Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire

By Richard Bak | Go to book overview

8
War on Several Fronts

Events were moving swiftly for Henry. Involved in lawsuits, politics and
national affairs as well as auto production, he was like a juggler with sev-
eral balls in the air at once. Another man might have felt overpowered, but
he thrived on the pressure and activity. Later he looked back on this period
and said simply, “It was the time of my life.”

—Collier and Horowitz, The Fords: An American Epic

The Five-Dollar Day made Henry Ford a national figure overnight, with the New York Times alone publishing thirty-five articles about him in the three months following its announcement. Meanwhile, several large-circulation magazines published profiles of the automaker in 1914. A feature in the New York Sun reflected the generally adulatory tone of the press coverage. “Forty years ago he was doing chores on his father's farm at Dearborn, Michigan, six miles from Detroit. Twenty-five years ago he was drawing a mechanic's wages. Today he is giving away millions of dollars.… In the first place, be it said, Henry Ford seems to have been endowed with a mechanical genius as distinctly as great painters, great musicians, great poets are specially endowed for their respective careers in the world.”

Henry was a poor public speaker and disliked personal publicity; consequently, the company had lacked an identity since its inception. That was before 1914, when the world rushed in. Thanks to the massive media attention given his profit-sharing plan, Ford was introduced to the public as a self-made, self-effacing, and selfless man, a simple

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