succeed; money will come to him. What do
I mean by a good idea? I mean an idea that will work out for the best
interests of every one--an idea for something that will benefit the
world. That's the kind of an idea the world wants."

This country has produced hundreds of men whose lives prove this
statement--men who have built railroads, telephones, telegraph systems,
great merchandising organizations. These men have subordinated every
personal pleasure to their work. They have exhausted their minds and
bodies, driven themselves mercilessly, used every ounce of energy and
ability, and won.

The tragedy for them and for our country is that in winning the fight
most of them have lost their perspective on it. They themselves have
become absorbed by the machine they have built up. The money they have
amassed usually means very little to them, but business is their
passion. With millions upon millions piling up to their credit, they
continue to hold down wages, to protect their profits, to keep the
business running as it has always run.

That business has been built only because fundamentally it was for "the
greatest good to the greatest number," but in the long fight they have
lost sight of that fact. Let a new project arise which is for the
general good and "it will hurt business!" they cry in alarm.

Ford kept his viewpoint. Partly because of his years on the farm, where
he worked shoulder to shoulder with other men and learned essential
democracy; partly because most of his work had been in mechanics rather
than in business, but most of all because he is a simple,
straight-thinking man, the tremendous Ford organization did not absorb

He had applied his machine idea first to an engine, then to a factory;
in time he was to apply it to society as a whole.

"That Christmas present of ours is paying better dividends than any
money we ever spent," he said to Couzens with a grin. "First thing we
know, the men'll be paying us back more than we gave them. Look here."
He spread on Couzens' desk a double handful of letters from the men.

"They like it," he said soberly. "Some of them say they were worrying
about Christmas bills, and so on. Those checks took a load off their
minds, and they're pitching in and working hard to show they appreciate
it. I guess in the long run anything that is good for the men is good
for the company."

In the months that followed he continued to turn over in his mind
various ideas which occurred to him, based on that principle.

The Ford employees and agents now numbered tens of thousands. They were
scattered all over the earth, from Bombay to Nova Scotia, Switzerland,
Peru, Bermuda, Africa, Alaska, India--everywhere were workers, helping
Ford. Black men in turbans, yellow men in embroidered robes, men of all
races and languages, speaking, thinking, living in ways incomprehensible
to that quiet man who sat in his office in Detroit, were part of the
vast machine out of which his millions poured.

He thought it over--that great machine. He knew machines. He knew that
the smallest part of one was as necessary as the largest, that every nut
and screw was indispensable to the success of the whole. And while he
brooded over the mighty machine his genius had created, the thought
slowly formed itself in his mind that those multiplying millions of his
were the weak spot in the organization. Those millions represented
energy, and through him they were draining out of the machine,
accumulating in a useless, idle store. Some way they must be put back.

"Everybody helps me," he said. "If I'm going to do my part I must help

A new problem filled his mind. How should he put his money back into
that smooth, efficient organization in such a way as to help all parts
of it without disorganizing it? It was now a part of the business system
of the world, founded on financial and social principles which underlie
all society. It was no small matter to alter it.

Meantime, there were immediate practical necessities to be met. His
business had far outgrown the Piquette avenue plant. A new factory must
be built. He bought a tract of 276 acres in the northern part of Detroit
and began to plan the construction of his present factory, a number of
huge buildings covering more than forty-seven acres.

In this mammoth plant Ford had at last the opportunity, unhampered by
any want of capital, to put into operation his old ideas of factory
management. Here 1800 men were to work, quickly, efficiently, without
the loss of a moment or a motion, all of them integral parts of one
great machine. Each department makes one part of the Ford car, complete,
from raw material to the finished product, and every part is carried
swiftly and directly, by gravity, to the assembling room.

But Ford's new idea also began to express itself here. He meant to
consider not only the efficiency but the happiness and comfort of his

The walls were made of plate glass, so that every part of the workrooms
were light and well ventilated. One whole department, employing 500 men,
was established to do nothing but sweep floors, wash windows, look after
sanitary conditions generally. The floors are scrubbed every week with
hot water and alkali. Twenty-five men are employed constantly in
painting the walls and ceilings, keeping everything fresh and clean.

That winter the Christmas checks went again to all the employees. Ford
was still working out a real plan by which his millions could help;
meantime, he divided his profits in this makeshift fashion.

The following year the company moved to its new quarters. In that
atmosphere of light and comfort the men worked better than ever before.
Production broke another record--38,528 cars in one year were made and

"And the automobile world is waiting to hear the next announcement from
Henry Ford," said a trade journal at that time. "Whether or not he has
another sensation in store is the livest topic of discussion in Detroit
manufacturing circles--nay, even throughout the world."

Henry Ford was preparing another sensation, but this time it was to be
in a larger field. He had startled the world, first, with a motor car,
next with a factory. Now he was thinking of broad economic problems.

                              CHAPTER XXV

                       FIVE DOLLARS A DAY MINIMUM

The Seldon patent fight had continued through all the early years of
Ford's struggle to establish himself in business. At last it was
settled. Ford won it. The whole industry was freed from an oppressive
tax and his long fight was over.

