| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
 IN the first quarter of the nineteenth century there
lived on a Virginia farm a little fellow by the name of
Cyrus McCormick. During seed and harvest time he was
expected to be in the fields each
morning by five o'clock.
Those were the days when harvesting was hard, because it was all
done by hand. First the grain had
to be cut down with a scythe. Next
it was gathered into bundles and tied
together with a cord. Then it was
carried to the barn and laid on the
floor, while the men beat the grain
free with flails.
As he helped in the fields, Cyrus
McCormick kept thinking that perhaps he could make a
machine which would lighten his work. And when he
was only fifteen years old he made a harvesting cradle by
which he himself could do in a day as much work as an
able-bodied man could do.
Cyrus's father had attempted to invent a machine that
would cut the grain. Though he had not succeeded, his
failure inspired his son to try. Cyrus McCormick's idea
was even greater than his father's. He believed that he
could make one machine that would cut the wheat,
 gather it into sheaves, and bind it. This was not an easy
task—far from it. But after working and working, Cyrus
McCormick completed, in 1831, a reaping machine that
was to prove a lasting success. What is more, every bit
of the machine was made by his own hands.
The essentials of this reaper were those of the great
reapers used to-day. There was a divider to separate the
grain to be cut from that to be left standing; there was a
cutting blade, a reel to bring the grain within reach of the
blade, and a platform to receive the falling grain. This
machine was patented in 1834.
Success had come at last, and Cyrus McCormick began
to manufacture reaping machines in a little workshop on
his father's farm at Walnut Grove, Virginia. He worked
under great difficulties because there were few railroads
in those days, and much of the material for the reapers
had to be carried across the country by horses. He could
make hardly fifty machines during the whole year.
 Then came the question of carrying the finished machines
to the immense plains and wide grain fields of the
West, where they would be of far greater use than in the
East. While this proved difficult, the Western market
offered large inducements; so Mr. McCormick decided to
move to the West and there set up his factories.
First he went to Cincinnati, but a few years later he
settled in Chicago, where he built a large manufacturing
plant. This now turns out yearly more than 150,000
machines. It is said that each one of these machines
saves the labor of six men in the field.
ONE OF THE GREAT HARVESTING MACHINES ON A WESTERN GRAIN FIELD.
Before his death, in 1884, Cyrus McCormick had
received many honors, and had been elected a member of
the Institute of France, because he had "done more for
the cause of agriculture than any other living man."
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