Cyrus McCormick was an American inventor and businessman. McCormick was born on February 15, 1809 in Rockbridge County, VA. McCormick is remembered in history for his invention of the mechanical reaper, a machine that could cut and gather crops quickly. He is also remembered being the founder of the McCormick Harvesting Company.
From an early age, McCormick was interested in creating a working reaper. His father spent nearly 28 years trying to perfect his reaper design. The younger McCormick followed his father’s work and eventually attempted his own reaper design with the help of Jo Anderson, a slave on the McCormick plantation.
On June 21, 1834, Cyrus McCormick was granted a patent for his mechanical reaper design. At first the reaper didn’t sell well because many farmers felt that the design was too hard to use for small farms. McCormick continued to work to improve his mechanical reaper design. In 1848, he applied for a second mechanical reaper patent that included many improvements to his original patent.
In 1849, Cyrus and his brother William McCormick moved to Chicago and worked together to continue to build their family business of selling mechanical reapers. The McCormick brothers worked hard to market and sell their reapers to farmers with large farms and eventually enjoyed great success. The McCormick brothers showed innovation in their business practices and hired large numbers of trained salesman to demonstrate and market their products. With the expansion of domestic railroads, the McCormick reaper could be distributed throughout the nation.
McCormick died on May 18, 1884 nearly 50 years after patenting the mechanical reaper. Mechanical reapers like the ones built by the McCormick family will always be remembered for the speed and efficiency that they brought to the harvesting of crops on American farmland, during the late nineteenth century.