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APUSH Cyrus McCormick (pt.1)
Updated: 8/19/2020
APUSH Cyrus McCormick (pt.1)
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Storyboard Text

  • 1. Use a scythe to mow the standing stalks.2. Tie the wheat into bales.3. Transport crop to storage area (barn).
  • Young Cyrus
  • Hmm..
  • Robert McCormick
  • 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.
  • Cyrus McCormick
  • 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.
  • Virginia, 1830s
  • 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.
  • Midwest, 1830s
  • Obed Hussey
  • 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.
  • McCormick Harvester Plant, Chicago, Illinois
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