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plant is big enough to make two articles.
The automobile is designed to carry; the tractor is designed to pull--to
climb. And that difference in function made all the difference in the
world in construction. The hard problem was to get bearings that would
stand up against the heavy pull. We finally got them and a construction
which seems to give the best average performance under all conditions.
We fixed upon a four-cylinder engine that is started by gasoline but
runs thereafter on kerosene. The lightest weight that we could attain
with strength was 2,425 pounds. The grip is in the lugs on the driving
wheels--as in the claws of the cat.
In addition to its strictly pulling functions, the tractor, to be of the
greatest service, had also to be designed for work as a stationary
engine so that when it was not out on the road or in the fields it might
be hitched up with a belt to run machinery. In short, it had to be a
compact, versatile power plant. And that it has been. It has not only
ploughed, harrowed, cultivated, and reaped, but it has also threshed,
run grist mills, saw mills, and various other sorts of mills, pulled
stumps, ploughed snow, and done about everything that a plant of
moderate power could do from sheep-shearing to printing a newspaper. It
has been fitted with heavy tires to haul on roads, with sledge runners
for the woods and ice, and with rimmed wheels to run on rails. When the
shops in Detroit were shut down by coal shortage, we got out the
_Dearborn Independent_ by sending a tractor to the electro-typing
factory--stationing the tractor in the alley, sending up a belt four
stories, and making the plates by tractor power. Its use in ninety-five
distinct lines of service has been called to our attention, and probably
we know only a fraction of the uses.
The mechanism of the tractor is even more simple than that of the
automobile and it is manufactured in exactly the same fashion. Until the
present year, the production has been held back by the lack of a
suitable factory. The first tractors had been made in the plant at
Dearborn which is now used as an experimental station. That was not
large enough to affect the economies of large-scale production and it
could not well be enlarged because the design was to make the tractors
at the River Rouge plant, and that, until this year, was not in full
Now that plant is completed for the making of tractors. The work flows
exactly as with the automobiles. Each part is a separate departmental
undertaking and each part as it is finished joins the conveyor system
which leads it to its proper initial assembly and eventually into the
final assembly. Everything moves and there is no skilled work. The
capacity of the present plant is one million tractors a year. That is
the number we expect to make--for the world needs inexpensive,
general-utility power plants more now than ever before--and also it now
knows enough about machinery to want such plants.
The first tractors, as I have said, went to England. They were first
offered in the United States in 1918 at $750. In the next year, with the
higher costs, the price had to be made $885; in the middle of the year
it was possible again to make the introductory price of $750. In 1920 we
charged $790; in the next year we were sufficiently familiar with the
production to begin cutting. The price came down to $625 and then in
1922 with the River Rouge plant functioning we were able to cut to $395.
All of which shows what getting into scientific production will do to a
price. Just as I have no idea how cheaply the Ford automobile can
eventually be made, I have no idea how cheaply the tractor can
eventually be made.
It is important that it shall be cheap. Otherwise power will not go to
all the farms. And they must all of them have power. Within a few years
a farm depending solely on horse and hand power will be as much of a
curiosity as a factory run by a treadmill. The farmer must either take
up power or go out of business. The cost figures make this inevitable.
During the war the Government made a test of a Fordson tractor to see
how its costs compared with doing the work with horses. The figures on
the tractor were taken at the high price plus freight. The depreciation
and repair items are not so great as the report sets them forth, and
even if they were, the prices are cut in halves which would therefore
cut the depreciation and repair charge in halves. These are the figures:
COST, FORDSON, $880. WEARING LIFE, 4,800 HOURS AT 4/5 ACRES PER HOUR,
3,840 acres at $880; depreciation per acre .221
Repairs for 3,840 acres, $100; per acre .026
Fuel cost, kerosene at 19 cents; 2 gal. per acre .38
1 gal. oil per 8 acres; per acre .075
Driver, $2 per day, 8 acres; per acre .25
Cost of ploughing with Fordson; per acre. .95
8 HORSES COST, $1,200. WORKING LIFE, 5,000 HOURS AT 4/5 ACRE PER HOUR,
4,000 acres at $1,200, depreciation of horses, per acre. . . . 30
Feed per horse, 40 cents (100 working days) per acre . . . . . 40
Feed per horse, 10 cents a day (265 idle days) per acre. . . 2.65
Two drivers, two gang ploughs, at $2 each per day, per acre. . 50
Cost of ploughing with horses; per acre. . . . . . . . . . . 1.46
At present costs, an acre would run about 40 cents only two cents
representing depreciation and repairs. But this does not take account of
the time element. The ploughing is done in about one fourth the time,
with only the physical energy used to steer the tractor. Ploughing has
become a matter of motoring across a field.