Immediately, of course, other cars came into the low-priced field. Other
manufacturers, tardily following Ford, began the downward pressure in
prices which now makes it possible for thousands of persons with only
moderate means to own automobiles. For the first time Ford faced
competition in his own price class. Innumerable business problems
confronted the farmer-mechanic, from the time he opened his office doors
in the early morning until the last workman had left the plant and only
his light was burning. Business men came, financiers, salesmen, lawyers,
designers. Every day for two hours he conferred with his superintendents
and foremen in the main factory. Every detail of the business was under
his supervision. A smaller man or a less simple one, would have been
absorbed by the sheer mass of work.

Ford settled every problem by his own simple rule, "Do what is
fundamentally best for everybody. It will work out for our interests in
the end."

And always he was pondering the big problem of putting back into active
use the millions that were accumulating to his credit. Every year the
price was lowered on his cars, following his original policy of making
the automobile cheap. Still the sales increased by leaps and bounds, and
his margin of profit on each car mounted into a greater total.

"The whole system is wrong," he says. "People have the wrong idea of
money. They think it is valuable in itself. They try to get all they
can, and they've built up a system where one man has too much and
another not enough. As long as that system is working there does not
seem any way to even things up. But I made up my mind to do what I

"Money valuable? I tell you, gold is the least valuable metal in the
world. Edison says it is no good at all, it is too soft to make a single
useful article. Suppose there was only one loaf of bread in the world,
would all the money on earth buy it from the man who had it? Money
itself is nothing, absolutely nothing. It is only valuable as a
transmitter, a method of handling things that are valuable. The minute
one man gets more of it than he can use to buy the real things he needs,
the surplus is sheer waste. It is stored-up energy that is no good to

"Every bit of energy that is wasted that way hurts the whole world, and
in the end it hurts the man who has it as much as it hurts anybody. Look
here, you make a machine to do something useful, don't you? Well, then,
if it is built so that it keeps wasting energy, doesn't the whole
machine wear itself out without doing half as much as it should? Isn't
that last energy bad for every part of the machine? Well, that is the
way the world is running now. The whole system is wrong."

A very little thought brings almost any of us to that conclusion,
especially if the thinker is one whose surplus money is all in the other
man's bank account; but Ford held to that thought, as few of us would,
with the surplus millions in his own hands. Furthermore, he proposed not
merely to think, but to act on that thought.

He is not a man to act hastily. Before he made his engine he worked out
the drawings. Before he distributed his money he selected 200 men from
the workers in his shop and sent them out to learn all they could of the
living conditions of the other thousands. They worked for a year, and at
the end of that time Ford, going carefully over their reports, saw
plainly where his surplus money should go.

Over 4,000 of the 18,000 men working in the Ford plant were living in
dire poverty, in unspeakable home conditions. Families were huddled into
tenements, where in wet weather water stood on the floor. Wives were
ill, uncared for; babies were dressed in rags. Another 5,000 men in his
employ were living in conditions which could only be called "fair." Only
364 out of 18,000 owned their own homes.

Yet the employees in the Ford shops were above the average of factory
workingmen. They were paid the regular scale of wages, not overworked,
and their surroundings at the plant were sanitary and pleasant.

In those terrible figures Ford was seeing merely the ordinary,
accustomed result of the wasted energy represented in those idle
millions of dollars.

He went over them thoroughly, noting that the scale of living grew
steadily better as the salaries increased, observing that the most
wretched class was mainly composed of foreign workmen, ignorant,
unskilled labor, most of them unable to speak English. He figured,
thought, drew his own conclusions.

He had been studying relief plans, methods of factory management in
Germany, welfare work of all kinds. When he had finished his
consideration of those reports he threw overboard all the plans other
people had made and announced his own.

"Every man who works for me is going to get enough for a comfortable
living," he said. "If an able-bodied man can't earn that, he's either
lazy or ignorant. If he's lazy, he's sick. We'll have a hospital. If
he's ignorant, he wants to learn. We'll have a school. Meantime, figure
out in the accounting bureau a scale of profit-sharing that will make
every man's earnings at least five dollars a day. The man that gets the
smallest wages gets the biggest share of the profits. He needs it most."

On January 12, 1914, Ford more than satisfied the expectant
manufacturers of the world. He launched into the industrial world a most
startling bombshell.

"Five dollars a day for every workman in the Ford factory!"

"He's crazy!" other manufacturers said, aghast. "Why, those dirty,
ignorant foreigners don't earn half that! You can't run a business that

"That man Ford will upset the whole industrial situation. What is he
trying to do, anyhow?" they demanded when every Detroit factory workman
grew restless.

The news spread rapidly. Everywhere workers dropped their tools and
hurried to the Ford factory. Five dollars a day!

When Ford reached the factory in the morning of the second day after his
announcement, he found Woodward avenue crowded with men waiting to get a
job in the shops. An hour later the crowds had jammed into a mob, which
massed outside the buildings and spread far into adjoining streets,
pushing, struggling, fighting to get closer to the doors.

It was not safe to open them. That mass of humanity, pushed from behind,
would have wrecked the offices. The manager of the employment department
opened a window and shouted to the frantic crowd that there were no
jobs, but the sound of his voice was lost in the roar that greeted him.
He shut the window and telephoned the police department for reserves.

