AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Henry Ford
Airs Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV
Monday, January 28, 2013
Credit: Courtesy of the collections of The Henry Ford
"Henry Ford" presents a fascinating portrait of a farm boy who rose from obscurity to become the most influential American innovator of the 20th century. Through his own fierce determination, Ford created the Model T, the most successful car in history, and introduced the groundbreaking five-dollar- a-day wage, ushering in the modern world as we know it.
American Experience: Henry Ford
"Henry Ford" paints a fascinating portrait of a farm boy who rose from obscurity to become the most influential American innovator of the 20th century. Ford’s Model T automobile and his five-dollar-a-day wage ushered in the modern world, earning Ford reverence from millions of Americans. Yet many of the changes he wrought deeply troubled the carmaker. In frustration, he lashed out at enemies, real and imagined, blamed Jews for the country’s problems, bullied those who worked for him and exhibited great cruelty to his only son, often, it seemed, wishing to retreat to an idyllic fantasy of the past.
The Life of Henry Ford
View a timeline of events that begins with Ford's birth on July 30, 1863, and ends with his death on April 7, 1947.
“His Model T represented this modern notion that happiness lay not in self-denial, not in self-restraint, not in scarcity, but it lay in self-fulfillment.” — Steven Watts
But despite his success, Ford remained restless and driven, always seeking to control what lay just beyond his grasp. The creator of an urban, industrial age, Ford longed for the simpler era he had helped destroy.
One of the nation’s richest men, he despised the wealthy and blamed Jews for what he deemed society’s degeneration. A hero to many ordinary Americans, he battled his workers and bullied those who looked up to him—including, and most tragically, his only son.
An absorbing life story, "Henry Ford" also offers an incisive look at the birth of the American auto industry with its long history of struggles between labor and management, and a thought-provoking reminder of how Ford’s automobile forever changed the way we work, where we live, and our ideas about individuality, freedom, and possibility.
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