Farming in the old style is rapidly fading into a picturesque memory.
This does not mean that work is going to remove from the farm. Work
cannot be removed from any life that is productive. But power-farming
does mean this--drudgery is going to be removed from the farm.
Power-farming is simply taking the burden from flesh and blood and
putting it on steel. We are in the opening years of power-farming. The
motor car wrought a revolution in modern farm life, not because it was a
vehicle, but because it had power. Farming ought to be something more
than a rural occupation. It ought to be the business of raising food.
And when it does become a business the actual work of farming the
average sort of farm can be done in twenty-four days a year. The other
days can be given over to other kinds of business. Farming is too
seasonal an occupation to engage all of a man's time.
As a food business, farming will justify itself as a business if it
raises food in sufficient quantity and distributes it under such
conditions as will enable every family to have enough food for its
reasonable needs. There could not be a food trust if we were to raise
such overwhelming quantities of all kinds of food as to make
manipulation and exploitation impossible. The farmer who limits his
planting plays into the hands of the speculators.
And then, perhaps, we shall witness a revival of the small flour-milling
business. It was an evil day when the village flour mill disappeared.
Cooperative farming will become so developed that we shall see
associations of farmers with their own packing houses in which their own
hogs will be turned into ham and bacon, and with their own flour mills
in which their grain will be turned into commercial foodstuffs.
Why a steer raised in Texas should be brought to Chicago and then served
in Boston is a question that cannot be answered as long as all the
steers the city needs could be raised near Boston. The centralization of
food manufacturing industries, entailing enormous costs for
transportation and organization, is too wasteful long to continue in a
We shall have as great a development in farming during the next twenty
years as we have had in manufacturing during the last twenty.
Why should there by any necessity for almsgiving in a civilized
community? It is not the charitable mind to which I object. Heaven
forbid that we should ever grow cold toward a fellow creature in need.
Human sympathy is too fine for the cool, calculating attitude to take
its place. One can name very few great advances that did not have human
sympathy behind them. It is in order to help people that every notable
service is undertaken.
The trouble is that we have been using this great, fine motive force for
ends too small. If human sympathy prompts us to feed the hungry, why
should it not give the larger desire--to make hunger in our midst
impossible? If we have sympathy enough for people to help them out of
their troubles, surely we ought to have sympathy enough to keep them
It is easy to give; it is harder to make giving unnecessary. To make the
giving unnecessary we must look beyond the individual to the cause of
his misery--not hesitating, of course, to relieve him in the meantime,
but not stopping with mere temporary relief. The difficulty seems to be
in getting to look beyond to the causes. More people can be moved to
help a poor family than can be moved to give their minds toward the
removal of poverty altogether.
I have no patience with professional charity, or with any sort of
commercialized humanitarianism. The moment human helpfulness is
systematized, organized, commercialized, and professionalized, the heart
of it is extinguished, and it becomes a cold and clammy thing.
Real human helpfulness is never card-catalogued or advertised. There are
more orphan children being cared for in the private homes of people who
love them than in the institutions. There are more old people being
sheltered by friends than you can find in the old people's homes. There
is more aid by loans from family to family than by the loan societies.
That is, human society on a humane basis looks out for itself. It is a
grave question how far we ought to countenance the commercialization of
the natural instinct of charity.
Professional charity is not only cold but it hurts more than it helps.
