Proceedings of the Fourth
Congress at Atlanta, GA., April 28 to May 1, 1892
The Inventors of the
Scotch-Irish Race. By Dr. John H. Bryson, of Huntsville, Ala.
In the year 1856 a very
remarkable book was published by Rev. Mr. Blakely, a Scottish clergyman,
which bore the striking title: "The Theology of Inventions." He maintains,
with great force, the proposition that there is a divine providence in all
inventions. His argument is a strong one, characterized by much ability
and research. He claims that God has bestowed all the powers possessed by
the inventor; that he is the creator of the material world out of which
every invention is produced, and so there must be a divine providence in
all inventions, as they appear in human history.
The endowments of the human
mind, as well as the nature and laws of matter, being qualities bestowed
by a wise and beneficent Creator, they cannot legitimately be divorced
from the designs had in view by their author.
If human life in all
generations is under the guidance of divine providence, then all
inventions and discoveries, which so modify and change the currents and
developments of human life can no longer be considered as matters of
accident, but results, which find their birth and advent at times when the
greater good would accrue to humanity. He who studies carefully the
problems of human history, how certain people are prepared for great eras,
when wonderful achievements are gained and the interests of mankind are
widened and enlarged, will be constrained to admit the statement as true
that there is a Theology in Inventions.
The question may be asked,
and with much significance, why were the great inventions and discoveries,
which have been such a blessing to mankind, not found out until these
modern days? If all inventions and discoveries have the hand of an
all-wise Providence behind them, why was their advent so long delayed; and
when they did come, why were they so largely developed out of a particular
people, commonly known as the Anglo-Saxon race? These are questions full
of interest to the thoughtful and investigating mind, and open up fields
of research which have as yet been but little explored. Such problems,
however, cannot be discussed on this present occasion.
It is a proverb of much
broader meaning than many suppose that "necessity is the mother of
invention." The demands of society, of commerce, and of civilization, have
generally indicated the direction in which inventive skill should direct
its energies. The greatest achievements of inventors have usually been the
greatest blessings to humanity. It is preeminently true that inventors
deserve well of their fellow-men. They are the great benefactors of their
race. Many of them have had to struggle through great poverty, trials, and
ridicule before success could be obtained. It is a sad and painful
reflection upon our race that some of the greatest inventors have had
their inventions filched from their hands, enriching multitudes and even
nations, while they themselves have died in poverty and neglect.
Suffering, penury, and martyrdom have been the only rewards for some of
the most useful inventions of the world. It seems incredible that these
great benefactors of the human family should have received such recompense
at the hands of their fellow-men.
With these general remarks
upon the subject of inventions, we invite attention to some prominent
Inventors of the Scotch-Irish race. This remarkable people are not less
distinguished in the art of invention than in other prominent
characteristics which have marked their history.
It will ever be a proud
boast of Scotch-Irishmen that
was of that blood. To Mr.
Fulton belongs the distinguished honor of applying the power of steam
successfully to water navigation. This wonderful invention revolutionized
the transportation and commerce of the world. Its beneficial effects to
all nations no language could possibly estimate. It opened up the grandest
era of human history, and gave such an impulse to the work of civilization
as had never been known before.
Robert Fulton was born in
Little Britain, Lancaster County, Pa., 1765. He was of respectable, though
not wealthy family. His father and mother were of Scotch-Irish blood.
Their families were supposed to be a part of the great emigration from
Ireland in 1730-31. The Fulton family were probably among the early
settlers of the town of Lancaster, as the father of Robert Fulton was one
of the founders of the Presbyterian Church of that place. The early
training of Robert Fulton was entirely in the hands of his mother, and his
noble and exemplary life told how faithful she had been to her trust. The
father died when his son Robert was only three years of age. The mother
gave him as good an English education as her circumstances would permit,
and then secured for him an apprenticeship with a prominent jeweler in
Philadelphia. Here the splendid career of Fulton began. His genius for
mechanics and painting was early exhibited. His hours of recreation were
spent either in the mechanic's shop or in the studio with his pencil. With
his first earnings he procured for his mother a comfortable home, showing
the value he set upon her care and concern in his behalf. His power as an
artist developed rapidly, and he was persuaded to go to London and become
a pupil of Mr. West, who was then one of the most famous artists of the
day, and an American. He was most favorably received by Mr. West, and so
impressed was he with the promising talent of his pupil that he took him
to his own home, where he enjoyed the instruction of this great master for
But the drift of Mr.
