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One of the most influential men in American history, Henry Ford, was born to a wealthy family in Dearborn, Michigan, but like all kids, was resigned to doing chores (like farm work). Young Henry expressed his love for mechanics early, and as soon as he could leave home he began taking jobs at machinist shops, on steam engines, and later, with the Edison Illuminating Company. Once he scored a big promotion, Ford began exploring his own inventions, particularly on the concept of combustion engines. He built his quadricycle in 1896, and with enough money to invest, opened his own automotive company and factory in 1903. The Ford Motor Company revolutionized America not only with the Ford Model T, but also with Henry’s groundbreaking strategies in manufacturing, including interchangeable parts, division of labor, and the vital moving assembly line. Ford died in his family’s Dearborn home, Fair Lane, in April of 1947.
An assembly line allows products to be made faster, and lowers their cost. Why do you think that is?
In the midst of the American Revolution, the colonists struck up a great relationship with France, as it too was an enemy of England’s. In France, America’s secret envoy Silas Dean made an arrangement for a young military protégé and aristocrat named Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette to come to America and offer his advice and training to the inexperienced Continental Army. The French King Louis XVI was reluctant to let Lafayette leave, for fear it would anger the British, and Lafayette was arrested once in an attempt to sail across the Atlantic. However, he escaped, and made it to South Carolina before two British dispatch ships could seize him once more. He traveled to Philadelphia to appeal for the post of General Washington’s second-in-command, but the Continental Congress was reluctant to assign someone so young (the Marquis was only 19) before older and more experienced American men. But his noble offer to take the position without pay won the Congress over, and he was happily granted status as major general. He did not disappoint: serving at the Battles of Brandywine, Monmouth, and Yorktown, Lafayette became a close, trusted friend of Washington (he eventually named his son “Georges Washington”), and a hero in the War for Independence. He occasionally returned to his homeland of France, especially as it began to experience its own tumultuous Revolution, but was always an outspoken believer in the American cause.
Why do you think Lafayette wanted to help America so much? What do you think he did for the relationship between the US and France?