Still the crowds increased every moment by new groups of men wildly
eager to get a job which would pay them a comfortable living. Ford
looked down at them from his window.

"Can't you make them understand we haven't any jobs?" he asked the
employment manager. The man, disheveled, breathing hard, and hoarse with
his efforts to make his voice heard, shook his head.

"The police are coming," he said.

"Then there'll be somebody hurt," Ford predicted. "We can't have that.
Get the fire hose and turn it on the crowd. That will do the business."

A moment later a solid two-inch stream of water shot from the doors of
the Ford factory. It swept the struggling men half off their feet;
knocked the breath from their bodies; left them gasping, startled,
dripping. They scattered. In a few moments the white stream from the
hose was sweeping back and forth over a widening space bare of men. When
the police arrived the crowd was so dispersed that the men in uniform
marched easily through it without using their clubs.

For a week a special force of policemen guarded the Ford factory,
turning back heartsick men, disappointed in their hope of a comfortable
living wage.

It was a graphic illustration of the harm done the whole machine by the
loss of energy stored in money, held idle in the hands of a few men.

                              CHAPTER XXVI

                             MAKING IT PAY

"When I saw thousands of men in Detroit alone fighting like wild animals
for a chance at a decent living wage it brought home to me the
tremendous economic waste in our system of doing business," Ford said.
"Every man in those crowds must go back to a job--if he found one at
all--that did not give him a chance to do his best work because it did
not pay him enough to keep him healthy and happy.

"I made up my mind to put my project through, to prove to the men who
are running big industries that my plan pays. I wanted employers to see
that when every man has all the money he needs for comfort and happiness
it will be better for everybody. I wanted to prove that the policy of
trying to get everything good for yourself really hurts you in the end."

He paused and smiled his slow, whimsical smile.

"Well, I guess I proved it," he said.

Six weeks after the plan went into effect in his factory a comparison
was made between the production for January, 1914, and January, 1913. In
1913, with 16,000 men working on the actual production of cars for ten
hours a day, 16,000 cars were made and shipped. Under the new plan
15,800 men working eight hours a day made and shipped 26,000 cars.

Again Ford had shown the value of that intangible, "impractical"
thing--a spirit of friendliness and good will.

On the ebb tide of the enthusiasm which had stirred this country at the
announcement of his profit-sharing plan a thousand skeptical opinions
arose. "Oh, he's doing it just for the advertising." "He knew, right
enough, that he would make more money in the end by this scheme--he's no

Ford wanted his new plan known; he wanted employers everywhere to see
what he was doing, how he did it, and what the effects would be. He did
expect the factory to run better, to produce more cars. If it had not
done so his plan would have been a failure.

"Do the thing that is best for everybody and it will be best for you in
the end." That was his creed. He hoped to prove its truth so that no one
would doubt it.

Nor is Ford a philanthropist, with the ordinary implications that follow
that word. He is a hard-headed, practical man, who has made a success in
invention, in organization, in the building of a great business. His
contribution to the world is a practical contribution. His message is a
practical message.

"This whole world is like a machine--every part is as important as every
other part. We should all work together, not against each other.
Anything that is good for all the parts of the machine is good for each
one of them.

"Or look at it as a human body. The welfare of one part is dependent on
all the other parts. Once in a while a little group of cells get
together and takes to growing on its own account, not paying any
attention to the rest. That is a cancer. In the end what it takes from
the rest of the body causes the death of the whole organism. What do
those independent, selfish cells get out of it?

"I tell you, selfishness, trying to get ahead of the other fellow,
trying to take away from other people, is the worst policy a man can
follow. It is not a 'practical' viewpoint on life. Any man who is a
success is a success because his work has helped other men, whether he
realizes it or not. The more he helps other men the more successful
every one will be, and he will get his share."

Putting his profit-sharing plan into effect was not a simple matter of
writing the checks. He had to educate not only other employers, but his
own men as well. They must be taught the proper way to use money, so
that it would not be a detriment to themselves or a menace to society in

On the other hand, Ford did not believe in the factory systems in use
abroad. He did not mean to give each of his workmen a model cottage,
with a model flower garden in front and a model laundry in the rear, and
say to them: "Look at the flowers, but do not pick them; it will spoil
my landscape effect. Look at the lawn, but do not cut it; I have workmen
for that."

He meant to place no restraints on the personal liberty of the men. He
believed that every man, if given the opportunity, would make himself a
good, substantial citizen, industrious, thrifty and helpful to others.
He meant his plan to prove that theory also.

It has been rumored that the extra share of profits was given with "a
string to it." That is not so. There was no single thing a man must have
to do to entitle him to his share. He need not own a home, start a bank
account, support a family, or even measure up to a standard of work in
the shops. Manhood and thrift were the only requisites, and the company
stood ready to help any man attain those.

