Born in Wicklow, Ireland, Ford attended the village school and Maynooth College, Dublin, Ireland. Immigrated to the United States in 1848 with his parents, who settled in Chicago, Illinois. He moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1859 and later to Colorado and Montana, in which States he engaged in mining. He returned to Missouri and settled in Rochester, Andrew County, and engaged in mercantile pursuits.
Ford was elected a member of the State house of representatives in 1875.
Ford was elected as a Greenbacker (National Party) to the Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1879-March 3, 1883). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1882 to the Forty-eighth Congress and for election in 1890 to the Fifty-second Congress. He was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Governor of Missouri in 1884. He moved to Virginia City, Nevada. He served as member of the first city council. He retired from active business and moved to Miltonvale, Kansas, where he died June 18, 1897. He was interred in the Catholic Cemetery, Aurora, Kansas.