Henry Ford was the archetypal American industrial mogul and inventor of mass production; at his Ford Motor Company (founded in 1903) ‘The chain never stops, the pace never varies. The man is part of the chain, the feeder and slave of it’. Between 1890 and 1920, America transformed from a net importer to the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods. This transformation was boosted by ready availability of capital for investment and a wealth of cheap, accessible raw materials: oil, gas, iron, timber, coal, copper. A supportive government buttressed industrial growth: ‘the business of the American people is business’ (President Coolidge, 1927). This was also the heyday of the Progressive era, with inventors like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla enjoying a positive relationship with industry and having huge social impact. One of the key Progressive thinkers was Frederick Taylor, whose ‘scientific management’ principles were remorselessly applied on the Ford assembly line.
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