Ford: American revolution, Irish roots

Workers on the first moving assembly line at Highland Park, Michigan in 1913.

The Ford Motor Company may be a stalwart of Detroit, but its roots are very much anchored in Ireland. Though founder Henry Ford was born in Michigan in 1863, his father William Ford (with his siblings and parents) had emigrated from Ballinascarthy, Co Cork to the US in 1847 to escape the Great Irish Famine.

Ford’s interest in mechanics was sparked on the family farm in Greenfield Township, Michigan; though he initially concentrated on making work easier for farmers, he quickly realised the potential of the motor car. His mother died when he was 13 and three years later, with no interest in taking over the farm, Ford left to find work in Detroit, becoming an apprentice machinist.

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