Fulton's genius lay in another direction. He could not be content in the
artist's studio, however promising might be the result. He is soon found
associated with the Duke of Bridgewater and Lord Stanhope, in making
important improvements in the canal system of England. It is about this
time, 1793, that Mr. Fulton first conceived the idea of propelling river
boats and seagoing vessels by steam power, and in some of his manuscripts
he speaks with great confidence of its practicability. The broad question
of navigation and commerce in their international aspects occupied much of
his thoughts, and he wrote some elaborate treatises, urging the English
and French governments to give their attention to these matters as a means
of developing and promoting the prosperity of this country and people. The
one question which predominated in his mind all the while as he elaborated
his various inventions was: Will the happiness and prosperity of the
people be thereby promoted?
Before Mr. Fulton gave his
entire attention to mastering the problem of steam power navigation, he
applied all his energies to the production of a diving boat to destroy war
vessels, after the manner of torpedoes of the present day. The invention
proved quite successful, and, believing he had produced a new and
important addition to naval warfare, he offered his invention to the
English government. His proposition was met by a proposal, for a
considerable reward, to suppress his inventions, so that neither his own
country nor any other might receive the advantage. He indignantly rejected
the overture, and replied with much feeling: "I will never consent to let
these inventions lie dormant, should my country at any time have need for
them; and were you to grant me an annuity of twenty thousand pounds a
year, I would sacrifice all to the safety and independence of my country."
These were noble and patriotic utterances of Mr. Fulton, and indicate the
strong integrity of character which he possessed.
The career of Mr. Fulton
had now reached one of its important turning points. Thoroughly
discouraged at the reception which the English and French Governments had
given to his inventions, he determined to return to his own country and
give all his energies to the application of steam power to navigation. It
was fortunate for America that adversity drove her worthy son back to her
shores, as the splendid triumph of his genius was near at hand which was
to reflect much glory upon himself and his country.
In the year 1806 Mr. Fulton
arrived in New York, and immediately began the construction of a boat
which was to test the practicability of the invention he had carefully
worked out in his own mind. In less than a year, boat, engines, and
machinery were all ready for the experimental trip. The boat was named "Clearmont,"
after the home of Chancellor Livingston, who was associated with Mr.
Fulton in this steam power experiment. In the month of August, 1807, Mr.
Fulton made the public announcement that he would, on a certain afternoon,
start on his new boat for Albany. At the appointed time a large multitude
assembled, perfectly incredulous as to the success of the experiment. Jest
and ridicule were freely ex-pressed about "Fulton's folly." A few personal
friends were invited aboard the boat to witness the trial of the new
power. At the signal the vessel moved smoothly out into the midst of the
river, like a thing of life, and started majestically on her trip of one
hundred and fifty miles to Albany. The multitude were filled with blank
amazement as the "Clearmont" disappeared from their view upon the Hudson.
The crews on the sailing crafts were appalled as they saw the terrible
object coming toward them belching fire and smoke; some hid themselves in
the hold of the vessels, some leaped into the water and made for the
shore, others fell upon the deck and implored divine protection from the
approaches of the horrible monster. The people of Albany and the
Legislature were filled with wonder and astonishment as the boat moved in
proud majesty up to the wharf.
The following day the new
vessel returned safely to New York. It was a glorious day for Mr. Fulton.
His wonderful genius had triumphed over all obstacles, and the application
of steam power to navigation was an established fact. It was the dawn of a
new era in the prosperity of nations, and the beginning of a new period in
the civilization of the world. Mr. Fulton could not be otherwise than
greatly gratified at his success, but he was thinking of the welfare of
his countrymen in the hour of triumph. Listen to his own noble words as ho
gives an account of the matter to a friend: "Having employed much time,
money, and zeal in accomplishing this work, it gives me great pleasure to
see it fully answer my expectations. It will give cheap and quick
conveyance to the merchandise of the Mississippi, Missouri, and other
great rivers, which are now laying open their treasures to the enterprise
of our countrymen; and, although the prospect of personal emolument has
been some inducement to mo, yet I feel infinitely more pleasure in
reflecting on the immense advantages that my country will derive from the
invention." There is a grand nobility in these words which should touch
the heart of every American citizen.
The genius and ability of
Mr. Fulton entitled him to take rank among the greatest men of the world.
