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Cyrus I (all Mc(Wwtd\ 
From a pastel /v Ltmion S, (* , 



HARVEST, 1856-1884 


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Cyrus Hall McCormick: Seed-Time, 1809-1856, published 
by The Century Company five years ago, traces the life of the 
inventor of the first practical grain reaper until the eve of the 
Civil War when he was established in Chicago with fame and 
fortune assured. The present volume completes the story of his 
career. In this sequel the history of the harvesting-machine 
industry is carried forward to 1885, but much space is neces 
sarily allotted to McCormick s philanthropies and his role in 
the Presbyterian Church, the Democratic Party, and important 
railroad and mining companies. 

Although articles in contemporary newspapers and maga 
zines have been frequently consulted in writing this biography, 
chief reliance has been placed upon the voluminous files of 
letters in the libraries of the McCormick Historical Associa 
tion and the Nettie F. McCormick Biographical Association in 
Chicago. To these organizations, and to their members indi 
vidually, I am indebted for the privilege of freely examining 
this correspondence, for most of the illustrations in this 
volume, and for cordial cooperation at every stage of the work. 

Eight years of research in the rich collection of the McCor 
mick Historical Association have placed me under heavy obli 
gation to Mr. Herbert A. Kellar, the librarian, for much 
assistance and many courtesies. I am grateful to Miss Virginia 
Roderick, the librarian of the Nettie F. McCormick Bio 
graphical Association, for aid in exploring the valuable source 


materials under her charge. My sincere thanks are also due to 
other members of the staffs of these libraries Miss Loraine 
Weber, Miss Portia Cheal, Miss Rose Oenning, Miss Marie 
Succo, Mr. Charles E. O Connor, and particularly to Mrs. 
Herbert A. Kellar who has helped me so often on special 

Professor William E. Dodd first aroused my interest in the 
life of Cyrus Hall McCormick and my debt to him has been an 
increasing one. Portions of the manuscript have benefited from 
the suggestions of Professor Wood Gray of The George 
Washington University, and of my colleagues, Professor 
Andrew C. McLaughlin, Professor Avery O. Craven, and 
Professor William L. Eagleton, I wish also to express my 
appreciation for the time and counsel generously given by 
Professor Marcus W. Jernegan, Professor Bessie L. Pierce, 
and Professor Einar Joranson when I have gone to them with 
matters relating to this study. 

My indebtedness to my wife, Frances R. Hutchinson, for 
help with the typing and proof-reading, and for unfailing 
encouragement at all times, is greater than any acknowledg 
ment here can express. 


New Brwiswick, N. /. 




CAUSE, 1856-1865 3 








1865-1867 202 


ISSUE, 1867-1884 233 


IX CYRUS McCoRMicK, DEMOCRAT, 1865-1884 . 308 



MARKET, 1856-1876 405 


1865-1873 447 





OF THE INDUSTRY, 1873-1879 573 





INDEX 777 


Cyrus Hall McCormick Frontispiece 


Mrs. Cyrus Hall McCormick 8 

Facsimile of a letter written by Cyrus Hall McCormick 
in 1860 44-45 

William Sanderson McCormick 128 

Cyrus Hall McCormick 230 

The McCormick Theological Seminary, 1888 . . . 270 

Men of Progress American Inventors 362 

The Old Reliable at work 478 

The McCormick reaper factory 516 

Poster of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, 
1882 568 

Cyrus H. McCormick 640 

Mrs. Cyrus Hall McCormick 674 

Harvest on a "bonanza" farm in Dakota Territory . . 722 

Cyrus Hall McCormick s residence at 675 Rush Street, 
Chicago 744 






ANEW chapter in the life of Cyrus McCormick began 
as the last decade before the Civil War drew to its 
close. By then he was fifty years of age, and since 1840 his 
attention had been almost exclusively devoted to the improve 
ment and sale of his reaper. This concentration of effort had 
brought him both wealth and renown. He had plowed deep 
but in a single furrow, and his eyes had seldom been lifted 
from the task. In the opinion of those who had felt his 
power when they tried to block his course, he was a man 
of iron. To fight and not to compromise had been his formula 
of success, and appropriately enough, "Sine Timore" was 
the motto on the ancient coat-of-arms of his family. In 1858, 
as lawsuits and other business connected with his factory 
obliged him to hurry from city to city of the North and 
West, men who did not share his confidence would have 
scorned to believe that he could alter his way of life, or that 
he was even then preparing a program of action which would 
make that year a turning point in his career. 

Doubtless his marriage in January, 1858, to young Nancy 
(Nettie) Fowler was a most important, if not the decisive, 
factor in widening his horizon. The range of her interests 
was as broad as his was narrow. She drew him into society 
and he was gratified to find that persons of distinction who 
first welcomed him because of his wealth and his reputation 



as an inventor, soon listened with respect to his views upon 
the issues of the day. He discovered that he had something 
of interest to say about matters unrelated to his business, 
and under her tactful guidance the courtesy and hospitality 
of his native state of Virginia were transferred to northern 
soil. Both enjoyed music and he often accompanied her on 
his violin or sang with her the hymns and folk melodies 
loved since his youth. The Presbyterian Church was a mu 
tual bond, and a Bible went with them on all their trips 
together. 1 After his marriage, "Business before pleasure" re 
placed the "All business" rule of the earlier years. 

Mrs. McCormick was his only master and she conquered 
him by bending to his will. From the outset of their life to 
gether, he made her his business confidante and, probably 
to her surprise, she quickly came to share his enthusiasm 
for his work and brought to his problems a hitherto unsus 
pected talent for giving wise counsel. His letters rarely credit 
a decision to her influence, but without doubt as he grew older 
he came more and more to rely upon her advice. She was his 
mainstay and he seldom took an important step without first 
gaining her approval. Although proud of his victories, she- 
valued them the more because the wealth that they brought 
could be used to help those who were less fortunate. To her, 
this opportunity was the supreme justification of her hus 
band s inflexibility and his determination to work and win 
as long as his strength permitted. He came to share her point 
of view and during the last twenty-five years of his life he 
devoted large sums of money to the service of others. As he 
wrote to his former slave, "Jo" Anderson, in 1870, "Increased 
means and success in a business life bring with them usually, 
as in my own case, an increase of cares and responsibility; 
while the ... means I find to counteract injurious effects 

1 C. H. McCormick, from Eureka Springs, Ark., to C H. McCormick, 
Jr., May 21, 1882. 


therefrom are ... in being also actively employed in works 
of benevolence." 2 On another occasion he assured an old 
friend in Virginia, "I am in favor of using means while one 
lives, rather than leave all to be lost or squandered, as it may 
be, after death." 3 

McCormick s conservatism and his early life in Virginia 
go far toward explaining why he was always a Presbyterian 
of the Old School and a stanch "stand pat" member of the 
Democratic Party. Innovations in methods of harvesting 
grain account for his fame and his fortune by the eve of the 
Civil War, but he willingly devoted both to the maintenance 
of "sound principles" hallowed by long usage in church and 
state. He prided himself upon his adherence to the old, and 
was the more convinced of the correctness of his beliefs when 
he saw new ideas threaten the unity of his denomination and 
the nation. In his opinion the Presbyterian Church (O.S.) 
and the Democratic Party, with their many members in both 
the slave and the free states, were two of the chief, if not 
the chief, ties which held the Union together between 1845 
and 1860. He regretted the doctrinal schism of 1837 which 
had set apart the New School Presbyterians as a separate 
church. The Old School Presbyterian Church, however, was 
still national in its membership and it would not break in twain 
over the slavery question if he could prevent it. His policy 
in relation to his party and his church from 1856 to 1861 
was shaped by his determination that the Union should be 
preserved. After this hope failed with Sumter and the Old 
School denomination divided, he bent his efforts for the next 
ten years and more, at the cost of much popularity, to reknit 

2 C. H. McCormick to "Jo" Anderson, Greenville, Va., Jan. 19, 1870. 

3 # C. H. McCormick to T. J. Massie, Aug. 6, 1866. The "*" here and 
elsewhere in this volume indicates that the letter is a part of the manuscript 
collection of the Nettie F. McCormick Biographical Association. All other 
documents cited, unless otherwise noted, are in the library of the McCormick 
Historical Association. 


the church bond. Only by doing so, in his opinion, would 
the country again be truly united. For these reasons, patriot 
ism, party loyalty, and religious faith were often but slightly 
differentiated in McCormick s mind. On several occasions 
after the Civil War, friends felt obliged to remind him that 
all conservative Old School Presbyterians were not Demo 
crats and that all supporters of Andrew Johnson and his 
reconstruction policy were not equally "sound" in matters 
of religion. 4 He found it difficult to understand how a true 
conservative could fail to be both. 

Although his course in politics and in religion was pursued 
toward a single objective, he insisted that the unity of his 
church would be broken if the General Assembly took a stand 
upon political questions in its "deliverances." By "politics" 
in the 1850*3 McCormick and many other Presbyterians 
(O.S.), remembering the unhappy experiences of the Metho 
dists and Baptists a few years before, meant the agitation 
within their ranks of the issues of slavery and slavery-ex 
tension. To an increasing number of northern Old School 
Presbyterians (although far from a majority of the denomi 
nation as late as 1860), refusal to modify the "non-interfer 
ence" deliverance of the General Assembly of 1845 on the 
subject of slavery and to return to the positive antislavery 
position of 1818, was in reality taking a stand in politics with 
a vengeance. 5 By the time of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and 
the Dred Scott decision, the members of the Old School 
Church, reflecting the political conflicts of the times, were 
classed as "radicals" or "conservatives," depending upon 
whether or not they opposed or upheld the deliverance of 1845. 

^Post, Chap. II. 

5 In 1845 the General Assembly of the O. S. Presbyterian Church de 
clared that "since Christ and his inspired Apostles did not make the holding 
of slaves a bar to communion, we, as a court of Christ, have no authority 
to do so ; since they did not attempt to remove it from the Church by legis 
lation, we have no authority to legislate on the subject." 


The southern Presbyterians were almost without exception 
within the conservative camp on this question, and many of 
the most influential northern members, including McCormick, 
were willing to support them. 

It perhaps need not be added that the New School Presby 
terians of the North had also experienced, although to a lesser 
degree, the impact of the same issues, and were divided. In 
fact, by 1860 doctrinal differences between individual members 
of these two branches of the church often seemed unimportant 
when compared with the cleavage within their ranks on the 
subject of slavery. An Old School and a New School Presby 
terian might feel a closer community of interest if they thought 
alike upon the absorbing political topics of the day, than either 
did with a member of his own group who viewed these same 
issues in another light. There were many New School Pres 
byterians whose theological beliefs squared in all essentials with 
Old School tenets. In short, the distinction between these two 
wings of the same denomination, although fixed by twenty-five 
years of practice, was often an academic one. 

Not so, however, to McCormick or to most of the influen 
tial Old School Presbyterians who lived in the South. The 
inventor read his Bible devoutly, made a close study of the 
dogmas of his denomination on the subjects of free will, elec 
tion, imputation, and grace, and was convinced that the 
"standards" of the Old School Church could not without real 
loss be twisted to harmonize with those of the seceders of 
1837. For the sake of peace he outwardly yielded a little to 
the New School position in the early 1 870*5, but with slight 
exaggeration it may be said that the maintenance of good 
old" Presbyter ianism against assaults by heretic or unbeliever 
was one of the consuming interests of the last twenty-five years 
of his life. He was often willing to defer decision upon im 
portant business matters during this period if the needs of 
his denomination seemed to require his whole attention. 


Because of his residence in Chicago after 1847, an d the 
rapid growth of the Northwest, he naturally felt that the chief 
opportunity of the Old School Presbyterian Church lay in his 
own section of the country. He had noted many evidences of 
infidelity along the Ohio River during his first visit there in 
behalf of his reaper in 1845, an d he saw more clearly as years 
went by that the advancing West was a challenge to his de 
nomination to keep step. Other churches must not be permitted 
to preempt the new field. With this jealous regard for the 
spread of sound Presbyterianism, went hand in hand a firm 
belief by 1858 that the fate of the Union would be decided 
by the stand taken by the Northwest upon the questions of 
the day. Thus the welfare of his country as well as of his 
church was in the balance, and the future of each would be 
assured if the Northwest remained sanely conservative. On 
these issues McCormick was no longer the hard man of busi 
ness, coldly calculating financial profit and loss, but an idealist 
ready to break a lance in behalf of a cause which some his 
torians, wise after the event, believe to have been doomed to 
failure from the outset. 

McCormick appreciated the influence of the pulpit upon 
public opinion, and by 1856 was grieved to find that his own 
minister in Chicago, among others, was leaning toward aboli 
tionism. This, in the inventor s view, was both unorthodox and 
dangerous to the public peace. Thus far the leading seminaries 
of his faith in the North, Princeton, Union, and Western 
(Allegheny, Pat.), had remained true to the deliverance of 
1845, tut the little institution at New Albany, Indiana, largely 
on account of the same question, was fairly upon the rocks. 
It was high time to halt the menacing radicalism for the sake 
of his party, his church, and his country. 

With these convictions, and with perhaps a million dollars 
in his pocket, McCormick in 1859 put in train several projects 
which significantly suggest the methods used by Stephen Doug- 

Mrs. Cyrus Hall McCormick 
From a photograph by Koehne, Chicago, about 1880 


las in his rise to political eminence, a newspaper to champion 
Democracy, a religious magazine to disseminate conservative 
Old School Presbyterianism, a Seminary to teach the same 
principles, and its professors and graduates, by advancing the 
cause of the denomination in the Northwest through their 
pulpits in Chicago and elsewhere, to hold this pivotal region 
from radicalism. The political phase of this plan will be sepa 
rately considered in the next chapter. 

A master mind seemed providentially ready at hand among 
the clergy of the West to be McCormick s executive. Dr. 
Nathan L. Rice, a pastor and the editor of a Presbyterian 
journal in St. Louis, had been known for over twenty years 
as one of the ablest controversialists in the church. His career 
had been a stormy one, but whether battling Catholics at 
Bardstown, Campbellites at Lexington, Universalists at Cin 
cinnati, or Abolitionists everywhere, he had held his own in 
debate and was early counted among the giants of the Old 
School Church. He denied that he was a proponent of slav 
ery, although he was ready to demonstrate by chapter and 
verse that slaveholding as practiced in the South was not a 
sin, and that it was not the duty of the church to preach 
against it. 6 McCormick first met him at Cincinnati in 1845, 
and at that time expressed his admiration in a letter to his 
brother. Here an acquaintance began which soon ripened into 
a friendship of large moment in the lives of both men for 
the next twenty-five years. 

Shortly after coming to Chicago to live, McCormick helped 
to organize a little Presbyterian Church (O.S.) which was 
familiarly known as the "North Church." The congregation 
prospered and outgrew two buildings within a decade. 7 Here 

"Chicago Daily Press," Oct. 30, and Nov. 7, 1857, letter of N. L. Rice, 
printed in both issues. 

7 In 1857 the North Church was located at the corner of Illinois and 
Wolcott sts. 


the inventor made many new friends but perhaps none of 
more significance in the life of Chicago Presbyterianism than 
Charles A. Spring, superintendent of the Sunday-school for 
several years, and brother of the famous Dr. Gardiner Spring 
of the Brick Presbyterian Church of New York City. 8 

Charles Spring, McCormick, and others were dissatisfied 
with the preaching of the Rev. R. H. Richardson, and by 1854 
were planning to organize a new and more orthodox O.S. 
Church further south in what one day would be called the 
"Loop." Rice was to be their pastor if he could be secured. 
McCormick wrote to his friend : 

There does seem to us to be a striking providence in this matter 
when all eyes and hearts are at once turned toward you as the man 
for the place and the work. . . . We do think the cause for which 
you have been so successfully laboring would be promoted by the 
change. We believe our whole church throughout the country is 
now sensible of the great importance of securing its proper in 
fluence at this point, and the proper exercise of that influence upon 
the vast interests extending throughout the great N. Western coun 
try of which Chicago must be the principal City and commercial 
emporium. ... It is but reasonable to calculate that the mag 
nitude of the work to be undertaken will demand a vigorous effort 
on the part of the church with the "right man" as its pastor. 

It is thought that for the publication of your paper, too, this is 
quite as suitable a point as is St. Louis and that in this opinion 
you probably concur, having yourself proposed to issue it from 
both places. 

We have secured a very commodious and suitable hall in which 
to commence operations. Presbytery is to meet about the 22nd inst. 
to organize the new Church. 9 

8 C. A. Spring, Sr., to C H. McCormick, Jr., Dec. i, 1884. Spring states 
that he assumed charge of the Sunday-school because Cyrus McCormick 
urged it. McCormick s friendship for Spring ripened but slowly. C. H. 
to W. S. McCormick, Dec. 9, 1857 and July 15, 1858. Here he calls Spring 
a "silly man," and "a weak brother." "He, good man, has need to be held 
up to the point of firmness." 

9 C. H. McCormick to N. L. Rice, Dec. 3, 1854. McCormick here inti 
mates that he had written him two years before upon the same subject, 


Thus, so far as records show, McCormick somewhat vaguely 
first gave written expression to the "cause" which he had in 

These great expectations came to naught when Rice de 
clined to leave St. Louis, and for almost three years the 
project hung fire for want of a suitable pastor. McCormick s 
patent business and lawsuits obliged him to live in Washing 
ton for long periods. Here he became a well-known figure in 
the congregation of the eminent Dr. Phineas Gurley, who one 
day would number Lincoln among his parishioners and be at 
his bedside when he died. 

Between 1854 and 1857 Spring and a few others kept alive 
the plan for a South Church in Chicago, and in late 1855 
secured for their pastor the youthful Rev. R. W. Henry of 
Pittsburgh. McCormick at once showed his interest by join 
ing the new congregation and contributing liberally to its 
support. Without his donation the church building could not 
have been erected on his lot. He loaned money to Mr. Henry 
and rented him a house at one half the usual rate. 10 Soon, 
however, it was learned that the clergyman had voted for the 
presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the autumn 
of 1856, and rumor persisted that he was "tainted" on the 
slavery issue. 11 He refrained from discussing the questions 
of the day from his pulpit, but McCormick was convinced that 
he was not the man to advance the "great cause" in the North 
west. 12 By good fortune, the minister of the North Church 
resigned in the summer of 1857, and with Mr. Henry s co 
operation, McCormick at once held out such tempting induce- 

10 C H. McCormick in the "Chicago Daily Press" of Jan. 20, 1858, states 
that he paid one half of Mr. Henry s salary until about Sept., 1857. 

C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Oct. 7, 1856, Jan. 13, and 28, 1857. 

12 Idem to Idem, n. d., but in 1857, prior to Sept. I : "The present Church 
is but a circumstance; and I possibly could build a Church, and rent the 
pews, if necessary to carry out a Great Church enterprise, which has been 
my object throughout." 


ments to the debt-burdened Dr. Rice that he could no longer 
afford to decline. 13 

Although the manufacturer announced his intention of join 
ing Rice s congregation, it was understood that this change 
would not affect the fortunes of the South Church, since he 
would continue his financial arrangement with Mr. Henry, 
and donate the church lot, then estimated to be worth $30,000. 
The two ministers would be, in fact, co-pastors, frequently 
exchanging pulpits and working hand in hand for the advance 
ment of Old School Presbyterianism in Chicago. This was 
the more necessary since the North Church building was in 
conveniently located and too small to accommodate the crowds 
who would doubtless wish to hear the distinguished divine 
from St. Louis. When this plan of interchurch cooperation was 
first suggested, Mr. Henry tentatively acquiesced, but he 
changed his mind before Dr. Rice arrived in Chicago in early 
October. By that time the smoldering discontent of the South 
Church congregation had become an open blaze. 

The forces giving rise to the South Church schism were 
constants in the history of Chicago Presbyterianism for the 
next ten years. Most of the elders were conservative men of 
comfortable fortune who had attended the church at its birth 
and were well aware that it could hardly continue to live 
without their aid. Mr. Henry was not an able preacher, and 
although he prudently confined his sermons to non-contro 
versial subjects, his discretion deserted him when he left the 

18 C. H. McCormick to N. L. Rice, Aug. 17, 1857. Rice would receive 
$3000 a year from his congregation and McCormick would add to it $2300 
annually for five years. He would also send him $1000 for moving expenses 
and assume on easy terms the $5000 debt Rice owed in St. Louis, Rice would 
not need to pay interest to McCormick on this sum unless his paper yielded 
profits, and if Rice should die before the principal was discharged, the 
balance due would be cancelled. As early as March, 1857, McCormick had 
urged Rice to locate in Chicago, suggesting that a third church might 
be organized for him. C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Mch. 28, 1857. "Chicago 
Daily Democrat," Sept, 18 and Oct. 10, 1857. 


pulpit. Although he had joined in the call sent to Dr. Rice, 
he doubtless anticipated with little pleasure the coming of a 
colleague with whom, he could not compete. Spring and one 
other elder, of their own volition, admonished him privately 
to spend more time in his study. They, like McConnick, were 
eager to be of Dr. Rice s flock, but unlike him, they could not 
leave a substantial peace-offering upon their departure. Mr. 
Henry, who had no wish to stay where he was not wanted, 
Q$ tendered his resignation, but the congregation gave him an 
j almost unanimous vote of confidence and refused to let him 
to go, The discontented ciders and trustees were virtually ejected 
4S\ from their positions and left the Church- Peace and poverty 
thus descended upon the congregation in the midst of the 
Panic of 1857. 

Mr, Henry, perhaps emboldened by this evidence of loyalty, 
| spoke with less reserve upon the subject of slavery, and the 
^ eager Republican press, contrary to his wishes, expanded his 
x* remarks into essays which placed him squarely at oclds with 
the redoubtable Dr, Rice. 1 * To add to the trouble, Cyrus Mc- 
Cormick now withdrew his aid from the South Church, pressed 
its needy pastor for payment of his debt, and cut off his 
of free coal from the factory yard. 15 But most serious 
all, he declined to donate the lot to the Church on the 
grounds that there was no longer any possibility of coopera- 
tion between the two congregations, that the position of Henry 
on slavery was unorthodox, and that the property was too 

" "Chicago Daily Tribune," Oct. 13, 1857, "Chicago Daily Press/* Oct. 
*5 3J ^ ov ? *BS7 "&aily Chicago Times/ 1 Oct. 30, 1857* 

15 Mr, Henry, with C A, Spring as his endorser, borrowed about $1400 
of McCormick In 1865, Spring wrote bitterly that Henry had left him 
with this debt to pay, It its probable that McCormick at that time released 
his friend from the obligation* C, H, to W, S* McCormick, Sept, 12, 1857; 
. 3, July 17, 1858, L.P.CB* No, 9, pp. 99-100, W. S, to J. B, McCor- 
mick Get 8, 1857, 1C A, Spring to C H* McCormick, Nov. 2, 1865. 
0\ <4 L*P.C.B* ft here, and wherever used in this volume, stands far "Letter 
Press Copy Book." 


valuable to give to an organization in so precarious a con 
dition that its continued existence was a matter of grave 
doubt. 16 

Although McCormick was willing that the South Church 
building should remain on his lot until he needed it for other 
purposes, the little congregation of less than one hundred 
members bravely determined to throw off its dependence upon 
the generosity of a man, who in its opinion, had treated Mr. 
Henry unjustly and violated his pledge. The "Chicago Press 
and Tribune" complimented this resolve and denounced Mc 
Cormick as the self-appointed "lay-bishop" of Presbyterianism 
who "has an ambition to hold in fee simple a Church and a 
pastor. . . . The opening on Wabash Avenue, at the corner 
of Congress Street [site of South Church], is a good one for 
any clergyman who happens to be for sale." 1T McCormick 
released his interest in the South Church building and it was 
sold to Lutherans. The congregation worshipped in the Rail 
road Chapel near the station of the Michigan Southern Rail 
road until its new edifice was completed. War issues darkened 
its history for the next four years, and for thrice that long it 
was severely harassed by debt. 18 

"It is glorious/ wrote Cyrus McCormick to his brother 
William S., on September I, 1857, when he heard that Dr. 
Rice would move his large family and his paper to Chicago. 
At last the inventor s ambitious plan was fairly launched and 
he was immediately accused of subsidizing the preaching of 
pro-slavery principles in the free Northwest. 19 Since Dr. Rice 

16 "Chicago Daily Press," Oct. 31, Dec. 29, 1857; Jan. 20, 21, 22, 1858. 

17 "Chicago Daily Press and Tribune," July 31, Aug. 2, 1858. 

18 C. H. McCormick to J. Wilson and R. J. Hamilton, Dec. 10, 1857. 
L.RC.B. No. 9, PP. 878-9; C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Dec. 4, 5, and 29, 

1857. Article by C. H. McCormick in "Chicago Daily Press," Jan. 20, 

1858. *J. Forsythe to C H. McCormick, Mch. 14, 1869. 

19 "Richmond (Va.) Examiner," September 25, 1857, quoting an article 
by Horace Greeley in the "New York Daily Tribune." "The South" (Rich 
mond) , Sept. 3, 1857. Dr. Rice preached his first sermon in North Church 


and Mr. Henry were soon crossing swords over the issue in 
the Chicago press, the suspicions of those hostile to McCor- 
mick were confirmed. Dissension within the ranks of the Chi 
cago Old School Presbyterians increased in bitterness as the 
Lincoln-Douglas debates fanned the flame, but although the 
North Church was enlarged, 20 the forceful sermons of Dr. 
Rice soon overcrowded it with listeners. Money was difficult 
to raise in those hard times and it was early 1861 before the 
congregation was ready to dedicate its new, large, heavily 
mortgaged, brick edifice at the corner of Cass and Indiana 
streets. From the outset, McCormick had been anxious that a 
"handsome" structure should be erected with all speed. His 
$10,000 headed the subscription list, and although court de 
cisions at that time were going strongly against him, he was 
prepared to give more if need should arise. 51 Little wonder 
that his enemies soon called the building "Mr. McCormick s 
Church." ** 

on Oct. ii, 1857. "Chicago Daily Press," Oct. 3, 10, Dec. 29, 1857; Jan. 
18, 20, 21, 22, 1858. "Chicago Daily Tribune," Dec. 10, 1857 ff. Strangely 
enough, Rice was not a Democrat. See letter of C. H. McCormick in 
"Chicago Daily Press" of Jan. 20, 1858. 

20 "Chicago Daily Press and Tribune," Aug. 2, 1858. At this time, while 
its building was being enlarged, the North Church congregation held serv 
ices in old St. James Church, on Cass St. The erection of the "new and 
beautiful" church was delayed for financial reasons until 1859. 

21 Letters to Nettie F. McCormick of Amanda J. Adams, Mch. 13, 1858 ; 
Henrietta M. McCormick, Mch. 17, 1858; and of Mary Ann McCormick, 
Sept. i, 1858, and Feb. 17, 1861. L.P.C.B. No. 11, pp. 399, 503 ff., No. 12, 
p. 152, letters of W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 27, Apr. 2, and June 
4, 1858. C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Mch. (?), Apr. 9, 19, May 3, 26, 
and 31, 1858. W. S. to J. B. McCormick, Mch. 29, 1858. In a letter of 
June 10, 1858, to C. H. McCormick, W. S. Johnston, Jr., offered to sell 
the lot at the corner of Cass and Indiana sts. for $15,000. 

22 H. A. Hurlbut to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 14, 1861. At this time, the 
new North Church was still unfinished, and Hurlbut hoped that McCormick 
would find some way to provide $1500 so that the job could be completed. 
See also, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, July 9, 1862, and #H. A. Hurlbut to 
C. H. McCormick, Jan. 31, 1866. These letters show that the church was 
mortgaged for $12,000 to C. H. McCormick, Wesley Munger, and E, S. 


In the meantime, Dr. Rice transferred his monthly "St. 
Louis Presbyterian" to Chicago. Although the number of its 
subscribers increased, it was never self-supporting. Because 
the entire financial burden of the periodical was necessarily 
shouldered by McCormick, it was, in fact, his property. Dur 
ing its career of -less than two years, the "Presbyterian Ex 
positor," as it was soon called, represented a further contribu 
tion of over $6,000 by the inventor to "th<s cause" in the 
Northwest. 23 He had been sanguine that it would pay its way. 
Its failure to do so, coupled with his costly publication venture 
in the secular field at this time, made him hesitate a decade 
later when the establishment of a new religious magazine 
seemed to be desirable. 24 

But the prime instrument for the accomplishment of Mc 
Cormick s design was to be an Old School Presbyterian semi 
nary in Chicago. From this institution as a focus, with each 
professor holding a pastoral charge in the city and contribut 
ing sermons and articles gratis to the "Expositor," conserva 
tive influences and sound theology would radiate to more and 
more homes in the Northwest. 25 Each alumnus would reflect 

Wadsworth. C. H. McCormick to H. A. Hurlbut, Dec. 3, 1866, "Chicago 
Evening Post," Dec. 2, 1868. 

23 When the "Presbyterian Expositor/ was established in Jan. 1860, 
McCormick understood that he, the North, and the South Church, should 
each bear one-third of its running expenses. The South Church under Mr. 
Henry would not, and the North Church could not, pay their quotas. C. H. 
to W. S. McCormick, Dec. 9, 1857. A final settlement between McCormick 
and Dr. Rice, given in L.P.C.B. No. 40, p. 592, Apr. 6, 1861, indicates 
that the "Expositor" cost the inventor over $7,000. The amount is given as 
$6,282.06 in #C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 27, 1866. In 
letters to H. A. Boardman, July 8, 1866, and to the faculty of the Presby. 
Theo. Sem. of the NW., Jan. ?, 1874, C. H. McCormick mentions $8,000 
as his loss from Rice s paper. "Chicago Times," Jan. 24, 1875, states $8,000- 

24 Post, pp. 43 ff. 

25 C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, July 14, 1865 : "In what was done 
by me for the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest one 
important object designed to be secured was the establishment of such an 


from his pulpit the principles he had learned as a student. As 
early as the autumn of 1856, McCormick expressed an interest 
in the news that the little seminary at New Albany, unable 
longer to compete with Danville across the Ohio River, was 
obliged to move or die. 26 The board of directors of the Indiana 
institution, controlled by the seven Old School Presbyterian 
synods in the Northwest, convened in Chicago in November 
to take counsel with leading churchmen there. The outcome 
of this meeting was the appointment of six members of the 
North and South Churches as the trustees of a "Presbyterian 
Theological Seminary of the Northwest," as yet unlocated 
and without endowment. 27 On the first of the following month, 
McCormick wrote to his brother that he proposed to use his 

institution in the great West . . , with a view to strengthen the national 
religious influence there, as opposed to the sectional, or radical influence, and 
thus so far to promote the stability of the Union." 

26 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Oct. 24, 1856. The New Albany Seminary 
was an outgrowth of a log-cabin academy founded by Dr. John F. Crowe 
at Hanover, Ind., in 1827. From this academy came Hanover College in 
1833. In 1840, to secure the benefits of a gift, the theological school was 
moved to New Albany, on the Ohio River. With Lyman Beecher at Lane 
Seminary (N. S.), a short distance to the eastward, and Robert L. Breckin- 
ridge at Danville Seminary (O. S.) after 1853, it is not surprising that 
the ability of the school at New Albany to survive was in doubt. The 
faculty there attempted to maintain neutrality on the question of slavery, 
but the antislavery students drifted to Lane, and those from the South, 
to Danville. See J. G. McClure, "The Story of the Life and Work of the 
Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Chicago, founded by Cyrus H. McCor 
mick" (Chicago, 1929) ; W. W. Moore, "Halsey s History of McCormick 
Seminary," in "Presbyterian Quarterly" (Charlotte, N. C.), Jan. I, 1894; 
Alfred Nevin, "Encyclopaedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United 
States of America" (Phila., 1884), p. 303; Pamphlet, "1829-1929, Presby 
terian Theological Seminary, Chicago" (Chicago, 1929). This states, without 
giving its authority, that in 1855 Dr. J. G. Monfort of Cincinnati suggested 
that McCormick should be approached on the question of moving the semi 
nary to Chicago. If this is true, Monfort later had good cause to regret his 

27 The act of incorporation by the legislature was dated Feb. 16, 1857. 
"McClure," pp. 31-32; Pamphlet, "Constitution and Charter of the Pres 
byterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest" (Chicago, 1872). 


influence and his money to secure the transfer of the school 
from New Albany to Chicago, since it would be of "impor 
tance to our cause." 28 Dr. Rice prepared a pamphlet in support 
of the project and it also received considerable notice in the 
newspapers of the city. 29 

The Panic of 1857, coupled with acute differences of opinion 
between radical and conservative Old School leaders in the 
Northwest, made it impossible to go forward during the next 
two years. Until 1858 it was planned to establish the seminary 
in Hyde Park, just south of Chicago, where Paul Cornell and 
others promised to give land, but definite action was delayed 
both by the hard times and because the members of the board 
of directors failed to agree whether the institution should re 
main under synodical control or be transferred to the super 
vision of the General Assembly of the whole church. Since the 
churches of the Northwest were becoming more antislavery 
in outlook, this issue was of far more importance than a mere 
question of administration. 30 In the meantime, the seminary at 
New Albany was unable to survive the financial storm, and the 
closing of its doors after Commencement in 1857 signified that 
whenever the new institution should commence instruction, it 

28 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Dec. i, 1856. 

29 "Chicago Daily Press," Nov. 20, 1857. 

^ SQ Ibid. r Nov. ^ 21, 1857. At a meeting of the board of directors at this 
time it was decided to remain under synodical control for the time being. 
Among the directors were C. A. Spring, Paul Cornell, A. B. Newkirk, and 
Jesse L. Williams. An unsigned and undated memo, in the papers of the 
N. F. McCormick Biog. Asso. states that between 1856 and May, 1859, 
this synodical board did little except run up expenses. Its agent spent more 
than the contributions received, and employed an architect, at a fee of 
$1,600, to design a seminary building to cost $200,000! The board was 
replaced by a new body of forty directors in May, 1859, when the seminary 
passed under the control of the General Assembly of the national Church. 
On Dec. 15, 1857, Wm. Houston of Rockbridge Cy., Va., wrote to 
W. S. and C. H. McCormick that he had read in the "New York Observer" 
of Cyrus s "munificent offer of land and money for a Theological Seminary 
in connection with the name of Professor R[ice]." I have not found in the 
McCormick MSS. any mention of an offer being made at this time. 


would be in only a nominal sense a continuation of the old. 31 
McCormick s interest did not lag during these troublous times, 
and he found a loyal ally in Charles Spring. 32 

By 1859, conditions were more favorable for a resumption 
of the campaign for an endowment of land and money. Shortly 
before the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Dr. Rice and Dr. Eras 
mus D. MacMaster, able defender of the growing antislavery 
group within the Old School Church, fought an indecisive 
duel of words over the issue of the day. 33 Rice wished to be, 
and MacMaster had been and hoped to be again, a member of 
the faculty of the seminary, and the matter in controversy 
between them was the same question which had hitherto made 
cooperation impossible among the friends of that institution. 
Naturally, the opposing groups in the General Assembly at In 
dianapolis in May, 1859, rallied around one or the other of 
these leaders. If the antislavery forces should carry out their 
program of reestablishing the seminary at Indianapolis with 
MacMaster as senior professor, McCormick s "grand design" 
would be defeated. 34 But several days before the Assembly 
convened, McCormick placed in the hands of Charles Spring, 
a delegate from the Chicago Presbytery, a weapon so power- 

81 "Report of the Minority of the Board of Directors to the Committee 
of Inquiry of the General Assembly, May 15, 1869." Article by Rev. D. X. 
Junkin, "The Presbyterian Banner" (Pittsburgh), Mch. 24, 1869. Dr. 
Junkin was one of the directors. 

82 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Sept. 12, 1857. C. H. McCormick to C. A. 
Spring, Sr., Mch. 7, 1872: "You the most aged and experienced of us all, 
and to whom I was myself indebted for the original suggestion and advice 
to make the donation to this cause [the seminary] in 1859." C. A. Spring 
to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Nov. 26, 1884. W. H. Neff, in his "Reminiscences 
of the Second Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati" (Cin., 1898), states that 
Rev. Thos. H. Skinner was largely responsible for inducing C. H. McCor 
mick to make his gift. I have found no confirmation of this. 

33 C H. to W. S. McCormick, Nov. 19, 1857. 

34 Dr. MacMaster, who will enter this story on several occasions, was 
fifty-three years of age in 1859. He had been President both of Hanover 
College and Miami University. He was an able scholar, and it was said 
that he could fill with distinction any chair in a theological seminary. 


ful that the issue was not long in doubt. On May 13, 1859, 
the inventor, then in Washington, drafted a proposal to en 
dow four professorships in the seminary with $25,000 each, 
provided that the Assembly took over the control of the insti 
tution from the seven synods of the Northwest and located it 
in Chicago. McCormick added that he regarded "this proposed 
enterprise as of the greatest importance not only to the re 
ligious, but also the general interests of the country," 85 
Faced with the offer of a gift larger, so it is said, than any 
made to a theological seminary up to that time, and also prom 
ised a liberal donation of land, 36 the Assembly declined the 
bid by the MacMasterites of $10,000 and ten acres, and em 
phasized its preference for Chicago by a vote of 251 to 71. 
Nor could Dr. MacMaster prevent the election of Dr. Rice 
to the Chair of Didactic and Polemic Theology. In view of 
the future, it was also significant that Dr. Willis Lord was 
selected for the Chair of Biblical and Ecclesiastical History 

35 C. H. McCormick to C. D. Drake, n.d., but 1869: "My opinion then 
was that the peace of the Country was greatly threatened by the agitation 
of that question [slavery] ; and that, to keep that agitation out of the 
Church so far as possible was an important means for the preservation of 
the Union, as well as for the peace of the Church." "Daily Chicago Times," 
May 27 and June 8, 1859. 

36 "Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the 
United States of America," 1859-1864 (Phila. n.d.), p. 25. Here it is 
stated that forty-five acres of land had been promised in Chicago. The 
present writer is unable to particularize more than thirty-one acres. Twenty- 
five of these were the "North Side" property on which the seminary was 
finally located in 1864. Twenty acres there were given by Wm. B. Ogden 
and his partner J. E. Sheffield of New Haven, Conn., with the proviso that 
a building costing a stipulated sum should be erected on it within two 
years (by May, 1861). Adjoining this land, Lill & Diversey, brewers, gave 
five acres. Thos. H. Beebe was chiefly instrumental in securing the gift 
from Ogden, and Charles Spring in gaining the donation from Lill & 
Diversey. In June, 1859, Chas. Macalister of Philadelphia gave, or prom 
ised to give, six acres in the West Division at the corner of Taylor and 
Rucker sts. "Chicago Daily Press and Tribune," June 25, 1859. C. A. 
Spring, Sr., to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Dec. 20, 1884. 


and Dr. Leroy J. Halsey for the Chair of Historical and Pas 
toral Theology. 37 McCormick had won the day. 

Probably few gifts have brought a philanthropist more trou 
ble, and ultimately more satisfaction, than McCormick s pledge 
to the Presbyterian Seminary of the Northwest. Less than two 
years after the first students assembled about their professors 
in the temporary class-rooms in a Chicago hotel in the au 
tumn of i859, 38 the opening of the Civil War brought to a 
head the growing dissension within the Old School Church 
over the question of slavery. McCormick s donation had not 
been an unconditional one. As he wrote later : "When my offer 
of the endowment was before the Assembly of 1859, it was 
well understood to have been made in connection with the 
position then held by the Genl. Assembly of the O. School 
P. Church on the Slavery question, as represented by Dr. Rice, 
in the Deliverance of the Assembly on that question in 
89 In other words, there were implied qualifications at- 

37 "McClure," p. 43. "Minutes of the General Assembly," op. cit. pp. 
1-40, C. A. Spring was a member of the first board of directors, composed 
of twenty ministers and twenty ruling elders. In his old age he affirmed 
that "delicacy prevented" C. H. McCormick from going- as a delegate to 
Indianapolis. C. A. Spring, Sr., to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Dec. 19, 1884. 
A letter written by #Dr. B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, May 12, 1866, 
leaves little doubt that McCormick, although not a delegate, was at Indian 
apolis during the meeting of the General Assembly of 1859. "Chicago Daily 
Press and Tribune," May 25 and 27, 1859. 

38 "McClure," pp. 46, 55. The hotel was at the west corner of Clark 
and Harrison sts. Classes were also held in buildings at the corner of 
Illinois and Pine sts., and in the basement of North Church. 

3 9 C. H. McCormick to C. D. Drake, n.d., but late 1869. C. H. McCormick 
to W. Lord, Jan. 6, 1869: "The written conditions of my bond were not 
the only ones. There were also understood and implied pledges and one was 
that the Seminary should be the exponent of sound scriptural and conserva 
tive views." D. X. Junkin stated in "The Presbyterian Banner," Mch. 24, 
1869, that there was, in 1859, a "very explicit understanding ... in regard 
to the type of theology that was to prevail in it." "Minutes of the General 
Assembly," 1865-1869, p. 507 : "It is historically true that he [McCormick] 
and the great majority of that Assembly [1859] w ^ re agreed as to the 


tached to the gift. McCormick was later to argue that if the 
seminary faculty departed from the doctrines of their de 
nomination as held in 1859, he would be released from his 
obligations. In his view, the question of freedom of speech was 
not involved, since this was a theological seminary and not 
a university. The faculty were naturally expected to teach the 
orthodox doctrines of their denomination. What these doc 
trines were at the time of his gift, there could be no question. 
The rather small minority of the delegates to the General 
Assembly of 1859 m favor of the Indianapolis location did 
not accurately represent the strength of the midwestern anti- 
slavery group within the church. 40 It was soon made clear that 
the new institution could expect little or no financial support 
from most of the synods of the Northwest, and without the 
substantial and continued aid of McCormick and the members 
of the North Church, the enterprise would quickly fail. 41 Thus 
a seminary which was intended to be the regional focus of a 
large denomination, soon became the instrument of a con 
servative group, chiefly residing in one city. The political drift 
of the Northwest beween 1859 an d 1861 augured ill for the 
success of an institution dedicated in part to the task of pre- 

impropriety of agitating the slavery question in the judicatories of the 
church. . . ." 

40 The history of the Old and New School Presbyterian Churches dur 
ing these years is admirably told by Lewis C. VanderVelde in "The Presby 
terian Churches and the Federal Union, 1861-1869" (Cambridge, Mass., 

41 #Copy from the "Original Endowment Book of the First Financial 
Agency of the Pres. Theological Seminary of the Northwest," written in 
1887 by C. A. Spring. This shows that up to Feb. 25, 1860, about 140 
people had contributed or pledged $132,918. Of this amount, McCormick s 
was $100,000. C. H. McCormick to C. D. Drake, n.d., but 1869. Besides 
the contributions from the Chicago group, and small donations from friends 
at Galena and Rockford, 111., the funds raised for the seminary during the 
war came chiefly from New York City. The depressed state of agriculture 
in the Northwest on the eve of the Civil War also hampered the raising of 
funds for the seminary. 


serving the status quo upon a question that had made much 
history since 1845. McCormick s participation in politics drew 
his opponents fire upon "his" seminary, and many wished 
to believe that he had established a "fortress of slavery" in 
their midst. 42 This was a damaging charge in days when nice 
distinctions were forgotten, and northerners who worked for 
peace and compromise were labelled "pro-slavery" by their 
foes. 43 

As Cyrus McCormick surveyed the general situation in 
April, 1 86 1, he must have felt that his efforts had brought very 
small return. His "castle," as one of his enemies sneeringly 
termed it later, had fallen in ruins. 44 The land donated for 
the seminary was an expanse of "grass pastures and cabbage 
patches" with the turf still unbroken for the erection of a 
building. The seminary in 1861 graduated eleven students who 
had received their instruction in makeshift class-rooms about 
the city. For want of a dormitory, some had been sheltered in 
the homes of the professors. Dr. William M. Scott, the Profes 
sor of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, was on his death-bed, 
and Dr. Rice in impaired health and tired of braving the rising 
radicalism of Chicago, "felt himself called by Providence to 
resign his Chair" in order to accept the pastorate of the Fifth 
Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City: 45 Only Dr. 

42 "McClure," p. 48. 

43 N. L. Rice to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 4, 1869 : "I never had any inti 
mation that you desired the Professors of the Theological Seminary to take 
any ground on slavery other than that which the Presbyterian Church had 
ever occupied. , . . While I was a Professor at the Seminary I never knew 
you to inquire into the opinion of the Professors in regard to slavery." 

44 "Chicago Evening Post/ Dec. 2, 1858. 

45 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1859-1864, op. cit. f p. 153. McCor 
mick s order of preference for a successor of Dr. Rice was Dr. H. A. 
Boardman of Philadelphia, Dr. T. V. Moore of Richmond, and Dr. P. 
Gurley of Washington. See, 1C. H. McCormick to Rev. T. V. Moore, 
Richmond, Va., Apr. 13, 1861 : "I may remark that the health of Dr. Rice 
has not been good, while he has labored under some embarrassments in 
other respects/ 


Halsey and Dr. Lord were left of the original faculty, and 
while Halsey remained true to the Old School position of 1845, 
he was a timid fighter and shunned all controversy. The "wan 
ton war spirit" and inefficient office management brought the 
"Presbyterian Expositor" low, and since it had failed in its 
purpose, it was abandoned in order to save useless expense. 46 
Conservatism in church or state was now akin to disloyalty. 
War had come and Lincoln s election had been made possible 
by the vote of the Northwest. 

With war excitement at white heat, the Old School Presby 
terian General Assembly convened at Philadelphia in mid- 
May, 1 86 1. For the first time in over twenty years the con 
servatives were unable to control its deliberations. After 
prolonged and bitter debate, with Dr. Charles Hodge and the 
Princeton group leading the opposition, the Gardiner A. Spring 
Resolutions were adopted. In these it was affirmed that "this 
General Assembly ... do hereby acknowledge and declare 
our obligations to promote and perpetuate, so far as in us lies, 
the integrity of these United States, and to strengthen, up 
hold, and encourage the Federal Government in the exercise 
of all its functions under our noble Constitution; and to this 
Constitution, in all its provisions, requirements, and principles, 
we profess our unabated loyalty." This judgment upon a politi 
cal question was accepted by the southerners who comprised 
at least one-third of the membership of the Old School Presby 
terian Church as a sentence of banishment. 47 Allegiance to the 
Constitution was thereby made a test of membership in the 

46 JJ. M. Paris to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 20, 1861. 
1 47 "Minutes of the General Assembly/ 1 1859-1864, op. cit. f pp. 138 ff. 
McCormick believed that Lincoln, when his opinion was asked, advised 
the General Assembly not to pass the Spring Resolutions. See, C. H. 
McCormick to B. M. Smith, July 14, 1865. McCormick s view of these 
measures is summarized in his letter to W. S. Plumer on Jan. 5, 1864: 
"I have never believed in the policy of the Gen l. Assembly at Phila. . . . 
in cutting off the Church South, and thus severing the strongest cord of 
sympathy and communication between the North and the South." 


denomination and, in fact, an evidence of godliness. Among 
those who voted in the affirmative were Rev. Willis Lord and 
Charles Spring. 

When members of the Assembly who like Cyrus McCor- 
mick viewed their church as a safe-guard of the Union, pro 
tested that this action was a "national calamity," they were 
reminded that "there are occasions when political questions rise 
into the sphere of morals and religion. . . . Would you [they] 
have us recognize, as good Presbyterians, men whom our own 
government, with the approval of Christendom, may soon 
execute as traitors?" 4S Dr. Lord and Jesse L. Williams, who 
for many years was prominent in the affairs of the Chicago 
Seminary, were members of the committee which framed this 
reply. By 1862, the General Assembly, on the motion of Dr. 
R. J. Breckinridge, declared that treason and rebellion were 
sinful. In 1863, following the Emancipation Proclamation, it 
decided that slavery was contrary to the will of God. Thus, 
until the mid-year of the war, the church expanded its defini 
tion of sin to keep step with Lincoln and his policy. For three 
years thereafter, it left the President and his followers far 
behind. Thaddeus Stevens could hardly have surpassed the 
vituperative language of its resolutions. 

In such fashion did the Old School Church desert, Cyrus 
McCormick and those of like mind in the crisis of 1861-1865. 
At a time when, in his opinion, it could have performed a 
notable service for the whole country, it spurned its oppor 
tunity, descended into the political arena, and drove out a 
large portion of its membership. The Spring Resolutions were, 
in effect, an official repudiation of the purpose McCormick 
had in view when he pledged $100,000 to the seminary. With 
an aroused public sentiment and a depleted faculty, which 
could only be brought to full strength again by the action of 
the radical General Assembly, the chief patron of the institu- 
48 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1859-1864, op. cit., p. 173. 


tion saw his own money used to promote doctrines believed 
by him to be both unscriptural and unwise. He could either 
submit or resist, and as always when faced by this alternative, 
he had but one choice. For ten years he fought. During the 
first nine he lost almost every skirmish. In the tenth he won 
substantially all for which he had contended. Doubtless he was 
helped to this long-delayed victory by the gradual abatement 
of party and sectional bitterness following the Civil War. His 
contest against radicalism in his denomination portrays in 
miniature the struggle which simultaneously gave direction, 
to the history of the nation between 1861 and 1871. 

Following the death of Dr. Scott, Drs. Halsey and Lord, 
with some little tutorial assistance in Hebrew, carried the 
entire teaching load at the seminary for the rest of the war. 
Rising prices and reduced salaries added to the difficulty of 
their position. 49 The student body was very small and the 
uncertainty of the times handicapped the efforts of the effi 
cient agents of the seminary, C. A. Spring and his successor, 
Fielding N. Ewing, to raise money for a building. Fortunately, 
those who had donated land in 1859 wi^ 1 the stipulation that 
a building should be begun within two years, generously 
granted a period of grace. 50 By 1863 sufficient money had been 

4& "McClure," pp. 49-50. MS. "Facts and Allegations as to Dr. Lord." 
Dr. Rice had received no salary as Professor of Theology at the seminary, 
but had been content with his income as pastor of the North Church and 
editor of the "Presbyterian Expositor." The release of this $1500, supple 
mented by a few small gifts, allowed each of the other three professors a 
salary of $3,000 a year. Drs. Lord and Halsey received this amount until 
1863 when their stipend was reduced to $2500. Thereafter they were unable 
to meet expenses. In 1861 the professors protested that they were being 
paid in "stump tail" currency, then so common in the Northwest. See, 
L.P.CB. No. 41, pp. 749-754, W. S. and L. J. McCormick to Mr. Munger, 
May 17, 1861; #W. S. to C. H. McCormick, May 2, 1861. 

50 "Cook County (111.) Deed Book," No. 270, p. 472, Deed of Jos. E. 
Sheffield, Wm. B. Ogden, et al f conveying twenty acres of land on May I, 
1863, to the trustees of the seminary, provided that within forty days a 
building should be begun to cost at least $15,000. This land could not be 
sold by the seminary for twenty-five years. 


found to beg-in the erection of a three-story structure of gen 
eral utility known as Ewing Hall. 51 

Besides his will to fight, McCormick had one weapon of 
considerable effectiveness to use against his foes. By the terms 
of his gift, $25,000 were to be paid in each of the first four 
years following the opening of the seminary. Each instalment 
represented the endowment of one Chair, and until the full sum 
was turned over, he promised to pay six per cent interest on 
the balance due. In this way, salaries would be provided for 
the four members of the faculty from the outset, although the 
seminary would not gain control of the entire principal for 
several years. 

When the first instalment came due in September, 1860, 
McCormick met it promptly. At that time his friends con 
trolled the seminary and the impending revolution was not 
foreseen. Before another year had elapsed, however, the entire 
situation had changed and the national church to which Mc 
Cormick had pledged the money no longer existed. For this 
reason the autumn and winter of 1861-1862 went by with 
the second instalment still withheld. By the spring of 1862 
the institution was in a "delicate and critical situation" but 
McCormick was unwilling as yet to assume the responsibility 
of forcing its closure for lack of funds. 52 Thereupon, in May, 

51 Ewing Hall was opened in February, 1864. See, Pamphlet, "Theologi 
cal Seminary of the Northwest; A Brief Statement of its Condition and 
Prospects; together with the Annual Report of the Board of Trustees" 
(Chicago, 1867). Dr. Rice secured from his rich parishioners in New York 
the money to erect Ewing Hall. See, N. L. Rice to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 
4, 1869; Mary C. Shields to Nettie F. McCormick, Sept. i, 1863, and 
Amanda Adams to Nettie F. McCormick, Aug. 20, 1863. "Minutes of the 
General Assembly," 1859-1864, pp. 292 ff. 

52 The quoted phrase is from the minutes of the General Assembly of 
1862. See, ibid., p. 225. This Assembly adopted a "hands-off" policy toward 
the seminary, and allowed the board of directors to act as it deemed best. 
McCormick attended the sessions of the Assembly at Columbus, O. The 
critical situation of the seminary may be implied from the copy of a tele 
gram sent by C. H. McCormick to Dr. Gurley on Apr. 5, 1862, and found 


he paid the second instalment, and the trustees agreed not to 
call upon him for the remaining $50,000, or interest upon it, 
unless the two vacant professorships were filled. Since it was 
understood that the General Assembly should not be pressed 
by the board of directors of the seminary to make new 
appointments to its faculty, the payment of the last two in 
stalments thus seemed to be deferred indefinitely into the 
future. 53 

McCormick was abroad for two years beginning in the sum 
mer of 1862, and learned to his surprise that the General As 
sembly of 1863, at the request of the board of directors, ap 
pointed Rev. Charles Elliott, D.D., of Oxford, Ohio, to the 
Chair of Biblical Literature and Exegesis. When the inventor 
protested that this was both unjust to him and unwise in view 
of the need for retrenchment, R N. Ewing answered that "he 
thought Vallandigham would be elected governor ( !) and the 
Republican rule overthrown." 54 But, as McCormick wrote, "I 
want the Seminary to go forward and prosper notwithstand 
ing the excision" of the southern churches, and he consented 
to advance the interest on the third instalment for Elliott s 
support, although he insisted that he did not thereby acknowl 
edge their right to demand it, since in his opinion the agree 
ment of 1859 had been violated. Shortly thereafter he directed 
his brother, William S., to pay the principal. 55 

on the inside front cover of L.P.CB. No. 47, "Seminary continued another 
year with the two Professors without election." 

63 MS. agreement between C. H. McCormick and the trustees, dated Apr. 
22, 1862. The principal of the second instalment was paid on May 2, 1862" 
Memo, in the papers of the N. F. McCormick Biog. Asso., Seminary File 
for 1862. See also W. Lord to McCormick, Dec. 19, 1868. 

54 This is a striking illustration of the close connection between the for 
tunes of war and the church. Clement Vallandigham of Ohio was probably 
the oustanding Copperhead of the Middle West. Ewing meant that if this 
element gained control, the war would probably be brought to a speedy 
close and better days would then come to the seminary. 

65 MS. Receipt dated Aug. 2, 1864. He met the third instalment in two 
payments of $12,500 each. The second payment was made Oct. 31, 1864. 


The improved situation at the seminary doubtless accounts 
in some measure for McCormick s decision to come to its as 
sistance. By 1864 the trustees could report to the General 
Assembly "a decided financial advance" and an increase in 
student enrollment. 56 Danville Seminary was in the theater 
of the war, and its distress had been Chicago s gain. Although 
one of the major reasons for the establishment of the Semi 
nary of the Northwest had been defeated by the secession of 
the southern states, there still remained the work of spreading 
Old School Presbyterianism throughout the upper Mississippi 
Valley, not, to be sure, the brand represented by the radical 
majority in the General Assemblies, but the conservative doc 
trines which might again come into their own with the peace. 

