Cyrus McCormick and the Mechanical ReaperRuben MartinezPeriod 1. Global StudiesJanuary, 3, 2018 Cyrus McCormick was born February 15th, 1809 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. His father, Robert McCormick, was a farmer and an inventor who tried to create a mechanical reaper for years but was never successful. As a child Cyrus did not receive much actual formal education but learned other skills by watching his father in his workshop all day. As he grew up Cyrus began to have the same passion of inventing things as his father did. When Cyrus was 22 years old he took over the reaper project from his father, Robert gave up on the project because he had been trying it for so long with no success. Within a year of taking over the the project from his father Cyrus created a successful mechanical reaper, the year was 1831. Up until now farmers had to do all reaping of their crops by hand with a scythe which took much time and effort, the reaper would up production rates and make the work easier.
Throughout the next few years McCormick improved his reaper making it better every step of the way, in 1834 he patented the reaper. Even after he created a successful reaper people were not interested in it or were just skeptical. Finally in 1841 farmers began to catch on to his idea and it became a great success. In 1847 Cyrus could not keep up with the production of his reapers in his workshop at home so he made the fateful decision to move his operation to Chicago and open a factory. At the time of his move Chicago was a city that was just starting out so his move was a risky one. Cyrus believed it was the best thing for his business because he believed the future of farming would be in the western prairie states such as Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota so his Chicago based factory would be a central location to these states. The McCormick reaper gained even more success and fame when it won a gold medal at the London Crystal Palace World Fair in 1851. After winning the big award in London Cyrus had no trouble selling his reaper.
Production of the machine grew majorly each year, in 1848 his factory produced 500, in 1851 after the World Fair he produced 1,000 and by 1857 he was producing over 2,300 machines a year. Each year McCormick released a new and improved model of his reaper just like automobile companies do today. He grew his empire drastically as the years went on by buying other agricultural and farming companies and patents. McCormick had many money back guarantees and offered credit to farmers who were having a hard time keeping their farms afloat, at one time he said “It is better that I should wait for the money than that you should wait for the machine you need.
” Cyrus was a very smart businessman, he established a sort of modern day “service department” who would go to farms and teach the farmers how to use his machines and would determine if they were credit worthy or not. By the time Cyrus McCormick died in 1884 his company and funds were secure. Cyrus McCormick’s invention of the mechanical reaper had a big impact on the agricultural world in the past and the future, it would also end up making a difference in the economy because his company formed into something huge. The mechanical reaper made harvesting grain much faster and much more efficient.
In the past farmers could only plant a limited number of acres because they did not have the ability to harvest more than that number. The McCormick reaper changed that, with the ability to harvest quicker and more efficiently the farmers could plant more crop and hire less workers to harvest the crop. In 1820 75 percent of the labor force in the U.S was related to agriculture, by 1968 that number dropped to just 5 percent. Part of this is related to the mechanical reaper, with less reason to hire workers there were many jobs lost in the midwest. This was a good thing and a bad thing, it was bad because people lost jobs but it was also good because it helped with the urbanization and expansion of life in the western states and helped contribute to the economy of America. In 1902 McCormicks company grew into an empire which is still around today, yet even larger. In 1902 McCormick Harvesting Company joined together with a few other agricultural companies and formed the International Harvester Company.
The International Harvester Company would be one of the largest names in agriculture well through the 1970’s. By just 1930 the IH Company had already produced 100,000 tractors and built more and more each year. In the early 1980’s the company started having issues with money and finances and this led to the sale of most of the company in 1986. The International Harvester Company now would form into the second largest modern day agricultural equipment companies, this company was Case International.
The creation of the mechanical reaper was a huge step in the agricultural world and would lead to great things. Many years later the reaper was replaced with the self propelled combine which would change agriculture drastically. Like other inventions and machines created during the Industrial Revolution the mechanical reaper benefited society and the economy. Without Cyrus McCormick’s mechanical reaper we may not be where we are in agriculture today.
The same applies for many other things created and made during the Industrial Revolution. It was a time that would affect the world and its economy even hundreds of years later.