Inventors are inspirational. Cyrus McCormick was an inventor, philanthropist, and businessman. He invented the mechanical reaper at a time when other inventors, once including his father, where working on similar inventions. His invention reduced human labor and increased productivity. It furthered agriculture as an industry.
Cyrus Hall McCormick was born on February 15, 1809 in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. He had seven younger siblings and his father had worked to produce a horse-drawn mechanical reaper to harvest grain, but was never able to produce a reliable version. Cyrus continued his father’s inventing work on the family plantation. In 1834, he was granted a patent on his reaper. The other family blacksmith/metal smelting business struggled, however Cyrus continued working, demonstrating, and trying to sell his reaper. They began to sell slowly and were initially built manually in the family farm shop. In 1845, he contracted factories to mass-produce the machines.
Following their father’s death Cyrus and his brother, Leander, moved to Chicago in 1847. They acquired a factory to produce their machines. A couple years later their brother William joined them in Chicago. The reapers sold well. In 1851, McCormick won a gold medal at London’s Crystal Palace Exhibition and was admitted to the Legion of Honor. Legal controversies with other inventor occurred.
In 1858, McCormick married Nancy “Nettie” Fowler. They had seven children. McCormick was a devout Presbyterian. He believed in Christian unity and feeding the world. He was an involved Democrat and was a benefactor and trustee of the then Theological Seminary of the Northwest. He, and his wife, donated money to a Presbyterian college and to establish churches and Sunday Schools. In 1872, McCormick purchased a religious newspaper. He was, also, a benefactor and member of the board of trustees at Washington and Lee University.
Cyrus McCormick died at home on May 13, 1884. He and his wife donated millions of dollars to hospitals, disaster and relief agencies, churches, and youth and educational institutions. Awards and honors were received by McCormick while he was alive and have gone to him posthumously as well. Be inspired! Have a bright day!