Thus, by the close of the Civil War, McCormick had paid all 
except $25,000 of the sum pledged to the seminary six years 
before. The remaining instalment was for the endowment of 
the Chair of Theology, unfilled since Dr. Rice s resignation 
in 1 86 1. Of the four professorships, this one was the senior 
in rank and interested McCormick the most keenly. The Chair 
bore his name and its incumbent would have the maintenance 
of orthodoxy among the students principally in his charge. 
There was a real danger that the General Assembly would 
elevate Dr. Lord to the position since he was in tune with its 
wartime deliverances on secession and slavery, and had taught 

Memo, in N. F. McCormick B.A., Seminary File, 1864. #C. H. McCormick 
to F. N. Ewing, April i, 1864. C H. McCormick to Wm. S. Plumer, 
Jan. 5, 1864. From this letter it is evident that the plea of his friend, Dr. 
Halsey, had also been an important factor in persuading McCormick to 
come to Dr. Elliott s aid. The letter continues : "The first question is, 
whether the results of the present fearful war will make it advisable yet 
to extend it [the seminary] to its original dimensions; and second, if so, 
that it should be done as originally designed so for as to have preachers 
for professors. This was the original calculation with Dr. Rice and myself, 
with a view to Church extension in the City, by supplying pastors for sev 
eral churches." 

56 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1859-1864, pp. 365 ff- 


theology at the seminary after Dr. Rice left. Quite apart from 
considerations of personal hostility, McCormick believed that 
Dr. Lord s theological views were unsound. Lord had entered 
the Old School Church through the door of Congregationalism 
and was at least tolerant of the advanced ideas of the New 
School Presbyterians. 57 For this reason McCormick agreed 
heartily with the suggestion of John M. Paris, the new agent 
of the seminary, that the Chair should remain temporarily 
vacant because no suitable candidate could be found "who 
would be acceptable to conservative men and at the same time 
not encounter such violent opposition from radicals as would 
probably prevent his election" by the General Assembly. 58 If 
this were done and a proper person were finally secured for 
the position, McCormick was willing to increase considerably 
the endowment of each Chair, a proposal the more tempting 
since the interest on $25,000 no longer paid the living expenses 
of a professor. 59 By good fortune the General Assembly of 
1865 adjourned without making an appointment to the vacant 

The Lord-McCormick opposition following the Civil War 
cannot be understood without a review of the history of the 
North Church in Chicago between 1861 and 1865. When Dr. 
Lord left his Brooklyn pastorate and joined, with hesitation 
as he afterward remembered, the faculty of the little seminary 
by the Lake, he had the endorsement of Dr. Rice. This was 
sufficient to win him favor in the eyes of Cyrus McCormick. 
He made friends easily and he lacked neither ability nor am 
bition. But he veered with the political wind, and although he 

57 #On Jan. 5, 1864, he wrote W. S. Plumer: "But I do feel I should 
be entitled to some consideration and that if I carry out my part [i.e., pay 
the instalments still due], Dr. Lord should resign. He has been no friend 
of mine, nor of the great conservative cause I had in view when the Semi 
nary was established." 

58 J. M. Paris to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 28, and Mch. i, 1865. 

59 #C. H. McCormick to J. M. Paris, Mch. 26, 1865. 


could endorse Dr. Rice s articles in the "Expositor" opposing 
secession in the winter of i86o-i86i, 60 he could not approve 
his lectures against Abolitionism and Congregationalism deliv 
ered at about the same time. 61 He dropped from the list of con 
tributors to the paper and refused to sign an address of friend 
ship to the South drafted by Dr, Scott at McCormick s sug 
gestion during the same critical months. 62 While keeping on 
good terms with the kindly Dr. Halsey, he sought the com 
panionship of men who supported a policy of coercion toward 
the seceding states, notably Dr. Robert ("Scotch") Patterson 
of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Chicago, and 
Mr. Jesse L. Williams, a rich civil engineer of Fort Wayne 
who had assisted the seminary with money. Lord s alignment 
with the radical group in the General Assembly of 1861 and 
McCormick s growing distrust of the Doctor s theology, have 
already been mentioned. 63 

After Dr. Rice shifted his field of labor to New York City, 
McCormick endeavored to secure Dr. T. V. Moore of Rich 
mond, Va., as pastor of the North Church. Dr. Lord worked 
to defeat this election on the grounds that Moore was a dis- 
unionist. 64 McCormick believed, although Lord later denied 

60 N. L. Rice to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 4, 1869. Shortly after the fall 
of Sumter, Dr. Lord prepared an article for the "Presbyterian Expositor" 
on the duties of Christian citizens in the crisis. McCormick refused to allow 
it to appear. Dr. Lord to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 19, 1868. 

i Letters of W. S. McCormick in L.P.CB. No. 29, p. 500, to J. C. 
Walker, Jan. 25, 1860; and in No. 30, pp. 678, 690, to W. A. Braxton, 
Mch. 3, 1860; and W. T. Rush, Mch. 5, 1860: "The Old School Church 
is weak where there is so much abolitionism" 

es N. L. Rice to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 4, 1869; W. Lord to C. H. 
McCormick, Dec. 19, 1868. 

63 Supra, pp. 25, 30. 

64 #C H. McCormick to T. V. Moore, Richmond, Va., Apr. 13, 1861. 
McCormick offered him $5,000 as a joint salary for preaching and teach 
ing theology at the seminary. Dr. Halsey urged McCormick to secure 
Moore. C. H. McCormick to W. Lord, Jan. 16, 1869; W. Lord to C. H. 
McCormick, Dec. 19, 1868; T. V. Moore to W. Lord, March 5, 1869, In 
this letter, Moore denied that he had been a disunionist in 1861. 


the charge, that his opposition was in some measure due to 
his wish to secure the appointment for himself. 65 If this were 
so, he failed to gratify his ambition. Although the radical 
antislavery members of the congregation were in a majority, 
the conservatives had to be relied upon for most of the min 
ister s salary. McCormick then worked in vain to prevent the 
congregation from inviting the young Rev. David Swing. 66 
He wished Dr. Stuart Robinson of Louisville to be called so 
that the seminary and North Church might both benefit. When 
Robinson came to Chicago to speak, however, he was barred 
from the church building. 67 Swing occupied the pulpit during 
most of the summer of 1862 after McCormick sailed for 
Europe but he found the war-torn congregation no inducement 
to remain. 68 

Thereupon, the North Church called the Rev. J. B. Stewart 

65 McCormick persuaded the congregation to call Dr. Gurley, but to 
McCormick s chagrin, the offer was declined, "leaving us at sea whence we 
were unable to get back to land!" #C. H. McCormick to W. S. Plumer, 
Jan. 5, 1864. At a meeting of the congregation in the late summer or early 
autumn of 1861, Dr. Lord apparently attacked C. H. McCormick for his 
attitude toward the war. See C. H. McCormick to W. Lord, Jan. 16, 1869. 
Dr. ^Lord told Rev. E. Erskine that if McCormick s ideas in regard to the 
seminary had been followed, a mob would have quickly pulled down its 
walls. #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 25, 1868. Dr. Lord later 
denied that he had denounced C. H. McCormick before the congregation 
in this manner. Dr. Lord to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 19, 1868. 

66 ftC H. McCormick to the "Moderator of To-Night s Meeting of the 
Congregation of North Church," June 18, 1862. C. H. McCormick opposed 
the call of Mr. Swing on the grounds that he did not have the ability to 
teach in the seminary^ he was too young and never had had a pastoral 
charge; and because his delivery was awkward and his voice unpleasant. 
In this letter McCormick chided the congregation for not better supporting 
the seminary. 

7 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, July 30, 1862. #C. H. McCormick to Wm. 
S. Plumer, Jan. 5, 1864. 

^ 8 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, June 13, Sept. 28, 1862. Rev. R. H. 
Richardson preached in North Church for at least two Sundays in August. 
L.P.C.B. No. 49, p. 869, C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 
25, 1862. C. H. McCormick to Dr. Lord, Jan. 16, 1869. 


of Ohio. 69 According to Mary Ann McCormick he delivered 
on Thanksgiving Day "the worst abolition sermon ever 
preached in the Church. . . . Thought the proclamation [of 
Emancipation] did not go far enough and favored arming 
the negro or in any other way aid them to insurrection, and 
every other mean thing a devilish heart could devise/ 70 She 
and her husband, William S. McCormick, no longer attended 
church, 71 being unable to endure the antislavery sermons and 
the applause of the congregation when the minister denounced 
the South. As early as mid-May, 1861, William wrote to a 
cousin who lived in St. Louis : "Do you clap your Preachers 
on Sunday? They do it here loud and long. I believe they pray 
substantially that every devil of you down south shall be killed 
(not die) in his sins. They don t pray that your eyes shall be 
opened to see the glorious light of the everlasting patron- 

69 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 12, 1862: "I hear Armour of Hunger 
& A. says C. H. McCormick & Dr. Rice did more than any other two 
men to make the troubles in the country ! ! Stewart elected Pastor unani 
mously I hear." Mr. Stewart was never installed as pastor, although he 
preached in the North Church for over a year. 

70 Mary Ann McCormick to Nettie F. McCormick, Dec. 7, 1862. Amanda 
Adams to Nettie F. McCormick, Aug. 20, 1863. L. J. and Wm. S. McCor 
mick formally left the North Church in Feb., 1863, and L. J. McCormick 
took a pew in the South Church. Apparently Mary Caroline Shields, the 
sister, retained her membership in, and continued to attend, the North 
Church. See W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 15, 1863, and Mary Caro 
line Shields to Nettie F. McCormick, Sept. I, 1863. C H. McCormick 
had not contributed to the support of the North Church for some time 
but he still paid pew rent there. 

71 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 3, 1862: "I do not myself feel like 
going to Church here and whether I am a skeptic or not I don t know. 
I have not much confidence in anything I see connected with the church 
here certainly. I some times think I will leave it absolutely and while I 
conceal these feelings from my family, I- know to my sorrow that there 
are no church influences here that are of any service whatever to my fam 
ily. There has not been a man here that you could even regard as a friend 
I mean preacher and who as Elder or Member can you confide in?" 
Mary Ann McCormick expressed the same thought in a letter to Nettie 
F. McCormick on Mch. 5, 1864. 


Saints of the North, but rather that you may in your darkened 
understanding", plod along up to the cannon s mouth. I never 
had any sympathy for secession . . . but I fear the remedy is 
to be far worse than the disease." 72 

Dr. Lord approved of Mr. Stewart and assisted him in the 
pulpit on his first Sunday in the North Church. 73 But the new 
pastor was in poor health and many did not like his sermons. 74 
Church attendance dwindled during 1863, and by the close of 
the year some of the discouraged conservatives of his congre 
gation were of a mind to withdraw and establish a new 
church. 75 Much to their relief, Stewart resigned before the 
winter was over. 76 An evening in early March was appointed 
for the election of a new pastor. Owing to the extreme in 
clemency of the weather, only a few members of the congre 
gation assembled at the designated hour. They resolved to ask 
Dr. Lord to be their clergyman. Many of the radicals, how- 

72 L.P.CB. No. 41, P. 609, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, May 14, 1861. 
On Oct. 5, 1862, he wrote to C. H. and L. J. McCormick in the same 
vein: Even our religious people would deal out death and destruction- 
extermination of men women and children at the hand of the Slave or 
other midnight assassin. The cry is not (as it seems) God be merciful to 
us miserable sinners/ But help us to destroy these southern wretches- 
all of them without mercy. Should we buy specie or remove to Europe?" 
See also, L.P.C.B. No. 58, p. no, W. S. McCormick to C. A. Spring, 
Sr., Mch. 21, 1863. 

73 *C. H. McCormick wrote to W. S. Plumer on Jan. 5, 1864, that 
he had hoped the professors at the seminary would be pastors: "calculat 
ing myself to have the benefit of one so provided, while, as matters now 
stand, / and my friends are without a preacher, unable to support the 
present abolitionist Stuart [sic] of the North Church/ 

74 Amanda Adams to Nettie F. McCormick, Aug. 20, 1863; Mary Ann 
McCormick to Nettie F. McCormick, Oct. 21-22, 1863. 

7 5 Mary C Shields to Nettie F. McCormick, Sept. i, 1863; #C H 
McCormick to W. S. Plumer, Jan. 5, 1864. At this time, C. H. McCormick 
hoped that Dr. Lord would leave the seminary, if the North Church radi 
cals could be persuaded to choose him as their pastor. Then a new church 
could be formed and some eminent conservative, preferably Dr. Stuart 
Robinson or Dr. Gurley, might be called to its pulpit and the Chair of 
Theology at the seminary. 

In May, 1864, Mr. Stewart accepted a call to the 5th Presbyterian 
Church of Cincinnati. "Daily Chicago Times," May 25, 1864. 


ever, although they agreed with the Professor s views, did 
not wish him for their minister. Faced by the opposition of 
a majority of the congregation, made up of an unnatural al 
liance of members from both camps, Dr. Lord declined the 
call. His friends at once seceded and with Dr. Lord as their 
temporary pastor, organized the Central Presbyterian Church, 
its building located within one hundred yards of their former 
meeting-house. 77 These events were reported in due time to 
Cyrus McCormick, who was about to return to Chicago from 
London. They confirmed him in his opinion that Dr. Lord 
must be kept from the Chair of Theology, and if possible, be 
forced to resign from the seminary altogether. 

The withdrawal of Dr. Lord s adherents left the conserva 
tives in control of the North Church. They at once called Dr. 
David C. Junkin to be their leader. His recent service as a 
chaplain in the Navy well prepared him to bid defiance to the 
charges of disloyalty launched against him and his congrega 
tion by the Chicago Presbytery. He was not a persuasive 
speaker, however, and he was in poor health. 78 Upon his in 
stallation the members of the McCormick clan once more re 
turned to their pews. William S. and Mary Ann McCormick, 
who had heard but one sermon since Dr. Rice left Chicago, 
attended a church sociable in December, 1864, and furnished 
the ice-cream and cake. 79 

77 "Daily Chicago Times," Apr. 13, 1864. In 1868, Dr. Lord wrote 
C. H. McCormick (letter of Dec. 19) that he had tried his best to prevent 
this schism. The Central Presbyterian Church lasted a little over two 
years, and then most of its members returned to the North Church. Mary 
C. Shields to N. F. McCormick, Jan. 3, 1865. Mary Ann McCormick to 
Nettie F. McCormick, March 5, 1864, and Apr. 16, 1866. L. J. McCormick 
to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 17, 1866. C. H. McCormick to H. A. Hurlbut, 
Dec. 3, 1866. 

78 When C. H. McCormick learned of Dr. Junkin s appointment, he 
prophesied that he would not last long. See, $C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. 
McCormick, Apr. 17, 1866. 

Letters to Nettie F. McCormick of Mary Ann McCormick, Dec. 27, 
1864, and Mary C. Shields, Jan. 3, 1865. During the war, the South Pres 
byterian Church, in the charge of Dr. W. W. Harsha (1862-69), experi- 


Cyrus McCormick always personalized the forces against 
which he contended. His beloved Old School Presbyterianism 
had run after strange gods for five years and had worked in 
justice to him and to the South. No one man better epitomized 
the whole church and seminary issue than Dr. Willis Lord. 
Although his salary was made possible by McCormick s en 
dowment, he had led in the policy of proscription. If he could 
be ousted, McCormick would be ready to believe that a better 
day had dawned for his church and his country. The story of 
his long fight to achieve his purpose throws light upon the his 
tory of Presbyterianism in both the North and South during 
the early years of the Reconstruction Era. 

enced much the same troubles as the North Church. The South Church 
owed $5,400 and since its creditors were radicals they threatened to fore 
close unless the interest were promptly paid. Finally the church decided to 
sell its lot in order to meet some of its most pressing obligations. With 
Cyrus McCormick s consent it moved its building in late 1865 to its old 
site on his property at Wabash and Congress sts., rent free. At the same 
time he leased Dr. Harsha a house at about half the usual charge and 
helped to pay the interest on the church debt. #C. H. McCormick to H, N. 
Waller, Mch. 29, 1865. Receipt of T. Armstrong, Trustee, to C. H. McCor 
mick, June 7, 1862. Letters to C. H. McCormick of #W. W. Harsha, 
Feb. 25, Apr. 7, 1865; *H. N. Waller, Mch. 4, 1865; #D. X. Junkin, Mch. 
6, 1865; C. A. Spring, Jr., Feb. 22, 1866; #Mrs. J. C. Partridge, Apr. 9, 
1866; and of #C. A. Spring, Sr., Apr. 6, 1865 and Feb. 23, 1866. In his 
letter of Apr. 6, 1865, Mr. Spring, Sr., told the inventor that by his generos 
ity he was heaping coals of fire upon the heads of some members of the 
South Church, who during Mr. Henry s pastorate had treated him so 


ATMIOSE who followed the earlier career of Cyrus Mo 
JL Cormick could have predicted with reasonable assurance 
his course in the political crisis of 1860 and 1861. His birth 
and long residence in Virginia, his close association for fif 
teen years with Chicago and the fanners of the Middle West, 
and his long journeys in the interest of his business through 
out the whole of the North with the exception of New 
England, gave him a national outlook and a fixed belief that 
the utmost concession to the South was preferable to a dis 
solution of the Union and Civil War. Viewed from the nar 
row standpoint of his economic interests, his growing emphasis 
upon the need of expanding his southern market would alone 
account for his opposition to the program of the new Repub 
lican Party. By inheritance and by conviction he was a Demo 
crat. His conservatism increased with his wealth, and his 
faith in the principles of his party was strengthened by the 
belief that upon its success in the elections of 1856 and 1860 
depended the continued life of the nation. 

Virginia, perhaps more than any other state, enjoys the en 
during affection of her sons, even after they have made new 
homes beyond her borders. McCormick was no exception to 
the rule. 1 Strong ties of blood and of friendship led him, when 

i "Daily Chicago Times," July 5, 1866. In February, 1880, C. H. McCor 
mick was elected the first President of the Virginia Society of Chicago. 
At a banquet of the society that month, he said: "We may say that the 
love of our country as one great whole, is a noble virtue of the mind, while 
the love of our native State is a pure affection of the heart. ... I may 



all plans of compromise failed, to prefer a peaceful separation 
of the South from the North to a war in which the Old 
Dominion would be the principal battle-ground. 2 His opposi 
tion to the use of force after Lincoln s first inauguration was 
in harmony with the union at any cost" principle which 
shaped his entire political course between 1856 and 1865. 

His attitude toward slavery was doubtless moulded by his 
southern upbringing, but it was in harmony with the view 
of many Northerners who had never owned negroes. Because 
his three or four slaves refused to leave Virginia, he was 
unable under the law of that state to emancipate them when 
he moved to Chicago. He hired them out for service to neigh 
bors in the Valley and in 1860 they were still his property. 
They were old, however, and their small value, when com 
pared with his large fortune, certainly did not determine his 
position on the issues of the day. As a Jeffersonian, he was 
antislavery in principle, but he held that the Constitution sanc 
tioned human bondage and that the Union should not be 
endangered by agitating the issue of immediate emancipation. 
In common with many others in the North, he blamed the 
Abolitionists for the uncompromising pro-slavery feeling of 
the South by 1850. Twenty years earlier, so he believed, the 
willingness of the border states to inaugurate a program of 
gradual enfranchisement had been stifled by the tactics of 
William Lloyd Garrison and his fellow-radicals. If the country 
had been spared abolitionism, an antislavery movement in the 
South would have been well under way by 1860. 

say of Virginia, as David said of the city of his love : If I forget thee, O 
Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. " "The Daily Inter 
Ocean" (Chicago), Feb. 24, 1880; G. Garnett to C. H. McCormick, Feb 
12, 1880; #J. E. Cooke, Millwood, Va., to C. H. McCormick, July 18, 

2 L.P.CB. No. 41, p. 52, W. S. McCormick to N. Chandler, Apr. 18, 
1861 ; No. 41, p. 377, to J. B. McCormick, May 3, 1861 ; No. 42, p. 40, to 
W. T. Rush, May 22, 1861. 


Except for his support of a compromise as the most prac 
tical method of dealing with the problems of slavery and 
slavery-extension, McCormick seems never to have formulated 
a plan whereby the institution could eventually be abolished 
in the United States. Slavery handicapped the South eco 
nomically, but the Bible was proof enough to him that human 
bondage was not an offense against God or man. Horace 
Greeley was mistaken when he chided McCormick for support 
ing a system of forced labor which blocked the extensive sale 
of his machines in the South. 3 McCormick did not champion 
slavery, except in the sense that he believed immediate emanci 
pation by federal action without compensation would be an 
invasion of States rights and individual rights, and a remedy 
worse than the disease. In several letters he emphasized that 
slavery should be treated as a "national" rather than a "sec 
tional" evil, and that Southerners should be asked in a friendly 
spirit to cooperate through the central government in prepar 
ing the slaves for ultimate freedom. 4 He urged that men of 
the North ought in fairness to admit that their fathers for 
their own profit had carried the negroes from Africa, and 
therefore, they were as much at fault as were the slave-owners. 

Political differences of opinion, however, were no bar to 
his friendship, and in his estimation his services to his party 
were always subordinate in importance to his work for his 
church. A surprising number of his warmest friends, lawyers, 
and office employees, were of the Presbyterian faith, but many 
of them voted the Republican ticket and were outspoken in 
their opposition to slavery. 5 To draw the obvious conclusion 

8 "Richmond Examiner," Sept. 25, 1857, quoting from the "New York 
Daily Tribune," C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Sept. 10, 22, 1857. 

4#MS. of C. H. McCormick, n.d., but about Jan. 16, 1869. *C. H. 
McCormick to Ed., "Chicago Times," Apr. n, 1864; to Ed., "New York 
World," June 20, 1864. 

5 L.P.CB. No. 39, p. 205, J. T. Griffin to E. Healy, Feb. 25, 1861 : 
"The writer as well as all of those in the office (except W. S. McC.) are 


from this fact would probably be unwarranted since no letter 
remains to indicate that he ever applied a religious test when 
choosing a helper. The Church was his chief social focus and 
acquaintanceships formed there were naturally carried over 
into his business life without a conscious purpose of excluding 
members of other denominations. 

Nevertheless, as has already been indicated, he believed that 
the Democratic Party and the Presbyterian Church were of 
the utmost importance as cohesive forces within the nation. 
Acting upon this assumption, his policy toward the one was 
so closely akin to his program for the other that his enemies 
were unable clearly to disassociate the two in their attacks 
upon him. They accused him of sacrilege in using religion to 
further his political ends, and called him the "Presbyterian 
Pope" because he made so little distinction in practice between 
the issues of church and state. 

Personal ambition unquestionably helped to lead McCor- 
mick into the forum in 1860. He was one of the first manu 
facturers of the modern type who sought a political crown 
for a successful business career. At one time or another be 
tween 1860 and 1880 he looked with favor upon the offices 
of mayor, governor, congressman, senator, vice-president, and 
ambassador. Some friends told him that his wealth, influence, 
and ability should make him President of the United States. 

republicans and supporters of Lincoln." L.P.C.B. No. 93, p. 772, C. A. 
Spring, Jr., to A. McCoy, Nov. 22, 1866: "I have never known any differ 
ence made by him [C. H. McCormick] in business matters on account of 

6 T. J. Paterson, Rochester, N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, July 5, 1860: 
"I should have thought a few years since that nothing short of a miracle 
could work so great a change [in you], but . . . now that you are afloat 
on the political waves, with your indomitable will, means, & abilities, I 
shall be supprised [sic] at nothing you may accomplish, & shall expect to 
see you yet a candidate for the Presidency. When Pierce, Buchanan, 
Douglas, & Linclon [sic] & Co. can accomplish so much, you have no rea 
son to dispare [sic]" 


Republicans charged that he succumbed to the flattery of Demo 
cratic leaders who wished the benefit of his wealth at election 
time. 7 His participation in politics was doubtless expensive, 
and if McCormick viewed it as an investment, it was a sin 
gularly unprofitable one. The Democratic Party was in eclipse 
during the twenty-five years of his active interest in its wel 
fare, and he was not spared to witness its triumph in the 
autumn of 1884. He was Chairman of the Democratic State 
Central Committee during two presidential election contests, 
and a member of the National Committee at the same time, 
but he never held an office as the result of an election or by 
appointment of a national or state administration. He once 
said that he could not stay out of political life because there 
were principles at stake which deserved to be defended. He 
believed in the utility of action against a rival, whether in 
business, politics, or the church. This gives a singular unity 
to his career. In his opinion, life without competition would 
merely be an existence. 

His executive ability fitted him for public office, but his 
brusque forthrightness and his refusal to conciliate or to use 
"weasel words" greatly reduced his chances of obtaining it. 
He sought to transfer to political life his code of success in 
business and found that subduing his competitor and gaining 
the favor of an electorate called for different techniques. The 
loyalty of the buying public could be held by the quality of 
performance of his reaper, but voters demanded more oratory 
and smooth promises than he was prepared to supply. His 
southern birth was always a political handicap in northern 
Illinois, and his refusal to delegate to a subordinate his mani 
fold business problems during an election campaign made it 

7 Article by "Long John" Wentworth in "The Daily Inter Ocean," May 
14, 1884: "Whenever the Democrats wanted money in their campaigns they 
would always try to get Cyrus in to bleed him." Wentworth and McCor 
mick were at opposite poles in politics but they were good friends. 


impossible for him to devote more than a part of his time and 
energy to the game of politics. 

In 1856 McCormick urged his two brothers to become citi 
zens of Chicago, so that they might vote for Buchanan 8 in 
the autumn election. This advice was superfluous. They were 
both stanch Democrats and William, at least, believed that if 
Buchanan won, he would bring back better times and stifle 
Abolitionism. 9 Cyrus McCormick was doubtful of the out 
come, but he was willing to contribute $1,000 to the cause, 
if a Democratic victory in Illinois could thereby be rendered 
more certain. 10 Should Fremont win, the Patent Office officials 
at Washington would probably view applications for patent- 
extensions from prominent Democrats with an unfriendly eye. 

Because "Long John" Wentworth and his "Chicago Demo 
crat" deserted Stephen Douglas in 1854, the Illinois Senator 
later in the same year set up the "Chicago Daily Times," with 
Isaac Cook as publisher and Daniel Cameron and James W. 
Sheahan as editors, to champion his policies. Cook refused to 
follow Douglas when he broke with Buchanan in 1858, and 
left the "Times" in order to establish the "Chicago Daily 
Herald" as an administration organ. 11 McCormick rejoiced 
because of Douglas s defeat of Lincoln for the United States 

8 C H. to W. S. McCormick, from Balto., Oct. i, 1856. L.P.C.B. No, 2, 
pp. 95, 122^, J. L. Wilson to J. B. McCormick, June 6, 1856, and to D. 
Zimmerman, June 9, 1856. 

*Ibid. t No. 3, pp. 471, 480, 595, 689-690; W. S. McCormick to J. L. 
Myer, Oct. i, 1856; to T. J. Paterson, Oct. i, 1856; and Messrs. Fair 
banks, Concord, 111., Oct. 16, 1856: "If we succeed in electing James 
Buckhanan [sic] I think Reapers & every other interest will be right side up 
& that is just what I think we shall do." Ibid., No. 4, pp. 215-216, 219, 
W. S. McCormick to T. Berry, Cline s Mills, Va., Nov. 12, 1856. W. S. 
McCormick was in Va. at election time and lost his vote. 

10 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, from Phila., Oct. 7, 14, 1856. 

11 The first issue of the "Chicago Daily Herald" was on July 25, 1858, 
See "Chicago Daily Press and Tribune," July 27, 1858, 


Senate that autumn, 12 but he continued to support the policy 
of Buchanan. Although Douglas and McCormick remained 
good friends, their political views were no longer in accord, 
and the statesman opposed in Congress the inventor s efforts to 
secure an extension of his patents. 13 McCormick believed that 
unless the discordant wings of the Democratic Party could be 
reconciled, the "abolitionist" Republicans would win in 1860, 
and endanger the Union by their victory. 

To him, John Brown s raid was the first fruit of the new 
radicalism and a foretaste of what would become the rule if 
the Republicans gained control. For this reason the Harpers 
Ferry outrage was a call to action. He determined to do what 
he could in his own section to reunite his party, combat Gar- 
risonian doctrines, and foster a tolerance of the "peculiar in 
stitution" of the South. The immediate practical steps to be 
taken was to halt the bickering between the "Herald" and 
"Times" of Chicago, and combine them so that they could 
more effectively fight that "dirty sheet," as he called the 
"Tribune." 14 

On February 17, 1860, he bought for $2,000 a half -interest 
from Isaac Cook in the "Chicago Herald." By the terms of 
the purchase he was given control of its policy "as fully as if 
he was the sole owner." E. W. McComas, an able Virginia 
lawyer then living in the city, was to be its political editor. 
"It is agreed that the paper shall be devoted to no party except 
the democratic party. Nor shall it ... advocate the claims of 

i 2 L.P.C.B. No. 16, p. 514, W. S. McCormick to J. G. Hamilton, Nov. 4, 

13 "Congressional Globe," 34th Cong, ist Sess. (July 14, 1856), p. 1601. 
Douglas highly complimented McCormick s services as an inventor but 
opposed extension of his patent by a special act of Congress, for consti- 

tutional reasons. See W. T. Hutchinson, "Cyrus Hall McCormick : Seed 
time" (New York, 1930), p. 295. Hereafter cited as "Hutchinson, I." 

14 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, from Washington, Aug. 2, 1858: "Stop 
[my subscription to] the dirty sheet, instantly/* 


any aspirant or person for the presidency until after the nomi 
nation of the National Democratic Convention at Charles 
ton." 15 In the early winter McCormick failed to receive the 
Democratic mayoralty nomination, but his successful rival in 
the convention was roundly beaten in the March election by 
"Long John" Wentworth, a Republican. 16 

Due to the withdrawal of many southern delegates from 
the Charleston convention in April, 1860, no nomination of 
candidates could there be made, and it was resolved to reas 
semble at Baltimore in mid- June. 17 Thither McCormick jour 
neyed, not as a delegate, but as one who hoped that his in 
fluence with southern members might help to heal the schism. 18 
He wrote of the result of his efforts as follows : 19 

I did my best here to the last to effect a Compromise between 
D.[ouglas] & the South in some way, but his leading frds. would 
hear nothing. ... 

It seems to me now that it is scarcely possible to prevent Lincoln 
from being elected by the people, while, if that be possible, it would 
seem to be best . . . that Douglas should carry 111, and run as well 
as possible at the North. The election might thus go to the House of 

15 MS. Agreement dated Feb. 17, 1860, between Isaac Cook and C. H. 
McCormick. The "Herald s" slavery-in-territories platform which it urged 
upon the Democratic national convention, was unacceptable to Douglas. 

16 L.P.C.B. No. 30, p. 736, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, Mch. 7, 1860. 
Douglas Democrats were charged with "knifing" C. H. McCormick at the 
last moment when his nomination seemed to be assured. 

17 In view of Isaac Cook s association with McCormick, it is interesting 
to note that he led an Illinois "Danite" (anti-Douglas) delegation to the 
Charleston convention, but it was refused admission. 

18 Ibid., No. 32, pp. 241, 545, 591, J. T. Griffin to J. B. McCormick, May 
23, 1860; W. S. to J. B. McCormick, June 2, 1860; W. S. McCormick to 
W. T. Rush, June 4, 1860. 

i C. H. McCormick to E. W. McComas, dated "Baltimore 1860," and 
doubtless written in late June. "Squatter Sovereignty must be crushed out. 
. . . The South must continue to be the great body of the Democratic 
party, as agst. the Northern Republican party. The South demanding equal 
rights in the Territories the North demanding that the South shall be 
excluded therefrom ! This is the issue that is before the country and must be 

jp-<-x^ ^21^ ij7~^-*-e-- 

, C^/&} />-*-C^ 

xx- N 

"" t& 

Facsimile of a Letter Written by Cyrus Hall McCormick in 1860 

Facsimile of a Letter Written by Cyrus Hall McCormick in 1860 


Rep. It may thus be better to have no Breck. [inridge] electoral 
ticket in 111. of which I can better determine at Washington tomor 
row. ... If this cannot be done, and if Douglas cannot be induced 
to decline cm acceptance of the nomination nor both he & 
B.[reckinridge] then I think it, at present, extremely doubtful 
whether all our labor would not be lost to continue the contest 

The Southern position is now, without doubt, sound & just, and 
I think they are determined to maintain it. They can t now recede 
unless Douglas does; . . . 

Squatter sovereignty is in my judgment dead. Douglas cannot 
possibly, in my judgment, carry in this contest more than three or 
four states . . . while I repeat that it must be very doubtful 
whether he can carry a single one. 

From the tenor of this letter it might be expected that 
henceforward the Chicago Herald" would work for Douglas, 
not because its proprietor favored his principles, but in order 
to forestall a Lincoln victory by throwing the choice of a 
president into the House of Representatives with its Demo 
cratic majority. 20 Jefferson Davis was working toward the 
same end. Although the plan does credit to McCormick s politi 
cal acumen, it was rendered impracticable by the inability of 
southern and western Democrats to unite upon a third candi 
date in case Breckinridge and Douglas should withdraw. Con 
sequently, sound political strategy demanded that McCormick 
champion Douglas. His honest conviction, however, counseled 
him to support Breckinridge, but to do this in Illinois would 
merely work to Lincoln s advantage by weakening Douglas. 
Faced by this dilemma, the "Chicago Herald" carried the 
name of neither candidate at the head of its editorial column 

20L.P.C.B. No. 33, p. 606, W. S. McCormick to Jas. Campbell, Aug. 
18, 1860: "Expect to vote for Douglas though not my choice by a good 
deal/ The "Chicago Press and Tribune" on Aug. 16, 1860, called the 
"Chicago Times" "tamely pro-Douglas, but fiercely pro-slavery." During 
the campaign, Douglas called the Breckinridge Democrats "disunionists," 
but the "Chicago Times" denied that this label was deserved. 


but continued to defend the Buchanan administration. 21 This 
was more helpful to Breckinridge than to Douglas, since many 
"Danites," as the Buchanan supporters in Illinois were known, 
seemed willing to resign themselves to the election of Lincoln, 
if Douglas could thereby be defeated. 

In late July, 1860, McCormick bought out Cook s remaining 
interest in the "Herald" 22 and also paid James W. Sheahan 
and Abner Price about $10,000 for the "Chicago Daily 
Times/ 23 Perhaps one strong Democratic paper could be 
made by combining two weak ones. The "Daily Chicago 
Times," as the new journal was soon called, was edited by 
E. W. McComas with the assistance of Daniel Cameron. 
Sheahan, always a faithful Douglas man, late in the same year 
established the "Morning Post." 24 McCormick scanned the 

21 "Principles -Not Men/ was its motto. T. J. Paterson, Rochester, N. Y., 
to C. H. McCormick, July 5, 1860: "I see the Herald goes for the nominee 
of the Baltimore Democratick Convention & places no name at the head 
of its columns. As there were two Conventions at Baltimore claiming to 
be Democratick I consider you are in the fog yet, & are in doubt which 
was the Simon Pure Democratick Convention. I trust you will not renounce 
the Religion & Politicks of your fathers to embrace that miserable heresy 
of Douglass [sic] Squatter Sovereignty." "New York World," Aug. 5, 
1860. "Chicago Press and Tribune," July 30, 1860. 

22 #Receipt of I. Cook, July 28, 1860. At this time it was reported that 
McCormick would run for Congress in the autumn. "Chicago Daily Demo 
crat," July 23, 1860. 

23 C. H. McCormick to H. A. Boardman, July 8, 1866 : "I bo t out the 
Times (Chicago) for opposition to the election of Old Abe." The bill of 
sale was drawn on July 25, 1860, and the new paper made its first appear 
ance as the "Chicago Times-Herald," on July 31. Shortly thereafter, the 
name was changed to the "Daily Chicago Times." "Chicago Press and 
Tribune," Feb. 14, 15, July 30, Aug. 16, 1860. According to this paper, 
McCormick purchased the "Times" because Sheahan had defeated his can 
didacy for the mayoralty nomination earlier in the year. McCormick bought 
up the debts of the paper and thus forced its sale. "Scientific American" 
(N. Y.), Aug. 25, 1860. 

24 "New York World," Aug. 5, 1860. It was rumored in 1860 that Mc 
Cormick had obliged Sheahan to promise that he would not publish an 
other political paper in Chicago. "Chicago Daily Democrat," Mch. 19, 1861. 
If Douglas felt that he had any chance of winning the election, he would 


copy for his paper as closely as he did the material submitted 
for the "Presbyterian Expositor," and his blue pencil, accord 
ing to the recollection of his friend Judge Murray F. Tuley, 
sometimes made McComas writhe. 25 The desecration of the 
Sabbath by work in the newspaper office was avoided by issu 
ing the Sunday edition on Saturday evening. All articles or 
advertisements calculated to corrupt the morals of its subscrib 
ers were barred. "Nothing will be allowed in its columns that 
will cause a blush to the most rigidly pure." 26 While McCor- 
mick was its owner, the daily circulation of the "Times" was 
not over 2,000 or 3,000, and it was far from self-sustaining. 
Probably no complete file of the paper for the period from 
July 1860 to June 1861 now exists. 

By mid-September, McCormick was the chairman of the 
Cook County Central Committee of his party. He most prob 
ably voted for Douglas on Election Day. His worst fears were 
realized when the final returns were announced and a con 
vention in South Carolina adopted an ordinance of secession. 
Henceforward, McCormick shelved his disagreement with 
the "Little Giant" over the proper position of the national 
government on the issue of slavery-extension in the territories, 
and worked with him in behalf of any compromise which 
might preserve the Union. 27 In late December he urged Doug- 

hardly have permitted Sheahan to sell out to McCormick during the cam 
paign. Letter of J. W. Sheahan in "Chicago Press and Tribune," Aug. 17, 
1860. #D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, n.d., but probably Dec., 1860. 

25 MS. Reminiscences of C. H. McCormick by Judge Murray F. Tuley, 
undated, but after May, 1884. In view of McCormick s frequent absences 
from Chicago during this period, Tuley s statement must be accepted with 

26 MS. Sketch of C. H. McCormick by D. Cameron, Sept. 8, 1870. In 
the "Daily Chicago Times" of Dec. 8, 1860, McComas assured his readers : 
"Vulgarity and licentious details of every description will be wholly ex 
cluded from its columns. Not one sentiment will be uttered that could 
bring a blush to the cheek of virtue, or a rebuke from the strictest moralist." 

27 The "Chicago Times" of Oct. 30, 1864, states that McCormick voted 
for Douglas in 1860, #An undated MS., probably written by C. H. McCor- 


las to support the Crittenden Plan, believing that under his 
lead the entire northwestern democracy and enough Republi 
cans would rally around it to carry it through Congress. To 
make certain in this crisis that Douglas and he should act in 
harmony, he waited upon the word of the Illinois Senator be 
fore committing the "Times" to any measure. "Of course," 
he wrote, "it requires true greatness to be able to accommo 
date such differences so as to strike the line that will carry 
the cause, and save the Union." 28 He was convinced that 
attempts to conciliate the South would be futile without Re 
publican aid, but he hoped that his friend William H. Seward 
would lead the more conservative leaders of his party along 
the path of peace. 29 

On the wisdom of preventing secession by reaching a peace 
ful agreement with the South, all leading Democrats in Chi 
cago were as one, but they were not unanimous on the ques 
tion whether coercion should be used in case persuasion failed 

mick in 1869, suggests, but does not positively state, that he voted for 
Douglas in 1860. He attended a Douglas rally in Chicago in early October 
of that year. L.P.C.B. No. 35, p. 396, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, Sept. 
26, 1860; No. 41, p. 414, W. S. McCormick to A. Steele, New Orleans, 
May 6, 1861. In the issue of "Daily Chicago Times" for Dec. 8, 1860, its 
editor affirmed: "It will stand to the Union as long as a shred holds it 
together, and struggle earnestly to reconstruct it if it falls asunder." On 
this same day, Chas. H. Lanphier, an influential Douglasite and editor at 
Springfield, warned his chief that the "Daily Chicago Times" was still as 
much pro-Buchanan as pro-Douglas. "Has not McCormick s application," 
continued Lanphier, "for a renewal of his reaper patent got something to 
do with the Times* seeming go-between course? Such renewal would amply 
pay him for fifty or seventy-five thousand sunk in a daily newspaper." 
This letter is one of the Douglas MSS. at the University of Chicago. A 
"Chicago Daily Tribune" editorial on Oct. 27, 1860, charged McCormick 
with planning to supplant Douglas in the U. S. Senate. 

28 C. H. McCormick to S. Douglas, Dec. 28, 1860: "We aim to leave the 
subject open . . . for your final decision as to what is best." Thereafter, 
Douglas worked in the U. S. Senate to have McCormick s patent of 1847 

2 9 L.P.CB. No. 38, p. 144, C H, McCormick to P, H, Watson, Jan. 8, 


to hold the southern states under the flag. The necessity of 
facing this issue became more apparent with every passing 
day, since Republican spokesmen, voicing the will of Lincoln 
at Springfield, showed their determination to stand firm upon 
their platform of 1860. 

Although McCormick from the outset declared that a union 
worthy of the name could not be preserved by the use of force, 
he admitted as early as January 8, 1861, that counsels of peace, 
in the event of the failure of compromise, would go unheeded, 
and that the secession of the South would bring "all the hor 
rors of a civil war." 30 Douglas, on the other hand, was pre 
pared to support a policy of coercion if the issue could not be 
avoided. 31 At a meeting called to order by the inventor in 
North Market Hall, Chicago, in mid- January, to elect dele 
gates to a convention at Springfield, the "McCormick Party," 
as the "Tribune" called it, was in the majority, and resolved 
that "it would be unwise and impolitic to seek by war to com 
pel an unwilling Union." 32 

From this time until the close of the first week in April, 
McCormick refused to abandon hope of a compromise. 33 He 

* Q Ibid., No. 38, p. 144, C. H. McCormick to P. H. Watson, Jan. 8, 
1861. W. S. McCormick concisely stated the McCormick position in a 
letter on Jan. 30, 1861, to T. H. Silvez of Newark, N. J. (Ibid., No. 39, 
P- 557) : "We are with the Democratic party of the Northwest. First the 
Union as it is, if possible by peace, compromise, but in any event peace, & 
no war, even if that peace is only attainable by a separation. If a com 
promise is offered that will satisfy the Border States, I believe the Union 
will be safe." 

31 "Congressional Globe," Jan. 9, 1861 ; "Chicago Daily Tribune/ May 2, 

32L.P.C.B. No. 38, p. 336, W. S. McCormick to J. Henry, Jan. 15, 
1861. "Chicago- Daily Tribune," Jan 16, 23, 1861. This paper believed that 
McCormick would fail to swing the Cook County Democracy away from 
Douglas to support a policy of peace at any cost. "We think it safe to say, 
that in undertaking to swallow the Democracy of Cook, McCormick over 
estimated his power of deglutition and underestimated the size of the pill." 

S3 L.P.C.B. No. 38, pp. 180, 394, 422, W. S. McCormick to T. Berry, 
Jan. 9, 18, 20, 1861: "We think the black Republicans will yield tho 


remarked with satisfaction that those Republicans who ad 
vocated no concessions faced a mutiny within their own ranks, 
and that Seward, who spoke more softly now that the crisis 
had come, seemed destined to guide the policy of the Lincoln 
administration. McCormick believed that secession was both 
unconstitutional and the worst of folly, and that the will of 
the people, if ascertained through the medium of a convention 
called in both North and South, would be for peace and union. 
In his view, the nation had been brought to its sorry pass by a 
few designing politicians of both North and South who were 
ready to sacrifice their country to advance their own selfish 
ends. Many agreed with him, and the Peace Democrats of the 
North throughout the war reaffirmed on many occasions their 
opinion that the conflict could be ended and the Union restored, 
if a convention "fresh from the people" were called. Nor did 
McCormick during the rest of his life change his opinion that 
the war might have been avoided by the same method. 

McCormick s peace-at-any-cost position brought down upon 
his head the fury of the "Chicago Tribune." He was de 
nounced as a "rebel" and a "slave-driver." 34 For a few days 

they curse us. Many Republicans here yesterday (i7th) signed our peti 
tion for the Crittenden Compromise." Ibid., p. 714, W. S. McCormick to 
J. Churchman, Feb. 6,^ 1861 : "Just now we feel encouraged at the appar 
ent prospect of returning reason on the part of our Politicians. . . . Our 
ranting Republicans here are being sorely exercised at the present position 
of Seward, Cameron, Kellogg (of Ills.) and others of their leaders. . . . 
We rejoice that conservative Republicans are fast coming to our position 
against coercion & for compromise." Ibid., No. 39, p. 599, J. T. Griffin to 
J. T. Higgins, Mch. n, 1861: "We trust that our political troubles are 
drawing to an end." Ibid., No. 40, p. 317, Wm. S. to J. B. McCormick, 
Mch. 28, 1861 : "The pulse of the Blood and Thunder Republicans of this 
latitude is coming down." Ibid., No. 40, p. 731, J. T. Griffin to J. B. McCor 
mick, Apr. 11, 1861 : "News from the South looks warlike, and we now 
look daily for the conflict." 

3 * "Chicago Daily Tribune," Feb. 12, 1861. L.P.C.B. No. 39, p. 161, 
W. S. McCormick to A. B. Tanqueray, Lexington, Va., Feb. 23 1861 
W. S. McCormick sent him a copy of the "Tribune" to show "a sample 
of the Devils we have to oppose here." Ibid., No. 39, p. 205 T T Griffin 
to E. Healy, Feb. 25, 1861. 


in mid-February, 1861, he considered the advisability of suing 
this newspaper for libel, but his own editors reminded him 
that the "Times" was equally unsparing in its attacks upon 
abolitionists. 35 Since McCormick was at this time in Washing 
ton on patent business, his brothers rushed to his defense in 
a public letter, comparing the value of the services rendered by 
the "Tribune" with those of the reaper factory to the city and 
the entire Northwest, and pointing out that because of the 
national scope of his business,, among other reasons, the in 
ventor was the most ardent of unionists. "Cyrus H. Mc 
Cormick is interested in saving a Union," they wrote, "not in 
saving a party. Is it not possible that the Chicago Tribune 
might lose more by the breaking of its party than the break 
ing of the government?" With this shrewd question, the letter 
closed. 36 

But Washington s Birthday parades by Conservatives in 
Chicago, 37 peace-convention deliberations and the maneuvers 
of Seward at Washington served rather to increase the tension 
than to furnish the solution which McCormick so eagerly 
sought. The enthusiastic outburst in the North which greeted 
the news of the Fort Sumter bombardment made it imperative 
for him publicly to declare his position in the conflict. Those 
who work for peace on the eve of war become suspect as soon 
as the first gun is fired. Rumors were abroad that McCormick 
was disloyal, and there was danger that the office of the 

35 Mary Ann McCormick to Nettie F. McCormick, Feb. I7(?), 1861. 

36 L.P.C.B. No. 39, pp. 84-93, Joint letter of W. S. and L. J. McCormick, 
Feb. I9(?), 1861: "A more Demon like production [than the "Tribune" 
article o Feb. 12] could not be hatched this side the infernal regions." 
Ibid., No. 39, p. 343, W. S. McCormick to Jas. Henry, Mch. 2, 1861 : 
"We have helped to build this city by hundreds of thousands & these 
Editors though strong politically are without body or soul substantially. 
. . . We are not secessionists by a good deal but we are for the South hav 
ing her rights." 

37 Ibid., No. 39, p. 165, W. S. McCormick to T. Berry, Feb. 23, 1861 : 
"I regretted much I did not think of having a fine reaper in the procession 
behind four elegant horses & followed by our 300 men from the office & 


"Chicago Times" would be demolished by a "patriotic mob. 38 
Under these circumstances, in late April, 1861, an editorial 
over his signature appeared in that journal. It read in part : 

I have deemed it a duty which I owe alike to myself and to the 
public, to make known as the proprietor of the paper, my views 
on the present war, in such explicit terms as to put all doubts 
forever at rest. 

It is not necessary for me to enter into any explanation of my 
past course. It is known to all, that to the extent of my humble 
ability, my utmost efforts were directed to the maintenance of 
peace, believing, as I did, that the best interests of the country 
would be thereby promoted. For having occupied that position in 
the past, I have no regrets to express or apologies to offer. . . . 

Born and reared in the South, I would disgrace my manhood 
did I not say that my heart sickens at the prospect of the conflict 
which must ensue. Yet while I regard the war as a great calamity, 
I am fully aware that there are greater calamities even than war, 
and the loss of National honor is one of them. Though a native 
of the South, I am a citizen of Illinois, and of the United States, 
and as such shall bear true allegiance to the Government. That 
allegiance I shall never violate or disregard. I am and ever shall be 
on the side of my country in war without considering whether 
my country is right or wrong. 

Although this article left those who read it in no doubt of 
the side McCormick would support, it did not commit him 
to cease striving for peace. Probably, however, its references 
to "loss of national honor" and "my country . . . right or 
wrong" reflect the emotion aroused by the guns of Sumter and 
not its author s considered opinion. 39 At this time Dr. Lord sub- 

38 L,P.C.B. No. 38, p. 714, W. S. McCormick to J. Churchman, Feb. 
6, 1861, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, May 7, 1861. L.P.C.B. No. 41, p. 804, 
W. S. McCormick to T. Berry, May 21, 1861 : "Most deeply have we been 
interested in maintaining the Union in peace and to that end did we struggle 
as long as we dare do so & almost beyond the point of safety." 

39 /&iU, No. 40, p. 862, J. T. Griffin to P. H. Watson, Apr. 16, 1861 : 
"War War War! is now the only topic of conversation. Our people are all 
for the Stars and Stripes and for the Union and the Administration/ 
There is as you say no party now ... the people of the North West are as 


mitted an editorial entitled The Crisis" to the "Presbyterian 
Expositor," in which he called the southerners "traitors" and 
the rebellion "an outrageous conspiracy." The closing sentence 
ran as follows : "At whatever cost, it must be crushed. This 
is demanded by truth and righteousness, by Liberty and Re 
ligion." 40 This represented a length to which McCormick 
would not go, and Dr. Lord s fulmination was never pub 

The commencement of hostilities signified that the "Daily 
Chicago Times" had failed in its purpose. There was little 
prospect that the embattled nation would be in a mood to 
listen to counsels of peace in the near future. So far as Mc 
Cormick was concerned, the paper s reason for being no longer 
existed, and he was eager to get clear of an enterprise that 
had returned him little except expense and criticism. 41 As early 
as April 2, 1861, a notice appeared to the effect that he had 
transferred to his brother-in-law, Elbridge M. Fowler, "all my 
right and interest in, and all accounts due the Chicago Times 7 
to the present date." 42 This was misleading, since the inventor 

one in defense of the national government." Ibid., No. 41, p. 50, W. S. 
McCormick to W. T. Rush, Steele s Tavern, Va., Apr. 18, 1861. He rejoiced 
that Va s. ordinance of secession had failed of adoption. "I am as much 
opposed to Abolitionism as anybody but let us not have the Union broken 
up yet. If secession be persisted in I believe we shall all be disgraced in 
the eyes of the world and all ruined." Ibid. f No. 41, p. 54. On Apr. 18, he 
also wrote James Henry of Steele s Tavern: "I hope even yet that nobody 
may be hurt/" 

40 MS. article by Dr. Lord, n.d., but probably written in late April, 
1861, and certainly after the Baltimore Riot of the ipth. 

41 *C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 27, 1866. McCormick s 
loss from the "Herald" and "Times" is here shown as $28,357.35. 

42 *E. M. Fowler to C. H. McCormick, May 20, 1861 : "I have reduced 
the liabilities [of the "Times"] from $1500 to $18.00 since the first of the 
month, in most part by using second class currency from the Factory. The 
amount due to this [the "Times"] office is fully as much as when you left, 
for the past week I have not dared to collect anything, as our currency 
is in such bad shape that it was not safe to take it, and a large share is 
today worth only 50 or 60 cents on the dollar." #C. C. Copeland to C. H. 


continued to be the proprietor of the journal for two months 
thereafter. 43 

By mid-May, however, he was negotiating with Wilbur F. 
Storey of the "Detroit Free Press" for the purchase of the 
"Times." 44 On June i, the bill of sale was drawn and signed. 
Storey sold his Detroit paper to Alosh H. Walker of Ann 
Arbor, Michigan, but retained a mortgage on the plant until 
the new owner could pay the full sum due. Storey assigned 
this lien to McCormick as security that he would carry out 
his agreement in regard to the "Chicago Times." The sum that 
McCormick eventually received from Storey for this journal 
is not known, but it seems to have been about $i3,ooo. 45 On 
June 8, 1 86 1, the paper began its hectic but prosperous career 
under Storey s able editorship. Within less than a year its 
opposition to the war made it notorious, and in early June, 
1863, it was suppressed for a few days by General Burnside s 
order. 46 Many people still associated it with the inventor and 

McCormick, Apr. 8, 1864: "I ve long- ago realized all that can be had 
from the old Times claims except $150 due from the Democratic German 
Paper here. It Is prosperous and will soon pay up." 

43 Mary Ann McCormick to Nettie F. McCormick, Feb. I7th (?), 1861. 

44 #Telegram of W. F. Storey to C. H. McCormick, May 20, 1861. 
JE. M. Fowler to C H. McCormick, May 20, 1861. C. H. McCormick was 
in Washington during most of May, 1861, after the 6th. L.P.C.B. No. 41, 
pp. 429, 609, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, May 7, 14, 1861. 

45 Indenture of June i, 1861, between A. H. Walker and W. F. Storey. 
Agreement of June I, 1861, between C. H. McCormick and W. F. Storey. 
S. T. Douglass to C. H. McCormick, June 5, 1861, and May 27, 1862, 
S. T. Douglass to E. M. Fowler, July 15, 1861. In a letter dated July 17, 
1872, to D. Cameron, C. H. McCormick wrote: "You know I lost fully 
$20,000 by my experiment in political papers !" Judge Murray F. Tuley in 
a MS. giving his impression of his friend C. H. McCormick, stated that 
after the inventor sold the "Times," he "sunk" twelve or fifteen thousand 
dollars in the "Post," the paper of the Chicago War Democrats edited 
by J. W. Sheahan. I have found no contemporary evidence supporting this 

46 D. B. Sanger, "The Chicago Times and the Civil War," in the "Mis 
sissippi Valley Historical Review," Vol. XVII, No. 4 (Mch. 1931), pp. 
557-580. "Chicago Daily Tribune," June 3, 4, 1863. Mary Ann McCor- 


almost to the close of the war the "Chicago Tribune/ for 
political purposes of its own, called it "Mr. McCormick s 
paper." 4T Thus the erroneous belief was fostered that Mc- 
Cormick was still its owner and sponsored the views advanced 
by Storey in his editorials. 

Whether Cyrus McCormick was, or was not, a Copperhead 
during the Civil War depends entirely upon the inclusiveness 
given to that opprobrious term. Those persons who advocated 
war without stint and no peace until the South was completely 
subjugated, were prone to label as Copperheads all who were 
not equally belligerent. By 1863^00 vigorous opposition to 
Lincoln s Emancipation Proclamation might lead an annoyed 
Abolitionist to place the recalcitrant in the same category. All 
would agree that advocates of immediate peace on the basis 
of an independent Confederacy deserved the title, but what 
of those who believed that the war should stop because it 
blocked, rather than promoted, a restoration of the Union? 
Let an armistice be arranged, or, if needs be, negotiations at 
tempted without a cessation of hostilities in order to ascertain 
whether the South would come back with a guarantee that 
slavery should not be disturbed. If the Confederacy rejected 
this proposal, then let the conflict continue to the bitter end, 
not however to compel emancipation, but to achieve the highest 
of all ends, the preservation of an united nation. If advocates 
of this view were Copperheads, then McCormick was one of 
them. In his opinion, Stephen Douglas, if he had lived, would 

mick to Nettie F. McCormick, Jan. i, 1863 : "Yesterday there was a move 
on the Board of Trade to expel from it the commercial reporter of the 
Times, & the Journal in the afternoon wrote a dirty article about it & the 
Times replies this morning. . . . The Times is very bold I tell you. . . . 
It is said the Tribune will be torn down if the Times reporter is not again 
admitted etc. I somehow dread the morrow lest something evil crosses 
our path." 