He possessed a rare and wonderful combination of extraordinary qualities.
He was one of nature's noblemen. Through his inventions ho became a great
benefactor to his race, reflecting honor upon his country and immortality
His splendid career was cut
short at high noon. Enthused with marvelous conceptions to reconstruct the
navy of his country with the new steam power he had discovered, the
energies of his delicate nature were overtaxed, and he fell a victim to
disease on February 4, 1815, in his fiftieth year.
The Scotch-Irish race have
great reason to be proud of the name of Robert Fulton. His wonderful
genius and splendid achievements would be an honor to any people.
Prof. Samuel Finley Breese
is the second distinguished
inventor of the Scotch-Irish race to whom your attention is invited. Prof.
Morse was born in Charleston, Mass., on April 27, 1791. He was the son of
Rev. Jedediah Morse, a prominent minister of the Congregational Church of
New England. His mother was Elizabeth Ann Breese, of New York City, the
granddaughter of Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley, a distinguished Scotch-Irish
clergyman, and an honored President of Princeton College. Prof. Morse
belongs to the Scotch-Irish race through his mother, and there is no
better channel through which to get the blood. By both sides of the family
he had a line of ancestry remarkable for their superior intellectual
endowments and culture, as well as their nobleness and integrity of
character. His future life exhibited the fact that he was worthy of his
noble heritage and honored sires.
The father relates the
interesting incident that Rev. Dr. Witherspoon, the successor of Dr.
Finley as President of Princeton College, came on a visit to him sometime
after the birth of the son, and being much affected by the interview with
the granddaughter of his predecessor, he took the infant son in his arms,
and, looking up to God, invoked the divine benediction upon the life of
the child. It was a touching scene, which the father and mother never
forgot. They little dreamed, however, of the amazing blessings which were
to come to the world through that life which then received the benediction
of the man of God.
The early education of young Samuel Finley Morse was watched over very
carefully by his father. At the age of fifteen he was fully prepared to
enter the Freshman Class of Yale College in 1807, under the presidency of
Dr. Timothy Dwight, who was his father's close personal friend. He was
confided to Dr. Dwight's special care, and for four years he was under the
molding influence of this extraordinary man. It was while at college,
attending the lectures of Prof. Day on electricity, that young Morse
received the seed thought which ultimately produced the great invention.
In one of his morning lectures, Prof. Day gave this proposition: "If the
circuit be interrupted, the fluid will become visible; and when it passes,
it will leave an impression upon any intermediate body." The professor
gave experiments, demonstrating the truthfulness of the proposition. This
was the germ of the great invention that now daily and hourly astonishes
the world, and has given a splendid immortality to the student, who,
twenty two years afterward, conceived the idea of making this experiment
of practical value to mankind.
"Writing in 1867 of the
time when the idea of his invention first originated with him, he refers
to this morning lecture at Yale College, and says: "The fact that the
presence of electricity can be made visible in any desired part of the
circuit was the crude seed which took root in my mind and grew up into
form, and ripened into the invention of the electric telegraph."
In the summer of 1810 Mr.
Samuel Finley Morse finished his collegiate course, and determined to
devote himself to the art of painting, as he had already shown decided
gifts in that direction. The celebrated Washington Allston had just
returned from Europe in the midst of his splendid career, and young Morse
was placed under his care as his pupil. In the summer of 1811 Mr. Allston
returned to London, taking with him his pupil, Mr. Morse, whom he
presented to Benjamin "West, the great American artist, who was then
President of the Royal Academy of England. Mr. West became greatly
interested in Mr. Morse, and gave him the warm personal attention of a
father. The young artist made rapid advancement in his profession. In less
than two years he was awarded the gold medal for one of his productions,
and in the presence of the royal court received the honor at the hands of
the Duke of Norfolk.
After four years' absence,
Mr. Morse returns to his own country, continuing his profession as an
artist in different cities from 1815 to 1829. During the years 1827-28,
Mr. Morse gave special attention to the study of electro-magnetism, under
the inspiring lectures of Prof. Dana, of Columbia College, of New York
City. His mind was still struggling with the electric force as to some
method of utilizing it.
