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Cyrus McCormick - the Reaper
Cyrus McCormick
By Mary Bellis

 Cyrus McCormick of
Virginia was responsible for liberating farm workers from hours of back-breaking labor by introducing the farmers to his newly invented mechanical reaper in July, 1831. By 1847, Cyrus McCormick began the mass manufacture of his reaper in a Chicago factory.

Extracts from:
Nature Bulletin No. 759   June 6, 1964
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Seymour Simon, President
Roberts Mann, Conservation Editor


The invention of two successful reaping machines - independently by Obed Hussey in Ohio, who obtained the first patent in 1834, and by Cyrus Hall McCormick in Virginia - brought about an end to tedious handiwork and encouraged the invention and manufacture of other labor-saving farm implements and machinery. The first reapers cut the standing grain and, with a revolving reel, swept it onto a platform from which it was raked off into piles by a man walking alongside. It could harvest more grain than five men using the earlier cradles. The next innovation, patented in 1858, was a self-raking reaper with an endless canvas belt that delivered the cut grain to two men who riding on the end of the platform, bundled it. Meanwhile, Cyrus McCormick had moved to Chicago, built a reaper factory, and founded what eventually became the International Harvester Company. In 1872 he produced a reaper which automatically bound the bundles with wire. In 1880, he came out with a binder which, using a magical knotting device (invented by John F. Appleby a Wisconsin pastor) bound the handles with twine.

The reaper was eventually replaced by the self-propelled combine, operated by one man, which cuts gathers, threshes, and sacks the grain mechanically. The reaper was the first step in a transition from hand labor to the mechanized farming of today. It brought about an industrial revolution, as well as a vast change in agriculture.

Cyrus McCormick - The Reaper
Cyrus Hall McCormick invented the mechanical reaper.

McCormick Farm
Home of Cyrus McCormick and the first reaper

Cyrus McCormick
Cyrus McCormick (1809-1884) was a Chicago industrialist and inventor in 1831 of the first commercially successful reaper, a horse-drawn machine to harvest wheat.

Cyrus McCormick
Cyrus McCormick, the "Father of Modern Agriculture," made one of the most significant contributions to the United States' prosperity, when he invented the horse-drawn reaper in 1831.

Farm and Agriculture
Innovations related to agriculture, tractors, cotton gin, reapers, plows, plant patents and more.

photo LOC - Engraving by George Smillie

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