47 "Chicago Daily Tribune," Nov. 7, 1864. According to an editorial in 
this paper on Oct. 30, 1862, the "lodge room" of the "treasonable" Knights 
of the Golden Circle was in the McCormick Block. 


have been found in the same camp because his sanction of 
coercion was to prevent secession and not to deprive men of 
their property by force and without compensation. The in 
ventor was a pall-bearer at his funeral. 

As early as the summer of 1861, William S. McCormick, 
who was usually more pessimistic and always less vocal than 
his elder brother on political questions arising from the war, 
thought that it was time to inquire whether the conflict was 
being waged for motives of patriotism or to advance the for 
tunes of Republicans and Abolitionists. "I love the Union of 
these States as much as any man that lives/ he added, "but 
. . . can we save this Union by blood?" 48 Cyrus McCorrnick 
was soon asking himself the same question, and in a letter 
written to the "Daily Chicago Times" in the spring of 1864, 
he suggested that his departure for England almost two years 
before was prompted in a measure by his realization that "the 
Negro policy of the ultra half of the Cabinet at Washington 
[seemed] likely to prevail." 49 The chief purpose of his two 
years residence abroad was to promote the sale of his reapers, 
but when he left the United States he carried with him a 
letter of introduction from Horace Greeley to William L. 
Dayton, the United States Ambassador to France. The word 
ing of this brief note suggests that McCormick hoped that 
Napoleon III could be induced to intervene in behalf of peace. 60 

48 L.P.C.B. No. 44, P. 760, W. S. McCormick to M. Forney, Balto., 
Md., Aug. 9, 1 86 1. 

W. A. Richardson, M. C, to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 11, 1862: "I 
fear the Abolitionists have us hook line bob and sinker in this Congress. We 
shall give them a hard fight however." 

H. Greeley to W. L. Dayton, July 14, 1862: "Reared in Virginia, a 
resident of Illinois, he aims to be a Peace man in our civil contest, and 
may give you some ideas of this slave evil from his peculiar stand-point. 
His visit to Europe is mainly one of business, but he will proceed to Paris 
with other views; and I commend him to your kind consideration as a citi 
zen of lofty character and eminent usefulness." In L.P.C.B. No. 47, Opp. p. 
355, is the notation: "The leaves torn out here contained a letter written 


He was surprised to remark during his stay in Europe that 
there was a general opinion, in sharp contrast to what he had 
heard there in 1851 and 1855, that democratic governments 
were everywhere doomed to failure. 51 

McCormick remained overseas until the early summer of 
1864, "plodding along in the pursuit of business . . . but 
watching with the deepest concern the progress of events at 
home." 52 William S. McCormick and Charles C. Copeland 
kept him in touch with events in Chicago. The temper of that 
city, as well as the skilful handling of his business interests 
by his brother, left him small inducement to hasten his re 
turn. 53 He believed that the Emancipation Proclamation was 
issued by Lincoln in order to permit the enlistment of negroes, 
and that by thus making the confiscation of private property 
one of the chief objectives of the war, the preservation of the 
Union by force of arms became an even more chimerical hope 
than before. In his view, the Proclamation would drive the 
Confederacy to fight with desperation, and the North might 
well be assured that its foe was confident of success as long 
as it found it unnecessary to free and arm the slaves. If that 
day should come, England and France, in exchange for the 
emancipation of the negroes, would intervene in the war and 
recognize the independence of the Confederacy. Logically, ac 
cording to McCormick, Lincoln should have recognized the 
sovereignty of the Richmond government on the day that his 

by Mr. C. H. McC. to J. E. Thompson, & torn out by C. H. s order 
April isth, 1862." Thompson, an ex-member of Buchanan s cabinet, was 
associated with the Canadian activities of the Confederacy. This is the only 
evidence which indicates that McCormick destroyed any of his Civil War 
correspondence. The scarcity of manuscript material dealing with his polit 
ical course during the conflict is noticeable, but may be accounted for by 
the fact of his two years residence in England. 

wflC. H. McCormick to the Ed., "Chicago Times," Apr. n, 1864. 

52 C. H. McCormick to the Ed., "New York World/ June 20, 1864. 

63 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 27, 1862; #C. C. Copeland to C 
H. McCormick, Apr. 8, 1864. 


Emancipation Proclamation was issued, for by that stroke he 
made northern victory impossible. 

Nevertheless, McCormick was confident that the South 
would prefer reunion with slavery to independence without it, 
and on this basis he believed that the Confederacy would be 
willing to make peace. So why should the war continue until 
both sides were ruined and utterly exhausted, and more white 
men sacrificed than the number of negroes then held in bond 
age? Many northern Democrats agreed with McCormick s 
ideas or had others quite similar to them. He would not admit 
that the South was weakening; he failed to realize the signifi 
cance of the northern victories during the last five months of 
1864, and with a strange persistence he held to his opinion 
until the eve of Appomattox. 

In April, 1864, while still in London, he was unable longer 
to remain silent, and expressed his views at length in a letter 
to W. F. Storey. He felt "that it becomes every one who has 
interests to be protected, or a patriotic pulse beating for the 
welfare of his country, to apply his shoulder to the wheel . . . 
to say what he thinks, and do what he can." He was now 
determined to come home for the purpose of winning the 
Democratic Party in the approaching presidential election to a 
support of his policy. "Stop the war, 3 he urged, "declare an 
armistice call a convention, and consider terms of peace. . . . 
May the Democratic party then not falter at this stupendous 
crisis! . . . Another Republican President elected and the 
country the Union is lost. The Democratic Party only can 
and it can if it mil save it. Will it not to the rescue? The 
ballot box is the only remedy." 54 By thus charging that the 
war was a failure and urging the call of a convention, he 

54 #C. H. McCormick to the Ed., "Chicago Times," from London, Apr. 
ir, 1864. Apparently this letter was never published in the "Times," but 
it appeared in substantially the same form in the "New York World," 
July 10, 1864. 


anticipated by four months the platform to be adopted by the 
Democratic Party at its national convention. 55 

In September, 1864, he consented to be the Democratic can 
didate for Congress from the ist district of Illinois. 56 "Long 
John" Wentworth was his opponent, and McCormick realized 
that he had very small chance of success. 57 The bitterness of 
the campaign is well illustrated by the following paragraph 
from the "Chicago Daily Tribune :" 58 

The Democracy of Cook County could not have nominated an 
other man so well calculated to cement the loyalty of the people, 
and excite every lover of the Union to unwonted exertions for his 
defeat, as C. H. McCormick. Mr. McCormick has not an instinct 
that is not in sympathy with the rebellion. Like all poor white trash 
of Virginia, he left the State a better friend of slavery than the 
slaveholders themselves, and the prejudices of his youth have built 
upon a defective education, a perfect monomania in behalf of 
man-stealing. His intrigues against Douglas and in favor of Breck- 
inridge in 1860, will doubtless commend him to the mass of the 
party hereabouts. He has been nominated avowedly for his money 
. . . and we trust that he may be made to bleed as freely as his 

5 5 C. H. McCormick to Rev. L. Gumming, London, Mch. 23, 1864: 
"What is yet to result from the war is only known to the Great Ruler 
above but my opinion still is that the South will never be subjugated by 
the North." ifC. H. McCormick to F. Ewing, from London, Apr. i, 1864: 
"The war has been conducted in a manner neither calculated to restore 
the Union nor to protect the property interests of the country, but to lead 
in the end to bankruptcy & ruin, individual and national." 

se "Daily Chicago Times," Sept. 17, 1864. 

57 "Prairie Farmer" (Chicago), Sept. 24, 1864. L.P.C.B. No. 75, p. 207, 
W. S. McCormick to D. Zimmerman, Oct. 6, 1864. Ibid., No. 76, p. 51, 
C. A. Spring to J, T. Griffin, Nov. 9, 1864. 

ss "Chicago Daily Tribune," Sept. 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, Oct. 27, 28, 29, and 
Nov. 7, 1864. On Oct. 25, 1864, in an article over two columns in length, 
this paper told of the "General Explosion of McCormick s Pretended Inven 
tions. His Piracies and his Fictitious Claims." O. Hussey was the chief 
hero of this article as he was also of the ones of Sept. 21 and 23. On 
Oct. 25 the "Tribune" insinuated that McCormick had purchased Confed 
erate bonds while in Europe, although contributing not a penny to the 
Union cause. On Oct. 27 and 28 it charged him with oppressing his factory 


most greedy supporter can desire. But all the wealth which he has 
extorted from the loyal farmers of the West will not elect him. 
... Mr. McCormick will be beaten by a majority which will 
stifle his political ambition for the rest of his natural life. 

Libels of this kind doubtless helped to defeat McCormick, 
but "Long John" was a very popular political veteran and the 
outcome of the elections throughout the land was mainly de 
termined by the victories of Sherman in Georgia and Sheridan 
in the Shenandoah Valley. 59 McCormick conceded on Novem 
ber 12 that it was a "Waterloo defeat," but he believed the 
result had been due to "power and patronage" and the skill of 
the Republicans in misleading the people to associate the 
Democrats with disunion. 60 He refused to admit that the elec 
tion returns signified a repudiation by the people of true Demo 
cratic principles. Although many of his colleagues were apa 
thetic and some talked of disbanding the party altogether, he 
was never more active politically than between November, 
1864, and March, i865. 61 "We (the Democrats) must pick 

59 McCormick received one vote to Wentworth s three. The inventor 
loaned $20,000 to the Illinois Democratic State Central Committee in this 
election. James C. Robinson, the candidate of the Democratic Party for 
Governor of Illinois, was sufficiently acceptable to Jacob Thompson, the 
Confederate Agent in Canada, to secure from him a subsidy of $40,000. One 
half of this was used to reimburse McCormick. The inventor was appar 
ently unaware of the source of this windfall. See, J. B. Castleman, "On 
Active Service" (Louisville, Ky., 1917), PP- 144-148. F. G. Smyth, Madison, 
Wis., to Co., Nov. 7, 1868. In a suit brought by the McCormick Co. to 
collect a debt from a farmer, the defendant s lawyer told the jury that 
C. H. McCormick had given Jefferson Davis $17,500 to carry on the war. 
Perhaps the incident mentioned in Castleman s book accounts for this story. 
If the "Chicago Tribune" of Oct. 25, 1864, can be believed, C. H. McCor 
mick contributed at least $15,000 to the Democratic campaign fund in 1864. 

60 Letter of C H. McCormick, dated Nov. 12, 1864, in "New York 
World," Nov. 22, 1864, and in "Daily Chicago Times," Nov. 16, 1864. 
MS. article by C. H. McCormick, entitled "The Tribune is the War," n.d., 
but written after the election in the autumn of 1864. 

61 Letter of C. H. McCormick called "A New Way to Peace," Nov. 12, 
1864, addressed to the Editor of the "New York World," and published in 
that paper on Nov. 22. 


our flints and try again/ counseled the inventor, ". . . while 
the object for which we have labored is the restoration of the 
Union ... we must not become weary in well doing; but, on 
the contrary, with our views of the situation, while sunk in 
humility, we should rise in devotion and patriotic effort with 
the greatness of the emergency." 

As has been noted earlier in this chapter, McCormick did 
not realize that the Confederacy was on the verge of collapse, 
and he believed that if the common people of both North 
and South could be reached, they were as ready now as they 
always had been to speak for an immediate peace with union 
and slavery. The reelection of Lincoln had made the South 
more determined than ever not to yield, and doubtless when 
necessity arose, Jefferson Davis would free the three or four 
million slaves and put them in the field. If so, the northern 
cause would be hopeless. Therefore, argued McCormick, the 
Democratic National Convention should reassemble, and with 
Lincoln s sanction, open negotiations with the South. Lincoln 
had often said that he stood above party and was concerned 
first of all about the welfare of the nation. Since the Con 
federacy refused to negotiate with him, let him demonstrate 
his sincerity and patriotism by sanctioning an effort by the 
Democratic Party representing the North, to draw the south 
erners into a peace conference. This is the "last chance to 
save the Union, warned McCormick, and the North must 
realize that they have only the choice of an united country 
with slavery or an independent Confederacy without slavery. 

These suggestions were received with little favor even by 
the Democrats. 62 Storey felt that it would be "an extraor 
dinary step" and "end in humiliating failure" for a vanquished 

62 C. H. McCormick to the Editors of the "New York World," Dec. 7, 
1864. "Chicago Tribune," Nov. 17, 1864. This paper professed to believe 
that McCormick was more concerned about preserving slavery than the 


party to ask the victors to adopt its policy. 63 But that some 
thing must be done at once, McCormick strongly believed. He 
now considered the possibility of purchasing the "National 
Intelligencer" in order to use it to advance his views and 
the cause of Democracy at Washington. 64 He wrote President 
Lincoln asking that he "with or without an accompanying 
friend as your Excellency may determine, be permitted to go 
to Richmond for the purpose of such conferences with Con 
federates as might be obtained, that might be useful." 65 He 
drafted resolutions incorporating his ideas of the way to make 
peace and hoped that they might be adopted by the Democrats 
in Congress. 66 All of these efforts were fruitless, but as late 
as March, 1865, McCormick was still writing of his desire 
to visit the Confederate Capital, and was taking counsel with 
Horace Greeley upon the best plan to bring peace. 67 

The news of the surrender of Lee must have come to Mc 
Cormick as a distinct surprise. 68 It demonstrated that he had 
overestimated the strength of the Confederacy. The Union had 
been preserved and slavery was no more, although he had 
repeatedly asserted that these objectives could not together 
be achieved. He was glad that slavery was gone, but he ab- 

63 W. F. Storey, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 17, 1864: "For the 
present, in my judgment we have no alternative to watching and waiting." 
64 IJ. T. Coyle, Washington, to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 15, 1864. 

65 #C. H, McCormick to A. Lincoln, from Washington, Dec. 19, 1864: 
"My former residence in the South, and acquaintance with the people there 
might be rather favorable to the object than otherwise." 

66 MS. draft, in McCormick s hand, of resolutions for introduction in the 
38th. Congress. 

67 H. Greeley to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 27, Feb. 14, and Apr. 26, 1865, 
and to SGen l N. P. Banks, Mch. 24, 1865. W. S. to C. H. McCormick, 
Mch. 9, 1865. In the Nettie Fowler McCormick Biog, Asso. Files is the 
following receipt written by C. H. McCormick: "Rec d Feb. i8th 65 of 
C. H. McCormick Fifty Dollars bal. in full for services in connection with 
trip to Canada & expenses." (Signed) Henry S. Nettleton. No other refer 
ence has been found to this mission. 

68 Few letters of McCormick on any topic, and none bearing upon 
politics, survive from the period March- July, 1865. 


horred the arbitrary method employed to abolish it. Concilia 
tion must now be the key-note of the policies adopted at 
Washington and by his church toward the South, and he hoped 
that "the noble administration of President Johnson would 
attain the success that its magnanimity merited. 69 

Now that, in the Providence of God, we have passed the ter 
rible ordeal of a protracted civil war, unparallelled in destructive- 
ness and all that makes war horrible, and are again without con 
troversy the United States, with yet a glorious future in prospect, 
religiously as well as politically should wise counsels prevail, it 
would afford me the greatest satisfaction if, by any humble means 
in my power, I could contribute anything toward the consumma 
tion of that universal harmony between all parts of our country, 
which is only necessary now soon to make it the most powerful and 
influential of all countries of the World. 70 

With this spirit of optimism and desire for service, Mc- 
Cormick turned to face the new problems of the Reconstruc 
tion Era. 

69 C. H. McCormick to C, C. Baldwin, Aug. 14, 1866, R. H. Glass, 
Lynchburg, Va., Aug. 9, 1866, and #Wm. Brown, Richmond, Va., Oct. 6, 
1865. In the last of these he writes : "Reunion & Restoration seem now to 
be the great conservative [Democratic] principles of the day led in good 
faith I trust by President Johnson, and which I trust will be met by as 
full a response as possible from the South in its broadest application, religi 
ously as well as politically & commercially. This I think right, and espe 
cially the interest of the South." 

C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, July 14, 1865. 



BY 1855 the manufacture of harvesting machinery, al 
though still on a small scale, had gained a firm foothold 
among the industries of the nation. The focus of grain pro 
duction in the United States had crossed the Alleghenies and 
was moving quite rapidly westward into the prairie belt. In 
this area the central location of Chicago, with its unrivaled 
transportation facilities both by land and lake, made it the 
outlet for much of the crop of the Middle West and a natural 
distributing point for reapers and mowers. Here, in the heart 
of the city, on North Water Street, hard by the mouth of the 
Chicago River, was the factory of Cyrus McCormick, em 
ploying about two hundred men and boys, and manufacturing 
some twenty-five hundred machines a year. 

He no longer enjoyed a virtual monopoly of sales in the 
grain-fields of the West. His success during the preceding 
decade, and the lapse of his original patent, had drawn rival 
firms into the field, both in his own neighborhood and in the 
states east of the Appalachians. Machine production was al 
ready showing a tendency to concentrate in the Genesee Valley, 
central Ohio, and northern Illinois. 

The new industry depended for its prosperity in large de 
gree upon conditions fostered by its own output. Its advance 
ment was obviously a result of the well-being of the farmer 
and the increase of small-grain culture in the United States. 
That these arose in some measure from the use of reapers and 



mowers had ever been a chief talking-point of Cyrus Mc- 
Cormick, and the testimony of many witnesses could be cited 
in his support. 

After 1845, large numbers of immigrants from northern 
Europe, together with settlers who were native born, pushed 
the frontier west and north into Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin 
and Minnesota. Wherever they went, soil and climate invited 
the cultivation of wheat. Railroads, reapers, and an enlarging 
domestic market kept pace with their advance. Currency in 
flation attending the influx of gold from California, and a 
heightened demand for American grain in Europe during the 
Crimean War, gradually raised the price of wheat to $1.75 a 
bushel in Chicago by May, 1855. Not a few landowners, espe 
cially in Illinois, used their credit to extend their holdings in 
order to raise more grain. It was too early, however, for farm 
ers and manufacturers of harvesting machinery to talk of a 
permanent prosperity. 

Beginning in that year and continuing for the next decade, 
the number of foreigners seeking homes in the United States 
sharply declined. The war in Europe was soon over and the 
export market collapsed. Wheat was selling for eighty cents a 
bushel by the late autumn of 1856, and one year later fell off 
another twenty cents. On the few occasions between 1856 
and 1862 when it commanded above $1.25 a bushel in Chicago, 
a corner on grain was largely responsible and the farmer de 
rived but little benefit. 1 At all times he received a much smaller 
sum for his crop at the wharf or railhead than the price per 
bushel quoted in the newspapers of the city. 2 

1 James E. Boyle, "Chicago Wheat Prices for Eighty-One Years, 1841- 
1921" (Ithaca, N. Y., 1922). 

2 O. King, Davenport, la., to Co., Dec. 10, 1857: Barley is 25-40^ a bu. 
here and 45 to 50^ in Chicago. C. B. Griffin, Newark, O., to Co., June 13, 
1858 : Wheat is bought for 45^ a bushel. M. M. McNair, Brodhead, Wis., 
to Co., Feb. 19, and Apr. 29, 1858: Farmers purchased machines when 
yrheat was at $1.50 a bu. and now it is 45#. The big farmers are the most 


If, due to a drop in the market-price or other causes, the 
real value of the cash received by a farmer from the sale 
of his wheat was too small to yield him a reasonable margin 
of profit, he could apply one or more of several remedies. He 
might endeavor to increase his yield per acre by the use of 
fertilizers or a crop-rotation system. Most probably, however, 
in the Middle West he would seed more wheat on more land 
so that the net profit from a large crop would equal the income 
gained from his smaller output in the day of better prices. 3 
To garner his increased harvest and to reduce his labor costs 
demanded the use of a reaper. Perhaps he preferred to turn 
from the small grains to hay and stock. In the diversified 
farming belt of the Middle West this was quite possible, and 
was often advisable both to relieve exhausted land of its one 
crop burden and to take advantage of a more favorable market 
for those commodities when compared with wheat and rye. In 
this case, he would need a mower, and the manufacturer of 
harvesting machinery again benefited as well as the farmer. 
Low prices for grain, therefore, did not necessarily mean that 
reaper and mower companies would suffer, unless the general 
level of prices for all the staple agricultural products was so 
depressed that the ordinary farmer could not make ends meet 
even by using machinery. Otherwise, in hard times, a manu 
facturer s insistence that reapers and mowers were a farmer s 
only salvation, carried a wide appeal. The implements were of 
peculiar efficacy both in fair weather and foul. 

This being true, it is not surprising that McCormick s sales 

in debt for they have been adding farm to farm or building largely. I never 
saw such blue times in Wisconsin. J. Brumaugh, Mt. Pleasant, la., to Co., 
May 31, 1858: Wheat sells here @ 35$; corn @ 15-20^; and potatoes 
@ 20$ per bushel. 

3 L.P.CB. No. 10, p. 532, Co. to T. Carter, Bloomington, Ind., Feb. 2, 
1858. Following a general failure of winter wheat in the prairie belt between 
1847 and 1853, many farmers in la., Wis., and northern 111. turned to the 
cultivation of spring wheat. Ranked in order, 111., Ind., Wis., and Ohio 
were the leading wheat states in the Union in 1860. 


jumped from twenty-five hundred in 1855 to over fur thou 
sand in the next season, and did not drop below that figure 
during the depression on the eve of the Civil War. He was 
unable to supply the demand. Other builders showed as large 
or a greater increase, and most of the 125,000 or more reapers 
and mowers in use by 1861 had been purchased during the 
preceding five years. Evidently low prices and the short har 
vests of 1858 and 1859 do not explain why some builders of 
harvesting machinery were driven into bankruptcy, or why 
others, more fortunate, believed they were weathering the 
"hardest years" they had even known. 4 

Currency troubles were chronic in the Middle West. Ohio 
Valley farmers had regarded the second National Bank of the 
United States as a "monster/ but since its downfall in the 
day of President Jackson, fly-by-night " bankers, "free" and 
state banks had brought troubles of another kind. State bank 
ing laws were lax and the worth of the note issues of many 
of these institutions was most uncertain. Manufacturers of 
harvesting machinery first began to complain of the handicap 
of poor currency about 1854. Agents were furnished with 
bank-note detectors and were ordered to receive no money 
from purchasers of reapers which could not be exchanged for 
a sight draft on New York or Philadelphia for less than a 
five per cent discount. 5 This was often impossible to procure. 
The small amounts of specie and sound bank-notes in the rural 
districts were hoarded or quickly returned to the cities to 
meet the adverse balance of trade. Money scarcity was a com 
mon complaint throughout the Middle West by i8s6. 6 

*Ibid., No. 17, p. 679, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 21, 1859. Ibid., 
No. 21, p. 73, Co. to G. Hagerman & Co., May 4, 1859. Ibid., No. 29, p. 
765, Co. to A. G. Foster, Ottawa Creek, K. Terr., Feb. 3, 1860. 

5 Ibid., No. 9, p. 57, Co. to J. B. Erb, Durlach, Pa., Oct. 3, 1857. No. 
10, p. 547, to G. M. Gault, Annapolis, O., Apr. 3, 1858. No. 38, p. 387, 
to W. H. Page, Reed s Mills, O., Jan. 18, 1861. 

6 Short crops in the East in 1854 and 1855 caused money scarcity there. 
Farming areas in the Middle West often had no specie except the little 


The severe cold of the open winter of 1856-1857 killed 
much wheat. Spring and harvest came about a month late. 
Although the crop in central Illinois and in the eastern states 
was very short, the general yield throughout the land was of 
average size and Cyrus McCormick sold his entire stock of 
machines without difficulty. Following the harvest, the price 
of wheat fell over fifty per cent in five months and the farmers 
withheld their grain from market. Because corn and pork were 
also selling at a low figure, reaper agents reported that their 
clients could not pay their notes when they fell due on Decem 
ber i. The financial panic which swept through the North 
and West that autumn added to the distress. Produce men and 
country merchants had no money to offer for grain and were 
refused credit by the city correspondents from whom they 
had customarily purchased their stock in trade. 7 Banks 
throughout the country suspended specie payments or went to 
the wall. Municipalities and individual business men in the 
Mississippi Valley added to the welter of depreciated or worth 
less currency by issuing scrip of doubtful value. Iowa and 
Minnesota were particularly hard hit. Gold was at a twelve per 
cent premium in Davenport by December, 1857, and St. Paul 
business men were obliged to send food and clothing to desti 
tute farmers in their neighborhood. 8 

brought in by immigrants. See, L.P.C.B. No. 43, p. 276, W. S. to C H 
McCormick, June 26, 1861 : "We occasionally now get from a dutchman 
$130 in gold for a reaper." Bankruptcies in the Middle West made it impos 
sible to borrow on western paper in the eastern money markets. "The West 
at present has a bad name" wrote J. Campbell, Westons, N. J., to W. S. 
McCormick, on Sept. 6, 1858. See also his letters to W. S. McCormick of 
Oct. 7, n, and Nov. 9, 1858. 

7 Letters to the Co. of D. Zimmerman, Oquawka, 111., Jan. 3, 1858 J 
Campbell, Balto., Nov. 15, 1857, and J. B. Erb, Durlach, Pa., Jan. 16, 1858. 
Letters to the Co. of O. Klug, Davenport, la., Dec. 9, 1857; D. Zimmer 
man, Rock Island 111., Jan. 29, 1858; L. Westergaard, Winona, Minn. 
Terr., May 24, 1858; Constans & Stevenson, St. Paul, Minn., Mch. 16, 
1858; and T Chapman, Spring Valley, Minn. Terr., May 26, and Dec. 24 
1857: My father-in-law has about 1000 bushels of oats and wheat, and so 
acres of corn, and can t sell enough to pay his taxes 


The following winter was mild, but an exceptionally wet 
spring made the roads so muddy that farmers could not get 
their grain to miller or commission merchant, and agents were 
delayed in their canvass for money and orders. 9 As late as 
mid- June some sections reported that not one half of their 
corn had been planted. 10 The hot, soggy summer brought rust 
in the wheat. Central and northern Illinois was once again a 
principal sufferer. Discouraged, debt-laden farmers listened to 
Lincoln debate with Douglas in August and September, after 
harvesting their meager crops. Probably the hope of relief 
from "the curse of the Almighty" sent many into the ranks of 
the Republican Party between 1856 and i860. 11 Conditions 
were not much better anywhere in the Northwest, except in 
southern Illinois where McCormick s representatives noted that 
men were more conservative, refused to buy unless they could 
pay cash, and had not rashly extended their holdings earlier in 
the decade. 12 

Although bad weather and pests caused crop failures in some 
localities in the Northwest during these years, the prairie 

* Ward & Waller, Portsmouth, O., to the Co., Feb. 6, 1858. L.P.C.B. No. 
12, p. 237, W. S. McCormick to T. Berry, June 7, 1858: "Some one who 
kept count says it rained 35 days last month." 

1 W. B. Silver, Sugar Valley, O., and C Wright, Vallonia, Ind., to the 
Co., June 5, 1858. L.P.C.B., No. 12, p. 327, W. S. McCormick to A. D. 
Hager, June n, 1858. 

11 Letters to the Co. of H. S. Champlin, Courtland, 111., July 12, 1858; 
I. Kirkpatrick, Freeland, 111., Oct. 19, 1858; and W. C. Leyburn, Gales- 
burg, 111., Apr. 6, May 15, 27, June 7, 17 and July 3, 1858. Frost injured 
southern grain in 1860, and the spring of that year in the Middle West 
was very dry. But the McCormicks, although they sold over 4000 ma 
chines, needed 500 or a 1000 more to fill the demand. See L.P.C.B. No. 31, 
p. 786, W. S. McCormick to J. Henry, May 9, 1860, and No. 34, passim. 

^Ibid., No. 22, p. 439, the Co. to F. W. Smith, Woodstock, 111., June 
8, 1859: "In these northern counties [of Illinois] the risk is fifty per cent 
greater in selling any machinery to the general run of customers than it is 
in the South half of the State." T. J. Walker & Co., Belleville, III, to the 
Co., Feb. 8, 1858. Southern Illinois farmers were more hesitant than others 
in putting aside hand-rake reapers for self-rakes. See L.P.C.B. No. 78, 
p. 616, the Co. to N. W. Jones, Griggsville, 111., May 9, 1865. 


farmer s inability to shake off his load of debt because of low 
prices and worthless currency was the chief reason why he 
complained that times had never been so hard since i837. 13 He 
was obliged to crave the indulgence of his creditors and take 
refuge behind the stay laws of his state. Taxes went unpaid. 
Many acres seized for their nonpayment in Tama County, 
Iowa, in the summer of 1858 were offered for sale, but not a 
one-hundredth part of them was bid in because money was so 
scarce. 14 Except for its unusually faulty spelling, the follow 
ing letter to the company is characteristic of many others : 

Sir I hant got your mony for your Reeper and it is out of my 
power to git it on a Count of the storm of hale that wee had a 
bout a month agoe it destroyed every bit of my Corn and the biger 
part of my wheat I hev a nof wheat to bread and seed mee and for 
Corn I heav too by to keep my stock over tel spring I have $150 
dollars doo mee which i alowed for to paid you out of but the 
man is in the same fix that i em my self and Cant gitit. Mr. C. h. 
McCormick ser if you plees i want you to let this fifty dollars run 
over tel nex September i shud not hev asked you to a waited if 
the storm hedent destroyed every thing that ihed. 16 

These same graingrowers wished to buy reapers and mow 
ers in order to save their crops. Very few resembled those 
described by an agent in Virginia who found that penniless 
farmers refused to take his handbills for fear lest they might 
be tempted to buy. 16 To sell was the easiest duty required 
of the agent. To avoid selling to an insolvent farmer required 
more care, and to collect after a sale was the most difficult 
task of all. McCormick was better prepared to extend credit 

18 D. R. Burt, Dunleith, 111., to the Co., Oct. 13, 1857. 

14 J. Ramsdell, Eureka, la., to the Co., July 10, 1858: I can t raise 
$50 to pay you although I have broken 100 acres of my fine farm and 
have good stock. I have my last year s wheat but can t sell it. I only owe 
$14 besides what is due you. L. Westergaard, Decatur, Wis., to the Co 
Jan. 18, 1858. 

15 G. Preston, Mazon, 111., to the Co., Sept. i, 1858. 

16 T. Berry, Cline s Mills, Va., to W. S. McCormick, Mch. 23, 1858. 


than were most of his competitors. For several years during 
this period his income from sales was scarcely equal to the 
cost of the materials needed for his next season s supply of 
machines. His agents often had so little cash in their possession 
that he was obliged to advance them money to pay the freight 
on their consignments until they could collect from the pur 
chasers. 17 By the close of 1860 the farmers of the Northwest, 
and particularly those of Illinois, owed the firm over a million 
dollars. 18 Other manufacturers were in a similar plight, and 
those who could not ride out the depression on borrowed 
capital were forced to suspend business. The elimination of 
some of his rivals by bankruptcy was one consoling aspect of 
the hard times. 19 The solid credit of Cyrus McCormick was 
his chief business asset between 1857 and 1861. 

Faith in the farmers of the Northwest led McCormick to 
continue selling them machines even when they were unable 
to pay. 20 Being a business man, however, he buttressed his 
faith with certain safe-guards. He agreed with his brother that 
the note of a good farmer was worth more than an unsold 
reaper or depreciated currency, but he insisted that his agents 
should not sell to any one to whom they would refuse to loan 

* 7 L.P.C.B. No. 29, p. 719, W. S. McCormick to N. W. Jones, Griggsville, 
111., Feb. 4, 1860: It is "the fact that we have not collected on last year s 
sales money enough to pay the manufacturer s cost on one fourth of the 
sales of the year." Ibid., No. 31, p. 316, the Co. to W. A. Polk, Oak Sta 
tion, Ind., Apr. 24, 1860: "Collections for the past winter & thus far this 
Spring have been very poor, more especially North & West of Chicago." 

18 Business Statement, dated Nov. 23. 1860, in Ibid. f No. 36, p. 857. 
Between Aug. I, 1856 and this date, $1,479,041.38 had been collected and 
$1,162,619.09 were still outstanding in farmers notes. Kansas farmers suf 
fered severely from drought in 1860 and C. H. McCormick joined with 
other Chicago citizens to send aid. "Chicago Daily Tribune," Dec. 18, 

L.P.C.B. No. 10, p. 50, the Co. to D. W. Stier, Steubenville, O., Dec. 
24, 1857. Ibid., No. 18, pp. 92-93, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. i, 

20 Ibid., No. 10, p. 360, W. McCormick to D. Williams, Jan. 20, 1858. 


their own money. 21 To drive this lesson home, they were 
obliged to wait for the greater part of their commission on 
each sale until the purchaser had paid for his machine. They 
should beware of a homesteader who had not yet acquired a 
title to his holding, and of a renter unless he could secure the 
endorsement of a substantial landowner on his reaper note. 
These rules were sometimes relaxed for the benefit of German 
and Norwegian settlers. They had a higher reputation for 
honesty and thrift than the native born, who sometimes for 
got to pay their debts before they moved to a, new steading 
or joined in the gold rush to Colorado. 22 

The clerks in the factory office believed that farmers relied 
upon Cyrus McCormick s indulgence not to sue. 23 Because of 
his distance from the delinquent debtor and the necessity of 
depending for collections upon an agent who might well be the 
friend of the purchaser, he doubtless did not press for his 
due as vigorously or successfully as did the country storekeep 
ers. He disliked to sue for debts during the spring selling sea- 

d., No. 10, p. 215, the Co. to Wm. Marshall & Son, Cordova, 111., 
Jan. n, 1858. Ibid., No. 37, pp. 129, 134, 137, the Co. to W. T. Scott, 
Bainbridge, Ind.; to J. B. Fairbank & Sons, Lincoln, 111.; and to G. C. 
Hoyt, Franklin, O., Nov. 30, 1860. 

22 M. M. McNair, Dunleith, 111., to the Co., Jan. 27, 1858. L.P.CB. No. 5, 
p. 730, the Co. to O. Ashley, Fox Lake, Wis., Mch. 23, 1857; and No. 18 
p. 33, to T. J. Walker & Co., Belleville, 111., Jan. 29, 1859: "I trust the 
Pikes Peak fun will take away many persons that may as well be spared 
from any community." For a later manifestation of the same feeling see, 
W. F. Carr, Freeport, 111., to Co., Oct. 31, 1873: "Iowa will soon be 
blessed with all our scallawags God forbid that I should ever have to live 
in that State." It is interesting to recall that Timothy Dwight sixty years 
earlier was of the same opinion about those who were leaving Conn, for the 
Old Northwest. See quotation from Dwight s "Travels," in F. J. Turner, 
"Rise of the New West" (N. Y. 1906), pp. 20-21, L.P.C.B. No. 17 p 04 
W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. i, 1859. 

23 M. Cummings, Winfield Scott Co., la., to W. Marshall & Sons, Cor 
dova, 111., Jan. 3, 1858. J. B. Fairbank, Concord, III, to the Co., Jan. 22, 
1858. L.P.C.B. No. 10, p. 439, the Co. to Patrick & Co., Urbana, O., Jan. 
25, 1858. 


son ; his agents were too busy during the summer, and in the 
autumn fanners could not be expected to have money until 
their grain was threshed and their pork sold. Even where a 
judge in these hard times was willing to entertain a suit for 
recovery of debt, a favorable verdict would bring McCormick 
only unpopularity in the debtor s neighborhood and an award 
of real or personal property which could not be turned readily 
into cash. 24 

He sued more frequently, however, during the period 1857- 
1861 than ever before. "I shall proceed to make you both 
trouble and expense if you don t pay the note at once/ is 
the warning so often found in the letters of these years. Those 
farmers who would not sell their grain or stock because of 
low prices, notwithstanding his advice to them that the market 
was bound to decline still further, were sometimes brought 
before the court to serve as a salutary example to their fellow- 
debtors. 25 Several states, of which Texas was a good example, 
enacted legislation so favorable to those who could not meet 
their obligations that it was perilous to sell there except for 
cash. 26 Homesteads were everywhere beyond the grasp of the 

24 T. J. Walker & Co., Belleville, 111., to the Co., Apr. 10, 1858. L. T. 
Ball, Keithsburg, 111., to the Co., Nov. 3, 1858. 

^ Q H. to W. S. McCormick, Nov. 13, Dec. 16, and 21, 1857: "Collec 
tions, Collections! Rogues, roughs. Are the agents going to just absorb 
everything? . . . Must you not sue a good deal. ... If we can get on with 
out taking produce of any kind, of course better. ... If men won t give 
notes & security, then it would seem they should be sued. . . . This as I 
said is now the great point in the business. It is useless to sell machines & 
get nothing for them!" 

26 L.P.C.B. No. 12, p. 538, the Co. to I. G. Porter & Co., Decatur, Wis., 
June 18, 1858: "We have yet to see what depth of infamy is yet to be 
exhibited by your Law Makers. The laws of a State clearly exhibit the 
character & moral tone of its people. . . . We believe your legislature are 
composed of a set of swindling naves & demagogs & the sooner you allow 
them to retire into private life the better it will be for the reputation of 
the people. There is one redeeming feature however, they can not pass 
ex post facto Laws or Laws affecting existing contracts." 1933 was still in 
the future ! A. Z. Rumsey, Houston, Texas, to the Co., Dec. 29, 1857. 


creditor, as well as an amount of personal property varying 
in value from state to state. 

The manufacturer was obliged to choose his customers with 
a good deal of care. An attractive discount was offered for 
cash, but even in the best of times very few reapers could be 
sold unless credit were extended to the purchaser. Those who 
were unquestionably honest and able to buy, were sometimes 
allowed two years in which to pay for their reaper. 27 Where 
competition was keen and there was likelihood that the season 
would close before all machines had been sold, agents were 
authorized to disregard the printed price list, if necessary, 
in order to dispose of their stock. 28 McCormick usually de 
manded cash on delivery equal to about one-third of the price 
of the implement. On the balance due after the first pay 
ment, he required that six per cent interest should be paid, 
and if the notes were not met on time and the usury laws of a 
state allowed it, they were renewed at ten per cent secured by 
a mortgage on the farm or personal property. Since his finan 
cial standing generally enabled him to borrow at six per cent 
or seven per cent in New York, 29 the money owed to him by 
farmers represented a fair investment, although it might have 

37L.P.C.B. No. 6, p. 102, the Co. to John Ott, Rockville, IndL, Apr. 7, 
1857; and No. 30, p. 78, the Co. to Fiske & Eliot, Iowa City, la., Feb. n, 
1860 : "As times are, it will hardly answer to take a report for the solvency 
of any man, and we trust that . . . [you] in all cases probe to the bottom." 

**Ibid. f No. 22, p. 43, the Co. to W. H. B. Warren, Wabash, Ind., May 
27, 1859; and No. 19, pp. 469, 595, the Co. to M. M. McNair, Madison, 
Wis., Apr. 18, 1859, and to S. Brandt, New Guilford, Pa., Apr. 22, 1859. 
Variations from the list prices were particularly numerous in 1859 because 
of the "unusual and discouraging times." 

29 As a rule, farmers were obliged to pay more than 10% for a loan. 
Sixty per cent a year (one report says 200%) was not uncommon in 
Minnesota. McCormick was sometimes willing to agree that if a farmer 
bought a reaper and his crop failed, he need not pay interest on his note for 
the first year. Ibid., No. 31, p. 829, W. S. McCormick to T. J. Massie, 
Lovingston, Va., May 10, 1860. 


been used much more profitably for speculations in Chicago 
real estate. 30 

When a machine was sold by mistake to "a hard case" and 
McCormick had the alternative of losing the entire amount 
of the sale or of taking depreciated bank-notes which would 
not pass current in Chicago, he of course received the "wild 
cat" or "stump tail/ 7 as they were known, and authorized his 
agent either to loan them out at two per cent a month to a 
farmer or to use them for the purchase of grain or stock. 
The horses and buggies that were often supplied to the general 
agents to aid them in canvassing were sometimes secured in 
this way. 31 By 1858 the McCormicks organized and financed 
the commission house of C. H. McCormick & Co. of Chicago 
for their brother-in-law, Hugh Adams, and this company 
handled these commodities as well as other payments in kind 
that were made for machines. 32 But between 1856 and 1861, 
prices of agricultural products were usually declining and the 
factory office refused to accept wheat or cattle except as a last 
resort. 33 

Because country banks were unsafe, McCormick s agents 
often held large sums of his money in their possession until 
exchange rates were favorable or until they could come to 

s Ibid. f No. 5, p. 824; No. 6, p. 304, W. S. to, C. H. McCormick, Mch. 
27, and Apr. 16, 1857. 

^Ibid., No. 5, p. 561; No. 6, p. 112, W. S, to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 
14, and Apr. 7, 1857. Short-term loans in Chicago at this time were often 
made at 2% a month interest. Ibid., No. 32, p. 385, the Co. to H. E. Griffin, 
Zanesville, 0., May 28, 1860; No. 31, pp. 334, 409, the Co. to L. Perkins, 
Tiskilwa, 111., Apr. 24, 1860. 

82 /&W., No. 6, p. 304, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 16, 1857; No. 8, 
PP. 534, 654, W. S. McCormick to Hugh Adams, Aug. 21, 1857 ; to J. B. 
McCormick, Sept. 5, 1857 ; C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Sept. 12, 1857. 

83 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Oct. 7, 1857; Oct. 30, and Nov. 30, 1858. 
L.P.C.B. No. 30, p. 787, the Co. to W. C. Leyburn, Galesburg, 111., Mch. 9, 
1860: You may take shelled corn on reaper notes at an exchange rate that 
will permit it to be delivered in Chicago at not over 45 tf a bus. 


Chicago to settle their accounts. Most of them were engaged in 
other businesses and they were watched carefully by his 
traveling representatives to see that they resisted the tempta 
tion to use his funds for their own purposes. 34 There were 
few defalcations, but to such districts as the one centering 
at Cordova, Illinois, where the agent held nearly $200,000 
in unpaid notes, it was necessary to despatch a man from the 
factory to guard its interests. 35 

Competition increased from year to year, and honest agents 
with mechanical skill and persuasive tongues were at a pre 
mium among reaper manufacturers. High-pressure methods of 
salesmanship, aided by brightly colored posters from the home 
office, probably led many farmers to buy who could not use 
a machine with profit. 36 It may be doubted whether a land 
owner with two or three in his family to help him, and with 
less than thirty-five acres of grain, could cut his crop as 
inexpensively with a reaper as with cradle-scythes. Horse- 
drawn harvesting implements worked to the advantage of the 
man with a large farm, and small holders were the more ready 
to increase their acreage because they were available for their 

The troublous times in the Northwest in the late 1 850*5 led 
Cyrus McCormick to give more attention than ever before 
to the East and South as a selling field. 37 For a dozen years his 

34 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, May 21, and Sept. i, 1857. In view of the 
weakened condition of many banks, he believed it would probably be safer to 
leave in the hands of farmers all monies due, rather than to let the agents 

35 L.P.C.B. No. n, p. 3, W. S. McCormick to T. J. Paterson, Rochester, 
N. Y., Mch. 4, 1858, and in No. 15, p. 69, to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 29, 

36 The first advertising pamphlet of C. H. McCormick was issued in the 
harvest of 1859. He had earlier prepared several of them for distribution at 
fairs abroad. 

37 Ibid., No. 22, p. 618, the Co. to W. S. McCormick, June 13, 1859. 
Compared with the other states of the Middle West, except Michigan, Ohio 
was always a poor sales territory for McCormick machines. This was 


cousin, J. B. McCormick, had canvassed Missouri, Kentucky, 
and Tennessee in the interest of the reaper, but now for the 
sake of efficiency he was obliged, over his protest, to be satis 
fied with a smaller territory. He established a commission 
business in St. Louis, and was allowed to sell his kinsman s 
machines in a small district around that city. He asked too 
large a fee for forwarding the implements to purchasers 
further down the Mississippi, and Cyrus McCormick soon put 
that business in the charge of agents at Cairo, Louisville, 
Nashville, and New Orleans. 38 Reports from the South in 
dicated that planters were placing greater emphasis upon the 
culture of wheat and oats, but farms in the areas best fitted 
for the growth of these cereals were too often dotted with 
stumps. Nor could reapers operate in a grain-field where a 
planter had neglected to pull up the tough stalks of his last 
season s cotton plants. 39 

Agents whose homes were in the Old Northwest felt that 
they were in a foreign land as soon as they crossed the south 
ern border of Kentucky or Mason and Dixon s line. A new 
selling technique was necessary there. Suspicion of all "Yankee 
wares" was met everywhere. "The very name of Chicago in 
some parts of the South is like presenting cold water in a 
case of Hydrophobia. It is considered as a den of negroe [sic] 

largely due to the many large reaper factories there by 1858. Ibid., No. 29, 
pp. 10, 41, 46, the Co. to W. W. Campbell, Hopkinsville, Ky., Jan. 6, 1860; 
R. H. Powell, Lewisburg, Tenn., and to Cable & Co., Shelbyville, Tenn., 
Jan. 7, 1860. 

**Ibid. f No. 15, p. 759; No. 17, pp. 86 and 689, W. S. to C H. Mc 
Cormick, Dec. 21, 1858, Jan. 4 and 21, 1859. Ibid., No. 20, p. 58, the Co. to 
Northup & Rowland, St. Louis, Mch. 5, 1859; No. 20, pp. 60, 142, W. S. to 
J. B. McCormick, Mch. 5 and 8, 1859. By 1863, J. B. McCormick s selling 
territory was confined to St. Louis and St. Charles Cy., Mo. See Ibid., No. 
56, p. 424, the Co. to F. R. Baker, St. Louis, Jan. 24, 1863. 

39 J. Stuart, Summerville, Ga., to the Co., Sept. 9, 1856; Feb. 16, and 
May 15, 1857. F. R. Marshall, Natchez, Miss., to C. H. McCormick, May 
5 and July 27, 1857. J. B. McCormick, St. Louis, to W. S. McCormick, 
Apr. 8, 1858. 


thieves." 40 Enticing posters and glib sales talk repelled the 
planter because they reminded him of his northern creditor, 
or at least of hard business efficiency out of tune with his way 
of life. Leisurely conversation over a glass of apple-jack some 
times effected a sale, if the agent did not insult his prospect 
by presenting him with a "judgment note" to sign, or ask 
him to vary his usual practice of settling his accounts once a 
year. 41 For these reasons Miller, Wingate & Co., a firm 
manufacturing reapers and mowers at Louisville, which was 
deemed to be a southern city, had a large advantage in the 
planter trade. The agents of McCormick, however, stressed 
the southern birth of the inventor of the "Virginia Reaper" 
to their patrons, and the factory office sent copies of the 
"Chicago Times" and Dr. Rice s "Presbyterian Expositor" to 
remind the planters that their employer was "right" on the 
slavery question. 42 

Prejudice was not so sharp in Texas, and McCormick en 
joyed a brisk trade there by the opening of the Civil War. 
Agents ordering machines from the forwarding house of 
Graham & Boyle of New Orleans supplied customers in the 
Red River Valley and the country about Houston, Dallas, and 

40 J. B. to W. S. McCormick from Versailles, Ky., May 24, 1858. Cor 
nelius Aultman vs Henry C. Holley and Edwin H. Fitts, in Equity, United 
States Circuit Court, in and for the Southern District of New York (N. Y. 
1870), p. 417. Hereafter cited as Aultman vs Holley and Fitts. 

41 A "judgment note" was appended to the reaper order blank and ex 
pressed the willingness of the purchaser to be sued by the company in case 
he did not pay his note when due. J. T. Griffin from Nashville and Knox- 
ville, Tenn., to W. S. McCormick, Dec. 13, and 17, 1858. Townes, Orgill & 
Co., Memphis, to the Co., May 26, 1858. J. B. McCormick, Versailles, Ky., 
to W. S. McCormick, Apr. 5, 1858. 

42 L.P.C.B. No. 30, pp. 108, 677, 786, the Co. to T. Berry, Staunton, Va., 
Feb. 13, 1860 ; and to W. A. Braxton and J. Henry, both of Va., Mch. 3, 
1860: "Our latitude may be a drawback & I send you some numbers of 
Dr. Rice s paper which you can refer to. We don t hesitate to make war 
here upon Abolitionism." Ibid., No. 37, p. 672, the Co. to E. A. McNair, 
Clarksville, Tenn., Dec. 21, 1860. 


Fort Worth. 43 State laws for the protection of debtors com 
pelled McCormick to demand upon delivery a large down pay 
ment. Inadequate transportation facilities away from the 
navigable streams was another principal drawback to trade 
in Texas. Machines were sometimes freighted as much as 
two hundred miles by ox-team. 44 The amount of business done 
by McCormick in the South did not come up to his expecta 
tions. The border states suffered from the depression and 
wheat there was severely damaged by late frosts in i86o. 45 

Ever since McCormick moved to Chicago in 1847, he had 
endeavored with slight success to build up a market in the 
middle states of the eastern seaboard. High freight charges, 
late deliveries, inability in some seasons to supply the demand 
of the Middle West, and the development of a machine that 
was better adapted to the level prairies than to hillside farms, 
are some of the reasons why he had not realized his hopes. 46 
Between 1856 and 1861, he advertised to sell for Chicago 
prices at Philadelphia and Baltimore. Since the rough finish 
and the weight of his reapers displeased both agents and farm 
ers, he improved their appearance with blue or brown paint, 

43 Reapers were carried by steamboat from Cairo to New Orleans for 
$5.00. This included the Cairo transfer charge of $1.00. Ibid., No. 20, pp. 
178, 251, 385, the Co. to N. W. Graham & Co., Cairo, Mch. 9, 1859, and to 
I. McKay, Ferguson, Texas, Mch. u, and 17, 1859; No. 26, p. 506, to 
B. W. Musgrove, Bright Star, Texas, Dec. 21, 1859: "I now regard Texas 
as one of the most inviting fields which I can occupy and am naturally 
anxious for a more extended introduction." 

44 A. K. Ellet, Clarksville, Texas, to the Co., July 24, 1856. A. Z. Rumsey, 
Westfield, Texas to the Co., Oct. 22, 1857. 

45 L.P.C.B. No. 26, p. 441 and passim, letters of the spring of 1860; No. 
30, pp. 736, 743, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, Mch. 7, 1860; No. 30, p. 147, 
the Co. to Robins & Brogham, White Oak, Term., Feb. 14, 1860. 

4Q Ibid., No. 20, pp. 52, 155, the Co. to Gen l. Fght. Agts. of the Fort 
Wayne RR., Mch. 4, 1859, and of the Pa. Central RR., Mch. 8, 1859. By 
1860, thanks to the increase of rwy. competition, McCormick could ship a 
reaper to Balto. for about $6.00 freight. The cost had been nearly $17.00 in 
1854. Ibid., No. 41, p. 692, the Co. to G. Walker, Shoreham, Vt, May 16, 


and built a light two-horse machine for small landowners who 
were not prepared to use his standard four-horse type. 47 Most 
important of all, his two brothers, aided by his suggestions, 
developed an excellent mower by i86o. 48 A succession of poor 
crop years in the Middle States, and the preference of grain- 
growers for implements manufactured near their own homes, 
were barriers to eastern sales which McCormick could not 
surmount. At all times the factory office viewed the Atlantic 
seaboard principally as an outlet for surplus machines. 49 

By good fortune, a considerable trade with California and 
Oregon was opened up during these years, and reapers and 
mowers unsold in the East were collected at New York or 
Boston for transfer in clipper-ships around Cape Horn to San 
Francisco. The "Golden Fleece" and the "Westward Ho" 
sometimes returned with letters from far-western consignees 
protesting that they had been sent damaged second-hand ma 
chines "dating as far back as 1850." This was not news to 
McCormick, for he had designed the Pacific Coast trade to 
serve as a market for outmoded reapers. For three years fol 
lowing 1860, California was said to be overstocked with agri 
cultural machinery and shipments thither virtually ceased. Be 
ginning in 1865, Oregon supplanted California for a few years 
as the best sales territory in the Far West. 50 

47 Ibid., No. 19, pp. 5, ii, W. S. McCormick to J. T. Griffin, and to G. A. 
Walker, Portsmouth, CX, Apr. 5, 1859. The two-horse machine cut a 5^2-foot 
swath and was priced @ $140, and the four-house @ $155. 

48 L.P.C.B. No. 16, p. 83, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 8, 1858 ; and 
in No. 19, pp. 263, 550, to J. B. McCormick, Apr 13 and 21, 1859. W. S. to 
|C. H. McCormick, June 27, and July 6, 1859. 

49 Treadwell & Co. of Boston purchased reapers @ $153 each for sale in 
California. This firm bought about 125 McCormick machines a year between 
1859 and 1861. L.P.C.B. No. 24, pp. 46, 47; No. 33, p. 64; the Co. to 
Treadwell & Co., Oct. 12, 1859 and July 24, 1860. 

50 R. T. Elkinton, Phila., Pa., to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 26, and Dec. i, 
1856 ; L.P.C.B. No. 64, p. 227, the Co. to O. Ames & Son, Boston, Sept. 10, 
1863; No. 65, p. 545, to Wakeman, Dimon & Co., N. Y., Nov. 10, 1863; 
No. 85, pp. 52-54, to Knapp, Burrall & Co., Portland, Ore., Oct. 18, 1865. 


Skies brightened somewhat for the grain-grower during 
1860. For the first time in several years there was a brisk 
foreign demand for wheat, and about one-third of the total 
crop was sent abroad. 51 McCormick s supply of reapers and 
mowers was again too small, but western currency was still 
unsound, and the prairie farmer did not give expression to 
his reviving optimism by paying his reaper notes. "Times very 
hard in the western cities & country," commented William S. 
McCormick in May of that year, "everything flat. We have to 
sell on long time to a great extent & it will take good crops 
to bring us out. Rents here [Chicago] are down but our cities 
are "built & our railroads are made & though the majority of 
those who built them may have to give up to others, the whole 
country must ultimately derive great benefit therefrom & this 
must be a great country." 52 This is a good example of the 
spirit to which Chicagoans credit the surprising growth of 
their city. 

Doubt replaced hope as the year grew older. Ten thousand 
printed dunning letters, each accompanied by a stamped return- 
envelop as a new departure in business practice, failed to in 
duce many farmers to pay their debts. 53 The election of 
Lincoln, the secession of South Carolina, and a short-lived 
money panic in the North, made "the times . . . look rather 
gloomy " to the McCormicks. The factory, however, was going 
full blast in an effort to build five thousand machines for 

51 The wheat crop of the United States in 1860 was 173,104,924 bus. 
Estimating a barrel of flour as equivalent to six bushels of grain, the export 
of wheat between June 30, 1860, and June 30, 1861, was equal to about 1/3 
of the crop. In how far this export total included wheat held over from 
previous harvests is not clear. 1/5, 1/4, 1/5, i/ioth of the crops of 1855 to 
1858, respectively, had been exported during the fiscal year following each 
of these harvests. 