The first obstacle was the fact that 55 per cent. of the men did not
speak English. Investigators visiting their miserable homes were obliged
to speak through interpreters. A school was started where they might
learn English, and the response was touching. More than a thousand men
enrolled immediately, and when the plan was discussed in the shops 200
American workmen volunteered to help in teaching, so thoroughly had the
Ford spirit of helpfulness pervaded the factory. The paid teachers were
dismissed, and now those 200 men, on their own time, are helping their
fellow-employees to learn the language of their new country.

Shortly after the newspapers had carried far and wide the news of Ford's
revolutionary theories a man knocked late one night at the door of the
manager's home.

"Will you give me a job?" he asked.

"Why, I don't know who you are," the manager replied.

"I'm the worst man in Detroit," said the caller defiantly. "I'm
fifty-four years old, and I've done thirty-two years in Jackson prison.
I'm a bad actor, and everybody knows it. I can't get a job. The only
person that ever played me true is my wife, and I ain't going to have
her taking in washing to support me. If you want to give me a job, all
right. If you don't I'm going back to Jackson prison for good. There's
one man yet I want to get, and I'll get him."

Somewhat nonplussed by the situation the manager invited the man in,
talked to him a bit, and called up Ford.

"Sure, give him a chance," Ford's voice came over the wire. "He's a man,
isn't he? He's entitled to as good a chance as any other man."

The ex-convict was given a job in the shops. For a couple of months his
work was poor. The foreman reported it to the manager. The manager wrote
a letter, telling the man to brace up, there was plenty of good stuff in
him if he would take an interest in the work and do his best.

The next morning he came into the manager's office with his wife, so
broken up he could hardly hold his voice steady. "That letter's the
finest thing, outside of what my wife has done, that I've ever had
happen to me," he said. "I want to stick here, I'll do the best I know
how. I'll work my hands off. Show me how to do my work better."

A couple of months later he came into the office and took a small roll
of bills out of his pocket.

"Say," he said, shifting from one foot to the other, and running his
fingers around the brim of the hat in his hands, "I wonder if you'd tell
me how to get into a bank and leave this? And what bank? I'm wise how to
get in and take it out, but I ain't up to putting it in without some

To-day that man is living in his own home which he is paying for on the
installment plan, and he is one of the best workers in Detroit, a good,
steady man.

His chance appearance resulted in Ford's policy of employing convicts
wherever his investigators come across them. Nearly a hundred
ex-criminals, many of them on parole, are working in his shops to-day,
and he considers them among his best men.

"No policy is any good if it cannot go into a community and take every
one in it, young, old, good, bad, sick, well, and make them all happier,
more useful and more prosperous," he says. "Every human being that lives
is part of the big machine, and you can't draw any lines between parts
of a machine. They're all important. You can't make a good machine by
making only one part of it good."

This belief led to his establishing a unique labor clearing-house in his
administration building--a department that makes it next to impossible
for any man employed in the organization to lose his job.

                             CHAPTER XXVII

                        THE IMPORTANCE OF A JOB

That surging mob of men outside this factory during the week following
the announcement of his profit-sharing plan had impressed indelibly on
Ford's mind the tremendous importance of a job.

"A workingman's job is his life," he says. "No one man should have the
right ever to send another man home to his family out of work. Think
what it means to that man, sitting there at the supper table, looking at
his wife and children, and not knowing whether or not he will be able to
keep them fed and clothed.

"A normal, healthy man wants to work. He has to work to live right.
Nobody should be able to take his work away from him. In my factory
every man shall keep his job as long as he wants it."

Impractical? The idea seems fantastic in its impracticality. What, keep
every man--lazy, stupid, impudent, dishonest, as he may be--every man in
a force of 18,000 workmen, on the payroll as long as he wants to stay?
Surely, if there is any point at which ideals of human brotherhood end
and coldblooded business methods begin, this should be that point.

But Ford, obstinate in his determination to care for the interests of
every one, declared that this policy should stand. As a part of his new
plan, he installed the labor clearing house as part of his employment

Now when a foreman discharges a man, that man is not sent out of the
factory. He goes with a written slip from the foreman to the labor
clearing house. There he is questioned. What is wrong? Is he ill? Does
he dislike his work? What are his real interests?

In the end he is transferred to another department which seems more
suited to his taste and abilities. If he proves unsatisfactory there, he
returns again to the clearing house. Again his case is discussed, again
he is given another chance in still another department. Meantime the
employment managers take an active interest in him, in his health, his
home conditions, his friends. He is made to feel that he has friends in
the management who are eager to help him make the right start to the
right kind of life.

Perhaps he is ill. Then he is sent to the company hospital, given
medical care and a leave of absence until he is well enough to resume

Over 200 cases of tuberculosis in various stages were discovered among
Ford's employees when his hospital was established. These men presented
a peculiar problem. Most of them were still able to work, all of them
must continue working to support families. Yet, if their cases were
neglected it meant not only their own deaths, but spreading infection in
the factory.

The business world has never attempted to solve the problem of these
men. Waste from the great machine, they are thrown carelessly out,
unable because of that tell-tale cough to get another job, left to shift
for themselves in a world which thinks it does not need them.

Ford established a "heat-treating department" especially for them. When
the surgeons discover a case of incipient tuberculosis in the Ford
factory, they transfer the man to this department, where the air,
filtered, dried and heated, is scientifically better for their disease
than the mountain climate of Denver. Here the men are given light jobs
which they can handle, and paid their regular salaries until they are
cured and able to return to their former places in the shops.

