McCormick, Cyrus Hall
- Gary Scott Smith
McCormick, Cyrus Hall (15 February 1809–13 May 1884), inventor and businessman, was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the son of Robert McCormick, an inventor and farmer, and Mary Ann Hall. As a youth, McCormick received very little formal schooling. He spent many hours in the workshop of his father, who invented a clover huller, blacksmith’s bellows, a hydraulic power machine, and other labor-saving devices. For twenty years McCormick’s father tried to build a reaping machine, but like many other inventors, he was unsuccessful. In 1831, at the age of twenty-two, McCormick constructed a reaper, based on principles completely different from those used by his father. Although crude in design, this machine employed the features basic to all subsequent reapers. After several public trials of his new machine, McCormick took out a patent on it in 1834. For the next few years, however, he was primarily preoccupied with the family iron works. But when the panic of 1837 crippled the business and brought significant debts, McCormick again turned his attention to improving and manufacturing his reaper....