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Cyrus McCormick Reaper

Andrew Jackson

Cyrus McCormick Reaper: Andrew Jackson was the 7th American President who served in office from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837. One of the important events during his presidency was the invention of the McCormick reaper.

Definition and Summary of the Cyrus McCormick Reaper
Summary and definition:
The McCormick reaper was a mechanical horse-drawn reaping machine invented by Cyrus McCormick in 1831. The McCormick reaper speeded the process of harvesting wheat and other small crops by replacing the manual process of cutting of grain crops using scythes and sickles to harvesting with a machine.

This invention saved farm workers from hours of back breaking labor, increased productivity and revolutionized farming methods. Although the McCormick reaper was invented in 1831 it did not come into general use until 1845 and was a Important invention in the American industrial revolution.

The McCormick reaper for kids: What is a reaper?
A reaper is a person, or a farming machine, that reaps (gathers and cuts) crops at harvest, when they are ripe. The McCormick mechanical reaper replaced the manual cutting of the crop with scythes and sickles.

The McCormick reaper for kids: Wheat in the North
The climate of the Northern states was ideal for the production of wheat. The early farmers only had wooden plows to break the grass cover and roots of the turf. In 1819 Jethro Wood patented an iron-bladed plow then in 1837, John Deere engineered a plow with sharp-edged steel blades that cut cleanly through the sod. This invention reduced the amount of labor required to prepare an acre for farming by half. However, the invention of the mechanical reaper by Cyrus McCormick, and its use in the Northern states, equaled the importance that the 1793 Eli Whitney Cotton Gin and the development of the Samuel Slater cotton mills had made to the Southern States.

The McCormick reaper for kids: What crops are reaped?
The grain crops that are reaped include wheat, rye, oats and maize.

Cyrus McCormick Mechanical Reaper for kids: Wheat
success of wheat growing on the agriculture industry depended upon the ability quickly to harvest the crop. The process is as follows:

  • Wheat must be allowed to stand until it is fully ripened

  • When ripe it had to be quickly reaped and stored away out of the reach of the wet rain which would ruin the crop

  • Every year at harvest time this led to a few weeks in which there was there was a huge demand for labor on the wheat farms

  • The problem was that there was little labor to be had and the cost of the labor was high

Cyrus McCormick solved this problem for the wheat farmers by inventing a horse drawn, mechanical reaper. His design was pulled by horses and cut the grain to one side of the horse team.

Cyrus McCormick Mechanical Reaper for kids: Facts, Biography and Timeline
Interesting Cyrus McCormick Mechanical Reaper Facts and Timeline for kids are detailed below. The history of the Cyrus McCormick Mechanical Reaper is told in a factual timeline sequence consisting of a series of short facts providing a simple method of relating the
history of the Cyrus McCormick Mechanical Reaper.

The inventor of the mechanical reaper was Cyrus Hall McCormick (18091884)

1809: Cyrus McCormick was born on February 15, 1809 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He was the eldest of 8 children born to Robert McCormick and Mary Ann "Polly" Hall

Cyrus McCormick was raised on the 1200 acre family farm in "Walnut Grove", north of Lexington, Virginia

Cyrus McCormick had a limited education at local schools

His father, Robert McCormick, had a family blacksmith shop and Cyrus worked with his father as he tried various methods to invent a mechanical reaper.

1824: Cyrus McCormick invented a lightweight cradle for carting harvested grain at the age of 15

Robert McCormick was unsuccessful in his efforts to invent an efficient mechanical reaper but Cyrus, realizing the importance of a mechanical reaper, continued the quest using his father's basic design

1831: Cyrus McCormick invents the horse drawn, McCormick mechanical reaper

1833: Obed Hussey of Ohio patented a mechanical reaper called the Hussey Reaper

1834: A Patent was issued for the McCormick reaper on June 21, 1834 but Cyrus concentrated on the family's iron foundry business

Hussey's machine used a saw-like cutter bar which cut stalks far more effectively than McCormick's. It was therefore deemed of better quality than the invention of Cyrus and achieved a greater financial success

1837: The Panic of 1837 left Cyrus in considerable debt - he turned his attention to improving his harvesting machine

1843: Cyrus McCormick had increased his sales to 50 machines a year - but they were local sales.

1846: Cyrus McCormick moved to Chicago, a central hub for wheat growers with good transportation links that was a good location to expand his market

1847: He opens a factory in Chicago - his goal is to sell 500 machines for the 1848 harvest

1850: Cyrus McCormick acquires the rights to Obed Hussey's cutter-bar mechanism and improved the quality of his own machines and his business boomed

1851: The Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. McCormick and Hussey went head to head in a competition between their machines - Cyrus won

1855: The use of the horse reaper was adding 55 million dollars to the wealth of the country every year

1858: Cyrus McCormick married Nancy Maria Fowler, they would have 7 children together

1884: Cyrus McCormick died in Chicago on May 13, 1884

1902: McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. amalgamated with other companies to form International Harvester Company

US American History
1829-1841: Jacksonian Era
Inventions & Inventors Timeline

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