"It's better for everybody when a man stays at work, instead of laying
off," Ford says. "I don't care what's wrong with him, whether he's a
misfit in his department, or stupid, or sick. There's always some way to
keep him doing useful work. And as long as he is doing that it's better
for the man and for the company, and for the world.

"And yet there are men in business to-day who install systems to prevent
the waste of a piece of paper or a stamp, and let the human labor in
their plants go to waste wholesale. Yes, and they sat up and said I was
a sentimental idiot when I put in my system of taking care of the men in
my place. They said it would not pay. Well, let them look over the books
of the Ford factory and see how it paid--how it paid all of us."

Five months after Ford's new plans had gone into effect his welfare
workers made a second survey.

Eleven hundred men had moved to better homes. Bank deposits had
increased 205 per cent. Twice as many men owned their own homes. More
than two million dollars' worth of Detroit real estate had passed into
the hands of Ford employees, who were paying for it on the installment
plan. Among the 18,000 workmen only 140 still lived in conditions which
could be called "bad" in the reports.

And the output of Ford automobiles had increased over 20 per cent.

That year, with an eight-hour day in force, and $10,000,000 divided in
extra profits among the men, the factory produced over 100,000 more cars
than it had produced during the preceding year, under the old

Cold figures had proved to the business world the "practical" value of
"sentimental theories." Ford's policy had not only done away with the
labor problem, it had also shown the way to solve the employers'

"The heart of the struggle between capital and labor is the idea of
employer and employee," he says. "There ought not to be employers and
workmen--just workmen. They're two parts of the same machine. It's
absurd to have a machine in which one part tries to foil another.

"My job at the plant is to design the cars and keep the departments
working in harmony. I'm a workman. I'm not trying to slip anything over
on the other factors in the machine. How would that help the plant?

"There's trouble between labor and capital. Well, the solution is not
through one side getting the other by the neck and squeezing. No, sir;
that isn't a solution; that is ruin for both. It means that later the
other side is going to recover and try to get on top again, and there'll
be constant fighting and jarring where there ought to be harmony and

"The only solution is to GET TOGETHER. It can't come only by the demands
of labor. It can't come only by the advantages of capital. It's got to
come by both recognizing their interest and getting together.

"That's the solution of all the problems in the world, as I see it. Let
people realize that they're all bound together, all parts of one
machine, and that nothing that hurts one group of people will fail in
the end to come back and hurt all the people."

So, at the end of thirty-seven years of work, Henry Ford sat in his
office on his fifty-second birthday and looked out on a community of
nearly 20,000 persons, working efficiently and happily together, working
for him and for themselves, well paid, contented. He thought of the
world, covered with the network of his agencies, crossed and recrossed
with the tracks of his cars.

He had run counter to every prompting of "practical business judgment"
all his life--he had left the farm, built his engine, left the moneyed
men who would not let him build a cheap car, started his own plant on
insufficient capital, built up his business, established his
profit-sharing scheme--all against every dictate of established

He had acted from the first on that one fundamental principle, "Do the
thing that means the most good to the most people." His car, his
factory, his workmen, his sixty millions of dollars, answered
conclusively the objection, "I know it's the right thing,
theoretically--but it isn't practical."

Thinking of these things on that bright summer day in 1914, Ford decided
that there remained only one more thing he could do.

                             CHAPTER XXVIII


It happened that on Ford's fifty-second birthday a commission from the
French Chamber of Commerce arrived in Detroit, having crossed the
Atlantic to inspect the Ford factories.

They viewed 276 acres of manufacturing activity; the largest power plant
in the world, developing 45,000 horse-power from gas-steam engines
designed by Ford engineers; the enormous forty-ton cranes; 6,000
machines in operation in one great room, using fifty miles of leather
belting; nine mono-rail cars, each with two-ton hoists, which carry
materials--in short, the innumerable details of that mammoth plant.

Then they inspected the hospitals, the rest rooms, noted the daylight
construction of the whole plant, the ventilating system which changes
the air completely every ten minutes, the labor-saving devices, the
"safety-first" equipment.

At last they returned to Henry Ford's office, with notebooks full of
figures and information to be taken to the manufacturers of France. They
thanked Ford for his courtesy and assured him that they comprehended
every detail of his policies save one.

"We find, sir," said the spokesman, courteously, "that last year you had
more orders than you could fill. Is it not so?"

"Yes, that is correct," replied Ford. "But with the increased output
this year we hope to catch up."

"And yet, is it not so that this spring you lowered the price of your
car fifty dollars?"

"Yes, that is true," said Ford.

"But, sir, we cannot understand--is it then true that you reduce your
prices when already you have more orders than you can fill? This seems
strange to us, indeed. Why should a manufacturer do that?"

"Well," Ford answered, "I and my family already have all the money we
can possibly use. We don't need any more. And I think an automobile is a
good thing. I think every man should be able to own one. I want to keep
lowering the price until my car is within the reach of every one in
America. You see, that is all I know how to do for my country."

