The Friends of the Dover Public Library are pleased to host Dover resident Michele Wehrwein Albion, editor of the new book, “The Quotable Henry Ford”, on Tuesday, April 16 at 7pm. Having researched Ford extensively, Michele will offer new insights into one of America’s greatest industrialists.
Brilliant businessman, successful entrepreneur, pioneer of the low-price, mass-produced motor vehicle, and profoundly important to 20th-century American life, Henry Ford was also a character of little-known but surprising contradictions. He sported a hefty ego, yet suffered from a pathological dislike of public speaking. He pioneered 40-hour work weeks and a minimum wage, yet hated labor unions. He was a pacifist, yet admired the efficiency of Nazi Germany. Such fascinating inconsistencies stand out sharply in “The Quotable Henry Ford” (University Press of Florida, 2013), an uncompromising presentation of the automaker’s own voice.
After the Model T made him famous, Ford began to see himself as a philosopher in the vein of Benjamin Franklin or Ralph Waldo Emerson. He kept notebooks of comments and pithy sayings, reworking them to get the wording just right—even if the spelling or grammar were not. As Ford became even more renowned, an eager public hung on his every syllable.
Michele Albion’s selection of quotes ranges from logical statements to amusing witticisms. “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black,” said Ford, who knew that black paint dried faster, allowing for increased production of vehicles. He also told women to go easy on cheating husbands, explaining “they are simply trying to hold on to their youth”.
Ford also commented on war, literature, dancing, obesity, and his assertion that overalls were not appropriate attire for women. Sometimes charming and witty, his words were often brilliant. But he could also be his own worst enemy, and some offensive comments were infamously quotable.
Historians, teachers, car experts, Ford enthusiasts, and anyone interested in early 20th-century America will discover that Henry Ford was very complicated, and very human.
Michele Wehrwein Albion was the first professional curator of the Edison and Ford Winter
Estates in Fort Myers. She is the author of The Florida Life of Thomas Edison and editor of The Quotable Edison. Signed copies of “The Quotable Henry Ford” will be available for purchase.
This program is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Dover Public Library at 603-516-6050.