52 Ibid., No. 31, p. 786, W. S. McCormick to J. Henry. May 9, 1860. 

53 Ibid., No. 45, p. 14, the Co. to W. H. Warren, Mar shall ville, O., Aug. 
17, 1861. By the close of the harvest of 1861, over 20,000 farmers owed 
money to McCormick. 


the harvest of i86i. 54 William S. McCormick hesitated to 
believe that the Union would be broken or that war would 
follow a failure to reach a compromise. 55 

No matter how earnestly the company sought to keep politics 
and business distinct, Cyrus McCormick s active role in the 
campaign of 1860 and the crisis which followed, obliged the 
men in his factory office for a time to ride two horses going 
full speed in opposite directions. Before the bombardment of 
Fort Sumter, it was good business, as well as the truth, to 
remind salesmen in Virginia that "our heart still yields al 
legiance to the Old Dominion and we claim a place as the 
representatives of your interests." 56 Agents in the North were 
assured that the Confederate flag did not fly over the Chicago 
factory, that its owner opposed secession, and would stand 
by the "Stars and Stripes/ first, last, and all the time. 57 

54 Ibid., No. 36, p. 749, the Co. to G. H. Cook & Co., New Haven, Conn., 
Nov. 13, 1860 ; No. 38, p. 557, W. S. McCormick to T. H. Silvez, Newark, 
N. J., Jan. 30, 1861. W. S. McCormick wished to send Silvez as an agent to 
Va., but first of all demanded assurance that his political views would be 
acceptable to his clientele. 

55 Ibid. f No. 40, pp. 83, 117, 313, the Co. to S. M. Swenson, Austin, Texas, 
Mch. 21, 1861; to Magraw & Koons, Balto., Mch. 22, and to W. Ward, 
Varis Valley, Ga., Mch. 29, 1861; No. 41, p. 25, the Co. to R. B. Norwall, 
Hunts ville, Ga., Apr. 17, 1861, and p. 146, to A. Chapman, New York City, 
Apr. 23, 1861. In mid-March, sixteen reapers were shipped to Texas, and a 
car-load to Balto. for sale in Virginia. At this time the Co. was still ready 
to grant credit to southern buyers, but cash was required after the fall of 
Fort Sumter. 

5Q Ibid., No. 37 (Nov. 1860- Jan. 1861) passim; No. 38, pp. 22, 164, the 
Co. to Tipton & Alvord, Lexington, Ky., Jan. 3, 1861, and to P. W. Mar- 
garen, New Providence, Tenn., Jan. 9, 1861; No. 40, p. 497, the Co. to J. 
McCormick, Augusta, Ga., Apr. 3, 1861. 

57 Ibid., No. 39, p. 205, the Co. to E. Healy, Earlville, la., Feb. 25, 1861 : 
"All our interests are with the Union, not a part but the whole." Ibid., 
No. 41, p. 771, the Co. to J. Rodermel, Freeport, 111., May 18, 1861 : "We 
wish you to bear in mind that the Times office & the Reaper office are 
separate and distinct" Ibid. f No. 42, p. 615, the Co. to J. Hoffman, Crown 
Point, Ind., June 10, 1861. Rival agents were telling farmers that the 
McCormicks were disloyal. 


Because of plans carefully laid and the fine outlook of crops 
everywhere in 1861, the firm was loath to abandon its southern 
market. 58 By April, unpaid reaper-notes and unsold machines 
stored in the South represented a property value of at least 
$75,000, and steps were taken to realize upon these before it 
was too late. 59 In fact, for six weeks after Sumter the Mc- 
Cormicks were ready to sell to planters for cash even as far 
south as Georgia. They sought in vain to .evade the Virginia 
blockade by freighting reapers in wagons through Harpers 
Ferry into the Valley. Machines were concentrated at Cairo 
and Cincinnati to ship to Arkansas and Tennessee if oppor 
tunity should offer. 60 Fully aware of the immediate seriousness 
of the situation, as southern agents resigned one by one, they 
refused for long to believe that a northern army would invade 
the South, or that business could not go on as usual by 1862, 
either with a restored Union or with the new Confederacy. 61 
When it was clear that no shipments could be made south 
of the line in 1861, special agents were sent into Virginia 
and Tennessee, not to collect or to sell, since notes of Con 
federate banks were virtually worthless in the North, but to 
secure the promissory notes of old purchasers, pledging pay- 

58 Ibid. , No. 40, p. 31, the Co. to N. P. Thomas, Bowling Green, Tenn., 
Mch. 19, 1861 : "Providence seems to be lavishing blessings on all sections of 
the country alike to teach us our common brotherhood, and we hope we may 
not be slow to learn this great truth." 

59 This comprised about $35,000 in Va., $35,000 in Texas, and $5,000 else 
where in the South. There were about 200 machines unaccounted for. Ibid., 
No. 40, pp. 784, 811, the Co. to J. J. McBride, New Orleans, Apr. 15, 1861, 
and to J. McKay, Farmington, Texas, Apr. 15, 1861 ; No. 41, p. 465, to 
S. S. Sykes, Jackson, Tenn., May 9, 1861 ; No. 42, p. 10, W. S. McCormick 
to W. T. Rush, Staunton, Va., May 22, 1861. 

Ibid. f No. 41, pp. 251, 793, the Co. to W. Cartmell, Nashville, Tenn., 
Apr. 25, 1861, and to Magraw & Koons, Balto., May 20, 1861 ; No. 42, pp. 
262, 483, to M. W. Forney, Balto., May 29, and June 5, 1861. 

Q ^Ibid. r No. 41, p. 370, the Co. to Pennywit, Scott & Co., Van Buren, 
Ark., May 3, 1861; No. 46, p. 88, to P. Mohan, Louisville, Ky., Oct. 3, 


ment when the crisis was past. 62 Long after the organization 
of the Confederacy was completed, mail was received by the 
company from many parts of the South, forwarded by special 
arrangement from commission house to commission house, and 
finally across the Ohio River at Louisville. 63 

The year 1861 was near its close before the McCormicks 
were convinced that watchful waiting could be their only 
policy. Southern patriots paid their northern debts into the 
Confederate treasury and unsold reapers were confiscated as 
contraband of war. 64 Throughout the conflict McCormicks 
agents, in company with canvassers for other northern fac 
tories, were camp-followers of every Union Army which 
tapped the grain lands of the Confederacy. 65 The company 
quickly made up for the loss of its southern market by keeping 
step with the railroads and steamboat lines as they pushed 
farther and farther into the North and West. MacGregor, 

62 Ibid., No. 41, pp. 440, 769, the Co. to E. A. McNair, Haydensville, Ky., 
May 8, and to W. Cartmell, Lebanon, Tenn., May 18, 1861 ; No. 42, p. 721, 
Co. to M. W. Forney, Balto., June 13, 1861 : We wish to send an envoy to 
Va. to collect all reaper notes held by our agents. We don t fear that the 
planters will not eventually pay us, but we worry lest our agents defraud us 
in the South. 

es The U. S. postal service in the South was officially suspended on May 
31, 1861. After that time, some of the business houses which relayed letters 
were Graham & Boyle, New Orleans, Fisher, Wheeless & Co., Nashville, 
and Moore, Wheeler & Robinson of Louisville. Ibid., No. 55, p. 632, the Co. 
to P. Mohan, Louisville, Ky., Dec. 22, 1862; Mary Ann McCormick to 
Nettie F. McCormick, Feb. 17, 1863; #P. Calhoun, Houma, Terre Bonne 
Pas, La., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 6, 1865. 

6 ^L.P.CB. No. 44, p. 815, the Co. to M. W. Forney, Balto., Aug. 13, 
1861 ; No. S3, p. 688, to L. Farrell, Port Tobacco, Md., Nov. 13, 1862. 

65 Ibid., No. 47, pp. 260, 768, the Co. to Spear Bros., Balto., Md., Mch. 27, 
1862, and to Magraw & Koons, Balto., Apr. 18, 1862; No. 57, p. 440, to 
J. N. Keller, Elm Grove, Va., Mch. 3, 1863; No. 65, p. 431, to P. Mohan, 
Louisville, Ky., Nov. 4, 1*863; No. 66, p. 383, to W. Cartmell, Gallatin, 
Tenn., Jan. 25, 1864. Civil War in Mo. hindered sales there during much of 
the war, but it was deemed safe to sell north of the Missouri River in that 
State by 1863. Except for a brief period in 1861, Ky. was a good market for 
machines during the entire conflict since money was unusually plentiful 


Iowa, St. Joseph, Missouri, and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 
were important distributing points for this trade. 66 

Meanwhile, in the spring of 1861, the McCormicks looked 
forward without confidence to the northern harvest. Over five 
thousand machines were almost finished and the excellent 
crop outlook signified a brisk demand. But the farmers, car 
ried away by the first war excitement, seemed to forget that 
their grain was ripening for the reaper. Orders came in with 
unprecedented slowness. 67 By May, which was ordinarily the 
height of the selling season, agents were resigning without 
warning in order to enlist, western bank-notes reached a new 
"low," and farm produce showed no sign of advancing in 
price. 68 So desperate did the situation become, that the firm 
ordered its representatives to dispose of machines on almost 
any terms and devote their principal attention to collecting or 
securing old debts. Hardly had these instructions gone out, 
than with bewildering suddenness the spell cast by Sumter was 
broken and orders poured in upon the company as never 
before. By late June angry farmers were told that McCorm- 
ick s supply of reapers and mowers was exhausted, and agents 
were ordered to sell only for cash. After the harvest was over 

66 Sales in Kansas and Minnesota particularly increased, and a beginning 
was made in Nebraska Terr. In 1863, 170 machines were sold in Kansas and 
Nebraska, but they were too few to meet the demand. In 1864 a special 
circular was printed in three languages for the Minnesota trade. Ibid., 
No. 37, p. 302, the Co. to E. S. Hawley, Nebraska City, Neb., Dec. 6, 1860; 
No. 47, p. 43, to I. C. Hoagland, St. Joseph, Mo., Mch. 15, 1862; No. 60, 
p. 202, to Grant & Prest, Leavenworth, Kan., May 22, 1863. J. O. Henning, 
Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to the Co., Sept. 22, and Dec. 3, 1864. Kansas was 
an excellent market for mowers since farmers there produced much hay for 
sale to the government. 

67 So little money was collected from farmers in the early summer of 
1861, that the McCormicks for three weeks were unable to pay their factory 
hands. See letters in Ibid., No. 41, pp. 145, 244; No. 42, pp. 322, 421; No. 
43, pp. 6 10, 640, 805. 

68 #W. S. to C. H. McCormick, May 2, 1861. See Co. letters in L.P.C.B. 
No. 41, pp. 171, 774; No. 42, pp. 40, 470, 605; No. 43, P. 792 J No. 44, p. 
704, covering the months May-Aug., 1861. Because of low prices, some 
wheat-fields in Iowa were left to the hogs. 


the firm estimated that two thousand more machines could 
have been disposed of for ready money if they had been 
available. 69 The currency situation in the Northwest improved 
by late summer and record quantities of grain began to move 
toward the seaboard as prices tended upward. 70 

In the late autumn, fear that a blockade by and war with 
England would result from the Trent Affair, momentarily de 
pressed the price of wheat. In general, however,, farmers dur 
ing the Civil War had much reason to be happy. The Mc- 
Cormicks oversold about five hundred machines in the harvest 
of 1862. Shortage of flat cars and the inability of the factory 
to keep pace with the call for reapers, obliged them to insist 
that a farmer upon signing an order blank should waive his 
right to sue for breach of contract in case the machine could 
not be delivered in time for harvest. 71 Extremely low water 
in the Mississippi River and raids by Confederates in the 
border states, combined to lose sales for the McCormicks in 
the summer of i863. 72 Drought and poor crops in parts of the 

69 The rush of orders began in late May. W. S. wrote to C. H. Mc 
Cormick on June 26 : "The demand for machines beats all" 

70 L.P.CB. No. 42, p. 521, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, June 6, 1861 : "Our 
prospects are good for large sales but whether we will ever collect or not 
I can t tell. Stump tail is the order of the day & I suppose no tail at all 
will come next." But on Oct 8, 1861, he could write (No. 46, p. 204) : 
"Grain is coming into Chicago beyond all account, and wheat is bringing a 
still better price. Most of my agents are beginning to send money quite 
freely." The change from doubt to optimism in regard to the currency is 
first noticeable in the letters of late Aug., but the low price of pork and 
grain was believed to be hindering collections as late as the new year. 

71 On the expected effect of the Trent Affair on the reaper business, see 
letters of W. S. McCormick during the last week of Dec., 1861, in ibid., 
No. 54, pp. 124, 293. L.P.C.B. No. 48, p. 205, the Co. to T. Thomson, 
National, la., May i, 1862; No. 50, pp. 188, 219, to J. L. Briggs, Geneseo, 
111., and to L. Perkins, Tiskilwa, 111., June 17, 1862. 

72 Ibid., No. 6 1, p. 346, the Co. to Grant & Prest, Leaven worth, Kan., June 
18, 1863. The Co. had reduced its output by 20% in this harvest through 
fear of depreciated currency and Confederate raids into the border states. 
No. 64, p. 567, the Co. to C. Etheridge, Hastings, Minn., Sept. 26, 1863. 
The weather during the winter of 1862-1863 was very mild. 


Middle West left them with a surplus of two thousand ma 
chines at the close of the next harvest. 73 Due, also, to a widen 
ing market and the depreciation of the currency, wheat grad 
ually rose in price to $2.25 a bushel in Chicago by July, 1864, 
although it sharply dropped to $1.18 by the following May. 74 
The unwillingness of farmers to buy machines in 1865 was 
caused by their uncertainty concerning the effect of the war s 
close upon prices, and the unusually wet summer which made 
many grain-fields so muddy that reapers could not be em 
ployed. 75 

At no previous time in its history did the firm select its 
salesmen and the purchasers of its reapers with more care. 
Canvassers were required to post a $3,000 bond, and William 
S. McCormick often complained of the "moral slackness" and 
degeneracy of the times. Hundreds of orders were rejected 
every season because, in the judgment of the general agent 
or the factory office, they were given by farmers who could 
not be relied upon to pay their debts. A landowner of known 
probity and too old to go to war was the ideal client. Al 
though, by early 1865, "farmers [were] . . . generally out of 
debt & there . . . [was] less danger of losing by them than 
at most any former period/ 7Q the great majority of machines 
were still sold on credit. Collections were deemed to be excel 
lent during the war, but "excellent" was a highly relative 
term, and meant that about sixty-five per cent of the reaper 
notes were paid when they were due. 77 In the spring of 1863 
there was still a million dollars worth of paper outstanding, 

73 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 13, 1865. 

74 According to Boyle s study, op. cit. t the $2.25 price was due in part to a 
wheat corner. Catalog of C. H. McCormick Bros., 1864, p. 2. 

75 L.P.C.B. No. 81, p. 288, the Co. to J. B. McCormick, St. Louis, June 
20, 1865: "We never saw such apathy among buyers and bewilderment as 
to plans among agents." 

76 SC. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 2, 1865. 

77 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, July 19, 1863; L.P.CB. No. 67, pp. 491- 
492, the Co. to Bass & Elmendorf, McGregor, la., Mch. n, 1864. 


and about $775,000 at the close of the next year. As for the 
currency situation, the company office could write as late as 
April, 1864: "The banks of this city reject all banknotes of 
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan. Also notes of 
Ohio & Indiana except the issue of State Banks of those States. 
It will be well to confine collections as much as possible to 
Treasury Notes & National Bank Bills as all other currency 
is being gradually superseded here by them." 78 Up to the 
autumn of 1863, William S. McCormick was often of the 
opinion that the uncertainties of the times" made advisable 
a suspension of manufacturing until the close of the war. 79 

Lumber more than doubled and pig-iron and coal almost 
tripled in price between 1861 and the summer of i864. 80 
Good mechanics and iron-finishers were hard to find, wages 
mounted, and the company officials found it difficult to com 
pete with the free whiskey dispensed by the recruiting stations 
and the lure of Canada when a draft was to be drawn. 81 Firms 
were obliged to bid against the government for the services 
of mechanics. Apparently the country was being industrialized 

78 Ibid., No. 68, p. 814, the Co. to L. G. Dudley, Apr. 20, 1864. 

79 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 19, and Nov. 9, 1862. The Democratic 
victories in the by-elections of this autumn appear to have been chiefly 
responsible for his change from gloom to hope. 

so The Co. purchased 3 inc. ash plank for $12.50 per M. in Sept., 1860, $28 
in Dec., 1863, $30 in Feb., 1864, and $26 in Aug. 1865. Pig-iron was $20 a 
ton in Aug., 1861, $29 in May, 1862, $45 in Apr., 1863, $48 in Feb., 1864, 
and $55 in Oct., 1865. Coal was purchased for $3.45 a ton in Aug., 1861, 
$5.73 in Sept., 1862, $6.00 in June, 1863, $7-58 in Oct., 1863, $9 in July, 1864, 
and at about the same price one year later. Ibid., No. 45-No. 75, passim. 

**Ibid., No. 49, P- 866, the Co. to W. S. McCormick, Aug. 21, 1862; No. 
61, pp. 691, 715, to E. Brinckman, Cassville, Wis., June 26, 1863, and to W. C 
Stacey, Sigel, la., June 27, 1863; No. 73, pp. 477-479, to E. A. McNair, 
Davenport, la., July 19, 1864. W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 28, 1862, 
Apr. 8, and June 7, 1863 ; L. J. to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 7, Nov. 22 and 
Dec. 6, 1863. In Aug., 1862, the Co. paid unskilled factory hands $1.25 a 
day, and stevedores 40 $ an hour. Fifteen months later, ordinary laborers 
received $1.50 a day, carpenters $2.00, and moulders doing piecework were 
making between $2.75 and $5 a day. 


too rapidly for skilled labor to keep tip with the demand. For 
the first time in the history of the McCormick Company, 
unions and strikes find mention in its correspondence. "Green 
and obstreperous hands were blamed for mistakes in machine 
construction and for the costly delay in finishing the supply 
of reapers and mowers in 1863. "We may incidentally men 
tion/* wrote an office scribe in April, 1864, "our moulders 
are going on their fourth Strike for an advance of wages 
since last fall. They now want 25% more!!! Manufacturers 
will have to shut up Shop if things go much farther in this 
line." 82 Even the clerks were restless and several scorned 
to work for $1,000 or $1,500 a year while speculative ventures 
invited a much larger return. If an experienced agent were 
drafted, the company paid one-half or more of the hire of a 
substitute. Income taxes and taxes on raw materials were 
heavy, and by 1863 the national government also required five 
per cent of the gross sales money, with no deduction allowed 
when farmers failed to complete payments for their reapers. 83 
High transportation charges on agricultural implements 

2 L.P.CB. No. 68, p. 568, the Co. to G. Monser, Wenona, 111., Apr. II, 
1864. Wages probably did not advance as rapidly as prices, and this was due 
in part to the introduction of cheap foreign labor by such concerns as the 
United States Land and Immigration Co. of No. 7 Broadway, New York 
City. Chicago manufacturers using iron, including W. S. McCormick, met 
on Mch. 14, 1863, and resolved that they would not pay moulders over $2.00 
a day. "Chicago Daily Tribune," Mch. 15 and May 31, 1863. Mary Ann 
McCormick wrote to Nettie F., on Oct. 21-22, 1863 : "The prices of every 
thing is so high, & increasing all the time, that I don t see how it can hold 
out so. The poor must do without many of the necessaries of life." 

83 D. M. Osborne, from Phila., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 12, 1862; W. S. 
to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 22, 1863. L.P.C.B. No. 47, PP- 232, 259, 300, 
376, 637, the Co. letters of Mch. and Apr. 1862; No. 71, p. 756, the Co. 
to W. R. Selleck, Milwaukee, Jan. 2, 1864; No. 69, Pp. 183, 351, 498, 523, 
the Co. to T. R. Robinson, Wauseon, O,, Apr. 28, 1864, and to C. Wellman, 
Defiance, O., May 4, 1864; No. 75, P- M3, the Co. to N. M. Lester, Elm- 
wood, 111., Oct. 4, 1864. By 1865 the federal tax was 6% upon manufacturing 
and 6% upon each sale. Ibid., No. 86, p. 435, the Co. to N. Hornaday, West 
Elkton, O., Dec. 21, 1865. 


were a grievance of farmers and manufacturers alike from 
the time that railroads and reapers first came to the Middle 
West. With the closing of the Mississippi River by the Con 
federate Army, railroad freight rates greatly increased on 
grain and reapers moving east. Steamboat companies on the 
Great Lakes boosted their charges and irritated the Mc- 
Cormicks by their indifference when asked to condescend 
enough to carry reapers and mowers from Chicago to Cleve 
land and Buffalo. 84 Canal-boats as well as freight cars were 
commandeered for war use, and the government s need for 
them reached a maximum each year at the very time when 
harvesting machinery was ready for distribution to the 
agents. 85 Railway officials turned deaf ears to the plea that 
farm implements were essential to the winning of the war and 
merited preferential treatment because they produced return 
freights in the form of grain and hay. 86 Although the Mc- 
Cormicks, as long as the contest lasted, were never certain that 
they could get their entire output to their consignees in time 
for harvest, they somewhat remedied their embarrassment in 
this regard after 1862 by working a full force of men at their 
factory all the year around so that shipments could be made 

84 Ibid., No. 57, p. 502, the Co. to W. H. Stewart, Mch. 4, 1863 ; No. 42, 
p. 753, the Co. to U. C Van Tyne, Cleveland, 0., June 14, 1861. 

85 Ibid., No. 60, p. 471, the Co. to G. Monser, Wenona, 111., May 29, 
1863 : "We cannot get cars ... oh for two weeks more in which to do our 
shipping Wish we could like Joshua make the sun stand still!" Ibid., No. 
67, p. 432; No. 70, pp. 430, 733; No. 72, p. 436, the Co. to P. Mohan, 
Louisville, Mch. 9, 1864, to E. A. McNair, Davenport, la., to G. Plahn & 
Co., Beardstown, 111., July 2, 1864, and to J. B. Fairbank & Sons, Concord, 
111., June 3, 1864, respectively. In 1864, the freight rates on eastern ship 
ments were in many cases 100% higher than in 1863. The Co., in order to 
get cars, often had to guarantee that they would be unloaded within twelve 
hours after reaching their destination. 

86 Ibid., No. 57, pp. 500, 749, the Co. to J. I. Houston, Mch. 4, 1863, and 
to H. E. Sargent, Mch. 14, 1863; No. 67, pp. 508, 631, the Co. to Rwy. 
Freight Agents, Mch. 12, and 16, 1864. 


in late winter or early spring before the military campaigns 
opened. 87 

Midwestern farmers in early 1863 justified their insistent 
demand that the Confederate Army should be speedily driven 
from the Mississippi line upon the ground of "the impossibility 
of bringing to the markets of the world a very large propor 
tion of their surplus agricultural production. No avenue of 
transit now open to them has one-half the capacity to afford 
the necessary transportation." 88 They had come to rely more 
and more upon freight cars to carry their crops to market, 
but they wished the alternative water route to be available for 
their use as a salutary check upon high railway tariffs. It 
was at this time that General John A. McClernand, eager to 
supplant Grant in command of the Army of the Mississippi, 
warned Lincoln of the growing secession sentiment among the 
farmers of the prairie belt because one of their principal outlets 
of trade was still in the hands of the enemy. 89 Politics and 
personal ambition doubtless influenced McClernand s attitude, 
but it was grounded upon a real economic grievance, par 
ticularly among the farmers of northern Missouri and southern 
Illinois. As early as 1862, a farmers association at Geneseo, 
Illinois, foreshadowing the day of the Grangers, protested 

87 Ibid., No. 64, p. 814, the Co. to Graff, Bennett & Co., Pittsburgh, Oct. 9, 

88 "Transactions of the Illinois State Agricultural Society" (Springfield, 
111.), V (1861-1864), P- 82; H. K. Beale, ed, "The Diary of Edward Bates, 
1859-1866," in "Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 
1930" (Wash., 1933), Vol. IV, pp. 20, 70, 169, 192. 

8 J. A. McClernand to Secy, of War, E. Stanton, Nov. 10, 1862, in "The 
War of the Rebellion. A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union 
and Confederate Armies" (Wash. 1882), Ser. I, Vol. XVII, pt. 2, pp. 332- 
334. The "Chicago Times" in late Dec. was sounding the same note. 
L.P.C.B. No. 47, P. 265, the Co. to D. B. Young, Richland City, W_is., 
Mch. 27, 1862: "Should we be favored with a few more Federal victories, 
and the Mississippi River be opened to the Gulf, farmers will feel more like 


against the exorbitant transportation charges. 90 Grain-growers 
were often unable to take advantage of a favorable market 
because of their inability to find cars to carry their wheat to the 
cities. Manufacturers of harvesting machinery shifted most of 
the transportation costs to their patrons, but they did their 
best to make the burden as light as possible. 

In view of the rising prices of grain and factory raw ma 
terials, it is surprising, and an indication of the bitterness of 
the competition, that McCormick reapers were sold at their 
pre-war figure up to 1864, and then at an increase of less 
than fifteen per cent. This course would have been suicidal if 
the profit on each sale before the war had not been so large 
that the cost of production could greatly increase and still 
leave a small margin of profit. 91 

Following the harvest of 1862, reaper- and mower-makers 
in the East agreed to advance prices ten per cent and transfer 
manufacturers taxes to the farmers. 92 Although the Mc- 
Cormicks announced that they would abide by this resolution, 
there was much undercutting, and by summer the new schedule 
was abandoned. 93 The Manny, "Buckeye/ and Osborne firms 
which made hand-rake reapers, could not be held in line, and 
companies that were endeavoring to introduce the self -rake 
type, found that their innovation carried little appeal if it were 
accompanied by a large advance in price. In December, 1863, 
the Esterlys of Wisconsin and the McCormicks took the initia 
tive. Meeting at Chicago with other harvesting-machinery 
manufacturers, a verbal pact was made to yield to "impera- 

soL.P.C.B. No. 47, p. 637, the Co. to L. Briggs, Geneseo, 111., Apr. 16, 

91 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, 1862. Here W. S. 
McCormick believed no profit could be made on reapers sold at the old price, 
if the premium on gold went above 20%. In view of the next two harvests, 
this would appear to have been an error. 

92 "Prairie Farmer," Nov. I, 1862, p. 280. 

* L.P.C.B. No. 55, PP- 784-785, the Co. to W. H. B. Warren, Wabash, 
Ind., Jan. 5, 1863; W. S. to C, H. McCormick, Apr. 8, 1863. 


tive necessity" and sell for a ten per cent increase of price in 
i864. 94 Despite continued charges and counter-charges of vio 
lations by the agents, the Chicago partners stood by their 
agreement and declared at the close of the harvest that they 
would sell for a further advance of fifty per cent in 1865. "We 
think it is high time that we all looked to our interests in this 
question/ wrote William S. McCormick in September, 1864, 
". . . when a pound of iron costs as much as a pound of sugar 
used to cost/ 7 95 He felt, however, that an inter-company com 
pact to reduce output and to sell for cash or near-cash terms 
exclusively, was as important as an agreement to raise prices. 
These three propositions dovetailed, and each depended for its 
success upon the faithful carrying out of the other two. If 
full payment upon delivery were made the rule, and the price 
were raised, doubtless many farmers in the Middle West would 
be unable to buy. This being so, common sense dictated that 
the output should be curtailed, since otherwise a manufacturer 
who was faced with the prospect of holding over a large 
number of unsold machines, would slash his prices in order 
to dispose of his stock. 96 Nor were the McCormicks ready to 
pledge themselves to sell in the harvest of 1865 at quotations 
determined upon months ahead of time. The political outlook 
and the premium on gold, "a good deal like mercury in the 
thermometer never at rest," were too uncertain to determine 
a price schedule so long in advance. 97 They were more anxious 
to advocate a reduction in the number of new machines to be 

**flrid., No. 71, pp. 437-39, 5*4, 552, 668, 678, the Co. to W. H. B. 
Warren, Lafayette, Ind., Dec. 17 and 21, 1863; to D. S. Morgan, Dec. 22, 
1863; to W. A. Wood, Dec. 29, 1863; No. 66, p. 113, the Co. to Whiteley, 
Fassler & Kelly, Jan. 16, 1864. 

95 Ibid., No. 74, p. 801, the Co. to Emerson & Co., Rockford, 111., Sept. 22, 
1864; p. 842, to W. H. B. Warren, Sept. 26, 1864; No. 73, pp. 135, 163, the 
Co. to R. R. S. Marshall, Elmwood, 111., Aug. 12, 1864. 

96 Ibid., No. 76, pp. 821, 824, the Co. to Emerson & Co., Rockford, 111., 
and to Walter A. Wood, Hoosick Falls, N. Y., Dec. 21, 1864. 

97 Ibid. f No. 75, p. 532, the Co. to J. Ackerman, Oct. 19, 1864. 


manufactured for 1865, since they had two thousand left over 
from the harvest of the preceding summer. These would not 
be covered by a price-fixing agreement, and could be used for 
"fighting" purposes in case any competitor was so incautious 
as to run amuck. 

Eastern manufacturers supported the McCormicks desire 
to sell only for cash, but other midwestern firms would not 
agree, urging with much truth that few prairie farmers could 
buy unless credit were extended. 98 A Cleveland meeting in 
September, 1864, accomplished nothing, and when a new con 
ference was called three months later at Buffalo, the Chicago 
partners declined to attend. This assembly, presuming to speak 
for about fifty manufacturers, established a price list for ma 
chines of the 1865 model, passed an innocuous resolution to 
sell for "as near cash as possible/ and refused to restrict the 
annual output." The McCormicks for several months tried to 
abide by the figures set by this convention. It was good busi 
ness for them to keep up the price of their new reapers and 
mowers until they could dispose of their last year s surplus at 
the price level of 1864 to angry farmers who believed the new 
schedule highly unreasonable. By April, events on the field of 
battle and the condition of the money market, when combined 
with the difficulty of effecting sales, determined the Mc 
Cormicks to steal a march on their competitors and reduce 
prices. Farmers would give their favor to the company which 
led the retreat, and "we expect it will prove a heavy blow on 
rival machines who cannot afford the loss as well as we can." 
This was on May I, and they pushed down their selling list 
almost to its level in the 1864 harvest. 100 Nearly a month later 

88 Ibid., No. 76, p. 155, the Co. to W. A. Knowlton, Rockford, 111., Nov. 
14, 1864. 

99 Ibid., No. 79, pp. 302-3, the Co. to Agents, Mch. 24, 1865. 

100 Ibid., No. 78, p. 452, the Co. to J. Rhodes, Hastings, Minn., May 3, 
1865; No. 78, pp. 246, 388, the Co. to W. C Stacey, Washington, Ind., Apr. 
24, and to Seymour, Morgan & Allen, Apr. 29, 1865. The McCormick two- 


representatives of other firms met at Cleveland and of neces 
sity followed the McCormicks lead. Thus the partners played 
the game as it was played, and probably echoed the general 
sentiment of harvesting machinery manufacturers when they 
wrote, on the eve of the Cleveland session: "We . . . don t 
mean to be bound by any further conventions or meetings, 
either to raise or lower. We found out there was tricking 
about it. ... We must watch these fellows closely that they 
don t cut under us in price and we are most determined not 
to let them." 101 

Well might they assure the farmer that reapers were the 
cheapest commodity on the market, and urge their purchase, 
whether needed or not, as a good investment looking ahead to 
the return of normalcy. 102 Whenever an advance in price was 
announced, the grain-growers knew their cue; boycotted the 
machine in question, and talked of joining forces to cut the 
grain of their neighborhood with one or two old machines. 
Under these circumstances, agents warned the company that a 
rival would gain the patronage of a district hitherto loyal to 
the McCormicks unless the old price schedule were restored. 
This plea was usually effective although the clerks in the 
factory office seemed to derive some consolation from remind 
ing the salesmen that "Farmers as a class will grumble 
whether prices are high or low; crops good or bad," and that a 
threat to stop buying reapers was merely "bluff/ 

All these economical intentions about fitting up old broken down, 
far gone and consumptive machines, or the clubbing of men to cut 
horse self-rake reaper sold for $168 cash in 1862 and $190 cash in 1864 and 

101 JHd., No. 80, p. 8, the Co. to W. C. Stacey, Lancaster, O., May 17, 
1865. The Cleveland meeting was on May 25. 

102 /&*., No. 66, p. 676; No. 67, pp. 551-2, the Co. to G. Smith, Burnett, 
Wis., Feb. 8, 1864, and to P. Mohan, Louisville, Ky., Mch. 14, 1864, respec 
tively. In its advertising circular for 1865, the McC. Co. emphasized that in 
spite of the rise in machine prices, fewer bushels of wheat were needed to 
buy a reaper in 1865, than in 1862. 


each others grain in succession, is all just moonshine, and will van 
ish before the stern fact that John Doe s crop won t wait until 
Richard Roe s and his neighbors 1 crops are cut, and John will lose 
his patience and get a machine himself. When a woman gets a 
love of a bonnet, 5 you know all her acquaintances must get as good 
a hat if they can worry their husbands out of the dimes, and men 
act pretty much the same way. 103 

The McCormicks were aware that their implements were 
helping the Union cause and that every sale of a self-rake 
reaper potentially released two or three farm hands for service 
in each summer campaign. 104 Even during the dark months 
between the election of Lincoln and the first Battle of Bull 
Run, they derived some comfort from the knowledge that 
grain would have to be grown and that the labor shortage 
resulting from a prolonged war would work to their advan 
tage. 105 Agricultural associations in the Middle West reminded 
farmers that famine had usually accompanied domestic strife 
and urged them to double their acreage of grain. Thus the 
Executive Committee of the Illinois State Agricultural So 
ciety issued the following appeal in the spring of 1861 : 

i< Ibid., No. 67, p. 500, the Co. to D. N. Barnhill, Salem, 111., Mch. 2, 
1864; No. 69, p. 650, to J. L. Briggs, Iowa City, la., May 14, 1864. 

104 Ibid., No. 41, p. 699, W. S. McCormick to D. Zimmerman, Cordova, 
111., May 16, 1861 : "Let us see if we can sell out our stock of reapers & 
enable the Farmers to act their part by furnishing plenty of bread for the 
Army & everybody else." The McCormicks had a few experimental self-rake 
reapers in the harvest of 1861 ; 200 in 1862, 2000 in 1863, 4000 in 1864, and 
4750 in 1865. Iowa furnished over 40,000 soldiers to the northern armies 
and Illinois over 100,000. 

105 Ibid., No. 37, p. 276, the Co. to I. Goon, Marshallville, O., Dec. 5, 
1860: "Then you know that if we fight, bread will be in demand & Reapers 
will sell." No. 37, p. 686, W. S. McCormick to J. Henry, Dec. 18, 1860: "At 
all events we must work & eat & the Farmers must buy reapers." No. 38, 
p. 180, W. S. McCormick to T. Berry, Jan. 9, 1861 ; No. 41, p. 115, the Co. 
to H. G. Grattan, Pittsburgh, Pa., Apr. 20, 1861. Harvest hands by 1864 
commanded a daily wage of from $3 to $5. Ibid., No. 73, pp. 477-79, the Co. 
to E. A. McNair, Davenport, la., July 19, 1864. 


Let us exhort you to till this year every productive acre of your 
soil. Let no excitement, no interest in the stirring events of the 
day interrupt the operations of the farm. . . . Your market is 
certain, and all history is a lie if it shall not be remunerative. 

We urge you then to strain every nerve ; your interest financially 
cannot fail to be promoted by it, while your country and the cause 
of humanity alike demand it. 106 

As early as 1861 the letters, and soon the advertisements, of 
the McCormicks equated machines and soldiers. The two hun 
dred and fifty thousand reapers and mowers sold during the 
war, when added to those in use at the outset of the struggle, 
were equivalent to many men in the harvest fields. 107 In 1863, 
the secretary of the State Agricultural Society of Iowa deemed 
it to be "a fact worthy of attention that, while all other crops 
show a deficiency, the wheat crop has increased fifty per cent 
the past three years/ 108 "Don t be so blue over the prospects," 
a reaper agent at Concord, Illinois, was told by his employer 
in May, 1864, "Remember 20,000 militia have to leave this 

ice "Transactions of the Illinois State Agricultural Society" V (1861- 
1864), pp. 10-11; Broadside (no place, but dated Apr. 29, 1861), beginning 
"War, and Famine Plant Double Your Usual Amount of Land, 33 cited on 
pp. 8-9 of Catalog, No. 54, Argosy Book Stores, Inc., New York City. 

107 The McCormick Co. sold 5550 in 1861 ; 5050 in 1862; 3933 in 1863; 
5000 in 1864. #A printed leaflet, entitled "Harvester Builders, 1864," lists 
203 makers of reapers and mowers in the United States and estimates that 
they produced over 87,000 machines. It is significant that very few of them 
had largely increased their annual output since 1861, and even less were 
making more each year than the McCormicks. Of the 203, 17 were in New 
England, 59 in N. Y., 6 in N. J., 10 in Del. and Md., 40 in Pa., 28 in Ohio, 
1 8 in 111., 17 in Wis., 3 in Mich., and I each in Ky., Mo., and Iowa. In the 
"Annual Report of the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture" (Boston), Vol. 
XXI (1873-1874), pp. 32-37, it is stated that in 1864 there were 187 reaper 
and mower factories, employing over 60,000 people, and annually producing 
about 100,000 machines, worth over $15,000,000. 

108 "Ninth Report of the Secretary of the State Agricultural Society to 
the Governor of the State for the Year 1863" (Des Moines, la., 1864), p. 
7; "Proceedings of the Wisconsin State Historical Society" (Madison, 
Wis.), 1908, p. 255. 


state for 100 days, and these men will have to come, many 
or a large share of them, from the farms/ 7 109 

High prices, patriotism, favoring weather, and appeals simi 
lar to the one just cited, stimulated small-grain production 
in the United States during the Civil War. All of these in 
centives would have been of little avail if grain-growers, 
handicapped by a curtailed labor supply, had still been depend 
ing upon the cradle-scythe to cut their harvest. The domestic 
demand for grain was satisfied and a much larger surplus than 
ever before was available for export. 110 England and Russia 
suffered from poor harvests for several years during the Civil 
War period. French crops were very light in 1861 and those of 
the Danube Valley were equally so in 1863 and 1865. m The 
cotton of the South is doubtless very important to the interests 
of the Districts referred to in M. Thouvenel s Despatch/ the 
United States Ambassador to France informed W. H. Seward 
in November, 1861, "but the bread of the North and West is 
an absolute necessity. Cut off from it just now and a month 
would not pass without the danger of a terrible revolution 
in France." 112 In how far the dependence of England and 

1WL.P.C.B. No. 69, p. 367, the Co. to J. B. Fairbank & Son, Concord, 
111., May 4, 1864; No. 69, p. 133, to Goetschius & Holtz, Ottawa, 0., Apr. 
26, 1864. See also, the catalogs of the McCormick Co. for 1863 and 1864. 

110 The value of the total agr l. exports of the U. S. in 1860 was approxi 
mately $91,000,000, of which southern ports sent out about $20,000,000 worth. 
In 1 86 1, with a million men under arms and few southern exports, the total 
value reached $137,000,000. In 1862, with a million men changed from pro 
ducers to consumers (perhaps one-half from the farms), $155,000,000. 
"Genesee Farmer" (Rochester, N. Y.), Sept. 1863, p. 290. 

111 "Scientific American," Oct. 4, 1862, p. 215. Grain crops were light 
in England in every year between 1861 and 1867 (both inc.) except 1863. 

112 W. L. Dayton to W. H. Seward, Nov. 25, 1861, Archives of U. S. 
State Department, Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1863, France, MS. 
Dispatch, No. 86. See also, MS. Dispatch No. 75, "Confidential," W. H. 
Seward to W. L. Dayton, Oct. 30, 1861. For different views of the influence 
of grain upon the official attitude of England and France toward the Civil 
War, see L. B. Schmidt, "The Influence of Wheat and Cotton on Anglo- 
American Relations During the Civil War," in "The Iowa Journal of His- 


France upon grain from the United States was a factor in 
restraining those nations from recognizing the independence of 
the Confederacy, is a question which probably admits of no 
certain answer. It is perhaps significant, however, that their 
need for foreign wheat was the greatest in the early years of 
the war when the North had the most reason to fear that 
they would intervene. 

The stirring events in forum and field were almost unmen- 
tioned in the thousands of letters mailed annually by the Mc- 
Cormick factory office between 1861 and 1865. Fredericksburg 
signified that the premium on gold might rise, and Lee s 
march to Gettysburg that fewer reaper sales might be expected 
in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Judging from the silence of 
this correspondence, there was no Emancipation Proclamation, 
the siege of Vicksburg and Petersburg are myths, Lee did not 
surrender, and Lincoln was never assassinated. Business did 
not go on as usual, but it was all-absorbing. 113 

tory and Politics" (Iowa City), July, 1918, pp. 400-439; Wm. Trimble, 
"Historical Aspects of the Surplus Food Production of the United States, 
1862-1902," in "Annual Report of the American Historical Association," 
1918 (Wash., 1921), I, pp. 223-239; E. D. Adams, "Great Britain and the 
American Civil War" (N. Y., 1925), II, p. 13. 

113 L.P.C.B. No. 55, p. 516, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, Dec. 15, 1862; 
No. 61, p. 234, the Co. to I. Dickey & Co., Pittsburgh, Pa., June 16, 1863. 



first ten years of manufacturing reapers and mowers 
in Chicago made Cyrus McCormick a millionaire. At 
the close of the harvest of 1856 he was told that his profits for 
the season would probably total $300,000, and by then he had 
little more than sampled the immense field of sale in the 
Mississippi Valley. 1 In the main, his money had come from 
the farmers who had purchased his machines, rather than from 
patent fees or damages won in suits for infringements. A 
not inconsiderable item, however, was the value of his factory 
site with its three hundred feet of river frontage near the heart 
of the busy city. Purchased for about $25,000, this plot of 
ground was now conservatively estimated to be worth at least 
four times as much. 2 Hitherto he had put back much of his 
profits into the business, erecting new buildings, installing 
additional machinery, and improving his dock. 3 To continue 
to concentrate his fortune upon a single enterprise was in 
advisable in view of the threatening economic situation in 
the Middle West by 1857. His wealth, beyond the needs of 
his factory, demanded prudent investment in days of financial 
depression and civil war. How to conserve and to employ it 
wisely came gradually to occupy more of his attention than 
his plant in Chicago. 

1 L.P.C.B. No. 5, p. 561, W. S. to C H. McCormick, Mch. 14, 1857. 

2 MS. "Diary of Greenlee Davidson," entry of Sept 19, 1856. 

3 "Lexington Gazette" (Lexington, Va.), Apr, 28, 1859. 



Fortunately for him, by the time he was ready to widen 
his financial interests, his two brothers were prepared to stand 
in his stead in the office and construction department of his 
factory. He could be away for a large part of each year with 
the confident knowledge that he was ably represented there. 
William S. McCormick was his chief reliance, and until 1865 
loyally shouldered many of his responsibilities, shrewdly in 
vesting large amounts of his funds and acting as a buffer for 
him when times were tense in the early days of the Civil War. 

Although William S. had much business acumen, he dis 
liked the confinement of the office and was happiest when at 
his "home" in Virginia or in a harvest field near Chicago ex 
perimenting with some new device. 4 He was unjust to himself 
when he claimed that he lacked mechanical talent, for the 
development of a good mower between 1854 and 1860 was due 
in no small measure to his skill. Like his older brother, he 
did not know how to relax. He carried his business worries 
with him on his annual hunting and fishing trips to northern 
Wisconsin or Minnesota, and often made an office of his home 
after the day s work at the factory was over. 5 His letters 
reveal him toiling long hours at his desk, and after a sleepless 
night, arising be-times to hurry without breakfast to the 
country to test a mower while the dew was on the grass. 6 

He derived little pleasure from the company of those who 
were endeavoring to make a fashionable" Chicago society, al 
though he naturally was pleased to note that his rapid rise 

* L.P.C.B. No. I, pp. 338, 365, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, May 7, 8, 
1856. Mary Ann to Nettie F. McCormick, July 9 and Sept. i, 1858. 

5 L.P.C.B. No. 31, p. 829, W. S. McCormick to T. J. Massie, Lovingston, 
Va., May 10, 1860; No. 42, p. 403, the McCormick Co. to J. Rhodes, 
Hastings, Minn., June 3, 1861. As a rule, railroads which carried McCormick 
machines were willing to transport W. S. McCormick, his hunting party, 
his tents, wagons, etc., without charge. Ibid., No. 62, p. 400, the McCormick 
Co. to G. C. Dunlap, Supt. of N. Western RR., July 10, 1863. 

6 Mary Ann to Nettie F. McCormick, Sept. I, 1858. L.P.C.B. No. 14, p. 
439, W. S. McCormick to T. Berry, Christian s Creek, Va., Aug. 28, 1858. 


won him recognition from its inner circle. Success in business 
was the "open sesame" to the homes of the great of Chicago 
and few men there were among the elite at an evening "affair" 
who could not be found at their desks early the next morning. 
William came to be enough of a Chicagoan to have great faith 
in the future of his city and to write frequently to friends 
of the ease with which money could be made there. 7 In spirit, 
however, he remained the southern farmer, dreaming of the 
time when he could live the year around amid the simple 
neighborliness of his Virginia country-side. 8 His devoted wife, 
Mary Ann Grigsby, whose brother was to don a Confederate 
uniform, shared his longing for her native valley. After ten 
years in Chicago she could still write: "What a pity this 
[Illinois] wasn t a slave state because so easily cultivated." 9 

William S. McCormick s dislike of indoor work was in 
tensified after 1856 by ill health. Probably with justice he 
attributed his dyspepsia to nervous exhaustion and lack of 
exercise. But he confessed that he had "been a hearty eater 
of everything eatable almost," and while this habit brought no 
penalty during his youthful years at "Walnut Grove," it was 
unsuited to his more sedentary life in the city. By 1859 under 
doctor s orders, he was accustoming himself with difficulty to 
a regimen of stale bread, eggs, milk and vegetables. 10 On his 
saddle horse, or by an evening s rivalry with his kinsfolk and 
church friends in the gymnasium of his new house in Chicago, 
he tried without success to recapture the physical well-being 

7 Ibid., No. i, p. 398, W. S. McCormick to A. D. Hager, Proctorsville, 
Vt, May 9, 1856, and in No. 5, p. 322, to J. M. Lilley, Greenville, Va., Feb. 

25, 1857. 

8 L.P.C.B. No. 31, pp. 759-762, W. S. McCormick to A. Leyburn, Lexing 
ton, Va., May 8, 1860. 

9 Mary A. McCormick to L. P. Grigsby, Hickory Hill, Va., Aug. 10, 

10 L.P.C.B. No. 24, p. 167, W. S. McCormick to Dr. G. R. Woods, Phila., 
Oct. 1 8 and 19, 1859. 


he had known in Virginia. 11 His business judgment remained 
as keen as ever, but he was aware that he had paid a heavy 
price for his small fortune. 

Shortly after William and his brother, Leander, came to 
Chicago to live, they began to invest in real estate the small 
surplus left each year from their salaries. 12 Soon with the con 
sent of their elder brother, they borrowed in advance of wages 
due, whenever a favorable opportunity to purchase property 
presented itself. 13 So alluring were the prospects of a large re 
turn that William tried for a half-dozen years to find a buyer 
for the old home of the family in Virginia in order to have 
additional capital for his speculations in Chicago. 14 Memories 
of his youth, awakened by a long visit to the farm in the 
summer of 1859, weakened his determination to raise money 
by selling the homestead to a stranger. 15 Thereafter, he planted 
a new orchard, repaired the fences, and drained the fields. 16 
When the war came and the plantation was threatened with 
sequestration by the state as the property of an alien enemy, 

11 Ibid., No. 29, p. 569; No. 30, pp. 246-248, 739, W. S. McCormick to 
L. G. Hamilton, Fancy Hill, Va., Jan. 27, 1860; to L. Grigsby, Feb. 18, 
1860, and to J. B. McCormick, Mch. 7, 1860. 

/WA, No. 5, p. 132, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 6, 1857; No. 6, p. 
196, to J. Shields, Apr. n, 1857. 

is C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Sept. 12, 1857. L.P.CB. No. 5, pp. 561, 
824; No. 6, pp. 112, 304, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 14, 27, Apr. 7, 
16, 1857 ; No. 28, p. 738, to L. G, Hamilton, Fancy Hill, Va., Apr. 9, 1860. 
No. II, pp. 217 ff. According to this financial statement of Feb. 27, 1858, 
W. S. owed C. H. McCormick over $21,000; Hugh Adams owed him over 
$14,000, and J. Shields, about $5,000. 

14 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Feb. 7 and 12, 1857. L.P.CB. No. 10, 
pp. 662, 860, W. S. McCormick to T. Berry, Feb. 8, 1858; to R. T. Elkin- 
ton, Phila., Mch. i, 1858; No. n, p. 127, to J. Campbell, Westons, N. J., 
Mch. n, 1858. 

" Mary Ann to Nettie F. McCormick, Jan. 17, 1859. W. S. to C. H. 
McCormick, July 6, 1859. L.P.CB. No. 33, p. 606, W. S. McCormick to 
J. Campbell, Westons, N. J., Aug. 18, 1860. He would still sell "Walnut 
Grove" for $20,000. 

16 Ibid., No, 35, p. 720, W. S. McCormick to J. Murdock, Pittsburgh, Pa., 
Oct. 12, 1860. 


he transferred it to his sister-in-law in the Valley, in discharge 
of what was said to be a bona fide debt of about $7,ooo. 17 

Little shrewdness was needed in order to make money in 
Chicago in the early 1 850*5. A "neat" two-story frame dwell 
ing could be built for $5,000 and rented for $700 or $800 a 
year, or sold upon its completion at an advance of at least 
twenty per cent over the first cost. To purchase a lot and hold 
it for a rise in value was equally remunerative. The brothers 
prospered, and like others who were also "on the make," they 
migrated as often within the restricted area of the "North 
Side" as pioneers who were ever seeking a new frontier. To 
build a house, live in it for a time, sell out at a profit, and 
then move to another dwelling where the process could be re 
peated, was the formula whereby both Leander and William 
attained a modest competence during their first ten years in 
Chicago. 18 On the eve of the Civil War they had risen both 
economically and socially to the class which could afford to 
have a permanent residence, while continuing to keep their 
money active by the purchase and sale of desirable proper 
ties. 19 The residential district north of the Chicago River was 
probably the most exclusive in the city. Here, by 1859, the 
four families of the McCormick clan had gathered, each in its 
own home, with a broad, shaded lawn over-looking the lake 
and several, at least, with their cows in the stable behind the 

17 MS,, Defense by /. G. Davidson and Emma Grigsby vs. I. G. Slack, 
Confederate Receiver, before Judge J. W. Brockenbrough of the District Ct. 
of the Confed. States, Western Dist. of Va. The property was saved and by 
1865, at least, was occupied by J. G. Hamilton as a tenant of W. S. Mc 
Cormick. W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 9, 1865; J. G. Davidson to 
J. G. Hamilton, Feb. 23, 1866. 

18 Letters from W. S. McCormick in L.P.CB. No. i, p. 365, to C. H. 
McCormick, May 8, 1856; No. 9, p. 700, to J. B. McCormick, Dec. 3, 
1857, No. 10, p. 141, to Emma Grigsby, Jan. 4, 1858; No. 19, p. 865, to 
Jacqueline Grigsby, Apr. 30, 1859. 

19 In fact, L. J. McCormick built a new residence "as handsome as any 
in the City" for a home in 1863. Mary Ann to Nettie F. McCormick, Oct. 
21-22, 1863. 


house. 20 Friends from the Old Dominion came to marvel at 
their rise. One of them was moved to confide to his diary: 
"A man with money at his command is a fool to stay in 
Virginia. With judicious management he can make his for 
tune here in 10 years. . . . The go-a-headitiveness of the 
people exceeds anything I ever conceived of. It is one con 
tinuous rush & hurry." 21 

Cyrus McCormick began to purchase residence lots in Chi 
cago at least as early as 1854, but owing to the attractiveness 
of other investments and the financial demands of his business 
during the several years when collections from sales were very 
light, it is probable that his holdings by 1860, exclusive of 
the factory and its site, were not as valuable as those of either 
William or Leander. 22 The coming of the Panic of 1857 and 
its four years aftermath of low rents and real estate values 
particularly of business properties led him and others who 
were confident of Chicago s great future to extend their pur 
chases.- 23 As the most important of these deals, in 1860 he 
acquired the Revere House, which had been the first five-story 
brick building in the city at the time of its erection by Isaac 
Cook seven years before. 24 

20 L.P.C.B. No. 40, p. 103, W. S. McCormick to H. S. Champlin, Mdh. 22, 

21 MS. "Diary of Greenlee Davidson," entry of Sept. 16, 1856. 

22 "Democratic Press" (Chicago), Dec. 4, 1854; J. Forsythe, Chicago, 
to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 24, 1855; C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Oct. i, 
1856; L.P.C.B. No. n, pp. 217 ff., W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 11, 1858. 
W. S. believed that his brother s land in Chicago, including the factory site, 
was worth about $100,000. The factory buildings and its machinery were 
valued at $50,000, and materials on hand, $60,000. 

23 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Sept i, 5, Oct. 7, 1857. L.P.C.B. No. 11, 
p. 806, W. S. McCormick to J. T. Griffin, Apr. 16, 1858, and No. 20, p. 334, 
to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 16, 1859. 

24 The Revere House at the corner of Randolph and Dearborn sts. was 
formerly the Young America Hotel. In 1860, C. H. McCormick had it 
pulled down to make way for his McCormick Block. Several years later 
the partners acquired the old Foster House at the corner of Clark and 
Kinzie sts. After remodeling it at a cost of about $33>ooo, they opened it 


As an investment, iron and lumber were purchased at low 
prices for factory use in advance of need. During this period 
McCortnick joined with J. Watson Webb of the "New York 
Courier and Inquirer" to secure coal-mining rights in the 
Laurel Hill property of about 1700 acres on the Guyandotte 
River in western Virginia. When Webb was unable to repay 
a loan made to him by McCormick, he transferred his interest 
in this concession to the inventor. 25 

McCormick declined to enter the private banking business 
although money borrowed in New York at seven or eight 
per cent a year could be loaned in Chicago on short term and 
with good real estate security at from one and one-half to two 
per cent a month. Nevertheless, William S., with his more 
intimate knowledge of the financial opportunities of his city, 
braved his brother s displeasure by using in this way some of 
the money sent in by reaper agents during i857. 26 Although 
Cyrus was unwilling to launch upon an enterprise with which 
he was wholly unfamiliar, he was attracted by the profits made 
annually by the Marine Bank in Chicago. When he heard that 
some of the most solid men of the city, including George 
Armour, William Ogden, and Wesley Hunger, were about 
to open a new financial institution to be called the Merchants 
Savings Loan and Trust Company, he purchased $20,000 
worth of its stock. 27 It was an excellent investment, although 
the bank did not fulfill his early hopes of permitting him to 

in the spring of 1864 tinder the name of the Revere House. C. H. Mc 
Cormick purchased the original Revere House for about $60,000. See also, 
post, ftn. 82. 

25 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, May 30, 1857. JJ. W. Webb to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Oct. 3, 1859 and Mch. 31, 1870. #L.P.C.B., No. i, 2nd ser., p. 118, 
C. H. McCormick to J. W. Webb, June 6, 1870. McCormick here stated 
that his deed for this property was destroyed when his luggage was burned 
in Mch. 1862. See, post, p. 756. 

26 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Apr. 20, 1857. W. S. had a power of 
attorney from C. H. McCormick. 

M Idem to Idem, Apr. 9, 15, 17, 1857. 


borrow on easy terms. 28 He continued to look to New York 
City when loans were needed, and the Importers and Traders 
National Bank there was for many years his principal place 
of deposit. 