In 1829 he determined to
spend some time in Italy, studying the great masters, that he might the
more thoroughly perfect himself in his profession. His visit to Italy and
adjacent countries, making a study of the magnificent gems of art
collected in the different galleries, was a source of great pleasure and
profit to him, and, richly furnished with material for future use in his
profession, he determined in the fall season of 1832 to return to his own
Mr. Morse was now forty-two
years of age. For twenty years and more he had given his entire attention
to art and studies as a painter, and had attained very high distinction.
But his career as an artist was now virtually at an end. His future was to
be engaged in grappling with one of the grandest conceptions that ever
entered the human mind.
On October 1, 1832, Mr.
Morse sailed from Havre on the packet ship "Sully," for New York. There
were quite a number of prominent people aboard the vessel. When fully out
upon the sea, the conversation at the dinner table on a certain day turned
upon electro-magnetism, and was carried on with much interest by several
parties. At a particular point in the conversation Mr. Morse interposed
the remark: "If the presence of electricity can be made visible in any
part of the circuit, I see no reason why intelligence may not be
transmitted instantaneously by electricity." Promiscuous conversation went
on. But the one new idea had taken complete possession of the mind of Mr.
Morse. It was as sudden and pervading as if at that moment he had received
an electric shock. He withdrew from the table and went on deck. He was in
midocean. His whole being was absorbed with the new conception. The
purpose to transmit intelligence by electricity took possession of his
mind, and to its perfection his life from that moment was devoted. The
mechanism by which the result was to be reached was to be wrought out by a
slow and laborious thought and experiment, but the grandeur of that result
broke upon him as clearly and fully as if it had been a vision from
heaven. Difficulties afterward rose in his path, which had to be
surmounted or removed by toilsome and painful processes. But in that first
hour of conception, when his mind was all aglow with his new discovery, he
saw the end from the beginning. Of all the great inventions that has made
their authors immortal, and conferred enduring benefit upon mankind, no
one was so completely grasped at its inception as this. For some days and
nights he had no rest or sleep, struggling with the difficult problem. His
mind was all on fire. The tension of thought was very great, but he found
the solution. His notebook shows that he then constructed the alphabet of
dots and dashes, and the needful mechanism whereby these signs were to be
made by the electric current. From this hour began a struggle which lasted
twelve years, more severe, heroic, and triumphant than the annals of any
other invention furnished for the warning and encouragement of genius.
As the vessel neared the
wharf at New York, Capt. Pell says, Mr. Morse addressed him and said:
"Well, captain, should you hear of the telegraph one of these days as the
wonder of the world, remember the discovery was made upon the good ship
Several years were spent in
constructing, improving, and perfecting the mechanism of the invention.
His limited supply of means became virtually exhausted. It was the old
story repeated, and to be repeated, of genius struggling with poverty.
In 1838 Mr. Morse had so
far perfected his invention that he proposed to make a public exhibition
of the operation of telegraphic instruments at New York "University, of
which he was at that period a professor. On January 24, 1838, the
distinguished parties invited were present, filled with astonishment at
the proposition to convey intelligence through a coil of wire ten miles
long. In deference to Gen. Cummings, a military general present, the
following sentence was given to Prof. Morse to transmit through the long
wire in the telegraphic alphabet of dots and dashes:
"Attention, the universe:
By kingdoms, right wheel."
Letter by letter and word
by word the entire sentence was written, and repeated four times over with
perfect accuracy. The audience were amazed and overwhelmed. The work
seemed to border on the miraculous. This is the first sentence ever
transmitted through a telegraph wire of any length. The original message
is still in the possession of the Cummings family. The sentence was
perhaps given playfully, without the thought of any particular
significance, and yet all present felt, somehow, that they, stood upon the
threshold of an event that would command the attention of the world, and
they were not mistaken.
On February 21, 1838, Prof.
Morse exhibited his telgraphic invention before the President of the
United States and his cabinet and many of the members of Congress. The
claims of the invention were generally regarded as utterly incredible, but
when the experiment was witnessed all were compelled to admit that the
telegraph had all the appearance of success.
