Publish date:
Updated on

Edsel Ford succeeds father as president of Ford

On this day in 1919, Edsel Ford, the son of Model T inventor and auto industry pioneer Henry Ford, succeeds his father as president of the Ford Motor Company. The younger Ford ascended to the top spot after his father resigned the position in December 1918, following a disagreement with stockholders However, father and son soon managed to purchase these dissenting investors’ stock and regain control of the company.

Edsel Bryant Ford, the only child of Henry Ford and his wife Clara, was born November 6, 1893, in Detroit, Michigan. A decade after Edsel’s birth, Henry Ford (1863-1947) established the Ford Motor Company; five years later, he introduced the Model T, an affordable car for the masses. Henry Ford was also credited with pioneering the moving assembly line and introducing, in 1914, the $5-per-day minimum wage and the eight-hour workday. This made it possible for ordinary factory workers to buy the cars they built and helped to create the American middle class.

As president of Ford Motor Company, one of Edsel Ford’s key contributions was to the styling of the company’s cars. Unlike his father, whose legendary rule regarding the utilitarian Model T was: “You can have any color, as long as it’s black,” he believed that Fords could be stylish as well as functional. In 1922, the Ford Motor Company made its first foray into the upscale vehicle market when it acquired the failing luxury automaker Lincoln Motor Company for $8 million. Edsel Ford, who encouraged his father to buy Lincoln, was involved with developing such elegant, prestigious models as the Lincoln Continental, which launched in the late 1930s and was reportedly described by architect Frank Lloyd Wright as “the most beautiful car ever made.”

Edsel Ford, who was also an arts patron and philanthropist (in 1936, along with his father, he set up the Ford Foundation, which grew into a leading global philanthropic organization), died of cancer at the age of 49 on May 26, 1943. His father then resumed the presidency of the company. Edsel’s oldest son, Henry Ford II, succeeded his grandfather as head of Ford in 1945.

In the 1950s, the Ford company launched the Edsel car division, named for its second president. However, the cars, which debuted with the 1958 model year, were plagued with mechanical problems and design issues and the Edsel name came to be synonymous with failure. Ford discontinued the line with the 1960 model year.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


First modern Mummers’ Parade

In honor of the American centennial, the first area-wide New Year’s Day Mummers’ Parade is held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mummers’ celebrations in America date back to colonial times, when the boisterous Swedish custom of celebrating the end of the calendar year with noise more

New Year’s Day

In 45 B.C., New Year’s Day is celebrated on January 1 for the first time in history as the Julian calendar takes effect. Soon after becoming Roman dictator, Julius Caesar decided that the traditional Roman calendar was in dire need of reform. Introduced around the seventh century more

Haitian independence proclaimed

Two months after his defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte’s colonial forces, Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaims the independence of Saint-Domingue, renaming it Haiti after its original Arawak name. In 1791, a slave revolt erupted on the French colony, and Toussaint-Louverture, a former more

Operation Sam Houston begins

Operation Sam Houston begins as a continuation of border surveillance operations in Pleiku and Kontum Provinces in the Central Highlands by units from the U.S. 4th and 25th Infantry Divisions. The purpose of the operation was to interdict the movement of North Vietnamese troops more

Lincoln signs Emancipation Proclamation

On this day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation. Attempting to stitch together a nation mired in a bloody civil war, Abraham Lincoln made a last-ditch, but carefully calculated, decision regarding the institution of slavery in America. By the end of 1862, more

E.M. Forster is born

British writer E.M. Forster is born on this day in London. Forster’s architect father died when he was two, and Forster was raised by his mother and a great-aunt in an old house called Rooksnest, which later became the model for the country estate portrayed in Howard’s End. more

Air India jet crashes just after takeoff

An Air India Boeing 747 jet crashes into the sea just after takeoff from a Bombay airport on this day in 1978, killing all 213 people on board. The crash was apparently the result of pilot error and equipment malfunction. Air India Flight 855 left Santacruz Airport (now called more

Cuban dictator Batista falls from power

In the face of a popular revolution spearheaded by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista flees the island nation. As celebration and chaos intermingled in the Cuban capitol of Havana, U.S. policymakers debated how best to deal with the radical more

The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signs the final Emancipation Proclamation, which ends slavery in the rebelling states. A preliminary proclamation was issued in September 1862, following the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland. The act signaled an more

Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line

On this day in 1781, 1,500 soldiers from the Pennsylvania Line–all 11 regiments under General Anthony Wayne’s command–insist that their three-year enlistments are expired, kill three officers in a drunken rage and abandon the Continental Army’s winter camp at Morristown, New more

United Nations created

On this day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issue a declaration, signed by representatives of 26 countries, called the “United Nations.” The signatories of the declaration vowed to create an international postwar peacekeeping more