On my arrival here, from Chicago, I found, in the " Scientific American " of the 23d ult, quoted from ''The Niagara Mail," a statement " that the Reaper was invented in Scotland twenty years ago, and re-invented by Mr. McCormick, a Scotchman in the United States, who introduced it to the World's Fair," —with similar claims if relation to Hobb's Lock and the Yacht America—together with your contradiction of that statement, except that you "do not deny" the invention of the Reaper, as claimed, in Scotland, " although," as you properly say, " beariug t. Scotch name, Mr. McCormick is a native of Virginia; and if he re-invented the Reaper, it was original with him," c I have also observed, in foreign papers, similar claims—that the Reaper was originally invented by Rev. Patrick Bell, of Scotland, one of which was sent to this country in the year 1834, from which the American Reaper was probably copied. It is said, in an article published in the "Journal of Agriculture," and the " Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society, of Scotland," by Mr. Slight, Curator of the Society's Models, that "all the Reaping Machines now used in the Union are based upon the same principle, which is the leading feature—the CUTTER— in Bell's." In answer to an inquiry of yours, over the signature of " Geo. K. Fuller," of the State of New York, I find a letter in a late number of your paper, bearing testimony to " the importation of the Scotch Reaping Machine, in the year 1S34," its cost (*34S,4G), and " the lirst trial of its working powers, the following year, made in the presence of the Rev. Mr. Bell, the inventor," and others,"in the reaping of level field of wheat of from two to three acres, in about as many hours,'1 with an explanation of yours annexed, "that O. Hus-sey's Reaper was patented m 1833, and Mc-Cormidi's in 1834." With no disposition to detract from the merits of Mr. Bell, or any other inventor, I beg leave, through your widely circulated and valuable Journal, to make the following further explanations in relation to this matter, in order that your motto, l- honor to whom honor is due," may be tally carried out. With regard to the origin of my Reaping Machine, Hon. Edmund Burke, ex-Commissioner of Patents, in a letter addressed to Senators Douglas and Shields, bearing date March 4th, 1850, says, "When both of these patents were granted, the Patent Office made no examination upon the points of originality and priority of invention, but granted all patents applied for, as a matter of course. Therefore it is no certain evidence that, because an alleged inventor procured a patent before his rival, he was the first and original inventor. It, in fact, was a circumstance of very little weight in its bearing upon the question of priority between the parties. Besides, the testimony ot Mr. McCormick presented to the Board of Extension, clearly proved that he invented and put in operation his machine in 1831, two years before the date of Hussey's patent,"—when,too,there wasmore grain cut with my machine than with Mr. Bell's in 1835. as above stated. Again, the follow-in is on the Report of the Committee o Patents of the Senate of the United States, reported March 30th, 1859 :—" That, testimony was thereupon taken, in compliance with the order of the Board; and by the proof submitted on the part of aaid McCormick, it appeared conclusively that he invented his machine, and first practically and publicly tested its operation in the harvest of 1831; and that " from the exhibits referred to youi Committee, it appears that his Hus-sey's] machine was first constructed and operated in 1833: (see exhibit 17)." The evi- dence here referred to was the swom statement of Mr. Hussey himself as a witness inj Now, while it is true that at the time of the original invention of my Reaper, and for many years thereafter, I did not know (and Bell's experiments in reaping by horse-power, the next and only remaining question is, what Reaping Machine did Mr. Bell really invent, and what resemblance is there between his machine and mine,—whether Bell's was " the Reaping Machine," instead of, as stated by you, " McCormick's Reaper that gained a triumph at the World's Fair?" If so, as you have properly remarked, that "this useful invention" should have been permitted to enjoy the Rip Yan Winkle sleep in the hands of its inventor, until brought forward at the Great Exhibition of all nations, by an American, !- Englishmen and Scotchmen ought to take shame to themselves !" But not quite so; for although, in a trial made on the farm of Mr. Watson (of Scotland, interested with Mr. Bell), in the last harvest with Hussey's machine, as made and exhibited by Mr. Cros-kill, the premium was awarded to Mr. Bell, it remains, yet to be demonstrated that his is practically a useful operating machine at all, —a mere trial, made under favorable circumstances, being not a sufficient test of that feet, as any one acquainted with reaping by machinery must be "aware of. Indeed, upon this point, the fact that Bell's machine has, for more than twenty years, been used in the hands of the inventor (or his brother, as is said) alone, and was not, at the end of that period, deemed by himself worthy of an exhibition at the World's Fair, so near his own door—would seem conclusive. Finally, in short, the leading difference in the principles of Mr. Bell's ma chine, and mine are, first, Bell's cuts with a series of shears (some 14 inches in length !) which, to operate, require all the accuracy and exactness of lit, in the cutting edges, of shears used for other purposes, as is generally understood, and which is not attainable in a Reaping Machine. In my machine the cutting is done by thesim-plesti as well as most effective and durable of all cutting edges for reaping—fiie sickle. In Mr. B ell's machine, the grain is gathered by a reel on a moving apron, or canvas, designed to discharge it regularly in sivathj and which, it is not pretended, will answer the purpose at all in lodged grain. In mine, the grain is gathered by a reel on an immovable platform, where it is collected into sheaves, and then deposited at the side of the machine by a man, with a rake, riding upon it. Bell's machine is propelled before the horses, while mine is drawn behind them. Thus it will be seen that my Reaper, in its plan and principles of operation, is essentially and entirely different from that of Mr. Bell of Scotland.1 By giving the foregoing a place in your journal, you will, I trust, be doing no more than by your readers, will be considered due to the subject whilst you will oblige, very resp*t-fully, ' C. H. MCCOHMICK. New York, Nov. 4, 1852.
This article was originally published with the title "Reaping Machines"