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John Francis Dodge

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

John Francis Dodge
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Wikipedia: John Francis Dodge

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Biography
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Born: 25 October 1864
Died: 14 January 1920

One of the co-founders of Dodge with Horace Dodge.

Biography

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's John Francis Dodge page on 16 June 2019, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Dodge was born in Niles, Michigan, where his father ran a foundry and machine shop. John and his younger brother, Horace, were inseparable as children and as adults. The origins of the Dodge family lie in Stockport, England, where their ancestral home still stands.

In 1886, the Dodge family moved to Detroit, where John and Horace took jobs at a boiler maker plant. In 1894 they went to work as machinists at the Dominion Typograph Company in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. While John was the sales-minded managerial type, his brother Horace was a gifted mechanic and inveterate tinkerer. Using a dirt-proof ball bearing Horace invented and patented, in 1897 Dodge arranged a deal for the brothers to join with a third-party investor to manufacture bicycles. Within a few years, they sold the bicycle business and in 1900 used the proceeds of the sale to set up their own machine shop in Detroit.

In their first year of business, the Dodge brothers' company began making parts for the automobile industry. In 1902 the Dodge brothers won a contract to build transmissions for the Olds Motor Vehicle Company upon which they built a solid reputation for quality and service. However, the following year they turned down a second contract from Olds to retool their Detroit plant at Hastings Street and Monroe Avenue to build engines for Henry Ford in a deal that included a share position in the new Ford Motor Company. By 1910, John Dodge and his brother were so successful they built a new plant in Hamtramck, Michigan.

For ten years (1903–1913), the Dodge brothers' business was a Ford Motor Company supplier, and Dodge worked as vice president of the Ford company. He left Ford in 1913, and in 1914 he and Horace formed Dodge Brothers to develop their own line of automobiles. They began building motor trucks for the United States military during the arms buildup for World War I, and in October 1917 they produced their first commercial car. At war's end, their company produced and marketed both cars and trucks.

He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1997.

Because of his temper and often crude behavior, the red-haired Dodge was seen as socially unacceptable to most of the well-heeled elite of Detroit. Nevertheless, his wealth made him an influential member of the community and he became active in Republican Party politics in Michigan.


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
3 November 1916DODGES SUE HENRY FORD.The New York Times


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