It degrades the recipients and drugs their self-respect. Akin to it is
sentimental idealism. The idea went abroad not so many years ago that
"service" was something that we should expect to have done for us.
Untold numbers of people became the recipients of well-meant "social
service." Whole sections of our population were coddled into a state of
expectant, child-like helplessness. There grew up a regular profession
of doing things for people, which gave an outlet for a laudable desire
for service, but which contributed nothing whatever to the self-reliance
of the people nor to the correction of the conditions out of which the
supposed need for such service grew.
Worse than this encouragement of childish wistfulness, instead of
training for self-reliance and self-sufficiency, was the creation of a
feeling of resentment which nearly always overtakes the objects of
charity. People often complain of the "ingratitude" of those whom they
help. Nothing is more natural. In the first place, precious little of
our so-called charity is ever real charity, offered out of a heart full
of interest and sympathy. In the second place, no person ever relishes
being in a position where he is forced to take favors.
Such "social work" creates a strained relation--the recipient of bounty
feels that he has been belittled in the taking, and it is a question
whether the giver should not also feel that he has been belittled in the
giving. Charity never led to a settled state of affairs. The charitable
system that does not aim to make itself unnecessary is not performing
service. It is simply making a job for itself and is an added item to
the record of non-production.
Charity becomes unnecessary as those who seem to be unable to earn
livings are taken out of the non-productive class and put into the
productive. In a previous chapter I have set out how experiments in our
shops have demonstrated that in sufficiently subdivided industry there
are places which can be filled by the maimed, the halt, and the blind.
Scientific industry need not be a monster devouring all who come near
it. When it is, then it is not fulfilling its place in life. In and out
of industry there must be jobs that take the full strength of a powerful
man; there are other jobs, and plenty of them, that require more skill
than the artisans of the Middle Ages ever had. The minute subdivision of
industry permits a strong man or a skilled man always to use his
strength or skill. In the old hand industry, a skilled man spent a good
part of his time at unskilled work. That was a waste. But since in those
days every task required both skilled and unskilled labour to be
performed by the one man, there was little room for either the man who
was too stupid ever to be skilled or the man who did not have the
opportunity to learn a trade.
No mechanic working with only his hands can earn more than a bare
sustenance. He cannot have a surplus. It has been taken for granted
that, coming into old age, a mechanic must be supported by his children
or, if he has no children, that he will be a public charge. All of that
is quite unnecessary. The subdivision of industry opens places that can
be filled by practically any one. There are more places in subdivision
industry that can be filled by blind men than there are blind men. There
are more places that can be filled by cripples than there are cripples.
And in each of these places the man who short-sightedly might be
considered as an object of charity can earn just as adequate a living as
the keenest and most able-bodied. It is waste to put an able-bodied man
in a job that might be just as well cared for by a cripple. It is a
frightful waste to put the blind at weaving baskets. It is waste to have
convicts breaking stone or picking hemp or doing any sort of petty,
A well-conducted jail should not only be self-supporting, but a man in
jail ought to be able to support his family or, if he has no family, he
should be able to accumulate a sum of money sufficient to put him on his
feet when he gets out of jail. I am not advocating convict labour or the
farming out of men practically as slaves. Such a plan is too detestable
for words. We have greatly overdone the prison business, anyway; we
begin at the wrong end. But as long as we have prisons they can be
fitted into, the general scheme of production so neatly that a prison
may become a productive unit working for the relief of the public and
the benefit of the prisoners. I know that there are laws--foolish laws
passed by unthinking men--that restrict the industrial activities of
prisons. Those laws were passed mostly at the behest of what is called
Labour. They are not for the benefit of the workingman. Increasing the
charges upon a community does not benefit any one in the community. If
the idea of service be kept in mind, then there is always in every
community more work to do than there are men who can do it.
Industry organized for service removes the need for philanthropy.