Several years were now
spent in securing grants of letters patent in foreign countries. On March
3, the Congress of the United States appropriated §30,000 to construct an
experimental telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore. The speeches of
ridicule made by several members of Congress on the bill making this
appropriation are very amusing productions in the light of the present
day. The friends of Prof. Morse had to labor assiduously to secure the
passage of the bill making the appropriation. Seated in the gallery of the
House of Representatives, Mr. Morse watched with intense anxiety the fate
of the bill, for in its success were centered all his hopes of getting his
invention before the world. Trembling with agitation, he heard the roll
call. The bill had a majority of eight. He and his friends were greatly
rejoiced, but the bill had yet to run the gauntlet in the Senate during
the few days of Congress which yet remained. March 3 came, and Mr. Morse
sat in the gallery all day long. As the senate chamber was lighted, two
Senators, his personal friends, came to him with the sad intelligence that
there was no hope of getting the bill passed, as only a few hours remained
and a large number of bills were before it on the calendar. His hopes were
crushed. He went to his hotel, fell upon his knees at his bedside, and
poured out his troubled heart to God, as he had ever done in the dark days
when thick shadows fell upon him. He soon realized that "the Lord giveth
his beloved sleep." Mr. Ellsworth, the Commissioner of Patents, and his
friends in the Senate watched the bill continuously, and at the last
moment secured its passage and signature by the President. Early next
morning the little daughter of Mr. Ellsworth came to the hotel as Prof.
Morse came down to breakfast. The young girl quickly said: "I came so
early to be the first to congratulate you, Mr. Morse." "And for what
reason, my child?" said he. "Why, upon the passage of the bill by the
Senate." The professor assured her that it was not possible, as he left
the capitol only a few hours before adjournment. She then informed him
that her father was present at the close, and saw the bill passed and
signed. He sunk down in his chair overwhelmed at the good news. Recovering
himself, he promised Miss Annie Ellsworth that she should send the first
message over the first line of telegraph that was opened.
With this appropriation by
Congress, Prof. Morse proceeded with energy and delight to construct a
telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore. By May 24,1844, he had his
line constructed between the two cities. There was much excitement in both
cities as to the success of the new and wonderful invention. That
intelligent messages could be sent over this wire of forty miles' length
in an instant staggered the faith of every one.
When everything was ready,
he informed Miss Ellsworth he was prepared to redeem his pledge that she
should indite the first message for the telegraph line. Her good mother
had suggested the striking words of Scripture:
"What hath God wrought!"
(Num. xxiii. 23)
and the daughter handed
them to Prof. Morse. He took his seat by the instrument and spelled the
words of the message in the dot and dash of the telegraph alphabet. In a
moment Mr. Vail, who was at the instrument in Baltimore, returned the
words to Washington, thus passing over a circuit of eighty miles.
The parties present were
filled with amazement; they saw beyond controversy the success of the
invention. Prof. Morse did not exhibit the surprise of his enthusiastic
friends, for he knew perfectly what his instrument would do, and the fact
accomplished was but the confirmation to others of what to him was a
certainty on the packet ship "Sully" in 1832.
He received, with the
modesty in keeping with the simplicity of his character, the strong
congratulations of his friends. Neither then nor at any subsequent period
of his life did his language or manner indicate any exultation in his
wonderful triumph. He believed himself an instrument employed by heaven to
achieve a great result, and having accomplished it, he claimed simply to
be the original and only instrument by which that result had been reached.
Prof. Morse said of the
first message that was sent"What hath God wrought!"that it baptized the
American telegraph with the name of its author, who, he believed, was God.
The original slip of paper
on which his first dispatch was written by the telegraph instrument is now
in the possession of Gov. Seymore, of Hartford, Conn.
It was two days after the
sending of this dispatch that the famous Democratic Convention of 1844 met
in Baltimore. The nomination of James K. Polk for President, who was a
distinguished Scotch-Irishman, was first flashed over the wires, but it
seemed impossible to believe it until the train from Baltimore verified
it. In the struggle over the nomination for Vice President, parties in
Washington and Baltimore kept up a continual conference for hours. As
these various dispatches were read every few minutes for hours before the
Convention, all doubts as to the success of the electric telegraph was
The telegraph was now a
reality. Its completion was hailed with universal enthusiasm. The press of
the country announced the annihilation of time and space in intercourse
among men. The praises of the inventor were proclaimed by every one. The
wonder and joy of the people were beyond expression.
It was not long until
telegraph lines were established to all the leading cities of the country.
In was only a question of a short time untill all the governments of
Europe adopted the Morse telegraph. Nation after nation conferred upon him
their highest honors and badges of distinction. The electric telegraph was
at once recognized as the most wonderful invention of human history.