Strongly believing in family solidarity, and wishing his 
two sisters to share in his prosperity, he persuaded Hugh 
Adams and his wife, Amanda McCormick, to exchange Vir 
ginia for Chicago as a home. Mrs. Adams was glad to be 
relieved of "the care and responsibility of a family of col- 
lored [sic] people" and her husband with the aid of the Mc 
Cormick name and money was soon established as a commis 
sion merchant, using a part of a factory building as his ware 
house. 29 This promised to be better than storekeeping and 
farming in the Valley, particularly since he handled all grain 
taken in exchange for reapers. 30 In like manner, but without 

28 Idem to Idem, Dec. 16, 1857. McCormick was a trustee of this bank 
for about ten years, although he attended few, if any, meetings of the board. 
In 1866 he declined to exercise his option as a stock-holder, to purchase 250 
more shares of stock, but by 1871 his investment in the bank had increased 
to $25,000. L.P.C.B. No. 91, p. 486, C. H. McCormick to L. J. Gage, 
Aug. i, 1866; No. 95, p. 612, C. A. Spring to C. H. McCormick, 
Feb. 18, 1867; No. 121, p. 420, C. A. Spring, Jr., to C H. McCormick, 
Sept. 5, 1870. As late as 1882, the Merchants Savings Loan and Trust Co. 
handled the Chicago account of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Com 
pany, and C. H. McCormick, Jr., was then one of its board of trustees. 
In 1873, the elder McCormick was a director of the Security Savings Bank, 
located in his Reaper Block in Chicago. 

29 L.P.C.B. No. 8, pp. 534, 654, W. S. McCormick to H. Adams, Aug. 21, 
1857, and to J. B. McCormick, Sept. 5, 1857. "Daily Chicago Times/ May 17, 
1859. Amanda J. Adams to Nettie F. McCormick, Mch. 13, 1858. This was 
the commission house of C. H. McCormick & Co. H. Adams received a 
salary from the McCormick brothers, and they apparently supplied all the 
capital used by this Co. until 1866. In that year its office was moved to 
La Salle St.: "on account of the river being so unhealthy & at times un 
bearable from the dreadful odors." Mary Adams to Nettie F. McCormick, 
May 20, 1866. #L. J. to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 3, 1866. 

30 During the war, C. H. McCormick & Co. was "handling the pork of 
some very heavy pork men on the Miss. River." L.P.C.B. No. 65, p. 823, 
W. S. McCormick to B. Mills, LaCrescent, Minn., Nov. 24, 1863. 


success, the McCormicks sought to provide their other brother- 
in-law, James Shields, with a lumber business and guarantee 
him from loss. 31 But Shields was a minister and his poor 
health and unwillingness to enter trade 32 held him on his little 
living in the mountains of Pennsylvania until his death in 
1862, while on a hunting trip with William S. McCormick. 
Thereafter his widow, Mary Caroline McCormick, moved with 
her two children to Chicago. 33 

Cyrus McCormick was aware that his wealth had come 
more directly from his success as a manufacturer than from 
his possession of several important patents. His brothers also 
stressed the fact that without their aid his large profits during 
the iSso s would not have been possible. They felt that they 
had done most of the work and by their ingenuity had kept 
the McCormick reaper and mower in step with the progress 
of the art, while their brother spent the larger part of each 
year in the East. He wrote to them from Philadelphia and 
Washington, from ocean resorts, and the springs of New 
York, Virginia, and Vermont, and told them confidentially of 
his dinners and carriage-drives with the Commissioner of 
Patents while he was trying to secure an extension or reissue 

siL.P.C.B. No. 6, pp. 196, 304, W. S. McCormick to J. Shields, Apr. n, 
1857; to C H. McCormick, Apr. 16, 1857; No. 8, pp. 521, 816, to Caroline 
Shields, Aug. 21, 1857, and to C. H. McCormick, Sept 19, 1857. 

52 Shields, through W. S. McCormick, had purchased at least one house 
in Chicago. In 1860-61, it was occupied by Dr. Rice. Ibid., No. 49, p. 577, 
W. S. McCormick to J. Shields, June 4, 1862. 

3S Ibid., No. 60, p. 290, the Co. to S. Cuthbert & Sons, Juniata, Pa., 
May 25, 1863. The Shields 52-acre farm at Mexico, Pa., was offered @ 
$100 an acre, and 200 acres in the Western Reserve of Ohio @ $20 an acre, 
cash. Following her husband s death, Mrs. Shields lived in W. S. McCor- 
mick s home in Chicago until the autumn of 1865, when she moved to a 
house on Rush St. C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 26, 1865. 
She moved several times during the next three years and L. J. McCormick 
aided her with money. Finally in 1868, L. J. and C. H. McCormick agreed 
to contribute %rd and ^rds of the cost, respectively, to the erection of 
houses for both her and Amanda Adams. Mary Caroline McCormick died 
on Mch. 18, 1888, and Amanda Adams on Oct. 12, 1891. 


of his monopolies. Now and again he would take a hurried 
trip to Chicago to talk about family affairs, but he came 
mainly, it seemed, to have a financial accounting and to make 
sure of their devotion to his interests at the factory. a4 They 
knew how much money he was making each year and how 
very small their own salaries seemed by comparison. Mary 
Ann McCormick, worried by the strenuous routine of her 
husband, told a long story in a single sentence when she wrot$ 
to her brother, "C. H. is the picture of health, he takes it easy 
and thinks after all he does the hardest of the work." This 
verdict was unjust but it was not an unnatural one. 35 

In early 1857 William S. McCormick bluntly told his elder 
brother that he "calculated upon something considerable more 
than a salery [sic] out of the business." 36 Soon Leander 
threatened to resign unless he were better provided for. "As 
I have said to you I have done not a little for the machine 
and I am resolved not to be satisfied without a pretty strong 
interest if I remain in the business." 3T The brothers were 
financially unprepared to purchase an interest in the factory, 
but on the other hand Cyrus McCormick realized that their 
skill and experience made their services invaluable to him. 
Finally, near the close of 1859, a ^ LTm was organized under a 
twelve years agreement. Its style was C. H. McCormick & 
Bros., and the inventor was to supply all the needed capital 
at eight per cent interest. He agreed to furnish new factory 
machinery at cost and to rent the plant to the company for 
$10,000 a year. The brothers should each receive an annual 

**Ibid., No. 8, p. 495, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, Aug. 17, 1857; C. H. 
to W. S. McCormick, Oct. 30, 1858. 

35 Mary Ann McCormick to L. P. Grigsby, Aug. 10, 1858. 

36 L.P.C.B. No. 6, p. 112, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 7, 1857. 

37 L. J. to W. S. McCormick, July I, 1859. L. J. had evidently written 
in a similar vein in 1858. C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Oct. 30, 1858: "I 
think he [L. J. McCormick] regretted the course he took with me, and [I] 
have no idea it would be his interest to leave the business." 


salary of $5,000 and each was allotted one-fourth of the net 
profits. They guaranteed that they would not manufacture 
harvesting machinery elsewhere or work for another reaper- 
builder during the life of the contract. On his part Cyrus also 
pledged that he would not erect a branch factory although he 
reserved the right to license others under his patents. It was 
emphasized that "no actual partnership" existed, probably be 
cause the eldest brother assumed all the financial risk and fur 
nished the entire capital. 38 That same autumn he moved with 
his wife and son, who had been born in May of that year at 
Washington, to 230 North Dearborn Street, Chicago. There 
was a lull in his patent and lawsuit business in the East and 
he had been eager for several years to settle down and make 
a real home. 39 He at once surprised his brothers by taking 
more interest than was his wont in the details of factory opera 
tion and management. "Bro. C. H. is having a say so in 
almost everything now-a-days," wrote William, with perhaps 
a tinge of regret because his word was no longer law in the 
routine affairs of the plant. 40 William s health improved, now 
that he was receiving a return commensurate with the value 
of his services. 41 

By 1860, however, politics, the new seminary, a newspaper, 
a religious journal, and his effort to secure an extension of 

38 This is a summary of two agreements, one made on Nov. I, 1859, an ^ 
the other on Jan. i, 1860. It is interesting to note that even at this late 
date W. S. McCormick was not certain that he would long remain in the 
business. L.P.C.B. No. 26, p. 444, W. S. McCormick to L. J. Hamilton, 
Fancy Hill, Va., Dec. 17, 1859. 

39 Cyrus Rice McCormick was born on May 16, 1859. About 1870, his 
name was changed to Cyrus Hall McCormick. In "Nettie F. McCormick 
B. A." files is an envelop dated May 24, 1869, and marked Cyrus Rice 
McCormick. In a letter to W. S. McCormick on Jan. 12, 1858, C. H. Mc 
Cormick expressed his regret that his long absences from Chicago had 
allowed him to make few close friends there. L.P.CB. No. 29, p. 489. 

** Ibid., No. 24, p. 516, W. S. McCormick to G. Walker, Ann Arbor, 
Mich., Nov. 4, 1859. 
41 Ibid., No. 26, p. 78, W. S. McCormick to J. Shields, Dec. 3, 1859. 


his patent of 1847 kept the inventor too occupied to give much 
thought to his factory. Since he was abroad during the two 
most critical years of the conflict, the task of investing the 
company s funds fell largely upon the shoulders of William. 
Suffering in mind and in body, and unsympathetic toward 
the objectives of the war, he viewed his work without en 
thusiasm. The bright future in store for the Northwest, Chi 
cago, and the McCormick factory, were the only articles of 
his old faith which seemed to him worth preserving during 
the crisis. Former values were swept away, close friendships 
broken, and to use his own words, "a good deal of humility 
has had to be endured on account of our position." 42 

Now our hearts sicken at the spectacle that is presented [he 
confided to a friend in Virginia] . We are attending closely to our 
business. We see few people on the streets & corners & say but 
little & hope & pray that an all wise Providence may overrule all 
the evil, that is now so much in the ascendent, for good. We expect 
our relations & friends & acquaintainces for whom we have a high 
regard will be slain in this war We think & talk much about it. 
Our little circle meet very often to think & talk of what is going 
on & can hardly realize the condition of things in & around our 
native State & the Home of our Fathers & Mothers. 43 

To him, and to others in the company office who reflected his 
opinion, it would have been better "if old Buck had remained 
President for a dozen years longer. " 44 "All is treason that is 
not fanaticism," and "with stamp duty, taxes, conscription, 
paper trash, and bastiles, we begin to feel respect for the 
more liberal and moderate laws of Russia and Austria/ 45 

42 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 6, 1864. 

43 L.P.CB. No. 42, p. 40, W. S. McCormick to W. T. Rush, May 22, 
1861; No. 41, p. 377, to J. B. McCormick, May 3, 1861. 

44 Ibid., No. 44, p. 28, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, July 15, 1861: "These 
are most glorious Lincoln Republican times to be sure. . . . Verily Demo 
cratic sins are nothing to the Sins of these Times." 

45 Ibid., No. 58, p. 249, W. J. Hanna to W. A. Polk, Oak Station, Ind., 
Mch. 26, 1863. 


In this atmosphere of dissent the McCormick reaper busi 
ness was carried on from 1861 to 1865. The prosperity of 
northern manufacturer and farmer during- the Civil War has 
often been emphasized. Mill-owners became millionaires. 
Grain-growers paid their old debts and in many instances 
contracted new ones before the struggle was over. Little at 
tention, however, has been given by writers to the puzzling 
problems arising daily for solution by a manufacturer whose 
wealth could not increase rapidly unless the farmers enjoyed 
"flush times." The experiences of the harvest of 1861, with 
its changes in outlook so unexpected that the most careful 
planning was of no avail, were duplicated a hundred-fold dur 
ing the next four years. They partially explain why men who 
were growing rich beyond their fondest dreams, became old 
before their time, and prayed for the war to end despite its 
heavy yield of prosperity. A Federal defeat, a new tax law, 
a quick rise or fall in the premium on gold, appeared to signify 
all the difference between large profits and bankruptcy. Look 
ing back upon these years, it would now appear that more gain 
or less gain, not ruin or riches, hinged upon the choice of one 
or another of the several investment projects so often under 

At the outset of the struggle, when prices were still low 
and agents were unable to collect for the reapers and mowers 
sold, the McCormicks gloomily predicted that the situation 
would not improve until peace came. They talked much about 
economizing, reducing the force in field and factory, and sail 
ing under bare poles as long as the hurricane lasted. 46 It would 

46 L.P.C.B. No. 44, p. 730, W. S. McCormick to D. Zimmerman, Cordova, 
III, Aug. 8, 1861: "If this war is to be waged indefinitely, I believe we 
shall all be nearly ruined. We just now begin to see the veil lifted. We 
shall be burdened with taxes & low prices & I ask the question, is there at 
the end of this war the gold that is to compensate us for the blood & 
treasure that our Rulers are so lavishly pouring out I love the Union but 
will our Rulers save it so as to be a blessing?" Emphasis on economizing 


perhaps be better, in their opinion, to cease manufacturing al 
together, for the enormous crop of 1861 and the closure of 
the southern market for grain, signified that farmers would 
have no money to spend for reapers. 47 But when times im 
proved in the autumn of 1861, the chief question was no 
longer where money might be borrowed to keep the wheels 
turning, but how to invest safely the cash that was flowing 
to the factory office from the farms of the Northwest. The 
cash, however, had no certain value and the improvement of 
the currency situation in the Middle West by late 1861 was 
largely counteracted by measures of the national government 
during the next ten years. The greenbacks issued in 1862 and 
thereafter, added to the confusion although the McCormicks 
foresaw as early as December of the previous year that gold 
would probably go to a heavy premium. 48 The National Bank 
ing Act of 1863 had a depressing effect upon state bank-note 
issues, the only circulating medium that was current in many 
rural districts of the Old Northwest. To invest in those un 
certain times meant not only to make the difficult choice of a 
reasonably safe project that would probably yield an attractive 
return upon the sum ventured, but also to decide wisely in 
haste before the funds available had further depreciated. 

The more cheerful note of the factory correspondence in 
the autumn of 1861 was replaced by hysteria in late December 
when the crisis over the Trent Affair led William S. Mc- 
Cormick to telegraph his New York bankers to convert all 
company funds into gold and express the metal to Chicago as 

continued throughout the war. Seef W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 15, 

47 L.RC.B. No. 44, P. 28, No. 45, p. 300, W. S. to J. B. McCormick, 
July 15 and Sept. 2, 1861. As late as mid-Oct, 1861, the firm had not begun 
to manufacture for 1862. See, Ibid., No. 46, p. 434, the Co. to S. H. 
Mitchell, Concord, 111., Oct. 16, 1861. W. S. McCormick did not foresee the 
large foreign market for northern grain. 

**Ibid., No. 54, p. no, W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 24, 1861. 


a safeguard against the anticipated bombardment of the 
eastern metropolis by English warships. 49 With this danger 
averted and grain once again resuming its upward trend, 50 
optimism returned for a few months. 

But the failure of the military campaigns of 1862 to end 
the war, the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, and 
the realization that Lincoln would not change his policy in 
spite of his rebuff by many voters in the by-elections of that 
year, reduced William McCormick to despair. 51 Ill health and 
overwork doubtless helped to determine his outlook. For 
eleven months following the Federal rout at the second battle 
of Manassas in August, 1862, he saw no light. 52 He, and 
those in the company office during that anxious time, wrote 
often of "the fiery ordeal through which we shall have to 
pass," and of "the big smash-up which seems to be peeping 
around the corners of the future." 53 William s letters are 
filled with references to the over-extension of government 
credits, the probable repudiation of the national debt, the im 
minent "commercial revolution," and of two hundred thousand 
dissatisfied Union soldiers marching home before long under 

49 Ibid., No. 54, p. 107, Idem to idem, Dec. 23, 1861. 
Ibid., No. 54, p. 293, the Co. to J. Rodermel, Freeport, 111., Dec. 31, 

51 W.S. to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 28, 1862. In this letter, he wondered 
whether, in view of possible anarchy in the North, it might not be wise to 
transfer their fortune and factory to Europe. Idem to idem, Oct. 5, 1862, 
"I feel our ship is sinking. . . . Things look black as midnight." See also 
his letters to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 25, Oct. 19, Nov. 9, 1862, and Mch. i, 

52 From the northern victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg until 1865, 
his general opinion as to the military outcome of the war is summarized 
in the following sentence from a letter to C. H. McCormick on July 2, 1863. 
"It would seem that by numbers & brute force the South must gradually 
be crushed." C. H. McCormick did not agree with this prophecy. See, supra, 
PP. 57, 61. 

63 L.P.C.B. No. 57, pp. 208, 216, the Co. to E. A. McNair, Davenport, la., 
and to Bass & Elmendorf, McGregor, la., Feb. 21, 1863. 


the lead of "a Jacobin." 54 In his opinion a civil war might 
possibly be avoided in the North if the government were 
shrewd enough to pledge a fifty per cent redemption of its 
enormous debt. To pay it dollar for dollar was unthinkable. 55 
"I assure you," he wrote his elder brother, "I think enough 
upon the various questions I have to act upon to make a man 
grey." 56 But Cyrus McCormick had no encouraging word to 
send him from England, and in fact did little more than to 
criticize the investments which his brother made after so much 
tortured study. Both in building reapers at the factory and in 
using the money of the firm, "be cautious," was the burden of 
the inventor s letters during his two years abroad. He was ad 
vised by Junius Morgan and Charles Francis Adams to avoid 
borrowing for purposes of investment, to place surplus funds 
in land, and to contract business as much as possible. 

That the revulsion must come is considered certain. The N. W. 
has not yet felt this tremendous war. The stimulant of gov t credit 
has so far been equal to the draught upon the patient, but already 
the dose has to be increased 32 y 2 % to keep up the effect, and soon 
the whole thing must fail, when reaction must set in and "down, 
down, down" must go everything. We feel we can understand 
from here better than you can in Chicago. ... I am opposed to 
speculation now with the prospect of revulsion, depression, and 
ruin ahead. . . . The collapse is inevitable, . . . the only question is 
when? 57 

54 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 19 and May 31, 1863. * 

55 Idem to idem, Dec. n, 1862. 

56 Idem to idem, Nov. 23, Dec. 31, 1862, and Jan. 4, 1863 : "You would be 
so puzzled you would throw up a copper to know what to do." 

57 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Dec. 2, 1862. L.P.CB. No. 49, p. 856, 
C. A. Spring to W. S. McCormick, Aug. 12, 1862. C. H. McCormick hoped 
to gain a perspective abroad which would enable him better to judge of the 
proper investments to make at home, f Jas. Buell, the cashier of the Im 
porters and Traders Bank, probably comforted him but little when he re 
minded him in a letter of Dec. 5, 1863, that Bank of England notes during 
the Napoleonic Wars were within ten points of being as low in relation to 
gold, as were greenbacks in that month. 


Thus McCormick, in December, 1862, confirmed from Lon 
don, after talking with a financier and his country s ambassa 
dor, the fears for the future which plagued his brother in 

William had a power of attorney from the inventor, but he 
was expected to ask his advice and consent before investing 
the profits of the firm. He did so in long, revealing letters 
which he rightly supposed "would be a curiosity among many 
others after this war shall have ended/ 58 Nevertheless, the 
kaleidoscopic changes in the financial situation from day to 
day 59 and the failure of his brother to answer his many ques 
tions either fully or promptly, obliged him to act upon his 
own responsibility and report his course after it had been 
taken. Thereby he risked the censure and even the refusal of 
Cyrus McCormick to abide by his decision, in so far as the lat 
ter J s share in the venture was concerned. 

The largest amounts of money reached the company office 
during the darkest period of the war, for it was then that 
currency was the most depreciated and farmers were able and 
ready to cancel debts which in many cases had been incurred 
four or five years before the conflict opened. This fact also 
helped to shape the financial policy of the company, since at a 
time when William McCormick was the most pessimistic he 
was obliged to handle sums of money dwarfing any in his pre 
vious career. He brought no wide experience to his task except 
an expert knowledge of Chicago real estate and farm values. 

To dispose of greenbacks quickly and to forecast accurately 
the amount they would depreciate between January, when 
reaper prices were announced, and the selling season of the 
following summer, were two of the most serious and usual 

58 W. S. to C H. McCormick, Mch. 15, 1863. 

69 Idem to Idem, Mch. 29, 1863: "We don t think worth while now to 
report little events such as an advance or decline of only forty per cent in 
gold." See also idem to idem, Jan. 24, 1864. 


problems of the war period. 60 Since the value of the paper 
money in relation to gold was in a considerable degree deter 
mined by the fortunes of the northern armies, and since sig 
nificant victories or defeats chiefly occurred during the sum 
mer campaigns, the currency was most unstable in the months 
when harvesting machinery was sold. With the price of reaper 
raw materials wood and iron increasing faster after 1862 
than the rate of greenback depreciation, more than human wis 
dom was required to fix terms of sale one winter that would 
pay without question for the cost of machine reproduction the 
next, and yield a fair profit. 61 Nevertheless, prices once adver 
tised were never raised, although the purchaser of a reaper 
was expected either to pay cash upon delivery so that the paper 
could be invested at once before further depreciation took 
place, or, since this was usually impracticable, to sign notes 
extending in the future for three to five years, with the hope 
that when they fell due, greenbacks would be at a parity with 
gold. 62 Although a plan in the late autumn of 1862 to sell 
reapers only for wheat was never carried out, 63 grain and 

60 Idem to idem, July 4, 1862 : "You have not seemed to fear as I have 
this depredation in paper money. I am for investing somehow without delay. 
. . . Farming lands or lots or anything sooner than .paper money these times 
in Bank." He wondered how his elder brother could even think of going 
abroad before an investment policy was decided upon. 

61 L.P.C.B. No. 73, P- 482, the Co. to J. Fisher, Liberty Mills, Ind., July 
19, 1864. Here the Co. insisted that it was making no profit on its 1864 sales, 
since the cost of all factory raw materials had so much advanced after it 
had issued its machine price list earlier in the year. 

62 Letters from the Co. in Ibid., No. 49, p. 869, to W. S. McCormick 
Aug. 25, 1862; No. 55, pp. 784-5, 844, to W. H. B. Warren, Wabash, Ind., 
Jan. 5, 1863, and to J. B. McCormick, Jan. 6, 1863 ; No. 57, pp. 216, 505, 
to Bass & Elmendorf, McGregor, la., Feb. 21, 1863, and to G. Smith, 
Burnett Station, Wis., Mch. 5, 1863. 

63 He proposed to take wheat in exchange for reapers at its average price 
in Chicago during the past four or five years (86^tf a bu.) and even to 
make the interest on reaper notes payable in wheat. The idea was abandoned 
by Jan., 1863. Early in the autumn of 1862, he considered the advisability 
of building grain elevators in Chicago, borrowing $200,000 in N. Y. for 


stock were occasionally received for machines; the grain sold 
through the commission house of C. H. McCormick & Co.; 
the cattle quickly taken by the city packers who had for long 
made the Chicago River run red with blood; and the horses 
and buggies held during the winter on the several stock farms 
of the firm for apportionment among the three hundred agents 
when the spring canvass opened. 64 

Two normal avenues of investment were closed to William 
S. McCormick. He had no acquaintance with the stock market 
and declined to gain it during the uncertain times of the Civil 
War. 65 Because of his determination to "play safe," his fear 
that the federal government would repudiate its enormous debt, 
and perhaps also because of his lack of sympathy for the 
policy of coercion, United States bonds were not included in 
his portfolio of investments. 66 In fact, he believed that any 
man wishing to borrow money or to sell a farm would prefer 
McCormick s reaper notes to greenbacks. It was a fine conceit 
to assume that a private partnership was more solvent than the 

investment in wheat, and holding it through the winter for shipment in 1863 
to Europe. Possibly word from his brother that the depredations of Con 
federate cruisers would probably boost ocean freight rates, made him less 
ready to go forward with this plan, as well as the one mentioned in the text. 
Ibid., No. 52, W. S. McCormick to L. Hopkins, Oct. 17, 1862; No. 55, the 
Co. to F. Cuddington, Dixon, 111., Dec. 20, 1862. C. H. to W. S. McCormick, 
Dec. 19-20, 1862; W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 3, Oct. 19, Dec. 28, 
1862. On Oct. 19, he wrote : "There isn t room now in Chicago, to hold the 
grain pouring in despite the short crop." Statistics do not support his judg 
ment that the crop was light. 

6 *Ibid. f No. 54, pp. 725-727. In Jan., 1862, the Cordova, 111., agency had 
65 horses, 15 cows, 2 oxen, i mule, and a variety of farm wagons, etc., 
taken in payment of reaper notes. Other McCormick depots of this kind 
were at Concord, Courtland and Tiskilwa, 111. 

65 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 22, 1863. 

66 Idem to idem, Oct. 19, 1862. Apparently C. H. McCormick invested 
$16,000 in U. S. bonds in Jan., 1863, but this is an exception to the rule. 
L.P.CB. No. 56, p. in, the Co. to J. Buell, Importers and Traders Bank, 
N. Y., Jan. 12, 1863; W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 31 and Feb. 21, 1864. 
C. H. McCormick still owned some U. S. 6% gold bonds in 1868. C. H. 
McCormick to C. .A. Spring, Jr., July 17, 1868. 


national government, but at least he was able to loan many 
thousand dollars worth of company paper at interest rates of 
from seven to ten per cent. 67 These notes paid six per cent 
interest to the holder, were guaranteed by the firm, and were 
said to be negotiable and stable in value, although the bor 
rowers seem to have overlooked the fact that they would be 
cancelled eventually in depreciated currency, either by the 
farmer who first signed them on the delivery of his reaper, 
or by the company as endorser. However, every note so loaned 
saved the firm the cost of its collection and lessened the quan 
tity of paper money which it was obliged to handle. 68 

By the summer of 1862, William McCormick realized that 
the war years would be a debtors paradise. He was obliged 
to give a receipt in full when farmers sent him cheap legal 
tender of a face value equal to the old reaper obligations, 
totaling well over a million dollars and incurred when a dollar 
was a dollar. Consequently, he understood why "creditors were 
running away from debtors who pursued them in triumph and 
paid them without mercy." 69 If reaper purchasers could do 

67 L.P.CB. No. 53, pp. 455, 476, the Co. to H. S. Champlin, Courtland, 
111., and to E. Healy, Earlville, la., Nov. 6, 1862. To combine portions from 
each letter : "There must be a demand for capital with you. If there is, then 
why should not our good Solvent Reaper notes be as available as other 
paper. . . . Currency may depreciate but this paper will not, the farmer can 
keep it, as it bears interest, and collect along just as he needs the money. 
We are satisfied with the paper, but we wish to concentrate our means, and 
make investments on long time." By Dec., 1864, at least $185,000 in notes 
and money had been loaned. W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 10, 1864. 

68 L.P.C.B. No. 52, pp. 848-852, 889, a form letter of the Co. to its agents, 
Oct. 20, 1862. In this, it proposed to sell and loan reaper notes, loan money, 
and buy farm lands with notes or greenbacks. Ibid., No. 55, p. 66, the Co. 
to W. C. Leyburn, Sparta, Wis., Nov. 24, 1862; and p. 806, to W. H. 
Brazier, Salem, 111., Jan. 5, 1863. 

69 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, July 9, 1862; Jan. 25, 1863, "I have told 
you long ago that legal tender would in the end be a good Bankrupt law. 
Money may be bought by the bushel to pay debts to us. This legal tender 
law is to be a great leveler. It will enable the Creditor to pay up his honest 
debts with scraps of paper." 


this, why could not the company borrow large amounts of 
greenbacks, invest them at once, and pay back the loans when 
the paper was still further depreciated ? Big profits were made 
in this way. At one time the partners owed almost $225,000, 
and a considerable portion of this debt was cancelled in the 
winter of 1863-1864 before the currency reflected the Federal 
victories around Richmond and Atlanta. 70 Fortunately for 
the success of this plan, there was never a time during the war 
when the McCormicks could not borrow large sums at from 
six per cent to eight per cent interest, with the date of re 
payment, in most cases, at their option. 71 

In addition to the ante-bellum reaper notes, which most 
farmers, spurning the shelter afforded by the stay laws, were 
now able and anxious to cancel, the annual sale of about five 
thousand machines brought to the company treasury more 
than three-quarters of a million dollars in greenbacks during 
the autumn and winter months. To hold them was to lose 
money, and quick decisions had to be made, often involving 
as much as fifty thousand dollars a week. Factory raw ma 
terials were purchased two years in advance of need and paper 
currency was loaned to farmers at from six per cent to ten 

70 Idem to idem, Oct. 14, 1862, and Nov. 22, 1863. In Nov., 1863, the firm 
owed $222,000, but to W. S. McCormick s regret, $99,000 was about due 
to be paid. 

71 Idem to idem, Oct. 12, 19, 26, 1862. L.P.C.B. No. 52, W. S. McCormick 
to L. Hopkins, N. Y., Oct. 17, 1862. An interesting illustration of the 
financial advantage enjoyed by a big firm over a smaller competitor is fur 
nished by C. H. McCormick & Bros*, practice of overdrawing its account 
at the Importers & Traders Bank, sometimes as much as $80,000. Of course 
it paid interest on the amount of its overdraft, and its special specie account 
was considered security, but it was none the less a convenient and elastic 
way of borrowing. Ibid., No. 69, p. 377; No. 76, p. 77, C. A. Spring, Jr., to 
J. Buell, May 5 and Nov. 10, 1864. Nevertheless, in 1867, this bank called 
a halt upon this practice. Thereupon C. H. McCormick transferred his funds 
for a time to the Park National Bank of N. Y., which offered him easier 
accommodations. #J. Buell to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 27, 1867; L.P.C.B. 
No. 95, C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 29, 1867; *C. A. 
Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 5, 16, 1867. 


per cent interest for a seven- to ten-year term, with the hope 
that the date for repayment would find greenbacks at par. 72 

Whether to place surplus funds in gold or in real estate was 
always one of the most puzzling problems that faced William 
McCormick. His opinion as to the relative profit to be expected 
from these two modes of investment changed time and again 
during the war, and at its close he was still in a quandary about 
them. He admitted in 1864 that city property had not ad 
vanced in value as much as he had anticipated two years 
before, but on the other hand, gold paid no interest to its 
holder. In the summer of 1862 he favored gold over real 
estate, regretted his change of heart in the spring of 1863, 
was again cheering for city property in preference to specie by 
December of that year, and by February, 1864, repented that 
he had not purchased more metal. 73 Whichever alternative he 
followed, his brother usually was sorry that he had not made 
the opposite choice. 74 The McCormick hoard never exceeded 
$200,000, and apparently was largest in the autumn of 1862 
and the winter of 1863-1864. At the latter time Cyrus trans- 

72 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Apr. n, 1863. By this date over $100,000 
had been loaned for from five to ten years, and in the next Sept., the total 
was half again as large. About one-third of the total, however, consisted 
of reaper notes rather than money. Curiously enough, the firm would only 
loan money on improved farm land security, "not desiring [to have] the 
care and attention that city or town securities impose." L.P.C.B. No. 56, 
p. 495. Probably the preference for loans to farmers arose also from the fact 
that, unlike city dwellers, their security "can t be burned or destroyed by 
mobs." W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 29, 1863. Idem to idem, Oct. 14, 
and Nov. 23, 1862. The Co. had invested $246,313 in raw materials, and in 
July, 1864, the sum tied up in this way was equally large. Pig-iron was 
piled like cord wood all over the factory yard. 

Idem to idem, July 9, Nov. 9, 1862; Mch. I, Dec. 13, 1863; Feb. 28, 

74 Idem to idem, Jan. 24, 1864. In this letter W. S. McCormick opposed 
his brother s suggestion that the firm should buy $300,000 in gold and ship 
it to Europe for investment. William argued that gold was worth more in 
the U. S. than abroad, that it could only be loaned @ 4% interest overseas, 
while investments in Chicago real estate yielded 10% a year. 


ferred $75,000 in specie from his New York account to Lon 
don for investment, and although his holdings thereafter were 
not very large, the purchase and sale of gold are mentioned in 
his correspondence until the close of i866. 75 

By far the largest proportion of the surplus money of the 
firm was invested in real estate. Here a choice had to be made 
between city property, subject to heavy taxes and insurance 
charges, and farm lands both wild and improved which 
could be held at small cost until railroads and the coming of 
more settlers advanced their value. Attractive bargains in both 
city and country were available throughout the conflict, and 
the depreciation of the currency affected real estate values but 
slowly. 76 Increasing faith in Chicago made the decision an 
easier one as the war dragged on and the city boomed as never 
before. "Chicago must be a success if any city in this country 
will be," wrote William McCormick in October, 1863. "The 
best men and capital are here and coming here. There are not 
enough stores to do the business." 77 Leander, fresh from 
London, believed his home city had larger crowds than the 
English metropolis, while Mary Ann McCormick was aston 
ished at "the indifference manifested by the loss of life" in the 
war. "The idea is with everybody to go ahead, & see how 
much you can swindle out of everybody while this thing- 
lasts." 78 Crime kept pace with the city s growth; even the 

7 5#Naylor & Co., N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 19, 1864; W. S. 
to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 14, 1862, and Feb. 7, 1864. At the earlier date, 
C. H. McCormick had $104,791 in gold and W. S. McCormick $35,000. 
In Feb. 1864, C. H. McCormick held $105,701, and about half that amount 
by autumn. 

76 L.P.C.B. No. 55, p. 60, the Co. to B. G. Fitzhugh, Frederick, Md., 
Nov. 24, 1862: "Real estate is low, very cheap; the general inflation has 
not affected that yet; we can invest our money in real estate at bargains. 
. . . Real estate must feel the depreciation, and rise in value." 

77 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 4, 1863. As early as the spring of 
1862, Chicago merchants were agreed that business was better than at any 
time since before the Panic of 1857. 

78 Mary Ann to Nettie F. McCormick, Oct. 21, 22, 1863, and Mch. 5, 


main streets were unsafe after dark. Cyrus McCormick s 
home was ransacked by burglars, and thereafter, until it was 
rented, a clerk from the factory office slept in the house with a 
Colt revolver under his pillow and threads running from all 
the doors and windows to a bell at the head of his bed. 79 

In the autumn of 1862, William McCormick wished the 
firm to invest a million dollars in Chicago real estate. 80 Cyrus 
demurred, but by the close of the war the value of the partners 
properties in the city was almost that much, and were return 
ing about $100,000 a year in rents. 81 Their hotel, the Revere 
House, was a money-maker after they had widely advertised 
it among their agents in i863. 82 About a dozen stores were 
erected and as many more were purchased. The McCormicks 
were the largest landlords of Chicago and William might well 

79 C. A. Spring, Jr., to Nettie F. McCormick, July 29, 1862 ; Feb. 7, and 
May 23, 1863. L.P.C.B. No. 65, p. 595, the Co. to W. J. Beebe, Kankakee, 
111., Nov. 12, 1863; No. 80, p. 143, to P. Mohan, Louisville, Ky., May 20, 

so W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 20, Dec. n, 1862. 

81 1C A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 22, 1865. Annual rents 
paid to C. H. McCormick totaled about $40,000, while $60,000 more came 
in from properties owned by the firm. In July of that year, C. H. Mc 
Cormick s real estate in Chicago, including the factory, was valued at over 
$600,000, an increase of more than $200,000 since the previous summer. 
W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 29, 1863. Land for which the firm had 
paid $40,000 was renting @ $3,600 a year, while two stores on Lake St., 
costing $22,000, returned $2,700 a year. The heaviest purchases of city real 
estate were made during the winter of 1862-1863, and by Mch., 1863, the 
partners had invested $355,000 in this way. In September of this year, the 
firm had $500,000 in city property, $42,000 in farm lands, $157,311 loaned 
to farmers, $85,000 in gold, etc. Idem to idem, Sept. 27, 1863. 

82 Idem to idem, Feb. 15, 1863. The McCormicks distributed 100,000 circu 
lars through their agents who "will work for & fill our Hotel with cus 
tomers we think." L.P.C.B. No. 67, p. 2, W. S. McCormick to S. C. John 
son, Kenosha, Wis., Feb. 19, 1864; No. 69, p. HI, the firm made over 
$20,000 from the hotel during its first year of operation, W. S. to C. H. 
McCormick, Apr. 6, 1865. Chicago Times," Apr. 8, 1864. In 1868, following 
the death of Wm. S. McCormick and the division of the properties owned 
jointly by the partners, this hotel passed into the possession of Leander. 
It was destroyed in the fire of 1871, but two years later a new Revere House 
was opened a half-block further north. 


write to Cyrus, "We even command the respect of the Aboli 
tionists for doing so much for the City." 83 Only the commis 
sion house of C. H. McCormick & Co. failed to yield a profit. 
William wished his elder brother to enable Hugh Adams to 
improve both his social and financial standing by being "rid of 
[grain] gamblers for associates" and join the "quiet, gentle 
manly capitalists" engaged in the wholesale dry goods busi 
ness. 84 This Cyrus refused to do, and he also declined a golden 
opportunity to enter a partnership with the young and able 
Marshall Field in the same type of enterprise. 85 

With several hundred agents in all parts of the Northwest 
the firm had unusual opportunity to hear of bargains in farm 
lands. 86 Rural real estate was expected to decline in value after 
the war, but William McCormick judged that it would be al- 

83 W. S. to C H. McCormick, Dec. 13, 1863; "Chicago Times," May 8, 
13, 1864. "Chicago Daily Tribune," Oct. 8, 1863, May 20 and July 21, 1864. 

84 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 4, 1863, Feb. 28, and Dec. 14, 1864. 
W. S. McCormick to H. Adams, July 21, 1865; H. Adams to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jan. 31, 1866; C. H. McCormick to H. Adams, Mch. 27, 1877. 
Following the war, Adams continued in the commission business but was no 
longer paid a salary by the reaper firm. The concern prospered (L. J. to 
C. H. McCormick, Jan. 10, 1866; L.P.C.B. No. 89, p. 262, C. A. Spring, Jr., 
to H. Adams, Apr. 14, 1866). In the winter of 1873-1874, Adams admitted 
his eldest son, Cyrus Hall, to the firm and its name was changed to Mc 
Cormick, Adams & Co. By 1877 it was one of the largest of its kind in 
Chicago, and its profits for 1876 were said to have been between $65,000 
and $75,000. Hugh Adams died on Mch. 10, 1880, at the age of 60, but the 
business was continued. 

* 5 Ibid., No. 76, p. 383, W. S. McCormick to M. Field, Nov. 29, 1864. 
W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 31, Dec. 10, 14, 26, 31, 1864. W. S. advised 
that C. H. McCormick or the firm should put $200,000 into the venture. 
Field, who was a member of Farwell, Field & Co., was negotiating also 
with Potter Palmer. In 1865, Field and his partner, L. Z. Leiter, purchased 
the retail dry goods business of Palmer. 

86 L.P.C.B. No. 53, p. 16, the Co. to H. G. Grattan, Oct. 22, 1862: "We 
learn thru one of our agents that owners of farming lands find it very 
difficult to get tenants owing in a measure to the great drafts of men for 
the war. This is calculated to lessen the price of lands." Ibid., No. 57, p. 884, 
W. S. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Sr., Mch. 19, 1863 : "There is a great 
deal of land in market low, and for cash, very fow." 


most tax-exempt as long as the farmers held the whip-hand 
in the state legislatures, and that at least a three per cent or 
four per cent return could be counted upon annually from 
rents. 87 Compared with the large purchases of city property, 
the $100,000 used to buy over 11,000 acres outside of Chicago 
seems quite small. These holdings were scattered through 
more than fifty counties in six states of the Northwest. 88 Be 
cause of the agricultural collapse a few years after the close 
of the war, this investment was probably unwise, but as late 
as 1867 the firm believed that these properties were worth 
over half as much again as they cost. 89 

William McCormick could truthfully assert when giving an 
account of his stewardship to his brother in 1864, that no 
company funds entrusted to his care had been lost and that 
the profits of the firm would have been much larger if a less 
cautious course had been run. To find the safest rather than 
the most remunerative investment, and to divide financial risks 
as much as possible, were two considerations always upper 
most in his mind. 90 Buildings and land, gold, grain, pig-iron, 
and wood attracted most of the McCormick money during the 
Civil War and helped to place the inventor s name at the head 

87 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 19, 1862: We can buy farms under 
cultivation for $20 an acre, lease them for a rental that will return us 3% 
annually on our investment, and we can probably sell them "on time" at the 
close of the war for $15 an acre, the notes paying us 10% interest. Some 
farm property was purchased with reaper notes. L.P.C.B. No. 52, pp. 331, 
359, the Co. to S. H. Mitchell, St. Francisville, Mo., Sept. 30, 1862, and 
to C. W. Battell, Paris, 111., Oct. i, 1862; No. 55, p. 256, to W. S. Beebe, 
Kankakee, 111., Dec. 4, 1862. 

88 Of this total, 7,318 acres were in 111., 2,791 in la., 600 in Minn., 360 
in Wis., 120 in Ind., and 40 in Mich. The largest county acreage was in 
Rock Island and Pike Cys., 111., where the Co. owned 1520 and 905 acres, 
respectively. Ibid., No. 157, p. 807, Co. to J. Edgar, Rochester, Minn., 
May n, 1875: We would like to sell all of our country real estate. 

89 Financial Statements of C. H. McCormick, and C. H. McCormick & 
Bros., 1867. C. H. McCormick also invested $46,000 in farm lands. 

90 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Mch t i6 ? 1864; Jan. 19, Mch, i, May 31, 


of the income tax list of Chicago by i868. 91 "Buying and in 
vesting in advance of rising prices" was William McCor- 
mick s terse formula of success. Because competition kept the 
price of reapers at a low level while the cost of their produc 
tion almost doubled, it is evident that the prosperity of at least 
one war-time industry was not due to the exploitation of the 
consumer. The McCormick Company made much money, but 
its history during these four years does not harmonize with 
the usual story of war-profiteering and industrial expansion. 
Shrewd investment of the funds received from reaper sales, 
and not large profits from those sales, explain why the part 
ners were much richer in 1865 than they had been at the open 
ing of the conflict. 

The firm balanced its accounts on August I of each year, 
but its investments had been made in such a way that hard 
feeling between the three brothers was almost inevitable if 
the time should ever come when each must be allocated his 
proper share of the profits. Cyrus had not collected his moiety, 
and by the close of the war the company owed him over half 
a million dollars. 92 He believed that his two brothers had used 
more than their percentage of the profits for their own specu 
lations ; investments had been made contrary to his advice, and 
if he wished to assert his rights he could demand his due at 
any time in cash. But much of his portion had been used to 
buy real estate which could not readily be turned into money 
except at a loss. 93 He had complained that Leander had sub- 
si "Chicago Evening Journal," May 28, 1869. C. H. McCormick s net 
income for tax purposes in 1868 was $231,667. 

92 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 14, 1864. 

93 According to the agreement of 1859, C H. McCormick was obliged to 
furnish the money needed by the firm for manufacturing machines. But his 
two brothers used Cyrus s share of the undivided profits as well as their 
own, to purchase real estate and insisted that they were entitled to a 50% 
interest in this property. For the sake of peace, C. H. McCormick agreed, 
although a strict interpretation of the contract placed him under no obliga 
tion to do so. C. A. Spring, Sr., to C H. McCormick, Sept. 28, 1866. 


jected him to "cruel treatment" by not finishing as many ma 
chines as were needed for the European market, and he 
further angered his youngest brother by advising him not to 
forget his work at the factory while he was building his new 
residence. 94 

When Cyrus McCormick returned from Europe in the sum 
mer of 1864, a new business agreement between the brothers 
was urgently needed. This was concluded in mid-November of 
that year. The name of the firm and the portion of the profits 
to be enjoyed by each brother remained unchanged, but there 
after they were associated into a true partnership and Leander 
and William were each obliged to furnish one-fourth of the 
capital. Each of these two was to receive a salary of $6,000 a 
year, while Cyrus was guaranteed at least $1,000 annually as 
well as a bonus of $25,000 from the assets of the old firm. All 
matters in disagreement connected with the former business 
were to be submitted for decision to three arbitrators. Of sig 
nificance for the future were the provisions that certain patents 
owned by Cyrus McCormick should be purchased by the firm, 
and that all patents held by any one of the brothers could be 
used without charge by the* partnership. 95 

With this contract closed and Illinois politics no longer re 
quiring his presence in Chicago, Cyrus McCormick hurried 
to the seaboard to work for peace between the warring sections 
and to meet his wife and children upon their return from Eu 
rope. 96 He hoped that his stay might be a brief one, since he 
had recently purchased a residence on Michigan Avenue and 

94 L. J. to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 8 and Dec. 6, 1863. 

95 This agreement was made for a seven-year term on Nov. 18, 1864, and 
was to date from the first of that month. The partnership assumed all the 
assets and liabilities of the old firm. C. H. McCormick was to receive about 
$11,000 a year rent for the plant, and proportionately more if the annual 
production of machines exceeded 4,000. He agreed to supply all new ma 
chinery required by the factory. 

96 Supra, pp. 60 if. 


longed to occupy it with his family. 97 The call of business, 
however, once again determined his course. The Fifth Avenue 
Hotel in New York City was his address until November, 
1866, when he purchased a near-by residence for $80,000. 
While living at the hotel in late 1864, his three children were 
stricken with scarlet fever, and the youngest, Robert Fowler, 
succumbed to the disease. 98 

Word now came from Chicago that William S. McCormick 
was again broken in health and suffering "from nervous head 
aches, low spirits, & general debility about as he was some 
years ago/ 99 Electrical treatments, a stay of almost two 
months at a hydropathic institute in New York, and ten days 
at Dr. Seely s "water cure" at Cleveland failed to bring relief. 
By the close of the summer his case was desperate. 100 His 

97 This was No. 128 Michigan Ave., and is often called the Burch house 
in the correspondence. Its fruit orchard and "grapery" especially appealed 
to its owner, as did the greenhouse and flowers of his Dearborn Street 
home, now rented to Mr. J. Lombard. tfC. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, May 30, July 10, 13, Nov. 8, and Dec. 23, 1865. W. S. to C. H. 
McCormick, Apr. 10, n, 1865. L.P.C.B. No. 84, p. 637, C. A. Spring, Jr., 
to Mr. Lombard, Oct. 9, 1865; No. 86, pp. 167, 355, C. A. Spring, Jr., to 
C. H. McCormick, Dec. 7, 1865. Because McCormick refused to give a 
year s lease, thinking he might soon return to Chicago to live, the Michigan 
Ave. house remained unrented until the spring of 1866. 

98 Robert McCormick was a year and three months old at the time of his 
death on Jan. 6, 1865. "New York Daily Tribune," Jan. 7, 1865. Letters to 
Nettie F. McCormick from Mary C. Shields, Jan. 3, 9, 1865; Mary Ann 
McCormick, Jan. n, 1865, and Henrietta McCormick, Jan. 7, 1865. Mary 
Virginia McCormick was born in Chicago on May 5, 1861. The residence 
at 40 5th Ave. was purchased of Murray F. Smith. C. H. McCormick wrote 
to his friend J. D. Davidson on Mch. 18, 1867, that he found it necessary 
to "have a stopping place in this great centre of the country, & prospective 
centre of the world." 

99 Mary Ann to Nettie F. McCormick, Jan. 31, 1865. 

100 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 19, 22, 25, 28, 1865. L.P.C.B. No. 80, 
p. 50, C. A. Spring, Jr., to Dr. H. Brown, South Pass, 111., May 18, 1865; 
No. 83, pp. 400, 564, the Co. to J. B. McCormick, Aug. 9, 1865. C. A. 
Spring, Sr., to C H. McCormick, Aug. 8, 1865; Mary Shields to Nettie F. 
McCormick, Aug. 22, 1865 ; #B. M. Smith to W. S. McCormick, Aug. 22, 

William Sanderson McCormick 

From a photograph in the possession of the Nettie Fowler 
McCormick Biographical Association 


physical condition, religious doubts, and business cares preyed 
upon his mind, and in late August he was taken to Jackson 
ville, Illinois, to live for a time in the home of Dr. Andrew 
McFarland, the Superintendent of the State Hospital for the 
Insane. Dysentery was epidemic in that town, and when Cyrus 
visited his brother two weeks later, he vainly urged that the 
patient should be brought back to Chicago. 101 Under Dr. Mc- 
Farland s care, William s mental condition improved and his 
dyspepsia was apparently yielding to treatment. In mid-Sep 
tember, however, he was attacked by "dysentery of a typhoid 
character very little under the control of medical meas 
ures." 102 Before the end came on the twenty-seventh, he re 
gained his peace of mind, and with almost his last breath 
urged his brothers to realize the folly of money-making and 
to "forbear one another in love 1" 103 To Cyrus McCormick 
the death of William was an irreparable loss. 104 Their differ 
ences of opinion were never of a personal nature and they had 
worked together since the reaper was in its infancy. William 

101 C. H. McCormick to Dr. A. Leyburn, Oct. 9, 1865, and to G A. 
Spring, Sr,, Oct. 18, 1865. C. A. Spring, Sr., to C. A. Spring, Jr., Aug. 27, 
1865. Mr. Spring, Sr., attended William during his long illness. The patient s 
mind was intermittently clear, and he was then consulted on matters of 
business. He desired to go to Jacksonville because he feared "his mind 
may be deranged if he does not have the best of treatment." L.P.C.B. No. 83, 
p. 718, C. A. Spring, Jr., to Dr. H. Brown, Aug. 25, 1865. Dr. McFarland 
diagnosed his affliction as "softening of the brain" and believed that general 
paralysis would follow. No. 83, p. 879, C. A. Spring to J. B. McCormick, 
Sept. 2, 1865. C. H. McCormick visited his brother in Jacksonville in mid- 
September but was at Avon Springs, N. Y., at the time of his death and 
funeral. Burial was at Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, on Nov. 15, 1865. 

102 A. McFarland to C. A. Spring, Sept. 30, 1865 ; Mary Ann McCormick, 
to Nettie F. McCormick, Sept. 5, 1865. L.P.C.B. No. 84, p. 250, C. A. 
Spring, Jr., to L. J. McCormick, Sept. 17, 1865. 1C. H. McCormick to the 
Editor of "The Herald," New York, Oct. 6, 1865. 

103 C. A. Spring, Sr., to C. A. Spring, Jr., Sept. i, and 7, 1865; Letters 
to C. H. McCormick of Mary C. Shields, Oct. 5, 1865, and of Mary Ann 
McCormick, Dec. 12, 1865. 

104 C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Sr., Oct. 18, 1865. 


had conducted the business of the firm through the years of 
panic and civil 1 war with great skill. 

A new partnership arrangement between Cyrus and Leander 
was now necessary, and in June, 1866, they agreed to continue 
the interest of William s heirs in the business until 1871, or 
until such time prior to that date when Leander, as administra 
tor of his deceased brother s estate and guardian of the minor 
heirs, should see fit to withdraw it. Cyrus was released from 
his obligation to furnish machinery for the factory at his own 
expense, and Charles A. Spring, Jr., as his representative, 
together with Leander, was entrusted with the general super 
intendence and management of the firm s business. 105 Al 
though this contract declared that most of the old matters at 
issue between the partners were now passed into oblivion, the 
pact was concluded in an atmosphere of ill will, created mainly 
by disagreement over the title to certain mower patents. 1016 
Henceforward, William S. McCormick would be sorely missed 
as a peacemaker between his two brothers. 

During his last illness, he had implored Cyrus and Leander 

i 5 MS. Agreement of June 16, 1866, between C H. and L. J. McCormick, 
revising the contract of Nov. 18, 1864. C. H. McCormick furnished Leander s 
security, as administrator. 

106 Post, p. 520. C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, June 18, 1866 : 
"He [Leander] feels sore and says little. ... I advised him to forget it and 
he agreed with me." Leander submitted to his brother s view of the mower 
patent question by Feb., 1867, but upon Cyrus s return from Europe a year 
later, an old issue, involving the obligation of the firm to pay for certain 
patents which the inventor had purchased in the later 1850*3, caused a new 
rift. As in several other instances during his lifetime, Cyrus stood upon 
the spirit of, and the implied obligations in, a contract in this case the 
1859 agreement between the brothers while Leander insisted upon an ob 
servance of its letter. The amount of money in question was about $25,000. 
After much bickering and many threats of suit, a compromise was reached, 
which was chiefly in accord with L. J. McCormick s position. C. H. to L. J. 
McCormick, Apr. n, #Nov. 12, 1868. L. J. to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 23, 
1868. SJ. N. Jewett to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 22, June 4, July 8, and Sept. 
9, 1868. 


to work together in harmony, but by a strange whim of Fate 
the real estate investments made by him for the firm were now 
to lead to their further estrangement. As administrator, Lean- 
der was naturally anxious that his brother s estate should be 
settled as soon as possible, and he early decided that the heirs 
should withdraw their interest from the reaper company. 107 To 
effect this, the value of all the farms and city property held 
jointly by the partnership had to be appraised in order that an 
equitable division might be made. This was a tedious matter, 
and Cyrus McCormick, who wished both to go to Europe in 
1867 and to be on hand when the apportionment was made, 
was annoyed by Leander s determination to press ahead with 
all speed. 108 The inventor doubted the wisdom of removing 
William s investment from a profitable business, although he 
realized that to do so would save much confusion in the future 

107 The judge of the Probate Court had been loath to agree that William s 
money should remain tied up in the reaper business. He finally acquiesced, 
but with the express understanding that any losses should be borne by the 
administrator and guardian. This probably goes far to explain why Leander, 
so shortly after the contract of June i6th, determined to withdraw William s 
interest from the firm. C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, July 12, 
1866. For a time in the spring of 1867, relations between Leander and Cyrus 
were cordial, but the statement in the text is generally true. C. H. to L. J. 
McCormick, Feb. 19, 1867 : "I desire nothing but peace with all men, if that 
can be had on honorable terms; and much more especially do I desire 
peace & goodwill toward my kindred according to the flesh if that can 
be on proper terms." L. J. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 25, 1867 : "Let all 
differences between us be of the past from this time forward." 

108 JQ A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 31, 1866, Sept 19 and 
Mch. 1 6, 1867. Spring agreed with Leander and believed that the division 
of the real estate should be made at once and that the interest of William s 
heirs should be taken out of the business. At the time of his death, W. S. 
McCormick owned fourteen houses in Chicago and several more jointly 
with one or another of his brothers, in addition to his one-fourth interest 
in the large holdings of the firm. L.P.C.B. No. 96, p. 645, C. A. Spring to 
C. H. McCormick, Mch. 22, 1867. C. H. McCormick was relieved to learn 
that even though he should be in Europe at the time the division was made, 
he would be allowed five years in which to file an appeal in case he deemed 
it to be unfair. C. H. to L. J. McCormick, Mch. 26, 1867. 


and give him a dominant voice in the policy of the firm. 109 On 
the other hand, farm values were declining, and the partners 
would be unable to unload their country property as long as 
the slow work of arriving at a just division was in progress. 110 
Even though William s share were drawn out, his estate could 
not be settled, for his five children were all minors and one of 
them would not reach her majority until iSSi. 111 

The division of the firm s property was not completed until 
i869. 112 Fortunately, the commissioners made the allotments 
so fairly that no one of the three parties in interest had just 
cause for complaint. 113 Thereafter, for the next twenty years, 
the company gradually sold its country real estate as favor 
able opportunities appeared. The firm of C. H. McCormick 
& Bro., in which Cyrus and Leander had a two-thirds and 
one-third interest respectively, agreed to give the heirs of 
William $400,000 for their share in the business. 114 This 
large payment, and the need for each surviving partner to 
invest more money in the company, called for a financial out 
lay which neither brother was prepared to meet. Leander was 
particularly embarrassed, and after trying various expedients 
which need not be described here, Cyrus McCormick borrowed 

109 As long as W. S. McCormick s heirs retained a share in the partner 
ship, Leander could speak for them as well as for himself. He and his 
deceased brother each had a one-fourth interest. Thus his opinion was now 
equal in weight to that of his elder brother. 

110 L.P.CB. No. 95, p. 565, the Co. to D. W. Fairbanks, Concord, 111., 
Feb. 16, 1867. 

^L.P.CB. No. 161, pp. 364-365, L. J. McCormick to J. S. Waterman, 
Sycamore, 111., Aug. 12, 1875. 

112 The court order for the division of the real estate was not issued until 
Sept, 1868. *C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 28, 1868. L.P.C.B. 
No. 105, p. 679, the Co. to Dr. H. Brown, South Pass, 111, June 18, 1868; 
No. 108, C. A. Spring, Jr., to D. W. Cobb, Marshalltown, la., Oct. 24, 
1868; C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Jr., Oct. 22, 1868. 