Unconsciously, he was voicing the new patriotism--the ideal to which he
was to give the rest of his life. He said it simply, a little awkwardly,
but the French commission, awed by the greatness of this Detroit
manufacturer, returned and reported his statement to the French people
as the biggest thing they had found in America.

Yet this viewpoint was the natural outcome of his life. A simple man,
seeing things simply, he had arrived at a place of tremendous power in
America. He had come to a time when he need no longer work at his engine
or his factory organization. He had leisure to survey his country and
its problems, to apply to them his machine idea.

And he saw in America a great machine, made up of countless human
parts--a machine which should work evenly, efficiently, harmoniously,
for the production and just distribution of food, shelter, clothes, all
the necessities of a simple and comfortable life.

His part, as he saw it, was to make and distribute automobiles. He meant
to do his part in the best way he knew how, hoping by his success to
hasten the time when every one would follow his example, and all the
terrible friction and waste of our present system would be stopped.

This was his only interest in life. A farmer-boy mechanic, who had left
school at sixteen, who had lived all his life among machines, interested
in practical things, he saw no value in anything which did not promote
the material well-being of the people. Art--music, painting, literature,
architecture--luxuries, super-refinements of living, these things seemed
useless to him.

"Education? Come to Detroit and I'll show you the biggest school in the
world," he says. "Every man there is learning and going ahead all the
time. They're realizing that their interests are the same as their
employer's, that he is the men's trustee, that he is only one of the
workmen with a job of his own, and that his job, like the jobs of the
others, has to be run for the good of the whole plant. He would fire a
man who took away from the other men for his own advantage. That spirit
would harm the works. Similarly, the men would have a right to fire him
if he took away from them for his personal benefit.

"The men in my plant are learning these things. They're leading the way
for the workers of this country. They are going to show other workers,
just as I hope to show other employers, that things should be run for
the most good for the most people. That's the education we need.

"This education outside of industry that we have to-day is just the
perpetuation of tradition and convention. It's a good deal of a joke and
a good deal of waste motion. To my mind, the usefulness of a school ends
when it has taught a man to read and write and figure, and has brought
out his capacity for being interested in his line. After that, let the
man or boy get after what he is interested in, and get after it with all
his might, and keep going ahead--that is school.

"If those young fellows who are learning chemistry in colleges were
enough interested in chemistry they would learn it the way I did, in my
little back shed of nights. I would not give a plugged nickel for all
the higher education and all the art in the world."

This, then, was Henry Ford at 52. A slender, slightly stooped man, with
hollow cheeks, thin, firm, humorous lips, gray hair; a man with sixty
odd millions of dollars; used to hard work all his life, and liking it.
A man who on a single idea had built up a tremendous organization, so
systematized that it ran by itself, requiring little supervision.

In some way he must use his driving energy, in some way he must spend
his millions, and his nature demanded that he do it along the line of
that idea which had dominated his whole life--the machine idea of
humanity, the idea of the greatest good to the greatest number.

That summer, for the first time, he found himself with leisure. He was
not imperatively needed at the plant. He and Mrs. Ford spent some time
in Greenfield, where he enlarged the old farm by purchasing nearly four
thousand acres of land adjoining it. He himself spent some time on the
problems of organizing the work on those acres. He and his wife lived in
the house where they had begun their married life, and where, with their
old furniture and their old friends, they reconstructed the life of
thirty years before.

Ford returned to Detroit with a working model for a cheap farm-tractor
which he intends to put on the market soon. He worked out the designs
and dropped them into the roaring cogs of his organization which
presently produced some dozens of the tractors. These were sent down to
the farm and put to work. In due course, caught up again by the Ford
organization, the tractors will begin to pour out in an endless stream
and Ford will have done for farm work what he did for passenger traffic.

But he realized that those occupations did not absorb his whole energy.
Unconsciously he was seeking something bigger even than his factories,
than his business operations, to which he could devote his
mind--something to which he could apply his ruling idea, something for
which he could fight.

The terrible 4th of August, 1914, which brought misery, ruin, desolation
to Europe and panic to the whole world, gave him his opportunity.

                              CHAPTER XXIX

                            THE EUROPEAN WAR

War! The news caught at the heart of the world, and stopped it.

For a time the whole business structure of every nation on earth
trembled, threatened to crumble into ruin, under this weight, to which
it had been building from the beginning.

Greed, grasping selfishness, a policy of "each man for himself, against
other men," these are the foundations on which nations have built up
their commercial, social, industrial success. These are the things which
always have led, and always will lead, to war, to the destruction of
those structures they have built.

Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Russia, England, Japan, Turkey,
Italy--one by one they crashed down into the general wreck. Everything
good that the centuries had made was buried in the debris. The world
rocked under the shock.

Here in America we read the reports in dazed incredulity. It could not
be possible, it could not be possible, we said to each other with white
lips--in this age, now, to-day--

For, living as most of us do, on the surface of things, among our
friends, in an atmosphere of kindliness and helpfulness, we had been
cheerfully unconcerned about the foundations of our economic and
industrial life.

