June 21, 1834 — American inventor and businessman Cyrus Hall McCormick (February 15, 1809 – May 13, 1884) patented the reaping machine today.
His father, Robert McCormick Jr., worked on the invention for 28 years, but was never able to perfect the apparatus. Cyrus took up his father’s work with the help of Jo Anderson, a slave on the McCormick plantation. The two created the horse-drawn repeat to harvest grain, which they patented.
It took until 1840 to perfect the machine. That year, he began manufacturing and selling his reaper other famers — allowing them to do five times the amount of harvesting in a day than using a scythe. By 1851, McCormick’s company was the largest producer of farm equipment in the world.
Although McCormick is credited as the “inventor” of the mechanical reaper, he based his work on that of many others, including Roman, Scottish and American men, more than two decades of work by his father, and the aid of Jo Anderson, a slave held by his family.
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