118 SC. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 5 and 19, 1868. C. H. 
McCormick to C. A. Spring, Jr., Dec. 9, 1868. 

114 #C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 30, 1868. 


$200,000 of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. and 
loaned one half of it to his brother on real estate security. 
The interest to be paid by Leander on this sum was soon in 
dispute, although for a time the relations between the partners 
were generally cordial. 115 

In 1867, the real estate of Cyrus McCormick, both in and 
outside of Chicago, was worth almost twice as much as he had 
paid for it. His annual income from rents was $95,000, and of 
this total about one-third was derived from his two principal 
groups of stores, known as the McCormick and Larmon 
Blocks. In addition to this sum, the reaper company collected 
each year from its own tenants over $130,000, of which the 
senior partner was entitled to one-half. 116 To put the matter 
differently, a decade after the inventor began to invest heavily 
in real estate, his annual rents amounted to about one-third 
of the profits from the sale of reapers and mowers. Thanks 
to the expert management of Charles A. Spring, Jr., assisted 
by his father during the rush of the spring leasing season, 
these properties demanded but little of the inventor s time and 
thought. Speculations at this time in mines and railroads re 
quired more of his attention but brought him a smaller re 

115 Idem to idem, June i and Aug. 30, 1867; Apr. 28 and 30, 1868; Mch. 
17, 19, Apr. 19, 22 and 23, 1870; May 13, June 15, Aug. 7, and 8, 1871. 
#L.P.CB., No. I, 2nd ser., pp. 34, 58, 82, C H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, 
Jr., Apr. 20, and 28, 1870, and to the McCormick Co., Apr. 19, 1870. At 
this time, C. H. McCormick had advanced the firm more money than he 
was obliged to do under the contract. He desired to use these funds for 
other purposes, and called upon Leander to contribute his due share to the 
factory s treasury. C. H. McCormick repaid $100,000 of his loan from the 
Insurance Co., in July, 1871. See, ibid., No. 127, p. 581, C. A. Spring, Jr., 
to the Conn. Mutual Life Ins. Co., Hartford, Conn., June 29, 1871. C. H. 
McCormick s heavy borrowings at this time were also due to his large loans 
to the Union Pacific Railroad Co. Post, p. 137. 

116 The value of McCormick s real estate in 1867 was said to be $1,347,522. 
This represented an investment by him of $718,479. About 7% of his rents 
were derived from farm lands. The firm had farm properties valued at 
$150,000, and about 4% of its total rents came from this source. 


CYRUS McCORMICK, the conservative in politics and 
religion, the innovator in methods of manufacturing and 
harvesting, the investor in gilt-edge Chicago real estate, was 
also fascinated by speculative risks, offering remote chances 
of large profits. He relished a new financial adventure and en 
joyed it as long as it was exciting and not too expensive. Par 
ticipation in hazardous schemes afforded him a release from 
the humdrum affairs of every day. He shared the spirit of the 
rich and would-be rich of his generation, men who thought of 
progress in terms of rapid exploitation of natural resources. 
To subdue a continent was to confer a public benefit, and in 
his opinion no instrument was better adapted to achieve this 
end than the railroad. 

In the summer of 1865 George Francis Train, "a splendid, 
dashing-looking fellow, with a head like Apollo s, a voice full 
of music, a hand with an electric thrill in its grasp/ was tak 
ing a "water cure" at the Hydropathic Institute in New York 
City. Here Cyrus McCormick met him and was regaled with a 
rosy account of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Credit 
Mobilier. Soon the inventor s heavy purchases of stock in 
both of these companies led Train to congratulate him upon 
his admission to the "Pacific Board of Brothers." a 

1 A. C. Cole, "The Irrepressible Conflict, 1850-1865" (N. Y. 1934), p. 11. 
U.P.R.R. Co., N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 5, 1865. This letter makes 
clear that McCormick had purchased 250 shares of Credit Mobilier stock 
for $50,000. See also, ^Receipt of H. C. Crane, Asst. Treas. of C. M., to 
C. H. McCormick, Nov. 20, 1865. By the close of 1866, McCormick owned 



The Credit Mobilier [continued Train] , is made up of wealthy 
men ; and owning the the [sic] Pacific Contract 2 Someday will be 
the Grandest Financial Institution in the world. What other Bank 
ing concern ever had $100,000,000 Government Bonds and 20,- 
000,000 acres of Land for a Base ? . . . You are just the man to 
be interested in the World s Highway Paris to Pekin in Thirty 
Days, by Two Ocean Ferry Boats and Continental Railway. 

Your $50,000 interest, in five years, I believe will be worth 
$500,000. ... 

I want you to know Gen l Dix and Mr. Cisco as well as your 
Brother Contractors. You will find Durant a live man This is 
the project of his life, and he succeeds in Everything he under 
takes. I hope you will try that Yacht of his before you leave the 
City. 3 

"To oblige two or three wealthy parties/ the capital of the 
Credit Mobilier was enlarged and care was taken to admit a 
few Democrats to its benefits, "for we have too many Repub 
licans now." 4 On this score too, ^cCormick qualified, and by 
October he was also a director of the Union Pacific Railroad 
Company. 5 

Some who were prominent in this enterprise and were Cre 
dit Mobilier stock-holders as well, were aware of still another 
opportunity to make large profits. With Train as its president, 

945 shares of C. M. stock and 1251 shares of U. P. stock. L.P.C.B. No. 96, 
p. 330, C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, May 12, 1867. C. H. Mc- 
Cormick s earliest purchase of railroad securities was in 1858 when he in 
vested $600 in the stock of the Galena & Chicago R.R. In 1865 he also pur 
chased 550 shares of the Chicago & Rock Island R.R. 

2 The "Pacific Contract" was the Hoxie Contract of 1864, to build about 
250 miles of the railroad for over $12,000,000. The obligations and benefits 
of this agreement were assumed by the Credit Mobilier Co. in the spring of 

3 JG. F. Train to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 28, 1865. John A. Dix was 
president of the U.P.R.R. Co., and John J. Cisco was treasurer. Thomas 
C. Durant was president of the Credit Mobilier and vice-pres. of the Union 

*Idem to idem, Sept. 29, 1865. 

s U.P.R.R. Co., N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 5, 1865. He was also 
a member of the Finance Committee of the Board. 


and George P. Bemis, secretary, the Credit Fonder, or Pacific 
Cottage and Land Company, was organized tinder a charter 
from Nebraska Territory. 6 It was described in its prospectus 
as "a wheel within a wheel," and its sponsors felt no scruples 
in referring to its membership as a "Ring." 7 Although "en 
tirely independent of the Pacific and Credit Mobilier," its 
identity of personnel with these gave it "the advantage of 
knowing where Station Buildings and Towns will be built" 
along the railroad. 8 Profiting by their advance information, 
the concern planned to buy land and erect houses for the work 
men along the right of way. "As towns will be started at every 
station on the U.P., the idea [behind the Credit Foncier] is 
but in its infancy, and by reinvesting the profits every forty 
miles where the station is built & town started, leaving the 
alternate lots of land to increase in value, the man who puts 
down his one thousand dollars now can judge of the harvest 
he will reap." 9 

McCormick took his allotted share in this grandiose enter 
prise and was made one of the seven directors. It soon at 
tracted to its subscription list members of Congress and well- 
known business men such as George M. Pullman and Ben 

6 The act of incorporation was passed on Feb. 15, 1866, over the gover 
nor s veto. The capital might be increased to $1,000,000, but at the outset 
it was $100,000, divided into 100 shares. "It will be a new idea in American 
Finance, to see a special co-partnership of Millionaires, where no one risks 
but One Thousand Dollars, which may indirectly represent a Thousand 

7 Prospectus of Credit Foncier of America, 1866. In this, the plan was 
said to be based on "Pereire s system" of Credit Mobilier and Credit 
Foncier, sponsored by Napoleon III, "the best statesman in Europe, and the 
best financier in the world." G. F. Train to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 29, 

8 Ibid. Each subscriber to the Credit Mobilier stock was given the option 
of purchasing one share in Credit Foncier. 

9 G. P. Bemis to C. H. McCormick, Feb. I, 1866. In its prospectus, the 
Credit Foncier group frankly stated that it proposed "to own the towns and 
cities at every station on the line of the Pacific Railway." 


Holladay of the Overland Stage Company. 1 * Except for a 
purchase of eighty acres of land at Omaha and the erection of 
a few houses there, its dream was never realized. It remains, 
however, an excellent illustration of the business "temper" of 
the times and the close tie-up between politics and private 
enterprise. 11 

For about five years, McCormick s investments in the Credit 
Mobilier brought him a golden return. A fifty per cent divi 
dend was declared in the summer of 1866 and by the close 
of 1868 profits in the form of cash and Union Pacific stocks 
and bonds totaled several times the amount of his subscrip 
tion. 12 Credit Mobilier stock "skyrocketed * and the company s 
undivided profits were then very large. This rich harvest re 
sulted from the assignment by the Ames brothers to the Credit 
Mobilier of their 1867 contract with the Union Pacific to build 
the line west of the looth meridian. 13 

As a director and big stock-holder of the railroad company, 
McCormick was afforded the opportunity to loan it large sums 
of money on short term at high rates of interest. On every 

10 Other members of the Credit Fonder were T. C, Durant, J. A. Dix, 
J. J. Cisco, H. S. McComb, H. Clews, Simon Cameron, P. H. Smith (vice- 
pres. of the N.W.R.R.), C. H, Ray (of "Chicago Tribune"), W. G. Fargo, 
C. A. Seward (late Asst. Secy, of State), G. T. Brown (Sergeant- At- Arms 
pf the U.S. Senate), J. W. Forney (Secy, of the Senate), Senator S. C. 
Pomeroy, and the following members of the House of Representatives, W. D. 
Kelley, H. T. Blow, W. B. Allison, O. Ames, and R. T. Van Horn. 

iitfLetters to C. H. McCormick of G. P. Bemis, Nov. i, 1866, G. F. 
Train, Mch. 30, 1867, and H. M. Taber, N. Y., Jan. 8, 1873. 

12 Letters to C. H. McCormick, from John Duff, Sept 21, 1866, and S. L. 
M. Barlow, Jan. 7, 1868. C. H. Adams for C. H. McCormick to C A. 
Spring, Jr., July 3 and Nov. 25, 1868, and Jan. 7, 1869. During 1868 Mc 
Cormick received dividends of 155% from his C. M. investment and on 
Jan. 6, 1869, a 200% dividend. C. H. McCormick s financial balance-sheet 
for Jan. i, 1869, shows his C. M. profit as $565,687.25, or almost 600% 
on his investment. 

13 A construction agreement was, as a rule, not made directly with the 
Credit Mobilier, but with an individual who assigned it to certain stock 
holders of that concern. 


sum advanced, he also received a brokerage fee of one or two 
per cent. These loans were so remunerative that he borrowed 
heavily from banks and insurance companies in order to be 
able to make them. 14 On his motion in the spring of 1867, the 
directors of the Union Pacific appropriated $10,000 to use in 
advertising its stocks and bonds in Europe in connection with 
the Paris Exposition and to make known "the size and im 
portance of the U.P.Rd." He, Samuel B. Ruggles who was 
the Commissioner of the United States at the Fair, and John 
A. Dix the Ambassador of the United States to France, were 
appointed a committee to spend this money. 15 The inventor 

14 Thus on June 15, 1867, he wrote to his broker, S. L. M. Barlow, of 
N. Y. : ". . . they allow say 14^ % per cent int. on so much as I have in the 
P.[acific] R.R. for 4 mos (with "commissions") like others" This letter is 
in Room No. 400, 606 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Soon however, the rail 
road co. refused to pay more than 7% (plus i% commission) on its loans, 
but McCormick continued to advance large sums ($100,000 to $200,000 at 
various times), especially in 1868. See, C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, 
Jr., #Apr. i, #May 30, #June 8, and Oct. 22, 1868; C. A. Spring, Jr., to 
C H. McCormick, Nov. 12, 1867; L.P.CB. No. 101, p. 738, C. A. Spring, 
Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 29, 1867. C. H. Adams, for C. H. Mc 
Cormick, to C. A. Spring, Jr., Jan. 14, 1869. In this letter it is stated that 

C. H. McCormick had loaned $100,000 to the U.P. and wished to double it 
"immediately in order to secure a large rate of interest & commission 
which is paid to the members of the Co. only." Although the road was not 
generous in issuing passes, McCormick secured several for ministers whom 
he wished to befriend. #J. Duff to C. H. McCormick, June 5, and 17* 
1869; C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Jr., June 28, 1869, and to J. Duff, 
June 10, 1869. #B. M. Smith, Hampden Sidney, Va., to C. H. McCormick, 
June 1 6, 1869. 

15 Letters to C. H. McCormick from Oliver Ames, Mch. i, 1867, ftLouis 

D. Combe, Paris, Jan. 5, 1868, and #J. A. Dix, Paris, Apr. 17, 1868. Dix 
wrote: "I should certainly have been very agreeable to remain at the head 
of the Co. until it met the Central [Pacific], but it is no doubt best as it is. 
I have purchased $30,000 of the first mortgage Bonds, and, of course, feel 
deeply interested in the prosperity of the Company." #C. R. Norton of 
Norton & Co., Bankers, Paris, to C. H. McCormick, June 9, 1868. He asked 
C. H. McCormick to use his influence to gain the appointment of his firm 
as financial agent in Europe of the U.P. He believed that he could sell 
$4,000,000 worth of the bonds in Europe. "These bonds would be very 
popular in Germany." He advised that the U.P. Co. should issue land 
mortgage bonds of small denomination, each to bear a coupon, which when 


believed that his contribution to the enterprise was of service to 
the public and should be given consideration in estimating his 
qualifications for admittance to the French Legion of Honor. 16 
In that same year, he and John Duff of Boston were named 
trustees of the lands granted by the national government to 
the road. 17 With this property as security, ten $1,000 bonds 
were issued for each mile of track laid. Many of these were 
turned over to the Credit Mobilier in part payment for its 
construction work. The two trustees were obliged to sign every 
bond, and McCormick wrote his name on about ten thousand 
of them. For this purpose he was expected to go to the Boston 
office of the Union Pacific Company whenever a new issue 
was made, but most often he required the annoyed treasurer 
to send the securities by special messenger to his home in New 
York or Richfield Springs. 18 Although he asked to be paid 
one dollar for every bond that he signed, the Union Pacific 
Company refused to agree that his autograph was so valuable, 
and he eventually consented to accept $5,000 in full payment 
for his services. 19 

detached would entitle the holder to a passage to Omaha where he might 
settle along the line of the road. C. H. McCormick to C. R. Norton, July 29, 
1868. McCormick thought that the bonds were selling too well in the U.S., 
to try to market them abroad. 

16 C. H. McCormick to JL T. Griffin, Apr. 25, 1867, and to M. Chevalier, 
Paris, Sept. 12, 1868: "The U. Pacific is going forward very fast & the 
stock in our Credit Mobilier in connection with it is now 4 to one advanced. 
... In fact nothing is lacking to see our great country advancing to front 
rank among nations, but the overthrow of the present Radical rule, wh. I 
Hope is soon to be realized. I hope Gen l Dix is not for Grant for Pres." 

17 MS. Indenture between the U.P.R.R. Co., C. H. McCormick, and John 
Duff, Apr. 16, 1867. C. Tuttle to C. H. McCormick, Mck 28, 1867. 

18 #Oliver Ames to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 20, 1869, and *J. M. S. 
Williams to him on June 15, 25, July 16, Aug. 20, 31, and Sept. 2, 1869: 
"As the mountain couldn t come to the mole hill, we must go to the moun 
tain, with our Bonds." 

19 Letters to C. H. McCormick of *J. Duff, Dec. 2, 1874, S. Dillon, Jan. 8, 
1876, and H. Day, #June 17, 1876, Mch. 31, Apr. 10, #May 5, and July 14, 
1877; #F. H. Matthews to H. Day, Apr. 4, 1877. 8L.P.CB. No. 4, 2nd ser., 
p. 89, C. H. McCormick to F. H. Matthews, Nov. 25, 1877. 


The directors of the Union Pacific were not a harmonious 
"band of brothers." Personal jealousies and differences on 
matters of policy served to divide them. The Durant faction 
wished to build the line as inexpensively as possible so as to 
have for its own pockets a large surplus from the government 
subsidies, while the Ames group believed the construction 
work should be done with more care, since it optimistically ex 
pected that the road would operate at a profit as soon as it 
was ready for use. By 1867 a modus vivendi had been ar 
ranged, but Oliver and Oakes Ames were in the ascendancy. 20 
At this time McCormick, who had favored their position, left 
for a long stay abroad. On his return in the spring of 1868 
he learned that he had been dropped from the board of direc 
tors. Why he was displaced is by no means clear because his 
relations with the Ameses remained cordial, and he was re 
stored to the board in the following year. 21 In any event his 
absence in Europe was a stroke of good fortune. While there, 
Oakes Ames, who feared that the legality of the contract made 
by the Union Pacific with the Credit Mobilier might be chal 
lenged, sold on favorable terms to certain members of Con- 

20 In Aug., 1867, the board of directors, including Durant, accepted the 
proposal of Oakes Ames that he should build the road west of the zooth 
meridian and receive his pay in the stocks and bonds of the U.P. It was 
known that Ames would assign to the Credit Mobilier. Oliver Ames wrote 
to C. H. McCormick on Aug. 23: "I think the Dr. [Durant] found that he 
was getting in a position where he would be deprived of all power in the 
Road and is now anxious to make friends in the Board. This Contract will 
give a large amt. of Stock to Cr. Mobr. We are getting on Splendidly with 
the Road. . . . We are selling our Bonds Rapidly and our Finances are in 
first rate condition. . . . Your investment in the road looks as though it 
would pay 100 per cent this year. Our only Trouble now is with the 
Indians." Oliver Ames to C. H. McCormick, July 18, 1867: "Durant s In 
junction don t stop us. But he is annoying us every sort of way and we 
want a strong body of the Stockholding Directors at our next meeting who 
are too honest to lend themselves to plunder." 

21 J. M. S. Williams to C. H. McCormick, May 22, 1869; C H. Mc 
Cormick to J. M. S. Williams, May 24, 1869; #C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. 
McCormick, May 26, 1869. 


gress whose friendship was desired, stock of the construction 
company, and thereby prepared the way for the scandal of 
1872. Cyrus McCormick, at least, would have a convincing 

By May, 1869, when the simple and impressive ceremony 
at Promontory Point in Utah marked the completion of the 
first transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific Company was 
under heavy fire. James Fisk and others of the Wall Street 
crowd were convinced that as stock-holders they had not re 
ceived their due share of the profits. They secured from pliable 
judges in New York City a court order to restrain the road 
from disposing of its assets, pending an investigation of its 
financial management. 22 At this time Cyrus McCormick was 
owed about $250,000 by the company and held its land grant 
and first mortgage bonds to the amount of $275,000 as his se 
curity. On the evening of April 26, a bailiff appeared at the 
door of his Fifth Avenue residence with a process designed to 
prevent him from disposing of these securities. Luck favored 
the inventor, since the paper was made out in the name of 
"Charles H. McCormick" and he refused to accept it. As soon 
as the embarrassed deputy had left, McCormick penned a 
hasty note to Oliver Ames, the president of the road. "A hint 
is said to be sufficient for the wise," he wrote, "and I con 
cluded it better no longer to hold any of these Bonds as col 
laterals." He took the securities for his own in payment of his 

22 JJ. Duff, Washington, to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 20, 1869: "I under 
stand that the Erie Ring and the Central Pacific are working against us^but 
I hope we shall get something that will releive [sic] us from the Judiciary 
of New York City." C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Jr., Apr. (?), 
1869 : "There will be perhaps a great demand here latter part next week for 
money in connection with Pa. R.R. investigation (disgraceful) by a scoun 
drel Fisk. I have been told to have money ready by that time, if possible, 
as important results may be secured by it. ... Could you send me $50,000 
as soon as you get this?" 1C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 27, 
1869: I borrowed the $50,000 from the Bank for you @ 8%. 


loan, sending to Ames on the same evening a check for $25,- 
ooo and the canceled "I O U S" of the Union Pacific 23 

By this time, however, McCormick was also convinced that 
the management of the company was dishonest and that he had 
not received all of the profits that were rightfully his due. 
"While others have got Bonds largely," he complained to its 
treasurer, "I have not nor have I yet sold a dollar of them 
not wishing like others to keep the price down by keeping the 

market glutted, &c! H says B is $400,000 behind! 

. . . We all [the Directors at yesterday s meeting] feel that 
there has been large stealing in this business, while I have not 
an equal chance at that." 24 

He admitted that he was "entirely too slow for this 
game," 25 and therafter refused to loan the road as liberally 
as before until the "vast whirlpool somewhere that swallows 
up [money] faster than it can be supplied" was revealed. 26 

Although the company was in a very shaky financial con 
dition, its officials deluded themselves with the belief that 

23 C. H. McCormick to Oliver Ames, Apr. 26, 1869. A. C Rogers for 
C. H, McCormick to C. A. Spring, Jr., May i, 1869. The Fisk group 
petitioned that the U.P.R.R. should be declared bankrupt, and a N.Y. judge 
appointed "Boss" Tweed s son, receiver of the Co s. assets. But the officials 
of the road managed to remove most of its securities and cash from the 
jurisdiction of the court. The story is told in dramatic fashion by Robert H. 
Fuller in his "Jubilee Jim" (N.Y., 1928), pp. 215 ff. 

24 C. H. McCormick to J. M. S. Williams, June 26, 1869. From a letter 
to Williams on Aug. 3, it is evident that McCormick meant Cornelius S. 
Bushnell by "B." Who "H" was, is not certain, although probably Springer 
Harbaugh or Rowland Hazard. ^Undated letter in C. H. McCormick s hand, 
probably written in 1869 to J. M. S. Williams: "There is little doubt I 
suppose that there has been enormous stealing in some way in connection 
with the building of the Road! Where has [sic] all the proceeds of the 
Govt & Mortgage Bonds with the Capital of the Stockholders gone to? 
Of course you know I have not been in a position to know any thing about 
the practical details of this business." 

25 C. H. McCormick to J. M. S. Williams, Aug. 3, 1869. 

2Q $Idem to idem, Aug. 2, 1869: "$600,000 & over rec d from Govt. again 
where all gone to?" 


prosperity would return as soon as the national government 
placed its seal of approval upon the completed road and paid 
the amount due under its contract. To secure this approval, 
John Duff, Cornelius Bushnell, and others, exerted pressure 
upon prominent members of Congress. 

Wade & Conklin(g) are enthusiastic about the road," 
wrote Duff, "& have telegraphed Cox and the President that 
it is the best road they ever rode on and its equipment & 
buildings are Superior to any in the United States they ex 
amined everything thoroughly & will speak understandingly 
Wade says he will go to Washington & tell Grant that we have 
built the best road in the world & that you can ride fifty miles 
per hour as safely as twenty." 27 

But Congress moved slowly and Union Pacific securities 
steadily declined. In an effort to sustain their market value, 
big stock-holders of the company were urged not to unload 
their paper while the price was low. 28 

McCormick was willing to cooperate with his associates to 
this end as long as all loyally played the game, but it was 
patent that a few men were violating their pledges to their 
own profit and to his loss. In the autumn of 1870, he refused 
longer to stand passively by while Union Pacific stocks and 
bonds fell lower and lower. During the following year, he re 
leased almost $250,000 worth of this stock at sacrifice prices. 29 

27 J. M. S. Williams to C. H. McCormick, July 10, 1869, quoting a letter 
written to him by J. Duff on July 5. 

28 #Circular Letter of the U.P.R.R. Co. to its Stock-holders, Aug. n, 

29 C. H. McCormick to R. Welsh, July 4, 1870; SF. D. Cobb & Co. to 
C. H. McCormick, Oct. 5, 1870; 1C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Sept. 30 and Oct. 8, 1870 ; C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Jr., May 9, 
1871. On May 8, McCormick sold 6200 shares of U.P. stock @ about 32. 
He had sold 500 shares in the preceding Oct. @ 27^. By 1877 he held 
only ii shares. In order that his disposal of the stock might not he known, 
his shares were sold in the name of W. H. Taylor, an employee of his 


According to his balance-sheet of August i, 1871, his remain 
ing shares of stock in this company and his Credit Mobilier 
securities with a face value of $111,000 and $95,000 respec 
tively, were of little value. 30 Two years later he ordered his 
broker to sell most of his Union Pacific bonds, and shortly 
thereafter he resigned as trustee of the land grant bonds. 31 

Thus McCormick s official connection with the Union Pa 
cific Railroad Company ended in 1873, although he was still 
a large stock-holder in the Credit Mobilier. Since the summer 
of the preceding year, the affairs of this construction company 
had been the talk of America. In 1868, Henry S. McComb 
of Wilmington, Delaware, brought suit to compel the Credit 
Mobilier to deliver to him 375 shares of its stock for which 
he claimed to have subscribed. He charged that Oakes Ames 
had been given most of these securities to distribute at Wash 
ington "where they will do most good." 32 This court action 
reached its climax in the late summer of 1872, when the 
Democrats and Liberal Republicans endeavored to discredit 
some of the "Stalwarts" in the presidential election campaign 
by pointing with disgust to the revelations made in the pub 
lished Ames-McComb correspondence. 33 Cyru s McCormick 
was directing the campaign of his party in Illinois that au 
tumn, but if the Credit Mobilier scandal disturbed him, at 
least no reference to it is found in his correspondence. He had 
had no part in the transactions that were under fire and his 
name was rarely mentioned either in the testimony given be- 

30 C. H. McCormick s Balance Sheet, Aug. i, 1871. He also owned at this 
time over $73,000 of U.P. first mortgage bonds, over $163,000 of its income 
bonds, and about $26,000 of its land grant bonds. 

81 Lord, Day & Lord, N. Y., to C. A. Spring, Jr., Feb. 24 and 27, 1873. 
C. H. McCormick resigned as trustee on June 28, 1873 (#C. H. McCormick 
to J. Duff, June 28, 1873), but his resignation was not accepted until Oct. 15, 
1873 (E. H. Rollins, Boston, to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 28, 1873). 

32 Oakes Ames to H. S. McComb, Jan. 25, 1868, printed on pp. 104-105 
of J. B. Crawford, "The Credit Mobilier of America" (Boston, 1880). 

33 "New York Sun," Sept 4, 1872. 


fore the Poland Investigation Committee of Congress or in the 
several monographs that have been since written on the history 
of the Credit Mobilier. He was aware that the course of some 
of its officials had been a sinuous one, but he believed that 
the company had performed a great public service and that its 
profits had not been excessive in view of the large risks in 
volved. 34 

The work of the Credit Mobilier was finished in 1869 and 
its officials, in order to avoid paying state taxes longer than 
was necessary, wished to surrender its charter as soon as the 
McComb suit was settled. 35 Following the Panic of 1873, 
however, Jay Gould gained control of the Union Pacific Rail 
road Company and certain of its stock-holders threatened to 
hale the Credit Mobilier before a court in order to compel it 
to return all of its "profits and Dividends." Oakes Ames was 
dead, but his brother, Oliver, was still a director of the rail 
road and hoped that there were enough Credit Mobilier men 
on the board "to settle the whole matter (without suit) and 
release us from all future Liability." Although he admitted 
that if action were brought it would be Very dangerous/ he 
believed that the Credit Mobilier had a rightful claim against 
the Union Pacific for an amount of money about equal to the 
sum which the disgruntled railroad stock-holders expected to 
compel the construction company to disgorge. 36 

*C. H. McCormick to H. Day, July 7, 1877. Henry K. White, "The 
Building- and Cost of the Union Pacific," in William Z. Ripley, ed., "Rail 
way Problems" (Boston, 1907), p. 97. White, after a careful analysis of the 
records available, estimates that the total profit gained from building the 
Union Pacific was "slightly above 27 H per cent of the cost of the road. 
Considering the character of the undertaking and the time when it was 
carried through, this does not seem an immoderate profit." Interview with 
C. H. McCormick about Credit Mobilier, in "Chicago Times" of May 28, 

35 SB. F. Ham, N. Y., to C H. McCormick, May 6, 1872. 

36 Letters to C. H. McCormick of O. Ames, Aug-. 24, 1875, June 14 and 
17, 1876, F. H. Janvier, Oct. 14, 1875, and H. Day, June 21, 1876. Day 
reported that the Credit Mobilier had a claim of $2,263,620.13 against the 


McCormick was no longer on cordial terms with the leading 
spirits of the Credit Mobilier. He had refused to contribute 
money to its defense in an action brought against it by the 
United States. 37 After resuming his residence in Chicago in 
1871, he was unable to talk with big railroad men almost daily 
in the lobbies of the Fifth Avenue Hotel. If any more profit 
could be realized from his Credit Mobilier stock he wished to 
have it. 38 He asked his New York friend and counsel, Henry 
Day, to investigate and tell him what to do. Day first advised 
that because of the apparent intention of the Union Pacific 
stock-holders to sue, "it would be discreet to be satisfied with 
what you have received from the C. M. & take a release from 
them [the U.P.] of all further claims & give up the Stock 
[of the Cred. Mobr.] to them." 39 The following day, how 
ever, after talking to Durant and McComb, he hastened to 
assure the inventor that the old Credit Mobilier group, still 
owning many shares of Union Pacific stock, could probably 
dominate the stock-holders meeting of the road as well as its 
board of directors. If this proved to be the case, not only could 
court action be prevented, but some of the alleged claims of 
the Union Pacific against the Credit Mobilier would be 
shelved. Should this happen, the board of directors of the rail 
road would probably recognize the validity of the Credit 
Mobilier s bill of about two and a half millions of dollars 

U. P., and that this road had claims against the C. M. of $2,516,348.09. 
#MS. entitled "Arrangement, as proposed by H. S. McComb, for collection 
of the Union Pacific s $2,000,000 note due to the Credit Mobilier of 

87 S. Dillon to C. H. McCormick, Jan 8 and #Nov. 13, 1876, SB. F. Ham, 
to C. H. McCormick, July 13, 1876. This suit had been won by the C. M. 
at a cost of $22,500 in counsel fees. SL.P.C.B., June 1876 Apr. 1878, p. 57, 
F. H. Matthews to H. Day, Apr. 4, 1877, C. H. McCormick did not help 
pay the cost of this suit because the U.P.R.R. had not compensated him for 
his services as trustee of the land grant bonds. 

88 H. Day to C. H. McCormick, June 21, 1876. 
39 Idem to idem, June 21, 1876. 


against the road. In this event, the stock of the construction 
company, now worthless, could be canceled for about sixty- 
five per cent of its par value. To Cyrus McCormick this would 
mean an unexpected windfall of approximately $6o,ooo. 40 

That the Credit Mobilier, when on its deathbed, might be 
able in this way still further to "bleed" the stock-holders of 
the Union Pacific Railroad, was highly improbable. Most of 
the prominent members of the construction company, fearing 
the outcome if a suit were brought against them by the Union 
Pacific, made haste to turn in their Credit Mobilier stock to 
the road and receive a release from all future claims. 41 Not 
so, however, Cyrus McCormick, Henry S. McComb, and Row 
land G. Hazard. They met in conference in July, 1877, and 
decided that the Credit Mobilier s bill against the Union Pa 
cific could be collected. 42 By this time Day had once again 
changed his opinion, and was now certain that McCormick was 
taking a big risk. "I should not want to have you sued by 
Mr. Gould or any other of these gentlemen on a/c of the C. M. 
It would be a long, ugly & troublesome affair depending very 
much upon evidence under their own control/ 43 Pressed from 
all sides by those who urged him to close this chapter of his 
financial career, the inventor finally yielded in December, 1877, 
and relinquished his 945 shares of Credit Mobilier stock to 
the Union Pacific. 44 

40 Idem to idem, June 22, 1876. 

41 Oliver Ames to C. H. McCormick, June 14 and 17, 1876. He urges 
C. H. to send in his Credit Mobilier stock "& a power of Atty. to sign your 
name to the paper exempting you from Liability to U.P.R.R. or any Stock 
holder thereof on a/c of any Div d. reed that rightfully belonged to the IIP. 
I think Senator Grimes widow of Iowa but a few days since sent in a paper 
of this kind with her Cr. Mobr. Stock." 

42 C. H. McCormick to R. G. Hazard, Peace Dale, R. I., Aug. i, 1877. 
H. S. McComb to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 21, 1877. 

43 H. Day to C. H. McCormick, July 14 and Apr. 10, 1877. ftL.P.CB., 
June 1876 Apr. 1878, pp. 57, 59, F. H. Matthews to H. Day, Apr. 4, 1877. 

44 C. H. McCormick s long delay in surrendering this stock was due, in 
a measure, to his insistence that as a partial quid pro quo he should be com- 


During the fifteen years following the Civil War, McCor- 
mick was associated as a stock-holder with several of the 
Union Pacific leaders already mentioned, and with John I. 
Blair and C. E. Vail, in building railroads in Iowa and Ne 
braska with the aid of government subsidies. These half-dozen 
enterprises stemmed back to the original Iowa Railway Con 
struction Company in which McCormick invested $50,000 
during i866. 45 After paying in four-fifths of his subscription, 
the balance due was transferred to the Sioux City & Pacific 
Railway Company, while his dividends from the Iowa Com 
pany were in the form of bonds of the Cedar Rapids & Mis 
souri River Railroad. 46 This is merely a sample of the con 
fused interlocking of the securities of these lines and several 
others. By 1879 the farthest west strand of this tangled web 
was forty miles up the Elkhorn Valley from Wisner, Ne 
braska. 47 These roads were for the most part pushed too 

pensated for his services as trustee of the land grant bonds. See, supra, 
p. 139. H. Day to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 7, 1877 and Sept. 18, 1879. Two 
telegrams of S. Dillon to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 14, 1877. #C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 29, 1882. 

45 C. H. McCormick to J. M. Williams, Aug. 20, 1866. SMS. Account- 
book of C. H. McCormick called "Journal A" and begun in Nov., 1866, 
pp. 91-94. #C. E. Vail to C. H. McCormick, May 9, June 3, 1868, and 
Feb. 24, 1870. John I. Blair was a leading Presbyterian and a benefactor of 
Blair Academy, Lafayette College, and Princeton College. 

46 #J. M. Williams, Boston, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 26, 1866, and 
#C. E. Vail to him on May 15, 1868. 

47 C. H. McCormick invested $40,000 in the Iowa Railway Contracting 
Co., and when this concern settled up its affairs he received $30,000 in the 
bonds of the Cedar Rapids & Mo. River Rwy. (a unit of Chicago & North 
western), and 470 shares ($47,000 @ par) of its stock. In 1871, he esti 
mated that these bonds were worth one-half of their face value. He in 
vested $14,000 in Sioux City & Pacific Railroad Co. bonds in 1868 and also 
received a like amount of its stock. This Co. consolidated with the Northern 
Nebraska Air Line Railroad in 1869, and three years later leased the Fre 
mont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley R. R., in which McCormick owned 70 
shares of stock. He also held $15,834 of stock in the Sioux City Railroad 
Contracting Co. When this concern finished building the Iowa Falls & Sioux 
City R.R. (a unit of the 111. Central) this investment was transmuted into 


rapidly into uninviting, treeless, and sparsely settled coun 
try. 48 Although the many stocks and bonds of these companies, 
owned by McCormick, had a face value of almost $150,000, 
their market price was far below par, and dividends were small 
or omitted altogether. Because of these investments he was 
occasionally given the opportunity to buy land along the track 
for two dollars an acre, but apparently he never availed him 
self of the privilege. 49 

The Southern Railroad Association was another enterprise 
of these years which brought C. H. McCormick an impressive 
amount of paper securities but a large ultimate loss. 50 In 1868 
he, with nine other men of whom Henry S. McComb and 
Grenville M. Dodge are still remembered to-day, formed the 
Southern Railroad Association with a capital of $1,500,000. 
The inventor subscribed $125,000 to its stock, while Mc 
Comb, the largest share-holder, risked nearly four times as 

stocks and bonds of this road. Letters to C. H. McCormick from JC. E. 
Vail, June 6, 1867, July i, 1868, and Feb. 18, 1871 ; SJ. M. Williams, July 28 
and 30, 1870; and ID. P. Kimball, Boston, Sept. 20, 1879. $J. I. Blair to 
Stock-holders, Sioux City R.R. Ctg. Co., Feb. 15, 1870. SL.P.C.B. No. i, 
2nd ser., p. 300, C. H. McCormick to McCormick Co., Oct. 27, 1870. 

48 ^Circular to the Stock-holders of the Cedar Rapids and Mo. R.R. Co., 
the Iowa Land Co., and the Sioux City and Pacific R.R. Co., Apr. 13, 1870. 
These three concerns owned over 1,200,000 acres and deemed it wise to 
divide them into i6o-acre farms and sell them as quickly as possible. They 
estimated that, in normal times, each farm would pay annually to the road 
an average of $2 an acre in freights. 

49 L.P.C.B. No. 169, p. 494, F. H. Matthews to Greenbaum Bro. & Co., 
N. Y., Dec. 18, 1877. H. Williams to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 10, 1873, In 
1881, C. H. McCormick received $1175 * n dividends on his stock in the 
Cedar Rapids & Mo. R.R. Co., and Iowa Land Co. See, *C. H. McCormick 
to D. P. Kimball, Boston, Apr. 28, 1881. At the time of McCormick s 
death in 1884, he had 80 bonds of the Cedar Rapids & Mo. R.R., Fremont, 
Elkhorn & Mo. Valley R.R., Iowa Falls & Sioux City R.R., and Sioux City 
& Pacific R.R., listed as worth $74,000. If this sum were ever realized from 
them, the estate received back a little more than the amount of the original 

50 According to C. H. McCortnick s annual financial balance-sheets of 
Aug. i, 1870, and Aug. I, 1871, he had paid in $95,871 to the S.R. Asso. 


much. 51 The company leased for sixteen years the 230 miles 
of the Mississippi Central Railroad, and agreed to extend it 
north from Jackson, Tennessee, to Paducah, Kentucky, where 
it would connect with the Memphis & Ohio Railroad. The 
securities of the Mississippi Central were selling at a very low 
figure, and the association, in accord with its original purpose, 
used much of its capital to buy them in, and thus became own 
ers of the road. 52 Title to the line carried with it the obligation 
of paying a debt of about a million and a third dollars to the 
state of Tennessee, but the associates shrewdly purchased the 
bonds of this commonwealth at about 50 and used them at 
par to discharge the obligation. 63 

Until the mid- 1 870*5 the association seemed to be prosper 
ous, although its members had not received any dividends on 
their investments. 54 For $60,000 McCormick purchased 2,000 
shares of stock (worth $200,000 at par) in the New Orleans, 
Jackson & Great Northern Railroad, of which McComb was 

51 Pamphlet entitled "The Southern Railroad Association, Articles of As 
sociation, with Minutes of a Meeting of Its Share-holders, June 25, 1868" 
(Wilmington, Del., 1868). By 1870, the capital stock of the Asso. had been 
increased to $2,000,000. McComb, Eben D. Jordan, McCormick, and H. 
Winthrop Gray were the largest stock-holders of the ten. McCormick was a, 
director of the Asso. after Sept. i, 1869. IS. H. Edgar to C. H. McCormick, 
Sept 15, 1869. 

52 Pamphlet entitled "The Southern Railroad Association, Lease of the 
Mississippi Central Railroad. Agreement for Milan Extension, and Articles 
of Agreement Between the Trustees" (Wilmington, 1868). The Asso. paid 
$500,000 for the lease of the road. It was obligated by the terms of the lease 
to extend the line for twenty-one miles north from Jackson, Tenn., to Milan. 
The Asso. had a Tenn. charter at first but by the summer of 1870 was 
incorporated under the laws of Miss. #H. S. McComb to C. H. McCormick, 
Jan. 12, 1869. #J. B. Alexander, N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, July 28, 1870. 

53 Letters to C. H. McCormick from J. L. King, Treas. S.R.A., Feb. (?), 
1870, #H. Day, Nov. 19, 1873, and #J. M. Rodney, Sept. 16, 1873. 

54 E. Norton, N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 21, 1870. At this time the 
S. R. Asso. proposed to give $25,000 and 4000 shares of its stock to the 
Paducah & Gulf R.R. in exchange for a 4/5ths control of that road. J. L. 
King, to C. H. McCormick, June 5, 1871 : "Due to yellow fever, floods, and 
our heavy expenditures for rolling stock and the paper of the Miss. Central 
R.R., the S. R. Asso. is bare of funds." 


president. This line, together with the Mississippi Central and 
Illinois Central, agreed in 1871 to lay down a track from Jack 
son, Tennessee, to Cairo, Illinois, and thus make an unbroken 
rail connection between Chicago and New Orleans. To help 
in this project, the Illinois Central loaned the association a 
million dollars. 55 McCormick also, in the early 1870*5, ad 
vanced large sums to the association and to the New Orleans, 
Jackson & Great Northern Railroad at twelve per cent interest. 
These were repaid when due, and since these transactions were 
only possible because of his large interest in both enterprises, 
the profits gained from them should probably be taken into 
account when estimating his net loss from the entire venture. 56 
One sample of the financial manipulations of the Southern 
Railroad Association must suffice. In 1873 it determined to 
retire its first mortgage bonds by levying a pro rata assess 
ment upon its stock-holders. McCormick s share was about 
$66,000 and in exchange for the payment of this sum he 
received an equivalent value in the seven per cent gold bonds 
of the Mississippi Central Railroad, as well as $166,700 in 
income and equipment bonds of the same road. 57 In the fol 
lowing year he exchanged a thousand shares of the New 

55 $D. Lord to H. Day, Dec. 14, 1871: Because of this arrangement with 
the 111. Central R.R., the S. R. Asso. is "exceedingly prosperous." #H. S. 
McComb to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 2, 1871, and May 29, 1872. L.P.CB. 
No. 131, pp. 106-107, C. H. McCormick to "My dear Sir," Dec. 8, 1871. 
The line between Jackson and Cairo was ready for use by late 1873. 

56 #H. S. McComb to J. H. Day, Aug. 9, 1872. L.P.CB. No. 137, p. 442, 
telegram of C. H. McCormick to H. Day, Sept 4, 1872; No. 138, p. 346, 
C. A. Spring, Jr., to Lord, Day & Lord, Oct. 30, 1872. It is interesting 
to note that C. H. McCormick was able to make these loans totaling 
$125,000 at a time when he was under very heavy expenses in Chicago be 
cause of the Great Fire there; L.P.CB. No. 141, p. 313, C. H. McCormick 
to H. S. McComb, May 3, 1873. #H. Day to C. H. McCormick, Sept. n, 
1872. Letters to C. H. McCormick from *J. M. Rodney, Dec. 6 and 20, 1872, 
#H. S. McComb, Dec. 26, 1872, and May 12, 1873, and #D. Lord, Jr., Jan. 4, 


57 #J. M. Rodney to C, H. McCormick, Sept. n, 1873. L.P.CB. No. 150, 
p. 445, C. H. McCormick to Lord, Day & Lord, May 25, 1874. W. Calhoun, 
N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, May 23, 1874 and Sept. 17, 1875. 


Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad stock, which had 
cost him $30,000, for one thousand more Mississippi Central 
income and equipment bonds worth $75,000 at par. Thus, by 
1874, from an investment of about $222,000 he held railroad 
paper of over $400,000 face value, not including the worth, 
whatever it might be, of his 1667 shares of Southern Rail 
road Association stock. 58 All in all, this was McCormick s 
largest venture outside of his reaper factory and Chicago real 

By now, the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Rail 
road and the Mississippi Central had consolidated, and the 
northern extension, making contact with the Illinois Central, 
had been completed. The Southern Railroad Association had 
more than doubled its length of track, but each mile repre 
sented $37,000 of debt. 59 Although this load was not unusually 
large, it could not be carried since the freight and passenger 
traffic on the road did not come up to expectations. The 
Mississippi Central was bankrupt by 1877, and in the reor 
ganization which followed McCormick was obliged to ex 
change the seven per cent gold bonds of this road as well as 
his stock in the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern, for 
bonds and stock in the new company which rose upon the 

58 For his 1667 shares of S. R. Asso. stock, McCormick between 1868 
and 1873 paid in various assessments totaling $162,551. The $66,000 men 
tioned in this paragraph was the last of these. To this total should be added 
the $60,000 paid for 2,000 shares of N.O., J., & G.N. stock. For these pay 
ments, McCormick owned by 1874, $308,380 in Miss. Central R.R. bonds, 
1000 shares in N. O., J. & G. N. stock (par value $100,000) and 1667 shares 
of S. R. Asso. stock. Letters in L.P.C.B. No. 151, pp. 590-591, W. J. Hanna 
to H. Day, June 22, 1874, and pp. 668-671, to J. S. McComb, June 25, 1874; 
No. 152, p. 29, C. H. McCormick to Lord, Day & Lord, June 29, 1874 and 
pp. 461-462, W. J. Hanna to H. Day, July 8, 1874; No. 168, p. 296, F. H. 
Matthews to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 23, 1876. #H. Day to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, July 28, 1874. 

59 H. S. McComb to C. H. McCormick, June 30, 1874. W. Calhoun to 
C. H. McCormick, Sept. 17, 1875. The consolidated road was 560 miles long. 


ruins. 60 His large holding of Mississippi Central income and 
equipment bonds was written off as a total loss. As soon as the 
market was favorable, McCormick unloaded his new securities 
for about $i26,ooo. 61 This was in 1882, and he still had the 
Southern Railroad Association stock to salvage. 

Since 1877 he had considered this to be worthless, but some 
of the share-holders of the association believed that Henry S. 
McComb had mismanaged its affairs and that an investigation 
would probably reveal some hidden assets. 62 McComb died in 
1882, and his widow, left with the tangled residue of her hus 
band s Credit Mobilier and Southern Railroad Association 
interests, employed Wayne McVeagh as her counsel. Faced 
by the prospect of a long and probably embarrassing suit by 
several of the association s share-holders, she wrote to Mc 
Cormick : "I wish to be at peace over my husband s name and 
grave, and not to renew the misery, nor perpetuate the mem 
ory, of what was to him the most disastrous of all his enter 
prises." 63 To settle the matter forever she offered to buy the 
inventor s shares in the association for $7.50 a share. He tried 
for several months to induce her to give $10, but eventually 

60 W. H. Osborn to H. Day, Aug. 7, 1877; Stuyvesant Fish, 111. Central 
R.R. Co., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 3, 1877. The new railroad company 
was known as the Chicago, St. Louis & New Orleans. It was virtually 
owned by the 111. Central. McCormick was assessed $1320 at the time this 
reorganization took place. C. H. McCormick to H. Day, Aug. 16, 1877 and 
#Jan. 8, 1881. 

L.P.C.B. No. 221, p. 394, C. H. McCormick to H. L. Horton & Co., 
Mch. 2, 1882, *W. R. Selleck to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Sept. 20, 1882. 
SC. H. McCormick, Jr., to C. H, McCormick, May 13, 1882. 

62 H. Day to C. H. McCormick, #Sept. 11, 1879, Dec. 14, 1880, and Apr. 
26, 1883. *C. H. McCormick to H. Day, Nov. 23, 1875. 

63 ^Elizabeth P. McComb to "My dear Sir," Oct. 22, 1883 : "My compen 
sation will be in the peace and satisfaction which all who have ever been 
concerned in protracted and bitter litigation must have learned to ap 
preciate." JA. P. Whitehead and M. Storey to the President and Directors 
of the S. R.R. Asso., Oct. 9, 1883. Circular Letter of Whitehead and Storey 
to the Stock-holders of the S. R. Asso., Oct. 10, 1883. 


accepted her original offer. 64 If the sum of about $12,500 
received for this stock is added to the $126,000 realized from 
the sale of securities in 1882, McCormick s net loss from the 
Southern Railroad Association was about $85,000. 

To aid his native state recover from the effects of the Civil 
War, McCormick accepted a directorship in the Virginia Inter 
national Land, Loan & Trust Company. This firm was closely 
affiliated with the Norfolk & Great Western Railroad. 
Although it was organized for profit, its members also desired 
to confer benefit upon their commonwealth by promoting 
viticulture and the sugarbeet industry there, to encourage 
immigration to their lands along the railroad, and to make 
clear to the outside world that the Old Dominion was a safe 
place in which to invest capital. This praiseworthy program 
was never carried out, and the company dissolved in 1870 
after less than two years of life. 65 

64 H. Day to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 28, 1883, and Jan. 5, 1884. tfTele- 
grarn of C. H. McCormick to H. Day, Nov. 6, 1883. #C. H. McCormick, Jr., 
to C. H. McCormick, Nov. i, 5, and Dec. I, 1883. C. H, McCormick re 
ceived $12,386 from Mrs. McComb on Jan. 29, 1884. 

65 "Minutes" of the Directors of the Va. International Land Co., Oct. 13, 

1869. I Act of Incorporation of the Va. International Land, Loan & Trust 
Co., Mch. 23, 1870. By its charter it was permitted to increase its capital to 
$1,000,000 and to lay out towns, but by 1880 it should not own over 10,000 
acres in any one county, or more than 1000 acres after 1900. J. McKaye 
was its president in 1870, J. D. Imboden, vice-president, and R. H. Maury, 
its treasurer. #Maj. Gen l Sam Jones, C.S.A., Amelia Cy., Va., Feb. 28, 

1870, to C. H. McCormick. He applied for the position of land agent for 
the Co. and added: "My brother, the Chief Engineer of that Road (Norfolk 
& Great Western), could give me valuable information in regard to the 
Country through which the road will pass, which would enable me to pur 
chase or sell to advantage." #E. DeLeon, N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, 
Nov. 3, 1870. At this time, C. H. McCormick was also interested in W. Va. 
coal lands and secured an option from R. H. Maury to buy over 40,000 
acres on Gauley Creek and elsewhere in that state. McCormick then sent a 
mining engineer to estimate the value of this property, as well as the hold 
ing near Lewisburg of Jas. G. Paxton of Lexington, Va. Mainly because 
of the inaccessibility of the Maury lands the report was unfavorable, and 
McCormick thereupon waived his option. iLetters of J. D. Imboden, Rich 
mond, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 20, Nov. 22, and Dec. 28, 1869, Feb. 4, 


Later in this decade the Shenandoah Valley Railroad and 
the James River Valley Railroad (the Richmond & Allegheny) 
were rivals for the financial favor of C. H. McCormick, each 
basing its claim for assistance upon the plea that its track 
would rest upon the soil of his native county of Rockbridge. 
Somewhat to the annoyance of the "Lexington Gazette and 
Citizen/ McCormick was made a director and bought the 
stock of the Richmond & Allegheny. 66 This company hoped to 
tap the coal lands of West Virginia and by a tie-up with Ohio 
railroads eventually to complete a short "sea level line from 
Chicago to tidewater. 67 Control was secured of the old James 
River and Kanawha County Canal, one of George Washing 
ton s favorite projects, and much dependence was placed upon 
James G. Elaine to give assistance over any political hurdles 
that might bar its way. 68 By the autumn of 1880, when the 
first train was ready to move along its tracks, C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jr., had also invested in its stocks and bonds. 69 Due 

and Mch. 2, 1870. ^Letters of C. E. Detmold, R. P. Rothwell, and J. G. 
Paxton to C. H. McCormick and to each other, dating between Apr. 18, 
1870 and Mch. 17, 1871. 

66 "The Lexington Gazette and Citizen," Feb. 15, 1878. ^Letters to C H. 
McCormick from T. F. Randolph, Washington, D. C., June 19, July 19 and 
29, 1879; J. S. Wells, Dec. 12, 1879; E. R. Leland, Dec. 13, 1880; H. C. 
Parsons, Dec. 24, 1879, and Jan. 18, 1880. #C. H. McCormick to E. R. 
Leland, N. Y., Dec. 21, 1880. Parsons, who was a good friend of Mc 
Cormick, was the vice-president of the road. Hugh McCulloch and W. L. 
Scott were also directors. 

67 #H. C. Parsons to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 25, 1880, and Feb. 19, 1881, 
and to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Mch. 20, 1881. C. H. McCormick was also a 
member of the Richmond & Allegheny Coal and Iron Co., formed to buy 
mineral properties along the R. & A. R.R. track. Its leading spirits were 
directors of this road. 

68 #H. C. Parsons s telegram to C. H. McCormick of Feb. 4, and letters 
of Feb. 10, 21, Mch. 8, and 18, 1880, Mch. 4, 1881, and May 27, 1882. 
STelegram of C. H. McCormick to H. C. Parsons, Mch. 5, 1880. #H. C. 
Parsons to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Nov. 23, 1881. #C. C. Copeland to C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., June i, 1882. 

69 #H. C. Parsons to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Sept. i, 1880, and May i, 
1881, and telegram of Nov. 9, 1880. #G. MacNeill to C. H. McCormick, Jr., 
Nov. 6, 1882. #C. H. McCormick, Jr., to H. C. Parsons, Nov. 26, 1881. 


to inefficient management, so it was said, the road failed to 
secure profitable connections with West Virginian and north 
western lines. 70 The second mortgage bond-holders forced the 
company into the hands of a receiver, and for several years 
thereafter the McCormicks gained no return from their invest 
ments. 71 

Soon after the close of the Civil War McCormick became 
interested in promoting closer communications between the 
United States and foreign countries, both because of the possi 
bilities afforded in this field for profitable investments, and 
because he desired to foster international friendships and busi 
ness. When he was in France in 1867 he talked with Michel 
Chevalier and Ferdinand de Lesseps about an isthmian canal 
across Nicaragua or Panama, and also expressed the wish that 
with the aid of the governments of France and the United 
States a transatlantic cable could be laid which would connect 
with telegraph lines in America not controlled by the monopo 
listic Great Western Union Telegraph Company. 72 This latter 

70 #H. C Parsons to C H. McCormick, Jr., Mch. 20, 1881. jfC. A. Brice 
to F. O. French, July 27, 1882. In late 1881 a pool was being formed to 
raise $425,000 and secure control of the Scioto Valley R.R. in Ohio. J. G. 
Blaine, H. C. Parsons, and C. H. McCormick were prominent in this effort. 
On #Apr. 20, 1882, C. H. McCormick, Jr., wrote to his mother that profits 
from Richmond & Allegheny might conservatively be estimated at $100,000. 

71 #Telegram of H. C. Parsons to C. H. McCormick, Jr., June 25, 1883. 
^Letters of G. MacNeill to C. H. McCormick, Jr., June 26, 28, July 7, 
Sept. 8, 1883, Jan. 22 and July I, 1884. G. MacNeill to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., Mch. 19, 1887. The McCormicks had bought a goodly block of the 
stocks and bonds of the Ohio Central R.R. at the time when its junction 
with the Richmond & Allegheny seemed assured. Its securities were also 
at low ebb by 1884. Among C. H. McCormick s assets at the time of his 
death were stocks and bonds of the Ohio Central of a face value of $37,000 
and stock of the Richmond & Allegheny R.R. of a face value of $40,000. 
He then owned also $100,000 worth of Canada Southern R.R. bonds and an 
equal amount of the bonds of the Pennsylvania R.R. 