The wearisome days of
poverty and need were now ended; possessed with a liberal revenue from his
invention, he purchased a beautiful home on the east bank of the Hudson,
near Poughkeepsie. Here in comfort and ease, overwhelmed with the honors
of the world, he rested from his labors. The grand triumph of his life had
been achieved. Here in his youthful home he often talked pleasantly of the
dark days through which he had passed before his invention could be
brought to perfection, and its merit recognized by the public. Seated in
his richly furnished study, he had telegraphic communication with his
friends in every part of the world.
The character of Prof.
Morse was of a high order in every respect. His strong religious life
exhibited itself throughout his whole career from youth to old age. When
his invention brought him ample moans, he made liberal benefactions to the
various causes in which he felt interested.
In the summer of 1871 a
statue was erected to his memory in Central Park, New York, by the
Telegraphic Brotherhood of the world. At a public reception given at the
Academy of Music on the occasion, when the venerable old man came upon the
platform, the immense audience arose and cheered with unbounded
enthusiasm. He was led to a seat beside a small table, on which was the
first instrument ever used, which was connected by wire with the
telegraphic system of the world. He laid his finger upon the key. There
was a moment's impressive silence; then the clicking of the telegraph
instrument was heard as the "Father of the electric telegraph" gave his
Greeting and thanks to the
telegraph fraternity throughout the world. Glory to God in the highest. On
earth peace and good will to men. S. F. B. Morse.
From all parts of the globe
came back the answers with benedictions for him who had made the people of
all nations to be as one.
The career of this
wonderful man now closes. On April 4, 1872, in his eighty-fourth year, the
message came calling him to the precious rewards of his Christian faith.
Cyrus Hall McCormick.
Attention is now directed
to another distinguished Scotch-Irishman, a man whose genius and tenacity
of purpose we are indebted for another most important invention; one which
has wrought a profound revolution in the agricultural world. We refer to
the wonderful and famous "McCormick Reaper," the invention of Cyrus Hall
McCormick, of Chicago. This invention soon exhibited far-reaching results,
affecting the agricultural interests in every land. By its use the
commerce of the world, in all kinds of grain products, has been expanded
to amazing proportions, and it may be safely asserted that no single
invention has ever become such a powerful factor in increasing the
commerce of all nations.
The family of Cyrus Hall
McCormick for two generations were settlers in the famous valley of
Virginia, so fruitful of great and good men, and originally came to this
country from the North of Ireland in 1758.
The homestead of Robert
McCormick, the father of Cyrus Hall McCormick, was Walnut Grove,
Rockbridge County, Va. Here his son was born February 15, 1809. The father
was a very decided genius for invention in the line of mechanics. He was
the inventor of several important machines, which in that early day were
of much value to agriculture in various ways. In 1816 he conceived the
idea of constructing a reaping machine. When he had built his machine and
put it to the test, it failed to do satisfactory work.
Cyrus H. McCormick, the
son, was now about twenty-two years of age, and he had already invented
several important agricultural implements, showing that the inventive
genius of the father was inherited by the son.
In the summer of 1831 he
made a careful study of the problem of the reaper which had baffled the
skill of his father. While standing in a field of ripening and tangled
grain, the solution of the difficult problem seems to have flashed upon
his mind at once. In a few short months he had so far constructed his
machine as to subject it to a critical experiment, which was done at the
old homestead at Walnut Grove. The trial was a complete success, and from
that day the reaper was an accomplished fact.
Mr. McCormick did not allow
himself to be carried away by the enthusiasm of his wonderful success. His
critical and inventive mind soon saw where improvements could be made,
rendering the machine less complicated and more efficient in its work.
For several years his
father and two brothers were associated with him in the manufacture of the
reaper at Walnut Grove, and year by year the success and capability of the
machine was assured beyond all controversy. The want of facilities for the
manufacture of the varied parts of the reaper rendered it impossible to
put it upon the market with a rapidity even approximating the demand. The
vast prairies of the West were rapidly becoming the great grain-producing
part of the country, and Mr. McCormick, in his uncommon good judgment and
foresight, saw that these broad prairies must be the field where his
wonderful reaper was to have its grandest success. Accordingly in 1845 he
began making his reapers in Cincinnati, but in 1847 he located permanently
in Chicago, and established a large manufactory with the most improved
machinery for producing his reaper with rapidity and perfection. His two
brothers from Virginia joined him there, and the firm became a potent
factor in building up the great Northwest.