Philanthropy, no matter how noble its motive, does not make for
self-reliance. We must have self-reliance. A community is the better for
being discontented, for being dissatisfied with what it has. I do not
mean the petty, daily, nagging, gnawing sort of discontent, but a broad,
courageous sort of discontent which believes that everything which is
done can and ought to be eventually done better. Industry organized for
service--and the workingman as well as the leader must serve--can pay
wages sufficiently large to permit every family to be both self-reliant
and self-supporting. A philanthropy that spends its time and money in
helping the world to do more for itself is far better than the sort
which merely gives and thus encourages idleness. Philanthropy, like
everything else, ought to be productive, and I believe that it can be. I
have personally been experimenting with a trade school and a hospital to
discover if such institutions, which are commonly regarded as
benevolent, cannot be made to stand on their own feet. I have found that
they can be.
I am not in sympathy with the trade school as it is commonly
organized--the boys get only a smattering of knowledge and they do not
learn how to use that knowledge. The trade school should not be a cross
between a technical college and a school; it should be a means of
teaching boys to be productive. If they are put at useless tasks--at
making articles and then throwing them away--they cannot have the
interest or acquire the knowledge which is their right. And during the
period of schooling the boy is not productive; the schools--unless by
charity--make no provision for the support of the boy. Many boys need
support; they must work at the first thing which comes to hand. They
have no chance to pick and choose.
When the boy thus enters life untrained, he but adds to the already
great scarcity of competent labour. Modern industry requires a degree of
ability and skill which neither early quitting of school nor long
continuance at school provides. It is true that, in order to retain the
interest of the boy and train him in handicraft, manual training
departments have been introduced in the more progressive school systems,
but even these are confessedly makeshifts because they only cater to,
without satisfying, the normal boy's creative instincts.
To meet this condition--to fulfill the boy's educational possibilities
and at the same time begin his industrial training along constructive
lines--the Henry Ford Trade School was incorporated in 1916. We do not
use the word philanthropy in connection with this effort. It grew out of
a desire to aid the boy whose circumstances compelled him to leave
school early. This desire to aid fitted in conveniently with the
necessity of providing trained tool-makers in the shops. From the
beginning we have held to three cardinal principles: first, that the boy
was to be kept a boy and not changed into a premature working-man;
second, that the academic training was to go hand in hand with the
industrial instruction; third, that the boy was to be given a sense of
pride and responsibility in his work by being trained on articles which
were to be used. He works on objects of recognized industrial worth. The
school is incorporated as a private school and is open to boys between
the ages of twelve and eighteen. It is organized on the basis of
scholarships and each boy is awarded an annual cash scholarship of four
hundred dollars at his entrance. This is gradually increased to a
maximum of six hundred dollars if his record is satisfactory.
A record of the class and shop work is kept and also of the industry the
boy displays in each. It is the marks in industry which are used in
making subsequent adjustments of his scholarship. In addition to his
scholarship each boy is given a small amount each month which must be
deposited in his savings account. This thrift fund must be left in the
bank as long as the boy remains in the school unless he is given
permission by the authorities to use it for an emergency.
One by one the problems of managing the school are being solved and
better ways of accomplishing its objects are being discovered. At the
beginning it was the custom to give the boy one third of the day in
class work and two thirds in shop work. This daily adjustment was found
to be a hindrance to progress, and now the boy takes his training in
blocks of weeks--one week in the class and two weeks in the shop.
Classes are continuous, the various groups taking their weeks in turn.
The best instructors obtainable are on the staff, and the text-book is
the Ford plant. It offers more resources for practical education than
most universities. The arithmetic lessons come in concrete shop
problems. No longer is the boy's mind tortured with the mysterious A who
can row four miles while B is rowing two. The actual processes and
actual conditions are exhibited to him--he is taught to observe. Cities
are no longer black specks on maps and continents are not just pages of
a book. The shop shipments to Singapore, the shop receipts of material
from Africa and South America are shown to him, and the world becomes an
inhabited planet instead of a coloured globe on the teacher's desk. In
physics and chemistry the industrial plant provides a laboratory in
which theory becomes practice and the lesson becomes actual experience.