72 M. Chevalier to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 12, 1868. Chevalier, economist 
and engineer, had published several volumes twenty-five years before on life 
in the U.S., and had written a treatise on the isthmian canal problem. 
Chevalier was confident that Napoleon III, who was anxious to promote 


hope was soon in large measure gratified, and McCormick for 
several years was a director and member of the Executive 
Committee of the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Company. John 
Duff was its president, and in other ways also it was quite 
closely affiliated with the Union Pacific Railroad. 73 

Of a similar nature was McCormick s connection with the 
Mississippi Valley Society mentioned elsewhere in this narra 
tive. In 1879 he was made a director of the "American 
Exchange in Europe, Ltd.," formed by Henry F. Gillig and 
Senator Joseph R. Hawley of Connecticut for the purpose of 
engaging in an international express, banking, and shipping 
business, and extending aid to tourists and immigrants. 74 

Franco-American friendship, would at least lend his moral support to a 
company formed by the capitalists of both countries to build an isthmian 
canal. C. H. McCormick to M. Chevalier, Sept. 12, 1868, and to C C. Cope- 
land, Feb. 16, 1869. When in France, McCormick instructed Copeland to 
see Chevalier and learn his plans for a canal across the Isthmus of Darien. 
1C. Butler to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 26, 1869. De Lesseps visited Mc 
Cormick in Chicago in March, 1881. 

73 L.P.C.B. No. 119, p. 72, W. J. Hanna to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 7, 
1870. #C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 25 and May 13, 1870. 
These letters show that McCormick was entitled to send messages gratis 
over the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Company s wires. A pass made out 
in his name was given to C. A. Spring, Jr., so McCormick could at the 
same time wire from both Chicago and New York without charge. Up to 
1875 he received but one dividend on his stock and he resigned as director 
in Mch., 1871. In 1882, he invested $25,000 in the stock of the Postal Tele 
graph Co. ^Letters to C H. McCormick of the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph 
Co., Mch. ii, 1871, of A. Nelson, July 19, 1872, and of C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., Aug. 26, 1882. 1C. H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Aug. 28, 

74 Post, pp. 595 to 600. Senator Hawley had also been the president 
of the U.S. Centennial Exhibition at Phila. in 1876 and governor of Conn. 
The Exchange had a "Bureau of Emigration and Travel," which sold 
tourist guide-books and advertised that it would furnish without charge 
reliable information about the U.S. It was the sales agent for 5,000,000 
acres of improved and unimproved farm lands in the U.S. It issued traveler s 
checks which were honored by over noo banks of the U.S. and Europe. 
A house and apartment renting-bureau for travelers was another of its 
services. One of its aims was to overcome in Europe the distrust for 
American investments aroused by the Panic of 1873. See, Pamphlet, Olive 


He who desires to export horses or import cattle [ran its pros 
pectus in 1881], to place his last painting before the eyes of an 
American millionaire, or to secure a Yankee patent for his latest 
toy; he who wishes to assure himself whether mining stocks in 
Arizona are what they are represented, and he who desires to be 
certain that he is buying a pure article of Bordeaux wine, may 
apply with confidence to the "American Exchange in Paris." 75 

For several years gratifying dividends were paid to its 
stock-holders, including Cyrus McCormick, but by 1890 this 
pioneer enterprise of its kind had succumbed to the competi 
tion of more efficiently managed rival concerns which its early 
success had called into being. 76 

In 1869, Cyrus McCormick and nine others bore the cost of 
a survey of the mineral resources of Santo Domingo with the 
hope that President Grant s interest in that negro republic 
would soon lead to its annexation by the United States. Helped 
by McCormick s contribution of about $6,400, title to a large 
tract of land was secured, but Grant was unable to convince 
the Senate that the acquisition of non-contiguous territory 
was desirable, and the ten associates lost almost the entire 
amount of their investment. 77 

Logan, "The American Abroad" (undated and no place of publication 
stated), and "The American Settler" (London), Apr. 30, 1881, p. 32. 

75 #"Circular No. i, November 15, 1881. American Exchange in Paris, 
Ltd." (Paris, 1881), pp. 6-7. 

76 Between 1879 and 1881, McCormick invested $10,000 in this company. 
Its capitalization by 1884 was $5,000,000 and its central office was in Lon 
don. ^Letters to C. H. McCormick of W. C. Boone, N. Y., July 2, 1881, 
and of H. F. Gillig, July 29, Dec. 19, 1881, Nov. 2, 1882, and Apr. 5, 1884. 
C. H. McCormick to #M. Field et al, Mch. 25, 1881, and to the Merchants* 
Loan and Trust Co., Chicago, June 7, 1883. $ Sullivan and Cromwell, N. Y., 
to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 14, 1884. C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS., Book 
"C," p. 31, Nettie F. to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Apr. 24, 1890. 

77 A. C. Rogers for C. H. McCormick, to C. A. Spring, Jr., Feb. 20, 
1869. If the result of the survey is an encouraging one, a company with 
$100,000 capital will be formed "to obtain possession of about J^ the whole 
mineral wealth of that country." #C. H. McCormick to S. L. M. Barlow, 
Apr. 9. 1874. JLetters of S. L. M. Barlow to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 8, Dec. 


At about this same time McCormick, Anson Bangs, Jesse 
Hoyt, and several others endeavored to persuade Congress to 
subsidize with land and federal bonds a company which would 
undertake the building of a railroad through Mexico to the 
Pacific Ocean, with a branch to Mexico City. The Union 
Pacific scandals, however, soon blasted all hope that the United 
States would aid in financing another transcontinental line. 78 

As the decade of the iSyo s neared its close, Edward 
Learned of Boston, and George S. Coe, the president of the 
American Exchange National Bank of New York City, 
secured a favorable concession from Mexico for the Tehuante- 
pec Inter-Ocean Railroad Company to lay a track and tele 
graph line from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. 79 The 
company purchased steel rails in England, yellow pine sleepers 
in Florida, a river-boat called the Brazil, and began work on 
the road-bed before the close of the year. McCormick invested 
$5,000 in its stock and $50,000 in its bonds. 80 Suits brought 
against it by those whose earlier concessions for railroad build 
ing across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec had been annulled by 

20, 1870, and Apr. 13, 1874. That this group kept in touch with the adminis 
tration is evident from Barlow s word of Dec. 20, 1870: "But Genl. Grant 
thinks & so does Genl. Butler that annexation in some form will be consum 
mated this winter." In 1874, Barlow was disappointed that the rival Samana 
Bay Co. refused to merge its interests with theirs. He was still hopeful that 
some return could be had from their investments. 

78 Letters of C. H. McCormick to A. Bangs, Aug. 10 and Sept. 4, 1868 : 
If you can get a bill through Congress granting your proposed company a 
subsidy similar to that awarded to the U.P.R.R., I will take a i/ioth in 
terest in the project. ^Letters of A. Bangs to C. H. McCormick, June 22, 
July 30, Aug. 4, 6, 23, and Sept. 15, 1868. 

79 ^Pamphlet, Alex. D. Anderson, "The Tehuantepec Inter-Ocean Rail 
road" (N. Y., 1880). The Mexican concession was granted to Learned on 
June 2, 1879, and the company was chartered under the laws of Mass, on 
Nov. 18, 1879. 

80 SE. Learned to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 24, 1879, Mch. 18, May 17, and 
June ii, 1880. 1C. H. McCormick to C. C. Copeland, Nov. 28, 1879, and 
to E. Learned, Feb. 25, 1881. About $150,000 was subscribed for the stock 
of this company by Chicago men. C. H. McCormick owned a i/40th interest 


Mexico, were unsuccessful but costly. Labor troubles and much 
sickness among its employees in Mexico were other items in 
its long list of misfortunes. 81 By the close of 1881 the company 
had completed twenty miles of its track and had started work 
on about as many more, at a cost of approximately $1,500,000. 
Funds were almost exhausted and the rate of progress had 
been slower than the terms of its grant from the Mexican gov 
ernment required. After officials from Mexico City inspected 
the work in the summer of 1882, the government declared the 
concession void. 82 

The stock of the company was now of little value but the 
bond-holders, including Cyrus McCormick, at once organized 
for their own protection and complained to the Mexican Minis 
ter at Washington that the action of his government had been 
an arbitrary one. 83 C. C Copeland, whom McCormick sent to 
New York to represent him in the matter, was soon employed 
by all of the bond-holders at $100 a day to speak for their 
interests. He knew no Spanish, but he had abundant energy 
and a ready wit. He approached other American firms with 
investments south of the Rio Grande urging them to use their 
influence at Mexico City to secure the reinstatement of the 
Tehuantepec grant, since if they quietly acquiesced in this 
unwarranted confiscation, their own properties doubtless would 
be endangered. 84 The Secretary of State and Minister of 

81 #E. Learned to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 16, 1880. 

82 #C H. McCormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, June 8, July 31, and 
Aug. 29, 1882. IE. Learned to "Dear Sir," June 21, 1882. 

83 ^Protest of the 1st Mortgage Bondholders pf the T.I-O.R. Co. to His 
Excellency, C. Romero, Washington, D. C, Aug. 25, 1882. 

84 #C. H. McCormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 4, Oct. 10, 29, 1882. 
SC C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 26, 30 and Oct. 14, 1882: "I 
propose to try first all amicable persuasion, then liberal retainers and finally 
U.S. Governmental interference." On #Oct. 25, 1882, he wrote to C, H. Mc 
Cormick: "It may end in an inside arrangement between a few bond 
holders to wreck the whole thing and save themselves by buying it in. I have 
told them to consider you in on such an arrangement." 


International Affairs of Mexico, however, in an unofficial 
opinion declared that the Tehuantepec bond-holders had no 
valid claim against his government but must look to the com 
pany for redress. He was gracious enough to suggest that 
Mexico would pay a fair sum for the equipment and machinery 
along its former right of way. 85 This assurance, of course, by 
no means satisfied the bond-holders, but Coe believed that all 
would be well if a reorganized company admitted a few influ 
ential Mexicans to its membership. In other words, he inter 
preted the action of the Mexican government to be inspired 
solely by the desire of some of its officials to line their 
pockets. 86 Neither Coe nor Henry Day, another large bond 
holder, had faith in Copeland s ability to handle the matter 
delicately at Mexico City. 87 He was replaced by George Tyng, 
who arranged with Pacheco in December, 1882, that within 
fifteen months the Mexican government would pay the com 
pany for all of its property, $125,000 in Mexican money and 
$1,500,000 in gold. 88 This sum was considerably less than 

85 #Carlos Pacheco, Mexico City, to A. Stickney, N. Y., Sept 30, 1882: 
In my opinion, the President of Mexico, "can and will not admit any mani 
festation that tends to question the legitimacy and equity of his acts." By 
the terms of the concession, the members of the company agreed that they 
"shall be considered Mexicans" and "shall in no case be entitled to plead 
the rights of foreigners." #E. Learned to C. H. McCormick, Nov. i, 1882. 
In this, Learned assured McCormick that Pacheco s letter was "an ex 
cellent specimen of diplomatic adroitness . . . but has no other significance." 

86 #G. S. Coe to C. C. Copeland, Oct. 6, 1882 : "If we can create an interest 
there [in Mexico] whose self seeking will inure to the general good, we 
might secure favorable concessions as well as protection to the enterprise 

87 C. C. Copeland for services rendered to the Co. between Oct. 28 and 
Nov. 7, 1882, received over $2800. He went as far on his road to Mexico 
City as Galveston, but there resigned because he refused to share his mission 
with another agent of the Co. #G. S. Coe to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Nov. 4, 
1882. #C. C. Copeland to C H. McCormick, Oct. 14, 1882. 

88 #G. S. Coe to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Dec. 2, 1882, Tyng left for 
Mexico City, on Nov. 23. #Memo of a Conversation between G. Tyng and 
C. Pacheco, Dec. 20, 1882. 


enough to cancel the bonds and stock at par, but because it 
was clear that there was no alternative, the offer was accepted. 
Each bond-holder and stock-holder was obliged to strike off 
fifty per cent from the face value of his securities. 89 

Since very little of the $125,000 ever reached the New 
York office of the company, some of its members hinted that 
Mexico had paid Tyng that amount to sell out his employers. 90 
Tyng s defense left much to the imagination of his reader: 

Perhaps I did [get some of the $125,000] but in that case it 
would not show in the documents. After paying blackmail, ex 
penses and debts of the Co. [in Mexico] there may be a little of 
that money left, but it is doubtful. ... I for a while believed 
that $25,000 was going quietly into the Treasury Dept. That was 
a mistake, it went elsewhere. . . . I ll send your Treasurer vouch 
ers for a large part of the $125,000. . . . Decorum has compelled 
me to refuse very fair offers from the Govt. of employment on 
the Isthmus but in decency I shall have to help them get their 
work started there. . . . The Govt. knew all about your unwill 
ingness to fight and your anxiety to get out, & took full advantage 
of it. But you get more this way than though you had gone to 
court. 91 

By 1884 Mexico was $900,000 in arrears in her payments 
of the $1,500,000 in gold. 92 Not until the summer of 1888 did 

89 ^Telegram of A. S. Barnes, G. S. Coe, and E. Learned to C. H. Mc- 
Cormick, Dec. 18, 1882. STelegram of C. H. McCormick to these men, 
Dec. 20, 1882. #C. H. McCormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, May 2, 1883. 
#E. Learned to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 23, 1882. Learned believed that the 
Mexican government had given the company such a short time to accept or 
reject the proposal with the hope that it would be impossible to obtain the 
sense of all concerned, before the expiration date. Then Mexico could say 
that her offer had been spurned. But if this were the intent, it was not 
successful, since the bond-holders and stock-holders were quickly canvassed 
by telegram. 

90 #G. S. Coe to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 25, 1883. Coe defended Tyng 
and believed that he had acted with "scrupulous integrity." "We were 
entirely in the hands of the men in Mexico who commanded the situation 
for their own benefit." 

91 #G. Tyng, Vera Cruz, to E. Learned, Dec. 26, 1882. 

92 #Letters of C. Romero to W. A. Booth, Apr. 24, Sept. 19, and Dec. 
20, 1883, and to G. S. Coe, Aug. 18, 1883, and Jan. 17, 1884. *G. S. Coe 


she finally carry out in full the terms of her agreement of six 
years before. 93 

The craze for mines and mining stocks, so characteristic of 
the last half of the nineteenth century, in some measure re 
flected the first gratification of a desire that had been thwarted 
since the earliest English pioneers came to America. As one 
after another rich, or allegedly rich, gold-, silver- or copper- 
bearing region was discovered, many hard-headed business 
men were lured to exchange their government bonds for the 
securities of a mining company. To own a gold or silver lode 
in the Far West lent an air of distinction that could not be 
gained by trading in railroads and industrials. 94 

Cyrus McCormick s liking for a hazardous game, which led 
him to make his first purchases of mining stocks, soon changed 
to a dogged seriousness unaffected by the persistent warning 
of his friends that he was bound to lose. Being Cyrus McCor- 
mick, he could not have acted otherwise, but speculations 
originally intended to add variety and spice to his many busi 
ness interests, became vexatious problems to a man already 
overburdened with them. Stubbornness in continuing to sink 
money in mines of doubtful value made the final balance-sheet 
show a heavy loss. 

With Jesse Hoyt and others, he was a director of the 
Schoolcraft Copper Mining Company. Its land adjoined the 

to C. H. McCormick, Jr., June 16 and July 12, 1883. *W. A. Booth to 
C. Romero, Sept. 18, 1882, Dec. 19, 1883, and Feb. 18, 1884. IG. S. Coe to 
C. Romero, Oct. 25, 1883, and Jan. 15, 1884. #C. H, McCormick, Jr. s 
telegram and letter to C. H. McCormick, Apr. II, and May 2, 1883, 

3 The Tehuantepec Inter-Ocean R. R. Co., N. Y., to the Estate of C. H. 
McCormick, July 26, 1888. 

94 With one unimportant exception, McCormick took no part in the oil 
stock speculations of his day. In 1866 he invested $3,000 in the stock of 
the Steam and Vacuum Oil Refining Co., and this netted him a profit of 
over $20,000 within two years. He declined to invest in Lake Superior 
iron lands, and probably lost an opportunity for large profits when he 
refused to purchase the steel-making patents of Henry Bessemer of Eng 
land. See, iBaldwin & Collier to C. H. McCormick, June 25, 1868. 


rich Calumet and Hecla properties in Michigan. Year after 
year he dreamed that his investment of about $38,000 would 
bring him a large profit. 95 The company spent much money 
in developing its holdings but was never able to sell its ore 
for enough to keep clear of debt. 

Jesse Hoyt and he were also associated in another abortive 
and rather costly mining venture. They, with several asso 
ciates, formed the Montana Mineral Land & Mining Company 
for the purpose of developing property near Bannock, said 
to be rich in gold and silver. 96 McCormick risked about 
$63,000 in this enterprise between 1866 and 1873, an d with 
the exception of a large number of impressive-looking bonds 
and shares of stock, still preserved to-day, he apparently re 
ceived nothing in return for his money. 07 After a successful 

95 C, H. McCormick purchased 1250 shares in this Co. in Mch. 1867. 
Its total capitalization was $500,000, divided into 20,000 shares. It was 
forced into bankruptcy in 1873 but was later reorganized. C. H. McCor 
mick did not know of this until 1876 ! $J. Hoyt to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 
19, 1872. L.P.CB. No. 132, p. 583, C. H. McCormick to J. Hoyt, Mch. 
8, and #Apr. 29, 1872. #C. H, McCormick to S. L. Smith, May 25, and 
July 25, 1876. S. L. Smith, Lansing, Mich, to C. H. McCormick, #Dec. 
15, 1876, and Jan. 29, 1877. Smith believed that since there was a Euro 
pean war in prospect: "our interests are looking up and with it [the war] 
in active force we shall see tremendous advances in copper & copper 
shares." He hoped that C. H. McCormick would contribute $10,000 so 
that a deeper shaft could be sunk at the mine. McCormick probably did 
not do so, although the records are silent. 

96 L.P.CB. No. 94, p. 189, C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Dec. n, 1866. #C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 4, and July 
2, 1867. *C. H. McCormick, Journal "A," Nov. 8, 1865 ff. *E. Fowler, 
N. Y., to C H. McCormick, May 16, 17, 18 and July 28, 1866. H. A. Board- 
man, Jr., for C. H. McCormick, to C. A. Spring, Jr., Apr. 9, 1867. With 
McCormick and Hoyt were associated Anson Bangs and S. L. Smith. The 
property of the Co. was known as the "Black Hawk Vein," the "Wide 
West," and "Blue Wing" mines. A. Bangs, N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, 
July 28, 1871. McCormick and Hoyt each had a T A interest. #L.P.CB. 
No. 3, new ser., p. 49, C. H. McCormick to C. C. Douglass, June 14, 1872 : 
We have too much procrastinated about our Montana mines. 

97 L.P.C.B. No. 132, p. 583, C. H. McCormick to J. Hoyt, Mch. 8, 1872 : 
"Can t something be done now in Montana!" Ibid., No. 132, p. 817, C. H. 


lawsuit had insured to the partners a clear title to their prop 
erty, they were unable to find an honest and competent man 
ager, their holdings were inaccessible, they invested too heavily 
in machinery, and they failed to pay the taxes levied by the 
Territory. 98 

The venture of this kind which deserves the most emphasis 
because of the amount of money and time lavished upon it by 
McCormick, was the Dorn Mine in western South Carolina 
near the Georgia border. Now and again gold had been found 
in paying quantities in the mountain country south of Virginia. 
A government branch mint at Dahlonega, Georgia, established 
in President Jackson s day, was evidence of the Treasury s 
reliance at that time upon this area to supply gold for coinage 
purposes. Among the landowners who had the good fortune 
to discover this metal on their property was D. B. Dorn of 
Abbeville County, South Carolina. By means of surface work- 

McCormlck to J. Hoyt, Mch. 21, 1872: "Our children may one day be 
able to go out on the N. Pacific & see what should be done there." #C. C. 
Douglass to C. H. McCormick, May 21, 1872: Money can be made in 
Montana if we are willing to spend between $5,000 and $10,000 for a silver 
amalgamating mill. #J. Hoyt to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 8, 1873: "I have 
to despair of any good result notwithstanding there must be great treas 

98 SS. L. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 14, 1873: "I have no doubt 
could we keep track of our claims and hold on until the country was 
reached by rail we should realize handsomely from our investment. The 
main trouble is to get an honest competent man to take care of it. This 
want has been the trouble all the way through. . . . Men of supposed 
honesty and Christian conviction go there, swindle us & leave us as bad 
as ever. . . . The project is without head or means to take care of itself." 
Hoyt is withdrawing from the Co. Shall we sell out for $15,000? #C, H. 
McCormick to S. L. Smith, May 25, 1876. D. Ruggles, Fredericksburg, 
Va., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 19, 1877. In 1865, McCormick also in 
vested about $3,700 in the stock of the North Clear Creek Gold & Silver 
Mining Co., which, with John A. Dix as pres., was formed to exploit some 
property in Gilpin Cy., Colo. McCormick received one dividend of $280, 
but by 1871, he counted this investment a total loss. #T. B. Bunting, N. Y., 
to C. H. McCormick, May 23, 1865. #C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCor 
mick, Aug. 27, 1866. 


ings and shafts sunk at no considerable expense, between 
$800,000 and $1,000,000 worth of gold was reported to have 
been removed prior to 1862 when the war compelled a pause." 
Although this sum was probably an exaggeration, it is perti 
nent here since it was large enough to invite a further effort 
to profit from the mine as soon as hostilities had ceased. Dorn, 
however, was much reduced in fortune when peace came, and 
leased his property to Captain Thomas S. Morgan, a cotton 
factor of Augusta, Georgia, and to two other southerners who 
shortly thereafter formed the Dorn Gold Mining Company. 100 
At this juncture in early 1867, Cyrus McCormick first heard 
of the mine. Since Morgan and his associates lacked the money 
to purchase machinery and hire miners, they turned to him 
for a loan. Without an adequate preliminary investigation, 
so far as the surviving records show, the inventor advanced 
Morgan $30,000 for six months at seven per cent interest and 
took as security a mortgage on one-third of the property, an 
option to purchase a quarter interest in the venture for $50,000 
and a guarantee of his right to sell the mine if the loan were 

J. D. Whitney: "The Metallic Wealth of the United States" (Phila., 
Pa., 1854), p. 133. This account states that Dorn discovered gold on his 
property in Feb., 1852, and within eighteen months with the aid of a primi 
tive Chilian mill and two mules, had mined $300,000 worth of the metal. 
According to this author, it was the richest gold mine in the Atlantic sea 
board states. While Dorn worked the property, the "New York" and 
"Pikes Peak" shafts were sunk. They had been driven down to the lower 
level of the "brown ore," and then stopped, because he did not know how 
to reduce the pyrites or sulphuret ore beneath. No cross-cutting had been 
done, and in a word, he had operated the mine in a "loose random sort of 
way" with an eye to immediate profits rather than to a methodical devel 
opment of his property. 

100 Morgan was the sole surviving member of the cotton brokerage firm 
of E. M. Bruce & Co. He held a 7/i2th interest in the Dorn Mining Co. 
His chief associate therein was Colonel S. B. Moe. This Co. was not or 
ganized until May 27, 1867, although its members leased Dora s property 
on Aug. 25, 1866. 


not paid back when due. 101 Even before the date of this loan, 
McCormick had invested about $14,000 in gold-mining proper 
ties in North Carolina and Georgia, but this sum was soon 
written off as almost a total loss. 102 

When the time came for the Dorn Gold Mining Company 
to honor its note, it was unable to do so. McCormick hesitated 
either to force it into bankruptcy or to take stock in settlement 
of his loan. 103 Although the partners of Morgan had not paid 
in all of the money pledged when the company was formed, 
he was spending the small funds at his disposal to prepare the 
mine for operation. He was most enthusiastic over the pros 
pects of a rich return. He wrote repeatedly in this vein to 

ii C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Jr., Apr. 16, 1867; ST. S. Morgan, 
Augusta, Ga., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 8, 1867; A. C. Rogers to C. A. 
Spring, Jr., Apr. 27, 1868. The $30,000 loan was made on Mch. 21, 1867, 
and about a year later McCormick advanced Morgan $2500 more. 

102 With S. L. M. Barlow of New York, C H. McCormick invested 
$10,000 in Georgia gold lands, location not specified in the records. Accord 
ing to the balance-sheet of Aug. I, 1871, this sum was a total loss. See, 
ttMcCormick Journal "A," Nov. 8, 1865 ff. In 1866, McCormick joined 
with Theo. Brown and Sam l. B. Smith of New York to buy 230 acres 
from Gen l. T. L. Clingman, near Charlotte, N. C. This was sometimes 
called the "Means gold property/* The associates did not develop it. In 
1868, Professor Henry A. Ward was sent to view this property, as well 
as the gold lands of Major Hugh Downing. Ward advised that the Downing 
property was too poor in metal to repay working. The title to the Clingman 
tract was cloudy, and in 1871 McCormick considered the $3,533 paid in, 
irretrievably lost. In 1872, S. B. Smith thought the property was worth 
$5,000, even though no gold were found on it. See, IE. Fowler, Charlotte, 
N. C, to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 22, 1866; *C. A. Spring, Jr., to H. A. 
Boardman, Jr., Apr. 12, 1867; SH. A. Ward to C. H. McCormick, June 
5, 26, and July 14, 1868; *S. B. Smith to C. H. McCormick, July 24, 
1872; fC H. McCormick to B. C. Sanders, Dec. 4, 1876, to W. M. Shipp, 
Apr. 7, 1877, to W. F. Davidson, June 6, 1877, and to T. L. Clingman, 
Oct. 13, 1877. At this time the Means property was about to be sold for 
taxes, and McCormick was eager to dispose of it. 

103 On Mch. 24, 1868, Morgan agreed to extend for six months from that 
date, McCormick s option of buying a one-quarter interest in the property. 
SS. L. M. Barlow to H, A, Ward, Aug. 28, 1868. 


McCormick, picturing the fortune that beyond all doubt 
awaited the man who would buy out the interests of the two 
delinquent members of the company and advance money so 
that the work could proceed. 104 The inventor was not inatten 
tive to this unceasing flow of eloquence, although his wife, 
C A. Spring, Jr., and S. L. M. Barlow, his friend and stock 
broker, counseled him that the risk was not worth taking. 105 
To be on the safe side, McCormick now dispatched Henry 
A. Ward of Rochester, New York, a geologist, mining expert, 
and paleontologist of sufficient note to be remembered to-day, 
to the Dorn mines to investigate and report. 106 The professor 
sent specimens of the ore to the Columbia College School of 
Mines for assay and the results of the analysis were most 
disappointing. 107 McCormick thereupon requested Morgan to 

104 T. S. Morgan to C H. McCormick, May 12, 1868 and to R. M. 
Funkhattser, July 19 and Aug. 5, 1868. 

i 5 C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," Nettie F. to C. H. McCor 
mick, Jr., Mch. 30, 1883: "I wish he [C. H.] would shuMt [Dorn Mine] 
up forever and I have always, uniformly so advised him . . . since we 
owned it." *S. L. M. Barlow to C. H. McCormick, Oct. I, 1867, and 
Sept. 15, 1868. Barlow was of the brokerage firm of Bowdoin, Larocque, 
Barlow & MacFarland. #B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 14, 1867. 
Spring spoke with some authority since he had been one of the California 
gold-seekers of 1849. See his ^letters to C. H. McCormick of Mch. 17, 
1866, Mch. 22 and Apr. i, 1869: "You doubtless know your own business 
best, but I do want to say that I have no faith in your South Carolina 
gold Mine." J. S. Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 26, 1873. 

106 Ward had made almost a thousand plaster-casts of prehistoric ani 
mals, fossils, etc., and on Feb. 26, 1866, asked McCormick to subscribe 
$5,000 for the erection of a building for their permanent display at any 
college he might choose. McCormick declined. He probably first met 
Ward in 1865 in connection with his interest in Montana silver-mines, 
since the professor had been the manager of the Midas Mining Co. in 
that Territory. See also, #H. A. Ward to C H. McCormick, Dec. 7, 1868, 
and June 12, 1869. T. S. Morgan to C. H. McCormick, June 27 and #Aug. 
8, 1868. Bill to C. H. McCormick, of Assay Dept., Columbia College 
School of Mines, N. Y., Aug. 28, 1868. 

107 C. H. McCormick to T. S. Morgan, Sept. 4, 1868. The cost of Ward s 
trip and the assay was $1835, and McCormick expected Morgan to pay it. 
There are about ten letters of H. A. Ward to C. H. McCormick, dated 


repay the $30,000 loan at once. 108 This Morgan could not do, 
but he endeavored to divert attention from his lack of funds 
by expressing chagrin that Ward s specimens were so unrepre 
sentative of the general run of the deposits, since "the gold can 
be seen in almost every piece of ore. It is so rich that we sack 
it down in the mine." 109 He was convinced that "the thing 
is big if we only work it big." 110 

Why McCormick early in 1869, contrary to his own first 
decision and to the advice of friends and experts, consented 
to purchase an interest in the Dorn Mining Company can only 
be surmised. Probably the belief that unless he came to its 
rescue, he would lose the total amount of his loan, was the 
decisive consideration. Whatever the cause, by February over 
$50,000 of his money was in the venture. 111 This sum would 
doubtless increase rapidly since he was committed to an "ener 
getic prosecution" of the work, or in other words, more 
expensive machinery and a larger laboring force. A new 
arrangement was made with Dorn at this time, whereby he 
leased the company for twenty years a tract of about twelve 
hundred acres in extent. 112 Colonel Moe, the defaulting part 
ner of the original Dorn Mining Company, was disregarded, 
and hereafter for a time the associates were McCormick, 
Morgan, Robert M. Funkhauser of New York City, 113 and 

between June 3, 1868, and July 30, 1869, in the files of the N. F. McCormick 
Biog. Asso. Ward found that most of the old shafts had caved in and were 
full of water. The machinery was in very bad condition. 

ios JS. L. M. Barlow to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 24, 1868. C. H. Mc 
Cormick to T. S. Morgan, Dec. 17, 1868. 

i 9 T. S. Morgan to R. M. Funkhauser, Oct. 4, 1868. 

110 Idem to idem, Aug. 27, 1868. 

i^C. H. McCormick to Judge Selden, Feb. II, 1869. 

112 T. S. Morgan to C. H. McCormick and R. M. Funkhauser, Feb. 16, 
26, 1869. Because this land was heavily timbered, fuel was ready at hand. 
By the terms of the lease, the Co. was given the privilege of purchasing 
the entire tract for $500,000. 

113 In the N. F. McCormick B. A. files is the letter-press copy-book of 
McCormick & Funkhauser, covering the period, April I, 1869, to May 25, 


the estate of E. M. Bruce, who until his death had been Mor 
gan s colleague in the cotton-brokerage business. No one of 
the parties held a majority interest, but McCormick s stake 
amounted to two-fifths of the whole. 114 

The first misstep of the reorganized company was to appoint 
Professor Ward the superintendent of the mine at a salary 
of $600 a month and expenses. He had a deep book-knowledge 
of minerals and mining, but lacked executive ability and was 
both physically and temperamentally unfitted for life in the 
woods among rough men. Friction between him and Morgan, 
who was also at the scene of operations, began almost at once 
and continued until Ward s resignation five months later. 115 

1870. In Aug., 1868, Morgan in dire need of funds reduced his own interest 
in the company by selling Funkhauser a i/6th interest for $3,000. T. S. 
Morgan to R. M. Funkhauser, Aug. 17, 1868. #R. M. Funkhauser to C H. 
McCormick, Men. 3, 1869. 

114 C. H. McCormick to T. S. Morgan, Mch. 31, 1869. T. S. Morgan s 
share (including that of the E. M. Bruce estate of which he was trustee) 
was also 2/5ths and R. M. Funkhauser s, i/Sth. These are the correct pro 
portions if Colonel Moe s i/6th interest is divided pro rata among them. 
Upon its reorganization, the company petitioned the South Carolina legis 
lature for a charter of incorporation. This was perhaps the most corrupt 
of all the Reconstruction Assemblies. Morgan wrote McCormick on Feb. 
27, 1869, that he did not dare sign his name to the petition since he was 
suing a member of the legislature, but that his father-in-law, H. R. Casey, 
a politician of some note in Ga., would go to Columbia to lobby in their 
behalf. "We may have to expend three or four hundred dollars among 
the worthy members of the legislature," Morgan added. "Please read and 
return Hon. F. J. Moses letter. Don t make it too public as we may find 
him useful to us now and hereafter." Moses, whom Prof. W. A. Dunning 
("Reconstruction, Political and Economic," N. Y., 1907, p. 216) describes 
as "a notoriously bad character," was soon to be the governor of the state. 
In 1869 he was Speaker of the House, and Atty. General. The charter 
was granted Mch. 23, 1869. 

us Letters of H. A. Ward to C. H. McCormick, June 12, 18, and July 
4, 1869. IT. S. Morgan to C. H. McCormick and R. M. Funkhauser, July 
8, 1869: Ward irritates me at times but he will be serviceable in putting 
our mine before the public, for in its opinion Ward s approval is a guar 
antee of a good thing. He has many influential friends and we can not 
afford to make him our enemy. "I want no scientific ass who can descant 


When Ward assumed his duties in March, 1869, McCortnick 
sent another geologist, Professor N. S. Keith, to make a sur 
vey of the Dorn property. 116 Keith s report was far more 
optimistic than Ward s, and must have heartened the inventor 
as he signed check -after check for expensive stamp-mill ma 
chinery, engines, pumps, and laborers wages. 117 Keith believed 
that the mine would pay large profits if a good mill were 
erected and the direction of the work were placed in expert 
hands. He found seams and veins of gold in the strata of 
quartz and slate. A sample run of this ore through the crusher 
yielded an average of over $30 worth of gold per ton. In his 
opinion the gold in the pyrites could be extracted at small 
expense. There was also a large amount of manganese on the 
property which would be well worth exploiting if a railroad 
came to solve the transportation problem. 118 

The spring and summer of 1869 at the mine were spent in 
repairing and draining old shafts, making bricks, cutting and 
sawing timber for lumber and fuel, building a mill, and install 
ing the stamp machinery, separators, crushers, and concen 
trators that McCormick and Funkhauser shipped to the mine 

upon chemistry without knowing anything else. I want a business man in 
the fullest sense." 

lie Ward naturally resented Keith s presence at the mine. C. H. McCor 
mick to C. A. Spring, Jr., Mch. 3, 1869; #T. S. Morgan to C. H. McCor 
mick, Mch. 14, 1869. 

n 7 JH. A. Ward to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 29 and May 6, 1869. Tele 
grams of T. S. Morgan to C. H. McCormick, May 3 and 15, 1869: "Send 
$5,000 to Dorn or the lease is void." C. H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick 
& Bros., Mch. 19 and 29, 1869. These letters above all others, reveal his 
high hopes of large profits. He believed that there would probably be a 
million tons of ore, worth $40 or $50 per ton, and costing $2.50 per ton, 
or less, to reduce. 

118 The Dorn Mine was forty miles from Augusta, Ga., and even the 
nearest town (Abbeville, S. Car.) was twenty- two miles away. All provi 
sions had "to be toted" from Augusta, but Morgan was making a "very- 
nice profit" by selling them to the workmen. ST. S. Morgan to C. H. 
McCormick, Mch. 29, 1869. N. S. Keith to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 17, 


from New York. Discouraging delays, breakages, bickering 
between the partners, trouble with the workmen, and heavier 
expenses than had been anticipated, are the subjects most 
emphasized in the many letters of these months that deal with 
the venture. 119 During 1869 McCormick drew checks in favor 
of the company totaling almost $5O,ooo. 120 Although a part 
of this sum was advanced as a loan and to pay for his share 
in the enterprise, the distinction between these items and 
operating costs is unimportant in view of the future history 
of the mine. 

The Dorn Mine and its problems must have strongly re 
minded McCormick of his unhappy experiences thirty years 
before when he tried to become an ironmaster in Virginia. 121 
By midsummer, 1869, Morgan was writing in confidence to 
Funkhauser that the inventor was "grasping, overbearing and 
testy" ; had a "selfish, unyielding . . . nature" and "makes 
the closest hardest trades with me." 122 This explosion came as 

119 As an example of the lack of harmony between the partners at this 
time, Morgan complained that his Cornish miners were intelligent but 
lazy. He asked McCormick and Funkhauser to go down to Castle Garden, 
where the immigrants disembarked, and pick out a new working force. 
They did so, but to Morgan s disgust, he was sent "a miserable motley 
crew of Tailors, Barbers, shoe makers etc. Perhaps we can get 4 good 
men out of the dozen." A miner s day was ten hours "when working dry 
and eight when working wet." He was paid $2, and an ordinary laborer 
$i or $1.25. T. S. Morgan to C. H. McCormick & R. M. Funkhauser, 
May 15, June 13 and 26, July 8, 1869. #R. M. Funkhauser to C. H. McCor 
mick, June 5, 1869. McCormick and Funkhauser sharply differed over 
the proper type of engine to purchase for the mine. McCormick finally 
had his way, partly because he was supported by Ward. This made Ward 
lose favor with Funkhauser. flC. H. McCormick to T. S. Morgan, June 24, 

120 $Check stub-books of C. H. McCormick for the period 1868-1870. 
Between Mch. 30, 1868, and July 2, 1870, the mine cost him over $65,000, 
and this sum, added to his original loan of $30,000 and unpaid interest due 
him, made his stake in the company by July, 1870, about $100,000. Appar 
ently up to that time approximately $1,800 in gold had been found. 

121 "Hutchinson," I, Chapter VI. 

122 T. S. Morgan to R. M. Funkhauser, July 9, 1869. JR. M. Funk 
hauser to T. S. Morgan, July 23, 1869. 


a result of differences of opinion with McCormick over the 
purchases of machinery and the accuracy of Morgan s ex 
pense-account. Funkhauser handed this letter to McCormick. 
Few men ever successfully thwarted McCormick J s will for 
long, and Morgan was not one of them. The inventor at once, 
without Morgan s knowledge, bought enough of Funkhauser s 
interest in the company to give him control of its policy. 123 
Ward resigned as superintendent, and when McCormick sent 
Professor Keith in his stead, Morgan refused to accept him 
and came to New York to make his wishes known to his 
associates. 124 He stayed only long enough to learn that he had 
been defeated, since the inventor threatened to dissolve the 
company and sue for the recovery of his loans unless Morgan 
carried out the orders sent to him from New York. 125 Having 
made his position clear, McCormick then characteristically en 
deavored to please Morgan by agreeing that Keith should be 
displaced by another superintendent. 126 The company now met 

i 23 A. C. Rogers to C. A. Spring, Jr., Aug. 4, 1869. This cost McCor 
mick $18,000. 

is* C. H. McCormick believed that Ward had fleeced him by taking 
commissions from the firms which had supplied the machinery. N. S. Keith 
was from Colorado and was known as an expert chemist, metallurgist, 
millwright, and engineer. He had discovered a process for desulphurizing 
ore. Morgan agreed that Keith was "brainy," but believed that he had no 
business sense. T. S. Morgan to R. M. Funkhauser, Aug. 17, 1869; #N. S. 
Keith to McCormick & Funkhauser, Aug. 17, 1869; Funkhauser to C. H. 
McCormick, Aug. #18, 21, and 25, 1869, and SC. H. McCormick to H. A. 
Ward, Oct. 22, 1869. 

12 s C. H. McCormick to T. S, Morgan, Sept. 23, 1869, and to C. A. 
Spring, Jr., Sept. 25 and 29, 1869. #W. W. MacFarland to C. H. McCor 
mick, Aug. 31, 1869. C. H. McCormick could dissolve the company by 
petitioning the proper court in S. C. to appoint a receiver. If the com 
pany went into bankruptcy, C. H. McCormick might be able to buy out 
the entire co-partnership for a nominal sum. 

126 #T. S. Morgan to McCormick & Funkhauser, Sept. 29, 1869; #N. S. 
Keith to McCormick & Funkhauser, Oct. 24, 1869. Keith was angry be 
cause of the unceremonious way in which he had been shelved, but he 
remained at the mine in a subordinate capacity until early in 1870. #C. H. 
McCormick to N. S. Keith, Dec. 8 and 9, 1869, and Jan. (?), 1870. Keith 
later sued for salary alleged to be due, and in Mch. 1871, McCormick 


at Hamburg, South Carolina, and acting under its state charter 
acquired earlier in the year, elected McCormick to be the 
president and treasurer, 127 He was represented at this meeting 
by his attorney, Perrin & Cothran of Abbeville, a firm which 
thereafter played an important part in the history of the Dorn 
Mine, Rev. William S. Plumer of the Columbia Seminary had 
recommended Colonel Perrin for this assignment, with the 
persuasive endorsement that he was "an eminent elder in our 
church." 12S 

Thus the year 1869 passed, with much argument, large ex 
penses, and very little gold. Some of the new machinery proved 
to be unsuited to working slate ore, and the few tons that 
were run through the crusher yielded a much smaller amount 
of gold than the samples which had made the inventor so 
jubilant a few months before. 129 It took courage for McCor 
mick to confess to C. A. Spring, Jr., how completely he had 
been taken in. 

"I desire to remind you also/ he wrote, "of the entire loss 
so far as can now be known of all that I have put into the 
Dorn Gold Mine concern. It has been the most outrageous 
swindle that could be perpetrated. The yield of the vein of 
gold ore reported to me from actual milling process was $40 
to $6,000 per ton of ore from an enormous vein of from 
8 to 30 ft. wide; whereas it now yields to better Mill less than 

paid him $750. tfL.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd ser., p. 404, C. H. McCormick to ?, 
Mch. 2, 1871. 

127 Morgan was made vice-president, Funkhauser, sec y., and Charles 
W. Allen, gen l. superintendent, at a salary of $5,000 a year. The company 
was now styled The Dorn Mining and Manufacturing Company. Its capital 
stock was $500,000, but it was permitted to begin operations as soon as 
the paid-in capital amounted to $100,000. Later, its charter was amended 
so as to allow its capital stock to be reduced to $50,000. In this way the 
company avoided the payment of so heavy an annual state tax. 

128 IW. S. Plumer to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 27, 1869. Perrin, the 
father-in-law of Cothran, died in Apr., 1878. 

129 #C. W. Allen to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 29 and June 20, 1870. 


one dollar !" 13 It would have been well for him at this point 
to have charged his $120,000 loss to experience and closed the 
Dorn account forever. 

Each of the partners was, in fact, ready to unload his shares 
upon any one of the others "for a reasonable consideration/ 
In McCormick s case, this was fixed at $23,000, or less than 
twenty per cent of the sum that the venture had already cost 
him. By November, 1870, as a result of much dickering, 
McCormick had bought out Funkhauser, and Morgan had dis 
posed of all his rights to Judge Silas M. Stilwell and Richard 
Remington. 131 They agreed that McCormick should dominate 
the policy of the company "at all times." 132 

As 1871 opened, after more than six months of inactivity 
at the mine, three dozen workmen were hired, the machinery 
was put in good condition, the shafts were drained of water, 
and operations were ready to begin. 133 The partners resolved 
to pursue a conservative policy ; to move ahead deliberately and 
economically until the yield in gold had compensated them for 

130 C. H. McCormick to C A. Spring, Jr., Jan. 20, 1870: The Dorn 
mine has cost me $119,833.28. ftC. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Jan. 24, 1870: "You should be happy because you can deduct the loss on 
your income tax return." Work was suspended at the mine on May 12, 
1870. #C. H. McCormick to Perrin & Cothran, May 20, 1870. For much 
correspondence relating to the mine in the summer of 1870, see SL.P.C.B. 
No. i, 2nd ser., passim. 

131 C. H. McCormick to Perrin & Cothran, July 7, 1870. At this time 
McCormick bought out Funkhauser for $900, and offered to sell Morgan 
his entire interest, or buy Morgan s moiety, for $20,000. Morgan owed 
McCormick about $10,400, but Stilwell and Remington assumed one-half 
of this debt by the terms of their purchase agreement. #W. W. MacFarland 
to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 20, 28, May 28, 1870. T. S. Morgan to C. H. 
McCormick, June 15, 1870; *C W. Allen to C. H. McCormick, June 20, 
1870; T. S. Morgan to R. M. Funkhauser, Aug. 17, 1870, and Perrin & 
Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 30, 1870. 

132 Agreement of November 25, 1870, between the three partners. 
#L.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd ser., p. 321. Remington was supt. of the mine, and 
W. P. Jenney, chemist and metallurgist. 

* 33 R. Remington to C. H. McCormick and S. M. Stilwell, Dec. 10, 21, 
1870, and Jan. 6, 17, 1871. 


past expenses. But even a cautious course was found to cost 
about $2,500 a month. Torrential rains fell just as the work 
was well underway, the shafts refilled with water, the pumps 
failed, a boiler burst, and the small amounts of ore made ready 
for shipment averaged only $4 per ton in gold. Since the cost 
of operation was about as large, there is little wonder that 
Judge Stilwell wrote in late March that he had "been quite 
ill for a few days from strong nervous irritability growing out 
of Dorn business but am now better/ 134 By the summer he 
and Remington were glad to withdraw and leave McCormick 
to discover some new way of overcoming the Dorn Mine 

Thereupon, McCormick bought the entire property from 
Dorn for $20,000, although but five years before it had been 
held for sale at a half -million. One Charles Wright was the 
inventor s agent in effecting this purchase and he remained 
at the mine after title was passed. From an old negro squatter 
on the property, he learned of a vein called "Hidden Treas 
ure/ forgotten since the war. It was most aptly named if the 
first word of its title is given all the emphasis. 135 Wright s 

134 S. M. Stilwell, New York, to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 24, 1871. 
About six weeks before this time, it had been expected that the operation 
of the mine would cost only $1500 a month; that for $9 per ton freight 
about 100 barrels of pyrites could be shipped to N. Y. each month by boat 
from Savannah, and that each of these barrels would be worth about $100 
in gold. Remington did send $500 in gold to the mint in April. See his 
letters to C. H. McCormick and S. M. Stilwell, Feb. 17, 24, Mch. 4, 17, 28, 
29, and Apr. 28, 1871. fL.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd ser., pp. 469, 545, 636. 

5 Ibid., pp. 621-623, C. H. McCormick to C. Wright and to W. W. 
MacFarland, Aug. 23, 1871. The report of W. Hooper, a mining engineer 
of Ticonderoga, N. Y., whom McCormick sent to his property in Dec., 

1871, urged that more machinery should be installed there. For the next 
six months McCormick vainly urged Hooper to be the superintendent of 
the mine. Ibid., No. A, 2nd ser., C. Wright to C. H. McCormick, Dec. i 
and 19, 1871, and Jan. 6, 1872. W. Hooper to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 9, 

1872. See also, ibid. t No. 3, 2nd ser., pp. 12, 22-23, for McCormick s several 
letters to Hooper in the spring of 1872. Wright was warned by the Ku Klux 
Klan not to allow the negroes living on the property to hold evening reli- 


assurance that "it would be but a short time before the Dorn 
Mines would be the most productive ... on this continent" 
must have sounded like an old story to the inventor. 136 Thus, 
on the eve of the great Chicago fire, The Dorn Mining and 
Manufacturing Company closed its unhappy career, and Mc- 
Cormick was the sole owner of a property that up to that time 
had been the most costly venture of his life. 

The mishaps of Wright need not be detailed here. By the 
autumn of 1872 McCormick bluntly wrote him that "I have 
been more heavily fleeced through & by you than any of your 
predecessors." 137 "Fleeced" was probably too strong a word, 
but McCormick was angry because Wright was threatening 
to sue him for salary alleged to be due. 138 Already the inventor 
had leased the mine to Professor Edward L. Seymour of New 
York City in return for a guarantee of one-quarter of the net 
profits. 139 To add to the gloom, reports from samples of man 
ganese sent to England for test indicated that this ore was 

gious services since they were too often taught politics rather than the 

136 C. Wright, Dorn Mines, to C. H. McCormick, Aug. (?), 1871. See 
also, Wright s nine-page report to McCormick on Nov. i, 1871, in SL.P.C.B. 
No. 2, 2nd ser. 

1 37 C. H. McCormick to C. Wright, Sept. 14, 1872. Wright had found 
that the stamping machinery was too heavy for the ore, and his expenses, 
borne mostly by C. H. McCormick, had been very large. See, L.P.C.B. 
No. 132, p. 844, Idem to idem, Mch. 23, 1872. Up to June, 1872, Wright s 
regime had cost McCormick $21,000. 

138 Certified copy of court proceedings in a suit brought in Abbeville 
Cy. Court by C. Wright vs. C. H. McCormick, on Dec. 31, 1872, for $2,350 
back salary, alleged to be due. Perrin & Cothran represented McCormick 
and he won the case. But Wright sued again in the autumn of 1874 this 
time for a $5,000 claim. McCormick again won. Lord, Day, & Lord to 
C. H. McCormick, Oct 20, 1874, and Perrin & Cothran to C. H. McCor 
mick, Jan. 28, 1875. 

139 This arrangement was to begin on Aug. i, 1872. The contract was 
made on July 4, 1872. Unknown to McCormick, Seymour entered the story 
in May when Wright invited him to come to the mine as a consultant. In 
June, McCormick sent a Chicago friend, Wm. L. Lee, to examine the prop 
erty. Lee filed a pessimistic report. 


worth far less than McCormick had been led to expect. 
British steel-makers could obtain a considerably higher grade 
much more conveniently from Spain. 140 The Dorn manganese 
had commercial value, but until a railroad was built to the 
mine it cost more to freight it to Savannah than it would sell 
for in that port. 

Seymour, who believed that he had discovered an effective 
method for reducing refractory ores, spent most of his time 
in the laboratory of the mine "dreaming over the mysteries 
of his art." 141 He was the third and last of the line of imprac 
tical professors whose total lack of business acumen lends the 
only touch of humor to the history of McCormick s quest for 
gold in South Carolina. Under Seymour s very eyes, the small 
tools used about the mine were carried off by the poor folk 
of the neighborhood, and the few laborers who could be paid, 
did about what they pleased to do without regard for the 
interests of their employer. Seymour s financial backer soon 
withdrew his support, and the poverty-stricken professor was 
thrown upon the charity of friends in Abbeville and Augusta, 
without even enough money to pay his fare back to New 
York. 142 This doleful situation reached a climax in December, 
!873, when his beloved laboratory his concentrator, crucibles, 
and test-tubes and the building which housed much of the 
mine machinery, burned to the ground. 143 

"o Peers Naylor, St. Helens, Eng., to C. H. McCormick, June 15, 1872. 

141 Pen-in & Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 7, 1873: "Our judg 
ment of him [Seymour] is that in Metallurgy he is very learned; in busi 
ness very impracticable and in means (money) utterly impecunious at the 
same time artless, enthusiastic and honest." E. L. Seymour to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Dec. 26, 1873: "Your ores are worthless by the amalgamation 
process but ... I can make them very valuable by my mode of extrac 

142 Letters to C. H. McCormick of E. L. Seymour, Dec. 26, 1872, W. L. 
Lee, Apr. 3, 1873, and Perrin & Cothran, Apr. 28, 1873 and Apr. 27, 
1874. Seymour had expected monetary aid from Dr. Jas. P. Campbell of 
Brooklyn, N. Y. 

143 Letters to C. H. McCormick of Perrin & Cothran, Dec. 31, 1873, and 
Jan. 20, 1874, and of #E. L. Seymour, Dec. 30, 1873. 


Perrin & Cothran had early taken an interest in Seymour s 
experiments, and six months before this disaster, induced 
McCormick to aid him with $5,000. They guaranteed to pay 
the inventor one half of all the profits that they might make 
from the mine. 144 In other words, the Seymour contract came 
to an end and the Abbeville law firm assumed the obligations 
of the professor and retained him as their expert. McCormick s 
five thousand dollars were largely used to buy the new ma 
chinery that Seymour desired. 145 Then came the fire and addi 
tional funds were needed at once. McCormick sent $2,000 
more during the next few months. 146 He, as well as all others 
who knew the mine, believed that it contained gold in paying 
quantities, but it seemed impossible to find the proper ma 
chinery and chemicals to extract it from the ore. Most of the 
money that was spent on the property at this period was for 
the purpose of financing experiments to discover this secret. 
By the autumn of 1874, when Seymour was confident that 
success was assured if he were provided with a furnace capable 
of generating a heat of 2300 degrees Fahrenheit, 147 Perrin & 
Cothran had reached the limit of their small resources, and 
McCormick, having watched $7,000 disappear without appar- 

144 Letters to C. H. McCormick of W. L. Lee, Mch. 27, 29, and Apr. 3, 
1873, and of Perrin & Cothran, June 6, n, and 16, 1873. ^Indenture be 
tween C. H. McCormick and Perrin & Cothran, July 17, 1873. 2L.P.C.B. 
No. 3, 2nd ser., p. 85, C. H. McCormick to Perrin & Cothran, May 30, 


1 45 Perrin & Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 5, Oct. 17, Nov. u, 
Dec. 2, and 23, 1873. J S. Cothran to C. H. McCormick, July 21, 26, Aug. 
12, and Dec. 26, 1873. 

146 Perrin & Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 20, 21, Feb. 28, Mch. 
25, and Apr. 27, 1874. By now, since Seymour had decided that the copper 
pyrites contained too little gold to work profitably, he was directing his 
attention to the iron pyrites. #C. H. McCormick to Perrin & Cothran, Feb. 
3 and Mch. n, 1874. 

147 As early as Apr. 3, 1873, McCormick was informed by W. L. Lee 
that Ward was able to reduce the virgin ore (copper pyrites) to a sul 
phurated ore, but that he could not extract the gold from this unless he 
had hard coal and a furnace which would produce a white heat. See also, 
J. S. Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 26, 1873. 


ent results, refused to advance any more. 148 Seymour was 
obliged to quit. In so far as possible the equipment at the mine 
was put under lock and key, and Perrin & Cothran became 
its custodian. 149 Thereafter, until the spring of 1876, all was 
quiet at the Dorn Mine, although apparently the watchman 
violated his trust by selling tools and machine parts for his 
own enrichment. 150 

Late in 1874 one Sidney O. Brown of London and San 
Francisco, first expressed an interest in the property. 151 The 
agreement with Perrin & Cothran was still in force, however, 
and over a year went by before McCormick could secure their 
consent to withdraw temporarily in favor of Brown. 152 He 

148 Perrin & Cothran, to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 27, 1874: "Our debtors 
at the mine are importunate." See also their letters, stressing the same dif 
ficulty, of May 21, June 2, 3, July 13, 25, Aug. 25, Nov. 7, and Dec. 16, 

1874. As early as the letter of July 13, Perrin & Cothran hoped that Mc 
Cormick would help build the furnace. They returned in vain to this subject 
in their later letters to him. After McCormick both by long silences and 
by his replies had made abundantly clear that he was weary of writing 
Dorn Mine checks, Seymour went to Atlanta in Dec., 1874, to seek funds. 
His quest yielded little and he thereupon returned to New York. ftC. H. 
McCormick to Perrin & Cothran, Dec. 25, 1874. 

149 Perrin & Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 28, Feb. 23, July 29, 
and Dec. 28, 1875. 

150 An inventory of the equipment at the mine had been made in April, 
1873, but due to the petty thieving, it was worthless by the spring of 

1875. See, J. Cox to C. H. McCormick, May i, 1875 ; *S. O. Brown to 
C. H. McCormick, July 30, 1876: "The loose and dishonest way in which 
things have been managed here is almost beyond belief. Tools and personal 
property. . . seem to have been scattered all over the country." Perrin and 
Cothran were partly to blame because they admitted in a letter to C. H. 
McCormick on July 29, 1875, that they had not been to the mine "since last 

151 JS. O. Brown, Richmond, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 20, 1874. 
*C. H. McCormick to S. O. Brown, Jan. 5, 1875. ID. E. Bradley to S. 0. 
Brown, Dec. 28, 1874. 

152 C. H. McCormick to Perrin & Cothran, May 18, 1876. Letters to C. 
H. McCormick from H. Day, July 10, 1876, Perrin & Cothran, May 23, 

1876. and 1tS. 0. Brown, July 3, 1876. Brown & Dunne permitted Perrin & 
Cothran to go on with its search for free gold. 


and his partner, Joseph J. Dunne, agreed to make a thorough 
survey at the mine, and if the outlook were encouraging, to 
install a desulphurizing furnace and other machinery at their 
own expense, paying McCormick one-third of their profits 
as rent. 153 Brown was at the mine from late May, 1876, until 
the following autumn. He explored the old shafts, cut several 
cross-drifts, and found plenty of pyrites but scarcely a trace 
of gold, "a condition of things anomalous in mining," as he 
said. 154 So ended the seventh vain attempt to make the prop 
erty live up to its high reputation of ante-bellum days. 

