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Cyrus McCormick (1809-84)

Cyrus McCormick’s ancestors hailed from Ballygawley, County Tyrone, eventually settling in the Shenandoah Valley, an area of Ulster-Scots settlement. McCormick designed and built the first practical reaping machine. His invention allowed farmers to harvest grain faster and cheaper than ever before. Prior to inventing the reaper, farmers could only harvest 1/2 an acre a day; after his invention farmers could harvest 12 acres a day. The prominent American politician William H. Seward observed that as a result of McCormick’s reaper ‘the line of civilization moves westward thirty miles each year’. McCormick transformed agriculture and made possible the diversification of American industry.

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