Cyrus McCormick was a US industrialist and inventor of the mechanical reaper. He is considered the father of modern agriculture. After the success of his reaper, he established the McCormick harvesting company. His father, Robert McCormick Junior, was a farmer as well as an inventor. He developed interest in mechanics and learned the skills of his father.
You don’t have to be a historian to know this great inventor. Below are 9 surprising facts about Cyrus McCormick for our readers.
Cyrus McCormick: Surprising facts about the industrialist and US inventor
1. His family migrated to the US from Great Britain
Born to Robert McCormick and Mary Ann Hall McCormick in 1809 in Virginia, Cyrus McCormick was the eldest of 8 children. His family had migrated to America from Britain. His father, Robert McCormick, had patents for inventing farming machinery and tools. Robert successfully invented several machines and tools for farming including the hydraulic power machine, bellows for the blacksmith, and clover huller.
2. Cyrus McCormick earned very little education from school
He received very little formal education due to lack of interest, an interesting fact about Cyrus McCormick. He used to spend time in his father’s workshop instead and developed an interest in mechanics and inventing tools and machines. This was the reason that when his father failed to design a final version of the wheat reaper, Cyrus McCormick took up the challenge and invented a final working version.
3. McCormick’s mechanical reaper
His father filed the patent for the wheat mechanical reaper once he was convinced that it has enormous potential. Unfortunately, after submitting the patent, Robert McCormick was unable to release a working version of the reaper despite working on it for 28 years. From this point onwards, Cyrus McCormick took over the remaining work and invented a fully functional reaper with the help and assistance of an enslaved African, Jo Anderson.
Soon after the invention, he applied for more patents and contributed towards sales and marketing. He demonstrated the reaper for the first time in 1831 in Virginia. This was a significant achievement in the field of agriculture, and nobody knew the business would grow despite competition and legal patent issues.
4. Cyrus McCormick was a religious and gracious person
Soon after, McCormick became popular among farmers for his invention; he thought about helping humanity instead of focusing on his growth. It was because he was a religious person who believed his mission is to feed and help people, an interesting Cyrus McCormick fact.
In the early 19th century, farmers used to employ a large number of laborers to harvest grains. Animals were used for plowing and harrowing. The invention by Cyrus McCormick was no less than a blessing because the machine reduced the number of laborers as everything was to be done mechanically.
Besides being an inventor and industrialist, he remained involved in various philanthropic efforts. He remained an active member of the Democratic Party and Presbyterian Church. He was also the principal supporter behind the establishment of McCormick Theological Seminary in the US State of Chicago.
5. McCormick sold first mechanical reaper in 1840
Cyrus’s family had an iron foundry that got bankrupt in 1837, and the family had to pay off massive debt. After the first demonstration of the reaper was successful, Cyrus McCormick set up a production shop and worked on improvements and to begin commercial selling. It was in 1840 when he sold his first mechanical reaper in the market, and after that, his new business slowly started to take off.
6. Cyrus McCormick Moved to Chicago
Cyrus McCormick moved to Chicago because the future of his mechanical reaper was in fertile lands instead of rocky plains. In 1847, he, after forming a partnership with his brother, established a factory in Chicago named McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. This company later became the biggest farm equipment manufacturing company in the US. They sold 800 machines in the first year.
7. Cyrus awarded with a Gold Medal for his invention
He became famous and gained widespread popularity due to his invention. He traveled to England and received a Gold Medal at Renowned Crystal Palace, situated in London. Unfortunately, Cyrus’s company was destroyed in a fire in 1871. Despite suffering from such a massive loss, the family rebuilt the company, and it continued to grow and prosper. He didn’t stop work on research and innovation. It was in 1872 that Cyrus McCormick invented another model of the reaper that used to bind the bundles with twine.
Cyrus McCormick was included in the Junior Achievement US Business Hall of Fame in 1975 due to his notable work for farmers, a fun fact about Cyrus McCormick.
8. Cyrus McCormick as the father of modern agriculture
Due to his remarkable contribution in the field of agriculture, Cyrus McCormick is commonly known as the father of modern agriculture. It is because his inventions made it possible for small and medium-scale farmers to expand their business operations on a larger scale. His mechanical reaper ended the cumbersome and tiring fieldwork and introduced mechanical work in fields.
he and his competitors continued to improve their items, which later created more sophisticated machines and tools which the farmers are using nowadays.
9. He Died at the age of 75
In 1884, Cyrus McCormick died at the age of 74 years in Illinois. He had paralysis. His son, Cyrus Junior, succeeded him as the company president. He was 25 years old at that time. Initially, the company operations were smooth enough, but after two years, the strike by workers in 1886 proved tragic in US history. During the Haymarket strike, which involved workers of McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, 4 workers and 7 policemen were killed.
In 1902, J. P. Morgan bought the company and a few other companies, and it jointly formed the International Harvester Company. At the time when the company was sold to J. P. Morgan, Cyrus Junior was the company president.
McCormick’s legacy is still alive in the farming industry across the world. McCormick spent his later years in humanitarian works. He was an investor in Western mines and a supporter of the Nicaragua canal. It was in 1878 that he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences for all the work he did to uplift the agricultural sector.
I hope that this article on Cyrus McCormick facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!