Born in Orleans County, New York, he attended occasionally the district schools, and worked as a farm laborer. While working in the stone quarries of Medina, he learned privately, and attended Medina Academy for five months, so that he could go to college.
After graduation, he became first an occasional contributor to, then associate editor, and finally editor of, the American Economist, the organ of the Protective Tariff League. Foreign the 1892 presidential campaign, he published a Pocket Cyclopedia of Protection. While writing for the newspapers, he studied law with Edmund L. Pitts, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in New York City.
In 1905, Ford was proposed as a fusion candidate for Mayor of New York, but the Republican party leaders would not commit themselves to municipal ownership of utilities, and the fusion did not materialize.
Ford, who had been a Republican since he had entered politics, favored municipal ownership and joined William Randolph Hearst"s Municipal Ownership League. In 1906, Ford was nominated on the Tammany Hall/Independence League fusion ticket for the New York Supreme Court, and was renominated on the Democratic and Republican tickets in 1920.
Ford was a justice of the Supreme Court (1st Doctorate) from 1907 to 1932 when he reached the constitutional age limit. In 1924, Ford supported Progressive Robert M. Louisiana Follette for President.
Member: Phi Beta Kappa. Academy, of Political Science, New York City. Cornell Law Association.
Society of Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. Royal Arcanum; Elks; National. Rifle Association Club: Cornell University, New York.
Married Lulu Fairchild Van Aken, September 16, 1891. Children: Esther, Edith.