In the winter there are thousands of unemployed men--we try to give each
one a bowl of soup, a place to sleep. Our street corners are
unpleasantly infested with beggars--we pass an ordinance, arrest them
for vagrancy, feed them a few days and order them to leave town. The
city is full of criminals--what are the police doing? we inquire
testily. We build another prison, erect another gallows.

We are like an architect who, seeing threatening cracks in the walls of
the building, would hurriedly fill them with putty and add another

Henry Ford read the news from Europe. He saw there a purposeless,
useless and waste of everything valuable. He saw a machine, wrongly
built for centuries so that each part would work against all the other
parts, suddenly set in motion and wrecking itself.

It was a repetition, on a larger scale, of a catastrophe with which he
had been familiar in the business world. How many companies in his own
field had been organized in the early days of the industry, had gone
into business with the one purpose of getting all they could from every
one, workers, stockholders, buyers--and had gone down in ruin! Only
those companies which had been built on some basis of fair service had
succeeded, and these had done so in proportion to their real value to
others. Whether or not this principle is recognized by those who profit
from it, it is the fundamental principle on which business success is

"The trouble is that people do not see that," said Ford. "A man goes
into business from purely selfish motives; he works for himself, and
against every one else, as far as he can. But only so far as his
grasping selfishness really works out in benefit to other people he
succeeds. If he knew that, if he went to work deliberately to help other
people, he would do more good, and at the same time he would make a
bigger success for himself.

"But instead of that, he gets more and more selfish. When he has got a
lot of money, and becomes a real power, he uses his power selfishly. He
thinks it is his grasping policy that has made him successful. Why,
everything I ever did selfishly in my life has come back like a
boomerang and hurt me more than it hurt any one else, and the same way
with everything I have done to help others. It helps me in the end every
time. It is bound to. As long as a machine runs, anything that is really
good for one part is good for the whole machine.

"Look at those fighting nations. Every one of them is hurting itself as
much as it hurts the enemy. Their success was founded on the fact that
they have helped each other. England got her dyes and her tools and her
toys from Germany; Germany got her wheat from Russia, and her fruits and
olives from Italy; Turkey got her ships from England. They were all
helping each other. Their real interests--the comfort and happiness of
their people--were all one interest.

"Left to themselves, the real German people would never fight the French
people, never in the world. No more than Iowa would fight Michigan. Race
differences? They do not exist in sufficient degree to make men fight,
and they are disappearing every day. See how the races mix in America! I
have fifty-three nationalities, speaking more than one hundred different
languages and dialects, in my shops, and they never have any trouble.
They realize that their interests are all the same.

"What is the root of the whole question? The real interests of all men
are the same--work, food and shelter, and happiness. When they all work
together for those, every one will have plenty.

"What do people fight for? Does fighting make more jobs, better homes,
more to eat? No. People fight because they are taught that the only way
to get these things is to take them from some one else. The common
people, the people who lose most by fighting, don't know what they are
fighting for. They fight because they are told to. What do they get out
of it? Disgust, shame, grief, wounds, death, ruin, starvation. War is
the most hideous waste in the world."

In the first terrible months of the war the American people, in horror,
echoed that opinion. With the spectacle of half the world in bloody
ruins before our eyes, we recoiled. We thanked God that our country
remained sane. We saw a vision of America, after the madness had passed,
helping to bind up the wounds of Europe, helping to make a permanent
peace which should bring the people of the earth together in one

By degrees that feeling began to change. We want peace. Are there a
hundred men among our hundred million who will say they want war for
war's sake? We want peace--but---- We have begun to ask that old
question, "Is it practical?" That vision of the people of the world
working together, increasing their own happiness and comfort by helping
to make happiness and comfort for each other--it is a beautiful theory,
but is it not a bit sentimental? a bit visionary? just a little too good
to be true?

"Here is a world where war happens," we say. "If a war should happen to
us what would we do? Let us begin to prepare for war. Let us take war
into our calculations. Let us be practical."

And Henry Ford, reading the papers, listening to the talk of the men in
the streets, saw the object lesson of his great organization
disregarded. He heard again the objection which had met every step of
his life. "It is a good idea, but it is theoretical. It is not
practical. It will not work. Things never have done that way." He saw
this country, already wasting incalculable human energy, destroying
innumerable lives daily, because of a "practical" system of
organization, preparing to drain off still more energy, still greater
wealth, in preparation for a still more terrible waste.

The dearest principle of his life, the principle whose truth he had
proven through a life of hard work, was in danger of being swept away
and forgotten.

                              CHAPTER XXX

                         THE BEST PREPAREDNESS

Henry Ford saw that the meaning of his work was about to be lost. He was
in for the greatest fight of his life.

He counted his resources. The mammoth factory was still running to
capacity, the farm tractors, which would mean so much in increased
production of food, in greater comforts for millions of farmers, were
almost ready to be put on the market. His plan for profit-sharing with
the buyers of his cars had recently been announced. Three hundred
thousand men in this country would have, during 1915, an actual proof in
dollars and cents of the practical value of coöperation, of Ford's
principle that "helping the other fellow will help you." Those men would
share with him the profit which would add still more millions to his

Ford had these things; he had also a tremendous fortune at his command.
He cast about for ways of using that fortune in this fight, and again
the uselessness of money was impressed upon him.

