Cyrus McCormick: His Holy Calling

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Cyrus McCormick made history in a small blacksmith shop in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

With his father's help, he was finally able to create what no one else had been able to do: a harvesting machine that would prove a tremendous time-saver.

McCormick's reaper transformed farming, which previously had used back-breaking tools like a sythe and cradle. Ninety percent of the population farmed. Today, only two percent are needed.

"Instead of manually cutting the grain, the reaper, which was a horse-drawn piece of equipment, mechanically cut it," said David Fiske of McCormick Farm.

The reaper cut as much grain in one day as four to five men. It effectively replaced muscle with machinery.

But in the beginning, no one would buy it.

Fiske said, "When the reaper was invented, there were a lot of naysayers. It was successfully demonstrated here, but it really took awhile to catch on."

It was a test of faith for the young McCormick, who accepted Christ in the midst of this trying time.

But McCormick saw his work as a holy calling, inseparable from his walk with God. In 1845 he would write: "Business is not inconsistent with Christianity; but the latter ought to be a help to the former."

With extremely hard work and ingenuity, Mccormick developed business practices designed to appeal to conservative, cash-strapped farmers.

They were radical ideas for his day.

"He was one of the first to finance his equipment," Fiske said. "It's pretty commonplace today, but at the time it was pretty much, you pay for everything you got."

McCormick also offered the first manufacturer written warranty.

He developed no-haggle pricing, instead of negotiating, which was then common. Plus, he had the vision to use advertising -- and to cut his ties with Virginia when the time came.

"He moved the company from here in Virginia in the late 1840s to Chicago, because he recognized that the westward expansion was really where the demand was going to be for his product," Fiske said.

McCormick's reaper, plus his business genius, made American farmers the most efficient in the world.

Freed from the soil, Americans were then and are now able to focus on other things like industry, transportation, science, and full-time Christian service.

McCormick's legacy includes significant philanthropy. He helped found Moody Bible Institute and McCormick Seminary in Chicago.

He left behind a world vastly changed, with the way paved for the Industrial Revolution and economic prosperity. He left us a country greatly expanded by farmers, and was an example of a man devoted to his God and to his calling.

 

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

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