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Henry Ford’s Legacy
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Henry Ford’s Legacy

Henry Ford had laid the foundation of the twentieth century. The assembly line became the century’s characteristic production mode, eventually applied to everything from phonographs to hamburgers. The vast quantities of war material turned out on those assembly lines were crucial to the Allied victory in World War II. High wage, low skilled factory jobs pioneered by Ford accelerated both immigration from overseas and the movement of Americans from the farms to the cities. The same jobs also accelerated the movement of the same people into an ever expanding middle class. In a dramatic demonstration of the law of unintended consequences, the creation of huge numbers of low skilled workers gave rise in the 1930s to industrial unionism as a potent social and political force. The Model T spawned mass automobility, altering our living patterns, our leisure activities, our landscape, even our atmosphere. 


Portrait of Henry Ford by Carl
Bennett Linder, 1926

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