Father of the American Car – Henry Ford
Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863, in Dearborn, Michigan. In his early life, he became obsessed with the inner workings of machines and possessed natural talent for the work. While designing the prototype for his original horseless carriage, he worked for Edison Illuminating Company and eventually pitched the idea to Thomas Edison himself, who encouraged the young Henry to pursue his ambitious invention. In 1903 Ford started the Ford Motor Company. Ford released the Model T in 1908, to huge success. He ran his company under the concept of Fordism, in which production was streamlined and daily wages exceeded those of other similar jobs in order to keep workers happy. His innovations and management skills vaulted him to personal success and enabled his company to remain an American institution up to this day.
Father of American Lit – Mark Twain
The author of such classics as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain is recognized as the father of American Literature, which is a title given to him originally by William Faulkner. Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. His family moved to Hannibal when he was four, and it was there that he experienced the basis for most of the tales that would later make him one of the most famous writers to ever live. At age nine, he saw his first murder, at age 10, he saw a slave beaten to death, and at age 21, he drove his first steamboat—all of which would feature prominently in his later writings. Twain began to write professionally at the age of 15 but did not find commercial or critical success until 1869 with The Innocents Abroad. A penchant for humor, his use of dialects and free flowing, rhythmic conversations, as well as his creation of an “American” style of writing endears Twain to readers past and present.
Godfather of Soul – James Brown
James Brown blended blues, jazz, country, and gospel music to create his own form of music, often referred to as soul music. Brown was born on May 3, 1933, in a one bedroom shack in Barnwell, South Carolina. A victim of The Depression, Brown often resorted to odd jobs to pay for food and clothes. His passions as a youth included music and religion; he sang in his local church choir, where his world-famous voice developed. In the 1960s, James Brown found mainstream success with a string of hits that included “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” Brown’s music was typified by a blend of styles combined with an impeccable sense of timing. He helped popularize concerts as spectacles, with extraordinary dance routines, showmanship, and improvised musical solos. His business savvy ensured that his shows and career ran flawlessly and earned him the moniker “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”
Father of the Constitution – James Madison
Thomas Jefferson and George Washington often get most of the recognition when it comes to the founding of the United States, but James Madison’s contributions should not be ignored. Born March 16, 1751, in Port Conway, Virginia, Madison spent his younger years as a scholar, militia man, and politician. In 1787 Madison was the principal author of the Constitution at Virginia’s Constitutional Convention. At the Convention, Madison argued for a strong central government protected by a series of checks and balances. Although his ideas were opposed by Patrick Henry, he partnered with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to write The Federalist Papers, which helped the ratification of the Constitution. After his success with the Constitution, he helped pen the Bill of Rights, served as secretary of state under Jefferson, and followed that with two terms of his own as president following Jefferson.
Father of Cubism – Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso is remembered as one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century. Born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain, a place looked down upon in his own country, Picasso struggled to gain attention for his work. However, his extraordinary talents led him to great success early in life. In 1895 Picasso’s family moved to Barcelona, where a 14-year-old Pablo quickly surpassed his classmates and teachers. Bored with the conventional, Picasso always searched for radical ways to reinvent art. In 1909, a partnership with Georges Braque produced Cubism. Cubism emphasized moving art beyond a single viewpoint focus while also deconstructing objects and displaying them in different forms. The movement revolutionized 20th century art and raised Picasso to a level above criticism in the art community. Picasso went on to create over 50,000 works and remained a relevant member of the avant-garde until the last years of his life.