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Cyrus Hall McCormick

Cyrus Hall McCormick
Charles Loring Elliott, 12 Oct 1812 - 25 Aug 1868
Cyrus Hall McCormick, 15 Feb 1809 - 13 May 1884
mid 19th Century
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 51.4 x 41.3 x 3.8cm (20 1/4 x 16 1/4 x 1 1/2")
Frame: 59.7 x 49.5 x 6.7cm (23 1/2 x 19 1/2 x 2 5/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation and Mrs. Gilbert Harrison
Object number
Exhibition Label
Territorial expansion generated a spirit of technological adventure and a search for new methods to handle the unique conditions of American life. Cyrus McCormick, a farmer in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, succeeded where his father had failed by constructing the first practical reaping machine. This reaper was a first step in the mechanization of American agriculture, allowing the efficient cultivation of large tracts of farmland by small numbers of farmers. This industrialization of the land allowed the United States to boost agricultural production to unprecedented levels and to feed growing cities and industrial towns.
McCormick's design was pirated by competitors, but he overcame his rivals by founding his own factory outside Chicago in 1847. There, he contributed to the pace of industrial growth by using standardized parts and assembly-line production-methods that had been pioneered by Samuel Colt and others.
(Miss Eunice Chambers, Hartsville, South Carolina), 1965. R. Philip Hanes, Jr., Winston-Salem, North Carolina; acquired through exchange by Howard Hack, San Francisco; acquired 1975 by NPG through funding by Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation, Chicago.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
American Origins
On View
NPG, East Gallery 120