Thousands of reapers were
now manufactured and distributed over the grain-producing parts of the
country. The whole land was soon filled with amazement at the tremendous
commercial significance of the new invention. Reaping the harvest by
machinery increased immensely the grain products of the country, and the
volume of commerce was augmented year by year to a surprising degree.
Mr. McCormick now turned
his attention to the introduction of his reaper into the different
countries of Europe, and his efforts in this direction were crowned with
abundant success. From 1851 to 1883, a period of more than thirty years,
the " McCormick Reaper" took the gold medals and highest prizes of the
several international expositions that were hold. In 1867 Napoleon III.
was present to witness a test of the merit of the reaper invention in the
rich harvest fields of Chalon, and so pleased was the emperor at the
wonderful success of the reaper that he conferred the Decoration of the
Legion of Honor upon Mr. McCormick on the field. The Emperor of Austria
conferred a like honor at the exposition of Vienna in 1873, and, indeed,
from every part of the world public recognition in the form of honors and
awards came to the distinguished inventor. He was permitted to see the
merit of his wonderful invention recognized in all lands, and also to see
its amazing influence in expanding and enlarging the commerce of the
world. No one rejoiced more than he in the great advantages and blessings
which his invention gave to the agricultural interests of the country.
Reaping by machinery was a revolution to the grain production of the
The success which a kind
Providence was pleased to bestow upon Mr. McCormick seemed never to fill
him with exultation, but only served to bring out the remarkable
excellencies of his character. In 1858 he was married to Miss Nettie
Fowler, a lady distinguished for her intelligence and mental endowments.
To them were born two daughters and three sons.
The religious life of Mr.
McCormick was strong and of a pronounced type. He held, with vigorous
tenacity, to the religious faith of his fathers. He loved his Church and
all her interests, and when his inventions brought him ample fortune, he
began to bestow large and liberal benefactions upon such religious
institutions as commended themselves to his favorable consideration. In
1859 he endowed the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, of Chicago, and
afterward large and liberal gifts were made, both by himself and his
family, amounting in all to over a million dollars. After Mr. McCormick's
death the Trustees of the seminary very properly changed the corporate
title of the institution to that of "The McCormick Theological Seminary of
Chicago." Through this liberally endowed school of the prophets this noble
man has already exerted, and will continue to exert, a most favorable
religious influence upon the great Northwest section of our country. Mr.
McCormick died in the year 1884, having passed his seventy-fifth birthday.
His end was peace.
In the person of his son,
Cyrus Hall McCormick, Jr., the father has left behind him a good
representative. Succeeding to his father's invention with all its
emoluments, he has expanded the principles of the invention in various
directions, largely increasing its influence and revenues. Just where the
father laid down his life, both secular and religious, the son has taken
it up, and is pressing forward with great activity and success. He is a
worthy son of a noble sire.
There is a striking
resemblance in the career of Mr. McCormick and that of Prof. Morse. Mr.
McCormick reached the full conception of his invention after a short but
close study in the summer of 1831. Prof. Morse reached the full conception
of his invention after a few days of intense study on the packet ship
"Sully" in October, 1832. Both inventions were a success in the first
trial, and both were about twelve years in commanding public attention.
Both men about the same time had their inventions recognized by the
various nationalities of Europe and of the world, and almost
simultaneously they received the highest honors from every civilized
government. While engaged in developing their respective inventions, they
formed an acquaintance which was mutually pleasant and agreeable. They
both lived to enjoy the fruits of their labors, and passed away at a ripe
old age, leaving behind them the blessed example of Godly Christian lives.
In preparing this address
on the inventors of the Scotch-Irish people of America, we have deemed it
advisable to restrict ourselves to the three great inventors (Mr. Fulton,
Mr. Morse, and Mr. McCormick), whose life work has been closed by death.
The inventive genius of these three men lay in entirely different
directions, and yet their inventions have effected most powerfully the
interests of mankind, and proved an inestimable blessing to the whole
If time would permit, we
could speak of other Scotch-Irish inventors whose productions have
commanded universal attention and admiration. The mother of Thomas A.
Edison, who was Miss Elliott, is of this blood; a woman of rare endowments
and intellectual culture, who profoundly impressed herself upon the young
life of her son.
But we must rest our cause
with the three master inventors we have mentioned. Their inventions, their
lives, and their characters reflect immortal honor upon the Scotch-Irish
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