True friendship can be hard to find. For industrial titans bent on dominating the world, finding someone who understands you is nearly impossible.

The friendship that formed between Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, therefore, was genuinely special to both of them. They even bought houses together in Florida, and when Edison was confined to a wheelchair in his later years, Henry Ford bought his own so they could race around their estates together. Edison was nearly brought to tears when describing his friendship with the younger inventor at a 1929 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the lightbulb. 

Though celebrated as heroes in mid-century histories, both Edison and Ford’s negative sides have since been exposed—Ford fought unions and exhibited anti-Semitism, whereas Edison electrocuted animals, screwed over Tesla, and generally stole inventions. Today both of them are often cast as villains rather than heroes. However, even if what united them was their utter domination of their respective empires, their friendship shows a more human side of the two men.  Nowhere is this affection more clearly demonstrated than in unusual and deeply personal gift of Edison’s Last Breath to his best friend Henry Ford.