Suppose the action of a pump is being taught. The teacher explains the
parts and their functions, answers questions, and then they all troop
away to the engine rooms to see a great pump. The school has a regular
factory workshop with the finest equipment. The boys work up from one
machine to the next. They work solely on parts or articles needed by the
company, but our needs are so vast that this list comprehends nearly
everything. The inspected work is purchased by the Ford Motor Company,
and, of course, the work that does not pass inspection is a loss to the
The boys who have progressed furthest do fine micrometer work, and they
do every operation with a clear understanding of the purposes and
principles involved. They repair their own machines; they learn how to
take care of themselves around machinery; they study pattern-making and
in clean, well-lighted rooms with their instructors they lay the
foundation for successful careers.
When they graduate, places are always open for them in the shops at good
wages. The social and moral well-being of the boys is given an
unobtrusive care. The supervision is not of authority but of friendly
interest. The home conditions of every boy are pretty well known, and
his tendencies are observed. And no attempt is made to coddle him. No
attempt is made to render him namby-pamby. One day when two boys came to
the point of a fight, they were not lectured on the wickedness of
fighting. They were counseled to make up their differences in a better
way, but when, boy-like, they preferred the more primitive mode of
settlement, they were given gloves and made to fight it out in a corner
of the shop. The only prohibition laid upon them was that they were to
finish it there, and not to be caught fighting outside the shop. The
result was a short encounter and--friendship.
They are handled as boys; their better boyish instincts are encouraged;
and when one sees them in the shops and classes one cannot easily miss
the light of dawning mastery in their eyes. They have a sense of
"belonging." They feel they are doing something worth while. They learn
readily and eagerly because they are learning the things which every
active boy wants to learn and about which he is constantly asking
questions that none of his home-folks can answer.
Beginning with six boys the school now has two hundred and is possessed
of so practical a system that it may expand to seven hundred. It began
with a deficit, but as it is one of my basic ideas that anything worth
while in itself can be made self-sustaining, it has so developed its
processes that it is now paying its way.
We have been able to let the boy have his boyhood. These boys learn to
be workmen but they do not forget how to be boys. That is of the first
importance. They earn from 19 to 35 cents an hour--which is more than
they could earn as boys in the sort of job open to a youngster. They can
better help support their families by staying in school than by going
out to work. When they are through, they have a good general education,
the beginning of a technical education, and they are so skilled as
workmen that they can earn wages which will give them the liberty to
continue their education if they like. If they do not want more
education, they have at least the skill to command high wages anywhere.
They do not have to go into our factories; most of them do because they
do not know where better jobs are to be had--we want all our jobs to be
good for the men who take them. But there is no string tied to the boys.
They have earned their own way and are under obligations to no one.
There is no charity. The place pays for itself.
The Ford Hospital is being worked out on somewhat similar lines, but
because of the interruption of the war--when it was given to the
Government and became General Hospital No. 36, housing some fifteen
hundred patients--the work has not yet advanced to the point of
absolutely definite results. I did not deliberately set out to build
this hospital. It began in 1914 as the Detroit General Hospital and was
designed to be erected by popular subscription. With others, I made a
subscription, and the building began. Long before the first buildings
were done, the funds became exhausted and I was asked to make another
subscription. I refused because I thought that the managers should have
known how much the building was going to cost before they started. And
that sort of a beginning did not give great confidence as to how the
place would be managed after it was finished. However, I did offer to
take the whole hospital, paying back all the subscriptions that had been
made. This was accomplished, and we were going forward with the work
when, on August 1, 1918, the whole institution was turned over to the
Government. It was returned to us in October, 1919, and on the tenth day
of November of the same year the first private patient was admitted.
The hospital is on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit and the plot embraces
twenty acres, so that there will be ample room for expansion. It is our
thought to extend the facilities as they justify themselves. The
original design of the hospital has been quite abandoned and we have
endeavoured to work out a new kind of hospital, both in design and
management. There are plenty of hospitals for the rich. There are plenty
of hospitals for the poor. There are no hospitals for those who can
afford to pay only a moderate amount and yet desire to pay without a
feeling that they are recipients of charity. It has been taken for
granted that a hospital cannot both serve and be self-supporting--that
it has to be either an institution kept going by private contributions
or pass into the class of private sanitariums managed for profit. This