1. Use a scythe to mow the standing stalks.2. Tie the wheat into bales.3. Transport crop to storage area (barn).
Son, I just don't know how to make this harvester work...
McCormick often assisted his father in their workshop.
In the early 1800s, the United States was a rapidly expanding nation with a primarily agricultural economy. When the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803 doubled our territory, it immediately precipitated westward expansion and settlement, opening up huge stretches of fertile land for farming.
Back-and-forth cutting blade
This first version made such a loud clatter that slaves had to accompany the terrified horses.
However, harvesting wheat was an arduous, time-consuming task that required large amounts of manual labor, which was costly to hire. So, the crop production of a farm was limited to what could be feasibly reaped at the end of the season.
With this recession, of course I don't have money to buy a reaper for my farm! (The Panic of 1837)
What is this strange new harvesting machine I hear of? I better stick to the old ways.
I do not understand why I would want to purchase a mechanical harvester. My slaves work perfectly well in the fields.
Cyrus McCormick changed all that with a groundbreaking creation. Born February 15, 1809 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, McCormick was the oldest of 8 children and developed a talent for innovation from a young age, despite his limited education. His father was an inventor as well, in addition to being a blacksmith and farmer.
The quality of McCormick's reaper was far superior to Hussey's and outsold him quickly. McCormick sold 800 harvesters in the first year.
Chicago was an excellent choice of location because people migrating to the West, intending to procure land and become farmers, were eager to buy a mechanical reaper to reduce workload.
In 1831, 22-year-old McCormick—building upon his father's earlier failed model—constructed the world's first functional mechanical reaper, harvesting 6 acres of wheat as a demonstration. The horse-drawn machine employed basic features that still guide the construction of reapers today.
Reel (to move the grain)
Platform (to collect the grain)
After working tirelessly to improve the crude harvester, McCormick patented the design in 1834. However, he did not sell a single one until 1840 or 41, partially due to low demand caused by difficult financial times. In the meantime, a man named Obed Hussey patented his own version of the machine and found success selling it in the Midwest.
The market for a reaper in the Midwest is incredible, which is to be expected. Endless fertile land and an insufficient labor force, while the East is rocky and hilly.
In the early 1840s, McCormick became convinced that the future of American agriculture was in the Midwest, so he decided to expand his company. First, he granted a franchise to several others to manufacture his reaper, selling 50 in 1844. Then, in 1847, he opened a factory in Chicago with his brother, Leander.