Fact File about the Invention of the Mechanical Reaper: Invention:
Mechanical Reaper *** Date of Invention: 1831 *** Name of Inventor: Cyrus McCormick *** Lifespan of Inventor: 1809 - 1884 *** Nationality of Inventor: American *** Historical Period: First US Industrial Revolution (1700 - 1860) *** Category: Agriculture *** Country of Origin: America *** Facts about the Inventor, Cyrus McCormick, and the invention of the
Mechanical Reaper ***
Fact 1: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? The Mechanical Reaper was invented by Cyrus McCormick in 1831 during the First US Industrial Revolution era of inventions (1700 - 1860) which was a marked addition to advancements made in the area of Agriculture.
Fact 2: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Prior to the invention of the
Mechanical Reaper in 1831, crops were gathered and harvested manually used basic farming
tools such as the scythe and the sickle. It was back breaking work and labor
Fact 3: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Farming methods had improved
in the cotton producing Southern states with the invention of the Eli Whitney
Cotton Gin in 1793 and the development of the Samuel Slater cotton mills. In the
east Jethro Wood had patented an iron-bladed plow in 1819 for the light, sandy
New England soil.
Fact 4: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Westward Expansion into the
Northern prairie states offered an ideal climate for the production of wheat.
However, the success of growing wheat depended upon the ability to harvest the
crop as quickly as possible. The wheat had to stand until it is fully ripened
and then quickly harvested and safely stored, out of the reach of the wet rain
which would ruin the crop
Fact 5: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Harvest time was a period of
just a few weeks in which the precious crops had to be gathered. At harvest time
there was a huge demand for labor on the wheat farms. The problem was that there
was a massive shortage of labor to carry out this vital task. For instance, in
1830 the population of the whole of Illinois consisted of just 25,000 pioneer
Fact 6: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? The inventor of the
Mechanical Reaper, Cyrus McCormick, was born on February 15, 1809 in
Rockbridge County, Virginia, United States and died on May 13, 1884.
Fact 7: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? The early years of Cyrus McCormick were spent in
Rockbridge County, Virginia, United States where he was raised 1200 acre family
farm. His father was Robert McCormick, Jr. and his mother's name was Mary Ann
Hall McCormick. Cyrus was the eldest of eight children.
Fact 8: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Cyrus McCormick received a
limited education at local schools and following his schooling he worked with
his father on the family farm and in the family's blacksmith shop.
Fact 9: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Several members of the
McCormick had moved from Virginia to Illinois and had told Robert about the
problems that were encountered in Illinois at Harvest time. Robert McCormick
tried various methods to invent a mechanical reaper but all of his attempts had
ended in failure.
Fact 10: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? In 1824 the young Cyrus
McCormick, aged just age of 15 years old became interested in new ideas and,
inspired by his father, invented a lightweight cradle for carting harvested
Fact 11: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? The invention of a reliable
mechanical Reaper proved illusive to his father but Cyrus, realizing the
importance of a mechanical reaper, continued the quest using his father's basic
design. He was aided by Jo Anderson, an African American slave who worked on the
Fact 12: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Meanwhile in Scotland an
inventor and parish minister called Patrick Bell (1799 - 1869) invented, but
never patented, a 2 wheel mechanical reaper that was pushed by horses in 1928.
His idea was copied by William Manning and Obed Hussey who started working on
similar designs in the United States.
Fact 13: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? In 1931 Cyrus McCormick
invented the horse drawn, McCormick mechanical reaper with a vibrating cutter.
His design for the Mechanical Reaper was pulled by horses and cut the grain to one side of the horse team.
Fact 14: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? In 1833 Obed Hussey (1792 -
1860) patented the 'Hussey Reaper' which would place him in fierce competition
with Cyrus McCormick.
Fact 15: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? A US Patent was issued for
the 'McCormick Reaper' on June 21, 1834. However the 'Hussey Reaper' used a
saw-like cutter bar which cut stalks far more effectively than McCormick's
Mechanical Reaper and
was therefore perceived to be of better quality and achieved a greater financial
Fact 16: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? The financial Panic of 1837,
together with the failure of the wheat crop, left Cyrus McCormick in
Fact 17: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Cyrus McCormick was
convinced that his Mechanical reaper would make him money and concentrated his efforts on
making improvements to his original design. By 1843 he increased his sales to
local farmers to 50 Mechanical Reaper machines a year and was out of debt and by 1845 the
McCormick Reaper had come into general use.
Fact 18: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? In 1846 Cyrus McCormick made
the decision to move from Virginia to Chicago, Illinois, the central hub for
wheat growers with good transportation links via the Mississippi and Illinois
Rivers. Illinois was a good location to expand his market and the following year
he, together with his brother Leander J. McCormick (1819 - 1900) opened a
factory in Chicago to produce the 'McCormick Reaper'. Their goal was to sell 500
Mechanical Reaper machines for the 1848 wheat harvest. They succeeded in their objective but were
frustrated by the competition of the 'Hussey Reaper'.
Fact 19: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? In 1850 Cyrus McCormick
acquired the rights to Obed Hussey's cutter-bar mechanism. He went on to improve
the quality of his own Mechanical Reaper machines and as his business boomed so did the production
of wheat contributing to the wealth of America.
Fact 20: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? In 1856, McCormick's factory
was producing more than 4000 Mechanical reapers each year. Cyrus McCormick had succeeded in
business and wanted a settled family life. He married his secretary Nancy Maria
Fowler (1835–1923) in 1858, and the couple had seven children together.
Fact 21: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? In 1871 the Great Chicago
Fire raged from October 8 to October 10, 1871 leaving 300 people dead, over
100,000 people homeless and over 17,000 structures burnt to the ground. Cyrus
McCormick lost his factory but, encouraged by his wife, he built a new premises
and the Mechanical Reaper business reopened in 1873. His health had begun to seriously deteriorate
and he began to focus on
social and philanthropic causes..
Fact 22: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? In 1879, his brother Leander
McCormick changed the company's name from "Cyrus H. McCormick and Brothers" to
the "McCormick Harvesting Machine Company".
Fact 23: Who invented the Mechanical Reaper? Cyrus McCormick died on May 13, 1884
at his home in Chicago. His famous invention of the Mechanical Reaper had revolutionized
farming methods, increased productivity and saved farm workers from hours of