I was driving through the state of Virginia recently and drove past a farm that boasted of being the home of Cyrus McCormick. I decided to look him up and see what earned his farm recognition to this day and discovered this man had invented a machine that revolutionized American history.
What machine was invented in the 1830s that would forever change America? The mechanical reaper. McCormick, at the age of 22, took over an invention his father had been tinkering with. He wanted to design something that would make bringing in the crops much less labor intensive. Currently it took a whole team of men (in the South in 1830 that meant a team of slaves) to bring in a crop. But McCormick’s reaper revolutionized harvesting and allowed the work of twelve men to be done by the reaper instead. McCormick found it a hard sell in Virginia so he moved to Chicago and sold thousands of his reapers to men across the Midwest with a lot of land and not enough people to harvest its bounty.
McCormick was made a member of the French Academy of Science "as having done more for agriculture than any other living man." He allowed farmers to grow vast quantities of crops and bring them in within a timely manner.
But his invention had another unintended effect. His reaper increased the wealth and power of the Northern states and allowed them to have food to feed their troops during the Civil War. It also freed up men to go and fight since they were no longer needed to bring in the harvest. Surely this contributed to the North’s victory over the South.
Additionally, his machine replaced multiple workers needed to harvest crops.
McCormick’s invention, which is still used today (though no longer pulled by horses), helped fight against the “thrones and thistles” of the Curse by allowing farmers to bring in more crops with less effort so more people could be fed. It’s an invention that changed America, helped win a war, and may have even contributed to freeing people from slavery! That’s an example of technology used for the good of mankind.