"Money is of no real value whatever," he says. "What can I do with it
now? I cannot pay a man enough to make him change his real opinions. The
only real resource this country has now is the intelligence of our
people. They must think right, they must know the true principles on
which to build a great, strong nation.

"They must hold firm to the big, true things, and realize--some way they
must be MADE to realize--that they are practical, that ideals are the
only practical things in this world.

"It is to everybody's interest to do right. Not in the next world, nor
in a spiritual way only, but in good, hard dollars-and-cents business

"Let's be practical. Suppose we do prepare for war? Suppose we do take
the energies of our young men and spend them in training for war. Our
country needs the whole energy of every man in productive work, work
that will make more food, more clothing, better houses. But suppose we
turn that energy from real uses, train it to destroy, instead of to
create? Suppose we have half a million young men ready to fight? What
weapons shall we give them?

"Shall we give them guns? They will be out of date. Shall we give them
poisonous gases, or disease germs, or shall we invent something even
more horrible? As fast as we make these things, other nations will make
worse ones.

"Shall we turn our factories into munition plants? Shall we build
dreadnoughts? The submarine destroys them. Shall we build submarines?
Other nations will make submarine-destroyers. Shall we build
submarine-destroyers? Other nations will build war-aeroplanes to destroy
them. We must make something worse than the aeroplanes, and something
worse still, and then something still more horrible, bidding senselessly
up and up and up, spending millions on millions, trying to outdo other
nations which are trying to outdo us.

"For if we begin to prepare for war we must not stop. We can not stop. I
read articles in the magazines saying that we might as well have no navy
at all as the one we have; that we might as well have no army as the
army we have, if this country should be invaded. Yet we have already
spent millions on that army and that navy. Let us spend millions more,
and more millions, and more, and still, unless we keep on spending more
than any other nation can spend, we might as well have no army or navy
at all.

"And yet there are people who think that to begin such a course is
'practical,' is good common sense!

"I tell you, the only real strength of a nation is the spirit of its
people. The only real, practical value in the world is the spirit of the
people of the world. There were animals on the earth ages ago who could
kill a hundred men with one sweep of a paw, but they are gone, and we
survive. Why? Because men have minds, because they use their minds in
doing useful things, making food, and clothes, and shelters.

"A few hundred years ago no man was safe on the street alone at night.
No woman was safe unless she had a man with her who was strong enough to
kill other men. We have changed all that. How? By force? No, because we
have learned in a small degree that there are things better than force.
We have learned that to look out for the interests of every one in our
community is best for us in the end.

"Let us realize that to think of the welfare of the whole world is best
for each one of us. We do not carry a gun so that if we meet an
Englishman on the street and he attacks us we can kill him. We know he
does not want to kill us.

"We know that the real people of the whole world do not want war. We do
not want war. There are only a few people who think they want war--the
politicians, the rulers, the Big Business men, who think they can profit
by it. War injures everybody else, and in the end it injures them, too.

"The way to handle the war question is not to waste more and more human
energy in getting ready to hurt the other fellow. We must get down to
the foundations; we must realize that the interests of all the people
are one, and that what hurts one hurts us all.

"We must know that, and we must have the courage to act on it. A nation
of a hundred million people, of all nationalities and races, we must
work together, each of us doing what he can for the best good of the
whole. Then we can show Europe, when at last her crippled people drag
themselves back to their ruined homes, that a policy of peace and
hopefulness does pay, that it is practical.

"We can show them that we do mean to help them. They will believe it, if
we do not say it behind a gun.

"If we carry a gun, we must depend on the gun to save our nation. We
must frankly say that we believe in force and nothing else. We must
admit that human brotherhood and ideals of mutual good will and
helpfulness are secondary to power and willingness to commit murder;
that only a murderer at heart can afford to have them. We must abandon
every principle on which our country was founded, every inch of progress
we have made since men were frankly beasts.

"But if our country is not to go down as all nations have gone before
her, depending on force and destroyed by force, we must build on a firm
foundation. We must build on our finest, biggest instincts. We must go
fearlessly ahead, not looking back, and put our faith in the things
which endure, and which have grown stronger through every century of

"Democracy, every man's right to comfort and plenty and happiness, human
brotherhood, mutual helpfulness--these are the real, practical things.
These are the things on which we can build, surely and firmly. These are
the things which will last. These are the things which will pay.

"I have proved them over and over again in my own life. Other men, so
far as they have trusted them, have proved them. America has built on
them the richest, most successful nation in the world to-day. Just so
far as we continue to trust them, to build on them, we will continue to
be prosperous and successful.

"I know this. If my life has taught me anything at all, it has taught me
that. I will spend every ounce of energy I have, every hour of my life,
in the effort to prove it to other people. Only so far as we all believe
it, only so far as we all use our strength and our abilities, not to
hurt, but to help, other peoples, will we help ourselves."

This is the end of my story, and the beginning of Henry Ford's biggest

                                THE END

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Henry Ford's Own Story - How a Farmer Boy Rose to the Power that goes with Many - Millions Yet Never Lost Touch with Humanity" ***

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