McCormick had now wasted over $195,000 upon a piece of 
backwood s land that he had never seen. He had been too busy 
to give it his close attention, and his lack of knowledge about 
mining obliged him to rely upon others who were often either 
incompetent or dishonest. Thus Brown discovered during his 
survey of the mine that Seymour had spent months of time 
and $7,000 of McCormick s money working with ore that 
contained only one and three-tenths per cent of copper and 
$2.75 worth of gold per ton. 155 Perrin and Cothran were men 
of integrity, but they knew nothing about mining. Because 
their office in Abbeville was over twenty miles from the mine, 
they could not watch over it effectively. 156 

Enthusiasm for Dorn Mine gold was at a low ebb by 1877, 
but the news that a railroad track was to be laid close to the 

153 SC H. McCormick to Perrin & Cothran, Dec. 21, 1875, Jan. 8, Apr. i, 
May 29, and June i, 1876. Telegram of H, Day to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 
29, 1876. MS. Agreement of Mch. 25, 1876, between C. H. McCormick and 
S. O. Brown, and Brown s letter of Mch. 23, 1876, to C. H. McCormick. 

154 SS. O. Brown to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 23, 1876. See also, his let 
ters to C. H. McCormick of July 17, Aug. 7, Sept. 14, 18, Oct. 826, 1876. 
Perrin & Cothran to C, H. McCormick, May 17, 1877. 

155 S. O. Brown to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 18, 1876. 

156 J. S. Cothran to C. H. McCormick, May 12, 1877. Cothran was then 
Atty. Gen l. of South Carolina. This office required his presence for long 
periods at Columbia, and hence he was even less able than hitherto to over 
see the mine. 


property on its way from Greenwood, South Carolina, to 
Augusta, Georgia, aroused for the first time a lively hope of 
profit from the manganese. McCormick had already been ap 
proached on several occasions by men who wished to exploit 
these deposits, but their interest had flagged as soon as they 
learned of the heavy cost of carriage to the seaboard. 157 The 
officers of this railroad, which was being painfully built with 
meager funds and convict labor, assured McCormick that if 
he would subscribe to its stock and give it a right of way 
through his property, they would put a depot there and carry 
his manganese to Augusta for $4.00 a ton. They pictured to 
him the town that would arise about his station, the several 
thousand bales of cotton shipped from it each year, and 
the new county that might be formed soon with Dorn Mine 
as the county-seat. 158 McCormick was only mildly interested 
at first. He tentatively promised to subscribe $1,000 and 
shortly thereafter sailed to France for a long visit. J. S. 
Cothran and the president of the railroad kept him reminded 
of his interests in South Carolina, and finally, in August, 1879, 
he purchased $2,000 worth of the stock of the Greenwood & 
Augusta line. 159 It was almost three years later before this 

157 E. H. Woodward, Pyrolusite Manganese Co., N. Y., to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Feb. 14, 1873. W. J. Leddell, N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 
27, 1875. #S. O. Brown to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 26, 1876. 

158 P. H. Bradley, Greenwood, S. C., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 5, 
Nov. 5, 27, 1877- *P. H. Bradley, Millway, S. C., to H. Fay, undated, but 
early 1878 : "I am afraid I done wrong [to ask C H. McCormick for $5,000 
stock subscription] as Mr. McCormick has not answered any of my letters 
since. ... I have seen the day when there would have been no necessity 
for it [asking help] but the war ruined us & we are now poor & strugling 
like drowning men to try & improve our section of the country." #P. H. 
Bradley to Hon. D. W. Aiken, Washington, D. C., Dec. 17, 1878. #J. S. 
Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 17, 1879. The project of a railroad to 
run near Dorn Mine had been broached at least as early as Dec., 1871. 

159 Letters to C. H. McCormick, May 9, 1878, *Feb. I, 1879, Oct. 27, 
1881, from P. H. Bradley; and from D. W. Aiken, #Dec. 27, 1878; from 
(J. S. Cothran, Jan. 18, June 5, Aug. 27, 1879, Mch. 16, June 15, Nov. 15, 


road was completed. By then, with the help of a small gift 
from the inventor, Dorn Mine could boast of a station build 
ing more appealing to the eye than the unpainted box-like 
shacks which had been erected here and there along- the 
track: 160 Better still, the Savannah Valley Railroad, coming 
down toward Augusta from the northwest, was persuaded in 
1883 by a $3,000 purchase of its stock, to make McCormick s 
property its point of intersection with the Greenwood & 
Augusta line. 161 

Thus, gradually between 1879 an d 1883, McCormick came 
to view his twelve hundred acres of timbered hills not only as a 
possible source of wealth from manganese and gold, but as a 
town site where lots could be sold. The mines might be worked 
in order to build up the community. There were already a 
dozen families living on his land as squatters, and in the sum 
mer of 1878 the caretaker of the mine had asked him to donate 
an acre or more as a site for a Baptist church. 162 Men without 
let or hindrance were washing for free gold on his property, 
and were building cabins, keeping themselves warm, and cook- 

1880, and Nov. 14, 21, 22, 1881; from C. C. Copeland, Jan. 4, 1882. Mc 
Cormick received 100 shares of stock in return for his $2000. In Jan., 
1882, they were worth $1500 and Copeland advised C. H. McCormick to 
sell them. "As a general thing the capitalists who build Rail Roads expect 
to sell the bonds for enough to reimburse themselves and have the stock 
and local subscriptions for their profit. This they sell to large trunk lines 
who want the road for feeders. ... I have never been a speculator and 
years ago heard you talk a great deal more about Intrinsic values than 
you do now. I learned this term from you." 

160 *C C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 7, 1882. 

18 * Letters to C. H. McCormick from #W. T. Wheless, Augusta and 
Knoxville R. R. Co., Mch. 8, 1879; |J. S. Cothran, Nov. 22, 1881; J. 
Cothran, Jr., May 23 and Oct. 16, 1882; #C H. McCormick, Jr., Aug. 23, 
1882, and Dec. 10, 1883. 1C. H. McCormick, Jr., to A. A. Stewart, 
Augusta, Ga., May 4 and June 27, 1883. W. W. Humphreys, Savannah 
Valley R. R,, Anderson, S. C, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 17 and Oct. 
20, 1884. Humphreys believed that the junction at the mine would be com 
pleted within a year. 

162 SJ. B. Holloway to C. H. McCormick, June 3, 1878. 


ing their meals with his timber. 163 The Dorn land, due to the 
neglect of its owner, had become an involuntary philanthropy. 
Perhaps a way could be found to combine financial profits 
with social aid. 

Early in 1881, R. H. Nesbitt of Red Bud, Georgia, who 
had been a miner for Dorn before the war, was employed by 
McCormick and Cothran to operate the mine. For the first 
time in over four years the old shafts were drained and the 
machinery set in motion. Soon Nesbitt located a new vein of 
likely-looking ore and Cothran was confident that at a very 
modest cost the property would at last begin to make money 
for its owner. 164 This cheering word, together with the near 
completion of the railroad, so aroused McCormick s interest 
that at the close of 1881 he sent his friend and assistant, C. C. 
Copeland, to the mine on a trip of observation. He found 
Nesbitt "the worst looking old fellow I ever saw," but an 
expert miner and one who could be trusted implicitly. "The 
Parson," as he was known, had with considerable difficulty 

163 Letters to C. H. McCormick, from SA. A. Stuart, Augusta, Ga., May 
(?), 1879; if Alexander H. Stephens, Mch. 9, 1879. The late vice-pres. of 
the Confederacy suggested that the mine should be leased to his close 
friend, Charles E. Smith of Washington, Ga. Also #J. S. Cothran, Nov. 25, 
1879, and #J. Cothran, Jr., Aug. 3, 1882, to C. H. McCormick. In the 
summer of 1871, McCormick first suggested that some of the Dorn property 
might well be leased to farmers. See IL.P.CB. No. i, 2nd ser., pp. 621- 
622, C. H. McCormick to C. Wright, Aug. 23, 1871. 

164 *C. H. McCormick to J. S. Cothran, Nov. 5, and Dec. 31, 1880; 
Mch. 23, Apr. 28, and May 24, 1881 : "I still believe there is big gold in 
that mine, while I could wish somebody could point out the way to get at 
it." #J. S. Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 20, May 2, 23, July 22, 
Aug. 22, 1881, and from T. P. Cothran, Apr. 7, 1881. Nesbitt s salary 
depended upon the amount of gold that he found. He was employing about 
five miners. It is not clear from the correspondence who paid Nesbitt at 
the outset of his work, but after Jan., 1882, McCormick and Cothran agreed 
to share the cost or profits at a ratio of about 3 to i, i.e., in the propor 
tion that Cothran s $2636.70 loss under the Seymour regime bore to Mc 
Cormick s $7000 loss during the same period. SC. H. McCormick to J. S. 
Cothran, Feb. 2, 1882. 


kept an account of his receipts and expenses during his stay 
at the mine. Apparently the total operating cost had been 
$3,900, including $1,000 advanced by McCormick, while the 
receipts from the sale of gold were $2,400. This was not a 
large deficit, especially if a continuation of the work would 
lead people to make their homes near the mine. 165 

Copeland believed that Cothran was too sanguine about the 
speed with which a town would grow about the railroad sta 
tion. He had surveyed three hundred lots and advertised to 
auction them on January 10, i882. 166 The site was a beautiful 
one, with a fine spring of pure water and a large grove of tall 
pines near by. At Copeland s suggestion and with the inven 
tor s consent, the embryo village was called McCormick. Its 
streets were named after members of his family and those, like 
Copeland, who had been associated with its history. 167 Rain 
fell steadily on the day of the sale and the railroad was still 
unfinished for a distance of about three miles out of the town. 
Only seventeen lots were disposed of, but the president of the 
road was on hand and promised that if another auction were 
advertised for early in February, a train would bring prospec 
ts idem to idem, Nov. 17 and Dec. 10, 1881. flC. C. Copeland to J. H. 
Huntington, Dec. n, 1881, and to *C H. McCormick, Dec. 12, 15, 19 and 
23, 1881. 

166 SC. C. Copeland to C H. McCormick, Dec. 12, 1881, and Jan. 2, 
1882. SJ. S. Cothran to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 28 and Dec. 22, 1881. 
Copeland found little to do and wrote his employer that he was spending 
much time reading Bacon s "Essays," the work of Goethe, and Thomas 
a Kempis s, "Imitation of Christ." The tract set aside for the town was 
about 40 acres in size. 

167 #/<&?w to idem, Dec. 6, 1881. In this letter Cothran asks if C. H. 
McCormick has any name to suggest for the town. #C C. Copeland to 
C. H. McCormick, Dec. 15, 1881. In this, the writer states that Cothran has 
suggested the name McCormickville but he [Copeland] would like to make 
the counter-suggestion of McCormick. C. H. McCormick to J. S. Cothran, 
Dec. 10, 1881. McCormick here writes that he accepts Cothran s sugges 
tion of McCormickville. Copeland s letter of the I5th led him to adopt 
McCormick. The town was incorporated and officially became McCormick 
on Apr. i, 1882. 


tive purchasers to McCormick without charge. 168 By ill for 
tune it rained again at that time, and nine lots were all that 
Copeland, the auctioneer, could sell. 169 This was discouraging, 
particularly since the village of Troy about six miles away was 
also anxious to be the point of intersection with the railroad 
coming down from Knoxville, which had not yet determined 
its exact route. 170 

Copeland s optimism, however, was not easily crushed. He 
soon had four negroes digging out manganese and was nego 
tiating for the erection of a cotton-gin and shingle-mill. Since, 
in his opinion, profits were in sight from the gold, manganese, 
and real estate, he advised McCormick that the time had come 
to ease Cothran and Nesbitt gently out of the picture. 171 
In so far as Nesbitt was concerned, Copeland s advice was fol 
lowed. This was accomplished the more easily, since the old 
miner s "fissure vein" had not fulfilled his expectations, and 
his daily harvest of gold flakes had been diminishing for sev 
eral weeks before orders arrived that his work must cease. 172 

168 Profit and Loss Statement of J. S. Cothran, Trustee, in account with 
C. H. McCormick, Feb. 8, 1882. The seventeen lots were sold for a total 
of $645. #C. C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 11, 12, and 23, 1882. 
Telegram of Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 20, 1882: The railroad 
has finally reached the mine. 

169 SC. C Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 8 and 14, 1882. The nine 
lots sold for $318. 

170 Idem to idem, Jan. 21 and 24, 1882. 

171 #/dkw to idem, Feb. 21, 25, 27, 28 and Mch. 9, 1882. Cothran had 
now turned over the active management of the property to his son who 
lived on a sixty-acre farm near the mine, and paid McCormick rent of 
$150 a year. Copeland believed he was too young and inexperienced. There 
were also four other small farms on the Dorn estate, which with the 
Cothran home, brought C. H. McCormick a total of $550 rent a year. 
SC. H. McCormick to J. S. Cothran, Apr. 18, 1882. J. Cothran, Jr., was 
running a grist-mill and cotton-gin there, at least by 1883. 

172 (Letters from C. C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 12 and 27, 
1882; to C H. McCormick, Jr., Mch. 20, 1882; to R. H. Nesbitt, Mch. 
24, 1882, and to J. S. Cothran, Mch. 29, 1882. This suspension of work at 
the mine made the people of the town restive, and disposed to charge Mc 
Cormick with breaking faith. 


Nevertheless, before he unwillingly left for his home in early 
May, two new shafts had been sunk in the manganese hill and 
preparations were going forward to drive down still another 
one in the hope of finding gold. Nesbitt s work was resumed 
from the point at which he left it. 173 All of this new expense, 
however, brought no return excepting to employ the towns 
people of McCormick and sell a few more lots. No gold worth 
mentioning was discovered, and even the best of the manganese 
was worth only $9.50 a ton at Baltimore. 174 

Mrs. McCormick had always been skeptical concerning the 
value of the Dorn lands as a mineral property, although she 
was interested in the town of McCormick as a social invest 
ment in the back-country South. 175 She had inspected the dig 
gings in May, 1882, and her belief in the futility of mining 
there had been strengthened. 176 In the following February, 
with her husband s consent, she ordered all work suspended. 177 

i 7 3 #J. Cothran, Jr., to C. C. Copeland, Apr. 27, 1882, and to C. H. 
McCormick, May 6, 1882. #C. C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Mch. 
28, 1882. #Ten letters of A. J. Rigby from McCormick, S. C, to C. H. 
McCormick, between June 28 and Dec. 6, 1882. He was of the firm of 
Rigby & Murphy, mining and construction engineers of 78 Bdwy., N. Y. C. 
McCormick paid him $200 a month and board. Rigby, with ten helpers, 
sunk a new shaft over 100 feet deep, but found very little gold. 

i^flStillwell & Gladding, N. Y., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 9, 1882, and 
to *C C. Copeland, Mch. 16, 1882. JE. P. White & Co, N. Y., to C H. 
McCormick, Mch. 20, 1882. 

175 C. H. McCormick, Jr., wrote for his father to J. S. Cothran on May 
4, 1882, that never again would the Dorn Mine be worked unless under 
the close personal supervision of the McCormicks. In Mch., 1882, Mr. and 
Mrs. McCormick s daughter, Virginia, with her aunt and cousin, came to 
the Moore House near Augusta and stayed for about two weeks. Copeland 
looked after their needs, but they apparently did not visit the mine. 

176 #J. S. Cothran to N. F. McCormick, May 22, 1882. #J. Cothran, Jr., 
to C. C. Copeland, May 24, 1882. 

177 SJ. Cothran, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 27, 1883: Mrs. McCor 
mick writes that I should stop all expenses at the mine. #J. Cothran, Jr., 
to C. H. McCormick, Jan. n, 17, and Mch. 8, 1883. #C. C. Copeland to J. 
Cothran, Jr., Jan. 27, 1883. #J. Cothran, Jr., to C. C. Copeland, Jan 29 and 
Feb. 23, 1883. 


Cyrus McCormick, Jr., visited the mine the next month and 
expressed his mother s own thoughts when he wrote to her: 

With sadness I see around me the wrecks of bygone reckless 
waste of, not thousands alone, but fortunes. These decaying mills, 
tottering buildings, rust eaten machinery, scattered shafts and 
cog wheels; dilapidated log cabins, time worn & weather beaten 
dwellings, rotting timbers which once formed the entrances to 
caves of great and certain depth, but an equally uncertain hiding 
place for the wealth which always eluded and always allured; 
yawning abysses whose depths are hid from view by the charitable 
veil of darkness, and whose recesses have been hewn from rock 
and dug from clay all in the search after this ignis fatuus." . . . 
Through it all runs a dark thread of misrepresentation, deceit, 
intrigue, imposition and misplaced confidence in sinners who were 
supposed to be saints. This is the "great gold mine" of today at 
McCormick, S. C. 178 

Thus the young McCormick wrote the obituary of one of 
his father s most costly speculations. Thereafter, some hun 
dreds of tons of manganese were sold, but the elusive gold 
was left in peace. 179 A resolve to help the thriving little com 
munity of McCormick supplanted the desire for profits from 
the Dorn lands. In this work Mrs. McCormick and her eldest 
son were the leaders. Lots were given for churches, a cemetery, 
and a newspaper. Stores and a temperance hotel, called "The 
McCormick," were erected. Street lights were installed and 

178 SC H. McCormick Jr., to N. F. McCormick, Mch. 27, 1883. C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," N. F. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., Mch. 22, 1883: "That poor little lump of amalgam left at the jewelers 
is all we have to show for these enormous expenses. No fortune can stand 
this long." After receiving her son s letter from which the quotation is 
given, Mrs. McCormick replied on Mch. 30: "I have your truthful de 
scription of that great puzzle which has brought us only troublffs and as 
many of them as Pandora s box held." 

179 #F. Blaisdell, Augusta, Ga., to C. H. McCormick, June 14, 1882; 
"Abbeville Press and Banner," July 22, 1885. C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. 
Book "B," Nettie F. to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Mch. 10, 1886, and to C. 
H. McCormick, Jr., and Anita McCormick, Mch. 4, 1888. 


the town s drainage system was improved. 180 Its population 
doubled during 1883, and after a fire destroyed two business 
blocks in the following year, the McCormicks loaned money 
on easy terms to the merchants so that they could rebuild. 181 
In 1885, three thousand bales of cotton were hauled to its 
freight siding for shipment to market. That year a "genuine, 
whole-souled South Carolina barbecue" of corn, potatoes, and 
"eighty-two carcasses of mutton and beef " was held to cele 
brate the completion of the "Academy" or high school building 
given by Mrs. McCormick. 182 Not far away at Clinton she 
provided for the erection and maintenance of the Thornwell 
Orphanage as a memorial to her husband. 183 McCormick is 
still a little town, but it is one of the few communities in the 
United States which owes its origin to the generosity of a 
mine owner who was foiled in his search for gold on its site. 184 

18 <> Letters to C. H. McCormick of flj. S. Cothran, Feb. 24, 1883, and 
of #C. H. McCormick, Jr., Apr. 30 and Aug. 17, 1883. Nettie F. McCormick 
to J. Cothran, Jr., Feb. 10, 1883. J. Cothran, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., Mch. 17, July 6, Aug. 24, Nov. 19 and 27, 1885. 

isi SC. H. McCormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 10, 1883; C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," Nettie F. McCormick to C. H. McCor 
mick, Jr., Nov. 17 and 25, 1884. 

182 Q H. McCormick, Jr., MSS., Book "B," Nettie F. McCormick to 
C. H. McCormick, Jr., Nov. I, 1884, "Abbeville Press and Banner," July 22, 
1885. By this date the town also had a newspaper called "The McCormick 

183 Pamphlet entitled "The Cyrus Hall McCormick Cottage for Orphan 
Boys. An Address by Judge J. S. Cothran on the Occasion of the Laying 
of the Cornerstone, February I4th, 1885" (Clinton, S. C., 1885). C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., MSS., Book "F," Nettie F. McCormick to C. H. McCor 
mick, Jr., May n, 1890. 

184 In 1930, McCormick had about fourteen hundred inhabitants. In 1906 
several citizens of McCormick formed the McCormick Land and Lumber 
Company and purchased the Dorn Mine property of Mrs. Nettie F. McCor 
mick for $27,183. In 1916, McCormick County was formed with McCormick 
as its county-seat. T. H. Williams, Columbia, S. C,, to Centennial Comm. 
of the Inter. Harv. Co., Mch. n, 1931- Entries from the books of the N. 
F. McCormick Estate, furnished by I. T. Gladden, 


Hardly had the misfortunes of the Dorn venture caused 
McCormick to lose his first enthusiasm for mining, than it was 
stimulated anew by reports of rich strikes in Colorado and 
Arizona. Several years after the Dorn Company was dissolved 
in 1870, Thomas S. Morgan wrote from Tucson to his former 
partner about the opportunities for easy wealth in that neigh 
borhood. McCormick also kept in touch with the "rush" to the 
Tombstone district in the same territory, and by the summer 
of 1879 was induced to make his first investment in the far 
Southwest. At that time he and Morgan purchased a con 
trolling interest in four silver-mining claims in the Papago 
Mountains, and McCormick was also given an option to buy 
five others near Tombstone. 185 

The very names of some of these claims were alluring: 
Ruby, Bullion, San Pedro, Burrow, suggesting both romance 
and riches. These, however, as well as most of the others which 
McCormick was soon to acquire, were not mines with shafts 
and machinery but merely claims or prospects. Their surface 
was thought to be "likely looking" or to hide the extension of 
a vein that was being exploited with much profit a few hundred 
yards away. They were staked off on public land and their 
names and locations were registered at the government land 
office. Because Qverlapping and "jumped" claims were com 
mon, bickering over titles was a part of the everyday routine 
of a mining town. The claimant could sell his prospect as soon 
as it was registered, but title from the United States could not 
be secured until improvements, known as assessment work and 
costing at least $500, had been made. The first step in the 

185 ST. S. Morgan, Tucson, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 3, 1879; SAgree- 
ment of Aug. 23, 1879 between C. H. McCormick and A. Lewis et al. On 
C. C. Copeland s advice, McCormick did not take advantage of this option. 
A letter from #Ida Choate, Tucson, Apr. 18, 1878, to McCormick indi 
cates that he then Downed a claim near Tucson known as the "Reaper 
Mine," but this is its only mention in the correspondence. 


development of a holding was usually the sinking of a small 
"prospecting shaft" to the stratum of rock supposed to be rich 
in gold or silver. 186 

Sitting in Chicago or New York and buying claims by tele 
graph on the strength of a prospectus, or on the word of a 
miner far away who was tempted by every circumstance to 
misrepresent what he had to sell, was sheer speculation. 187 
Even those at the scene in Tucson or Tombstone counted them 
selves fortunate if one out of a dozen of their "mines" yielded 
a fair return in metal. In their opinion, the hard work at the 
diggings was not as lucrative as selling claims to "tenderfeet" 
who were willing to "buy blind/ They deserved to be 
fleeced. 188 If an easterner, before spending his money, sent an 
agent to have a look, it was often possible, by "salting" a mine 

186 SC. C Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 19, 1879. 

187 An example of a venture of this kind was the Tiger Mill & Mining 
Co., formed to work the Tiger Mine near Prescott, Ariz. Terr. Urged by 
his friends, ex-Gov. R. C. McCormick and Gov. Safford, who were doubt 
less acting in good faith, C. H. McCormick in 1879 invested $10,000 in its 
stock and was for a time its president It had been a profitable mine and 
was still represented so to be, but the rich ore was exhausted and the com 
pany was in debt. By 1882, it narrowly missed being sold for taxes; its 
creditors took over its control, and the stock-holders, including McCormick, 
received nothing. He ventured $2,000 more in the reorganized company and 
lost that also. Letters to C. H. McCormick of R. C. McCormick, N. Y., 
SNov. 17, 1879, *L. Bashford, Mch. 3, 1882, *C. Churchill, Oct. 22, 1882, 
A. H. Girard, Jan. 29, 1882. JPamphlet, "Reports on the Property of the 
Tiger Mill and Mining Company" (N. Y., 1881). *C H. McCormick to 
C. C. Copeland, Nov. 13 and 28, 1879. R. C. McCormick to C. H. McCor 
mick, Jr., Feb. 15, 1882. *C Churchill to A. H. Girard, Feb. i, 1882. 
# J. D. Hooker to C. C. Copeland, Feb. 20, Mch. 12, and Apr, 23, 1883. 

i 88 #C. C. Copeland, Tombstone, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 30, 1879: 
"If you could see the prospects or claims that have been sold East on 
representation for 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 & even 60,000$ each you would be 
astonished. There are many honest miners here but some are swindlers." 
In late November, 1879, C. H, McCormick wired Copeland to "make 
further moderate investments in undoubted good things." Copeland, in his 
letter of JNov. 27, replied : "You can t mean undoubted. " 


or a claim with rich ore, to make it appear an Eldorado. 189 
Honest business, in the opinion of many on the mining fron 
tier as elsewhere, was whatever could be done with impunity. 
The Mexican border and trackless mountains were conven 
iently close in case of need. 

In the early autumn of 1879, McCormick dispatched C. C. 
Copeland to Arizona to report upon the value of his claims 
and to look for others worth purchasing. 190 Copeland was 
keenly alive to the fact that "there is more rascality down here 
than I have ever met before/ but with his usual self-confidence 
he professed his readiness "to encounter heat, robbers, & 
Comanche Indians/ 191 He was soon told by "the Boys" that 
he was "the sharpest man that ever looked over this camp." 192 
Although he was proud of his reputation for shrewdness, most 
of the claims which he bought were later found to be worth 
less. This fact, however, is not proof that he was victimized 
by his flatterers. It was part of the game, and many others 
who knew far more about mining than did he, gambled with 
undeveloped mineral lands, and lost. 

During his seven months stay in Arizona, he used about 
$15,000 of his employer s money to acquire forty claims, parts 

18 9#J. D. Hooker, Tucson, to C. C. Copeland, Nov. 14, 1882: Sam 
Hooker, an old miner, says "he thinks the boys salted the mines upon 

190 #C. C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 31 and Nov. 27, 1879. 
Copeland was also interested in purchasing on his own account, and he held 
several claims jointly with McCormick. 

191 #/dw to idem, Sept. 9 and Oct. 22, 1879. On SMch. 3, 1880, he wrote 
from Tucson: "Capitalists from all the Eastern cities are coming in here 
and the whole section is rapidly developing. Many sales are being made 
rather swindles being perpetrated. Only a small percentage of the 
money invested by Eastern people will ever be taken out of the ground." 
A railroad engine was first seen in Tucson on Mch. 17, when a spur track 
from the Southern Pacific was finished. 

^ftldem. Tombstone, to idem, Sept. 30, 1879. In 1880, C. H. McCor 
mick and G. M. Pullman were trustees of the Maxwell Land Grant Co., 
holding 1,714,765 acres along the route of the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa 
Fe R. R. G. B. Carpenter to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 23, 1880. 


of claims, and mines in the Papago, Patagonia, Comobabi, 
Santa Rita, and Baboquivari mountains. 193 Morgan s share in 
certain of these holdings was bought out, and work was begun 
at the "Empress" and "Burrow" prospects in the Comobabi 
Mountains, west of Tucson. 194 McCormick s titles to these 
two claims, as well as to others, were by no means perfect. 195 
Within four months after Copeland s return to Chicago in 
May, 1880, all miners in McCormick s employ were dis 
charged, 196 and for the next two years his Arizona interests 
were largely neglected. The one hundred dollars worth of 
assessment work required by law to be done every year on each 
claim until the issuance of the patent, was performed in a few 
instances, but by 1882, forfeiture, abandonment, or the ina 
bility to prove a good title, had reduced to twelve the forty 
holdings of two years before. 197 Although McCormick s law- 

193 # Account-book, entitled "Arizona Mines." This shows that of three 
locations in the Tombstone District, two (a %th claim in the "Boss" and 
"Cedarberg") were still retained in 1882; five were in the Patagonia Mts., 
and only one (a J^th claim to the "Rodman") was held in 1882; twenty- 
eight in the Comobabi Mts. (about fifty miles west of Tucson) and of 
these, seven ("Pocahontas," "Emperor," "Dutchess," "Cyrus," "Daniels," 
"Caesar," and "Francisco") were still owned in 1882; two (the "Montezuma" 
and Montezuma mill-site) in the Santa Rita Mts., and still held in 1882, 
and three were in the Baboquivari Mts., but were abandoned by 1882. #C. 
C. Copeland to T. L. Stiles, Tucson, July 17, 1882. 

194 #Thirteen letters of C. C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, dated 
between Oct. 2 and Dec. i, 1879. #C. H. McCormick to C. C. Copeland, 
Nov. 13 and 28, 1879. The mines secured from Morgan were all in the 
Papago district about fifty miles west of Tucson. Copeland preferred this 
area at the outset because Mexican laborers could be had there for $1.00 
a day, while at Tombstone, miners charged $4.00 a day. He took pains to 
win the friendship of the Catholic priest at Tucson because through him, 
Mexican and Indian laborers could conveniently be obtained. 

195 ftC. C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 12, 14, Dec. 8, 1879; Feb. 
2, Mch. 3, 17, Apr. 4, 1880. The "Empress," "Emperor," "Dutchess," and 
"Burrow" were adjacent properties, and largely covered the site of the 
"Old Cabrisa" claim. For this reason their titles were cloudy. 

196 #S. C. Lewis, Tucson, to C. C. Copeland, Sept. 12, 1880. 

197 See, ftn. 193, above. Copeland left Tucson on Apr. 17, and reached 
Chicago on May 5, 1880. James Buell of Tucson was delegated to care for 


yer in Tucson had been instructed to secure deeds for the most 
promising of these, he had failed to do so, and adverse claim 
ants were issued patents to the "Cyrus" and "Emperor" prop 
erties by the United States government. 198 

In 1882, the interest of speculators in the Southwest, at 
low ebb after the crash of mining stocks in 1880, had revived. 
McCormick ordered his Tucson representative "to recover lost 
ground and to prosecute every contest vigorously." 199 Cope- 
land was sent to Washington to handle the Land Office phase 
of the business, and through friends there secured an official 
admission from the Department of the Interior that the patent 
to the "Cyrus" mine had probably been granted to the wrong 
claimant. 200 Title to this, and to all except one of the other 
properties that McCormick deemed worth while, were eventu 
ally secured. 201 If they were rich in silver, however, his agents 
in Arizona were unable to find it, and he received no return 
whatsoever from this new expenditure of effort and money. 202 

C. H. McCormick s interests after Copeland left. ^Letters to C. H. McCor 
mick of J. Buell, Sept (?), 1881, and Nov. i, 1881, and of W. B. Murray, 
Dec. 8, 1881. #C. H. McCormick to J. Buell, May 6 and Nov. 17, 1881, 
and to W. B. Murray, Tombstone, Nov. 17, 1881. 

198 #Twelve letters of J. Buell, Tucson, to C. H. McCormick or C. C. 
Copeland, between Feb. 4, 1881, and July 17, 1882. The "Cyrus" mine in 
the Comobabi Mts. was on land formerly located as the "Cokespa." In 
1885 the adverse claim was quieted by a payment of $1,000. 

19 9#C. H. McCormick to J. Buell, July 14, 1882; #C. C. Copeland to 
T. L. Stiles, Tucson, July 17, 1882. 

200 JC. C. Copeland, Washington, to C. H. and N. F. McCormick, Aug. 
18, 23, 26, 1882. #M. L. Joslyn, Actg. Sec y. of the Interior, to B. H. 
Brewster, U. S. Atty. Genl., Washington, Aug. 26, 1882. #B. H. Brewster 
to Drummond & Bradford, Washington, Aug. 29, 1882. Here Brewster in 
structed the U. S. district attorney in Arizona to investigate the method 
by which the "Cyrus" patent had been obtained in Apr., 1882. If he found 
evidence of perjury or fraud, he was to permit Copeland to bring suit in 
the name of the U. S. for the purpose of having the patent voided. 

201 The exception was the "Emperor" mine in the Comobabi Mts. #J. 
Buell to C. C. Copeland, Sept. 27, 1882, Feb. 15, and Nov. 10, 1883. 

202 * J. D. Hooker, Tucson, to C C. Copeland, Nov. 14, Dec. 28, 1882, 
and Apr. 2, 1883: As you direct, we will have assessment work done on 


Nevertheless, Mrs. McCormick and her eldest son continued to 
believe that they would some day collect in profits from these 
holdings at least as much as they had cost. 203 With this hope, 
they engaged the young John Hays Hammond in 1885 to g 
to Arizona for the purpose of making a survey. His report was 
not encouraging. Taxes were paid on these claims for the 
next forty-five years, but except for $3,000 received in 1889 
for their quarter interest in the "Boss" Mine, the venture re 
turned nothing to the heirs of the inventor. 204 

This series of losses was broken by one speculation in mines 
that, by the narrowest of margins, returned to Cyrus McCor 
mick the sum he ventured in it, and a little more. Among the 
most important of the silver mines at Leadville, Colorado, in 
the late 1 870*5 were the "Little Chief" and "Little Pittsburg" 
on Fryer s Hill Each of these had paid profits to its owners 
of as much as $100,000 a month, and in 1879 a company of 
substantial men, including Thomas Ewing and John V. Far- 
well, was formed to purchase the "Little Chief." 205 Because 

six of your claims in the Comobabi Mts., although we do not think there 
is one promising mine in all of that district. The "Cyrus" appears to be 
worthless. The "Francisco" is probably the best of your six, but the ore is 
worth only $5 a ton. Possibly the ore in your "Montezuma" mine in the 
Santa Rita Mts. is worth $20 a ton. #J. D. Hooker to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., Nov. 16, 1882; #W. B. Murray, Tombstone, to C H. McCormick, Jr., 
Jan. 3, 1883: Your Cedarberg claim near here has been jumped. 

203 c. H. McCormick, Jr n MSS., Book "B," Nettie F. McCormick to 
C. H. McCormick, Jr., Oct. 16, and Nov. i, 1884. 

204 Ibid., Nettie F. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Dec. 13, 1884, 
and Feb. 17, 1885. John Hays Hammond, "The Autobiography of John Hays 
Hammond" (N. Y., 1935), I, pp. 186-187. MS. Diary of C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., entry of Mch* 20, 1885. Letter of idem to the author, May 25, 1935. 

205 The Little Chief Mining Co. owned about eight acres of mineral 
property at Leadville, and the Little Pittsburg Co., forty acres. The "Little 
Pittsburg" is uniformly called the "Big Pittsburg" in the correspondence 
but I have used the name by which it was listed on the stock market. The 
"Chicago Tribune," Dec. 8, 1879, gives the daily ore output of the thirty 
mines at Leadville. The "Chrysolite" tops the list with 125 tons and the 
"Little Chief and "Little Pittsburg" follow with 100 tons each. The next 


they could not carry through the deal without outside aid, 
they induced Cyrus McCormick to loan them $75,000 with the 
assurance that a trust fund of their stock had been set aside 
as a guarantee of his repayment, and that in one year he would 
be returned double the amount of his advance. This large 
bonus was in all likelihood promised as a compensation for the 
boost that Cyrus McCormick s $75,000 gesture of confidence 
would give to the reputation of the "Little Chief" mine. 

McCormick soon learned that a further objective of the com 
pany was to pool a majority of its stock with a majority of the 
shares of the Little Pittsburg Mining Company, to place these 
securities under the control of a board of trustees, and thereby 
to create a business organization resembling the Standard Oil 
"set-up" being erected at this time. 206 He was naturally con 
cerned about the fate of his $150,000 loan and bonus if this 
plan should be carried out. He was assured that his interests 
would be even safer than before, but to quiet all of his fears 
he was made president of the Little Chief Company, and was 
promised a $50,000 bonus from the Little Pittsburg Company 

in line produces only thirty-five tons. Supreme Court of the State of New 
York, City and County of New York. Cyrus H, McCormick, Plaintiff, vs. 
John V. Farwell, Central Trust Company of New York, Jesse Spaulding, 
Thomas Ewing, Edward H. P otter r Charles P. Shaw and Alexander B. 
Davis, Defendants. Summons and Complaint. (New York, 1882). Hereafter 
cited as McCormick vs. Farwell et al. See also, another pamphlet with 
the same title as this except that "Summons and Complaint" is replaced 
by the words "Answer of Defendant, Farwell." #W, J. Collins, M. E., to 
E. H. Potter, Dec. 20, 1879. 

2 <> 6 ST. Ewing to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 5, 7, and 8, 1879: "They [the 
managers of the syndicate] could not afford a controversy with you, & will 
be glad of your cooperation & the influence of your name, as a Chicago 
man, to counterbalance any suspicion that the Little Chief is not as good 
as reported." The prestige of your check gave them the standing neces 
sary to bring in all the capital they needed. The "Evening Post" (N. Y.), 
Dec. i, 1879: "The mining stocks . . . are attracting more attention, and 
of these Little Pittsburg Consolidated has today been the most active, hav 
ing advanced to 34 MJ, . . Dividends of $100,000 per month are declared, 
they having been begun on June 10 last." 


in consideration of his aid in maintaining its solvency. 207 He 
declined an opportunity to buy "Little Chief* stock at less than 
the market price, but he took advantage of an even more gen 
erous offer to purchase seven thousand shares of "Little Pitts- 
burg." 208 In January, 1880, he wrote with much gratification 
of the part that he and a few of the best known New York 
millionaires were playing in uniting the control of these two 
important mines. 209 The trustees, however, were far more 
eager to make a killing on Wall Street than to extract silver 
from their properties on Fryer s Hill. 210 

The merger was never completed. Mining stocks steadily 
dropped and in March, 1880, the crash came. Inefficient man 
agement at the mine, an unexpected decline in the quality of 
the ore, and labor troubles in Leadville, partly account for the 
collapse of the bubble. Two months later McCormick resigned 

207 This aid consisted of opening a $223,000 account in his own name in 
a N. Y. bank the money to be publicized (but not used) as a "bolster" 
to the bonds of the company. #C. H. McCormick to A. B. Davis, N. Y., 
Dec. 22, 1879; *C. H. McCormick s telegram to E. BL Potter, N. Y,, 
Dec. 22, 1879, and 1C. H. McCormick s telegram and letter to C. P. Shaw, 
N. Y., Dec. 22, 1879. ^Telegrams of T. Ewing to C. H. McCormick, 
Dec. 13, and 16, 1879. A shaft at the "Little Pittsburg" mine was named 
the "McCormick." 

2 s On Dec. 19, 1879, "Little Pittsburg" stock was listed @ 6i l / 2 . On that 
day C. H. McCormick accepted the offer of the Co. to buy 7,000 shares 
for $31,000. In May, 1880, he loaned the company $2800 and received 400 
shares of stock as security for its repayment. #C. P. Shaw to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Dec. 19 and 30, 1879, and Jan. 6 and 12, 1880. In urging C. H. 
McCormick to buy "Little Chief stock, Shaw remarked: "To my mind 
the transaction looks very much like buying U. S. Bonds at 40 cents on 
the dollar." *G H. McCormick to A. L. Earle, May 10, 1880. 

209 JQ H. McCormick to R. W. Hall, Jan. 8, 1880. 

210 JC. P. Shaw to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 6 and 12, 1880. "Chicago 
Daily Tribune," Mch. 20, 1880: "A long review of the circumstances at 
tending the collapse of the Little Pittsburg is printed editorially in the 
Denver Tribune/ The writer intimates that there was a combination to 
bear* the stock formed, and that some persons interested in the Company 
were in the movement. . . . The general opinion among all well-informed 
people is that the mine is still rich." 


his office of president. 211 He had already received the $50,000 
bonus from the Little Pittsburg Company, and in 1881 sold his 
stock in this concern for about $1.00 a share. 212 The Little 
Chief Company had paid McCormick about $60,000 of its 
obligation to him, and now claiming to be bankrupt, offered 
him $5,000 in full settlement of the $90,000 still due. 213 
Naturally he declined to accept it, and inquired concerning the 
whereabouts of the trust fund which had been set aside for 
his repayment. 214 When no satisfactory answer was made, he 
turned to his friend and fellow-church-member, John V, Far- 
well, for satisfaction. Farwell, who was widely known for his 
business integrity and generous contributions to many worthy 
causes, believed that he could not be held to account because 

211 The "R. E. Lee" mine at Leadville now enjoyed the spotlight. Ibid., 
Mch. 26, 1880: "It seems to be generally admitted that the Little Pitts- 
burg has seen its best days and there is a big row among those who at 
present advices are badly bitten by the Stock." At that time the stock 
was quoted at 8. It had been 13 earlier in the month and about 28 in late 
Jan. #C. H. McCormick to Board of Trustees of the Little Chief Mining 
Co., May (?), 1880. C. H. McCormick was succeeded in the office of presi 
dent by Adalbert Ames. The stock pool trustees closed up their business in 
Aug., 1880. #J. Spaulding to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 6, 1880. Spaulding 
was president of the Chicago Mining Board which in the preceding Decem 
ber had opened a mining and stock exchange on Madison Street. #C. P. 
Shaw to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 15 and 29, 1880. #A. L. Earle to C. H. 
McCormick, June 25, 1880. 

212 ^Letter and telegram of J. Spaulding to C. H. McCormick, Mch. n 
and 24, 1880. #C. P. Shaw to J. Spaulding, Dec. 21, 1880. *C. H. McCor 
mick to Importers and Traders Nat l. Bank of N. Y., Mch. 19, 1881. 
McCormick sold the stock for $7800. IE. Townsend Co. to C. H. McCor 
mick, Mch. 22, 1881. 

213 #J. Spaulding to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 30, 1880. *C P. Shaw to 
J. Spaulding, Dec. 26, 1880. C. H. McCormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Aug. 28, 1880. #Pamphlet entitled "Little Chief Mining Company, Reports 
of the Superintendent and Management to the Stockholders, Oct. 5, 1880." 

21* #C H. McCormick, Jr., to J. E. Chapman, N. Y., Feb. 3, 1881. 
#C. H. McCormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, May 29, 1882. He advises 
his father to sue those who were members of the Little Chief Co. in 1879. 
#C. C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, June 6, 1882. Copeland was then in 
N. Y. preparing the bill of complaint against this group. 


Fortune had frowned upon their mutual venture. If "Little 
Chief" affairs had been mismanaged, McCormick and not he 
had been its president. Farwell wished to keep the dispute out 
of the press and suggested that the inventor withdraw his 
bill of complaint filed in a New York State court, choose 
"three men of business from our brethren in the Church/ 
and let them "judge between us." 215 Although this method of 
settling a dispute had biblical sanction, it was not acceptable 
to the inventor. He was quite in accord with Farwell s desire 
for privacy, but he also was determined to regain the amount 
of his loan. Although he might waive his right to the $75,000 
bonus, he was at least entitled to the balance due, with interest, 
on the sum that he had advanced. And so, refusing to drop 
the suit, he pressed it not only against Farwell but against 
all the others who had been members of the Little Chief Com 
pany in 1879. The outcome of this action is unknown, but most 
probably it was dropped by the trustees of McCormick s 
estate after the inventor s death in i884. 216 

If a detailed statement were prepared showing McCormick s 

215 Farwell appeared to be especially liable to McCormick since it had 
been his shares of stock that had been deposited at the Central Trust 
Co. in N. Y. as a fund, the dividends from which were to repay the 
inventor. #C. H. McCormick to C. Bell, N. Y., Feb. 21, and Apr. 19, 1881. 
#J. V. Farwell to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 20 and to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., Dec. 25, 1882. Farwell contended that he was not to blame for McCor- 
mick s loss, and that his old associates in the Little Chief Co. also owed 
him (Farwell) much money. On Dec. 7, he met C. H. McCormick and C. 
H. McCormick, Jr., and by reading from his letter-book of Nov., 1879, en 
deavored to prove his innocence. The McCormicks were not impressed and 
on Dec. 25th Farwell again in vain requested that the dispute be "amicably 
decided by some of our brethren in the church." #C. H. McCormick, Jr., to 
C. H. McCormick, Oct. 25, 1882, May 2, and Nov. 30, 1883. In the jast of 
these letters, the son advised his father to compromise the matter "partly 
in view of the fact of the recent prospective matrimonial connection between 
the Farwells and Judge Drummond." 

216 The "Little Chief" mine was written off the books of the McCormick 
Harv. Mach. Co., as worthless, on July 31, 1888. Letter of Lucile Kellar to 
the author, May 10, 1935. 


loss or profits from each of his many ventures In railroads 
and mines, the net balance would probably be a small sum on 
the debit side of the ledger. The large amounts written in red 
in the Dorn account would be offset by the gains from the 
Union Pacific and Credit Mobilier, with enough to spare in all 
likelihood, to absorb most of his losses from the Southern 
Railroad Association and the other less costly undertakings. 

As a speculator, McCormick was not a success. Bad Luck 
deserves some of the blame, but he was occasionally victimized 
by men who used his money and the prestige of his name to 
pull their chestnuts out of the fire. He hazarded large sums in 
stocks and bonds without much preliminary training in the 
ways of Wall Street. This is the more surprising in view of 
his business shrewdness in all matters relating to his factory 
and Chicago real estate. These interests, together with the 
many problems relating to the church and seminary, were 
more than enough to engage the inventor s entire attention and 

His investments in railroads and other methods of com 
munication illustrate one aspect of his dominant nationalism. 
If there was any thread which bound into a semblance of unity 
his diverse activities during the last twenty-five years of his 
life, it was his determination to aid in destroying the inter- 
sectional hatreds which had brought so much woe to his coun 
try between 1861 and 1865. He believed that his harvesting- 
machine factory, with its sales in almost every state and terri 
tory, was one strand of the economic bond that would help 
to make a new nation after the war. In his opinion, his aid to 
railroads stretching the length and breadth of the land was 
calculated to assist toward the same great end. To unite the 
South and North again in politics and in religion was his ideal 
for the Democratic Party and the Presbyterian Church. In the 
months following Appomattox, while he was deriving so much 
satisfaction from his share in the work of joining the Far 


West with the East by a transcontinental railroad, he was 
endeavoring with all zeal to banish radicalism from the coun 
cils of his denomination so that Presbyterians of the North 
and South could meet together once more in good fellowship. 



WHEN the Spring Resolutions of 1861 gave the southern 
members of the Old School Presbyterian Church the 
option of disloyalty to the Confederacy or withdrawal from 
the national denomination, they from necessity and by prefer 
ence, chose the latter alternative. Cyrus McCormick and his fel 
low-conservatives in the North thereby lost the support of the 
talent and votes of many presbyteries. The control of the 
northern General Assembly passed into the hands of the "pro 
gressives." The new regime was not unwilling to exercise its 
power, both by passing the resolutions concerning slavery and 
secession, already mentioned, and by moving slowly toward a 
union with the New School Presbyterian Church. This last 
question was discussed in the Old School General Assembly of 
1862, but it was deemed "inexpedient" to take any immediate 
action. 1 The fusionists in both denominations, however, gained 
in strength from year to year. 2 

By the close of the war, McCormick and others who were 
unwilling to make concessions in matters of doctrine and ec 
clesiastical order, realized that their church faced a new danger 

1 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1859-1864, op. dt. } pp. 211, 222, 

2 "Nevin s Encyclopaedia," p. 835. In 1863 the General Assembly (N. S.) 
received a delegation from the O. S. Church. Dr. Henry Boynton Smith, 
moderator of that General Assembly, has been called the "Hero of Re 
union." "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1859-1864, pp. 387-388, 391. 
In 1864 an overture for union from the N. S. Gen l. Assembly was pre 
sented to the O. S. Gen l. Assembly, but that body did nothing but refer it 
to a committee. 



hardly less menacing than the issue which had driven out the 
southern wing four years before. Those who were working for 
fusion, however, dared not push their program too rapidly 
for fear lest three churches would be created instead of one. 3 
Presbyteries in the border states, which had been held to the 
northern church with much difficulty because of its antislavery 
position, would probably refuse to consent to a modification of 
the cherished "standards." 

In December, 1861, the ten synods of Old School Pres 
byterians in the Confederacy organized a separate church 
under their own General Assembly. 4 Some of its most eminent 
clergymen, and notably Dr. J. H. Thornwell and Dr. B. M. 
Palmer, had preached secession with the ardor of Old Testa 
ment prophets and upheld slavery as a "divine trust. 5 5 In 
their General Assembly of 1862, the war was declared to be 
"for religion, for the Church, for the Gospel, and for existence 
itself/ Two years later their position was further clarified by 
a resolution affirming that "it is the peculiar mission of the 
Southern Church to conserve the institution of slavery, and 
to make it a blessing to the master and the slave." 6 Thus the 
Old School of the North and the Old School of the South 

3 Ibid., p. 50, i.e., an "United" Presbyterian Church; a church of O. S. 
members who refused to join, and another of N. S. members who stood 

4 "The Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America." The 
New School group of the South, which had seceded in 1857, joined the 
Old School organization there in 1864. 

5 One of Dr. Palmer s best-known sermons on the eve of the war was 
entitled, "Slavery a Divine Trust, Duty of the South to Preserve and 
Perpetuate It." 

6 Cited in "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865-1869, op. cit., pp. 
66-67. Dr. B. M. Smith, prominent in the southern church, wrote to C. H. 
McCormick, on Sept. 8, 1865, that northerners should bear in mind the 
difference between "conserving" slavery (i.e., acknowledging its justifica 
tion from Scripture) and "preserving" it. In any event, according to Dr. 
Smith, the resolution of 1864 was never accepted as the "formal, deliber 
ate, and solemn deliverance of the Southern Church," and had been de 
cidedly repudiated since that time by leading ministers and church courts. 


traveled rapidly in opposite directions between 1861 and 1865, 
although it may be more accurate to insist that the southerners 
still were anchored to their ancient principles at the close of 
the war while their former friends at the North had moved 
far away. 

In view of these facts, the task of reuniting the northern 
and southern wings of the Old School Presbyterian Church 
would be a most difficult one. Presbyterians have always been 
distinguished for contentiousness and unwillingness to yield 
on questions of church polity. 7 Their church councils included 
many of the best-known lawyers of the land, while not a few 
of their ministers, judging from their conduct during the Re 
construction Period, would have gained eminence in politics 
and statecraft. The administrative structure of the denomina 
tion was very like a state within a state, and if the religious 
cloak is stripped from the discussions in presbytery meetings 
and General Assemblies, platforms, parties, terms of peace, and 
most of the other questions which gave character to the de 
bates in Congress stand revealed. Many of the Presbyterian 
ministers in 1865 were as eager to punish and humiliate their 
southern brethren before admitting them to full fellowship as 
were the radical reconstructionists at Washington. Their let 
ters not infrequently reflect a vindictiveness wholly foreign to 
the teachings of their Saviour. They spoke for a God of 
Wrath and reminded the South in 1865 that, "those who have 
sown the wind must expect to reap the whirlwind." 8 Except 

7 Draft of an article by C. H. McCormick for the "New York Observer," 
n.d, but probably late 1865. "Their tendency to division has been one of 
standing reproach to Presbyterians. They are constantly crippling their 
power and moral influence by splitting among themselves." 

8 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865-1869, p. 68. In 1866, this 
body sent a pastoral letter to its churches, which carries the reader back 
to the days of John Winthrop. "Any concession touching the offences of 
such persons [southerners] would have been the height of unkindness. It 
would have been a connivance at their sin, and would have brought down 
upon them, and upon us alike, the displeasure of God. . . . We have aimed 


for the fact that the northern church had no military force at 
its disposal to coerce its southern branch, the elements of the 
situation closely resembled those involved in political recon 

There were, therefore, two chief issues before the Old 
School Presbyterian Church of the North in 1865. Should the 
seceders be readmitted to full communion and, if so, on what 
terms? Should the denomination consolidate with the New 
School wing, and, if so, how much was it willing to concede 
in matters of doctrine and church government? Remembering 
that the Old School Presbyterians in the states of the erst 
while Confederacy were, in the main, ultraconservative, the 
close interrelationship between these two problems is at once 
apparent. Those of the North, like Cyrus McCormick who 
believed "the old Democratic and Presbyterian hoops that 
were broken must be reunited before we can have a perfectly 
restored and reunited country and church/ 9 would do their 
best to prevent a merger of the Old and New Schools. For, if 
this came about, doubtless some of the "advanced ideas" of 
the New School would have to be subscribed to, and one more 
barrier would be erected against the return of those who had 
been forced out in i86i. 10 

The matter was not so clear-cut as this, but the chief com 
plications will appear as the course of Cyrus McCormick in 

to reclaim offenders by demanding only what Christ requires of us as rulers 
in his house." Ibid., pp. 171-172. 

9 From a #"Draft of an address in C. H. McCormick s handwriting, pre 
pared to be delivered before the General Assembly of the (O. S.) Presby 
terian Church at St. Louis, 1866." There is no available proof that it was 
ever delivered, although McCormick attended the Assembly. 

i^C. H. McCormick to E. Erskine, Mch. 10, 1866: "The Church North 
must first move. Let that be done in the right way and with the right spirit 
and then look to the South. I believe she will respond nobly. But let the 
Old and New School Assemblies unite . . . , and I believe the purity of 
our great Church will have departed." *D. X. Junkin to C. H. McCormick, 
Mch. 19, 1866. 


relation to them is traced. The seminary at Chicago and the 
position of Dr. Lord were factors of the situation which in 
his eyes naturally loomed larger than they did in the regard 
of the church as a whole. If the southern churches returned 
to the fold, conservatism again would probably be in the as 
cendency. Dr. Lord could then be eliminated, and the institu 
tion could carry out, in so far as the changed national situation 
permitted, the purposes of its chief founder. On the other hand, 
if the Old and New Schools came together, Dr. Lord would 
be more firmly entrenched than ever, and theological students 
of the North who were resolved not to depart from the beliefs 
of their fathers, would be obliged to go to southern seminaries 
for their instruction. Furthermore, with a united northern 
church, considerations of economy would make advisable the 
closing of some of the Presbyterian seminaries which had 
arisen after, and in some measure because of, the schism of 


As before the war, McCormick s program for his church 
was directed toward promoting harmony and union between 
the two sections of the country, although as in the earlier 
period, it was calculated to disturb the peace of the North. 11 
He and others appreciated their dependence for success upon 
the fortunes of President Andrew Johnson, and believed that 
the relative strength of conservatives and radicals in Congress 
was a barometer which indicated quite accurately the weather 
conditions within their church. As a prominent southern Pres 
byterian wrote early in 1866: "Oh, if the religious people of 
the Presb. Ch. North had as sound views of Ch. Govt., as that 
good old sinner of our Govt. [President Johnson], how soon 
all would be right. . . . All conservatives of the North must 
rally round him and the country is safe with God s blessing. " 12 

11 *G H. McCormick to Rev. Wm. Brown, Oct. 6, 1865 and to L. J. 
Halsey, Mch. 12, 1866. 

12 SB. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 22, 1866. #E. Erskine to 
C. H. McCormick, Mch. 16, 1866: Johnson s course has helped us won 
derfully and will continue to do so. 


Owing to the bitterness of politics during the Reconstruction 
Period, and the conspicuous role played by McCormick in the 
Democratic Party, it was a foregone conclusion that his every 
move in the religious field would arouse unmeasured abuse 
from the Republican press. 

Hardly had Lee surrendered at Appomattox than Mc 
Cormick opened a correspondence with influential northern 
and southern ministers of his faith to learn their views upon 
the question of reunion. He became a clearinghouse of con 
servative opinions from both sides of the Line. It is a matter 
for wonder how he could find time to write so many lengthy 
letters on the church situation when he was obliged to give 
much of his attention to his other important interests. 

Dr. Benjamin M. Smith, head of the Union Theological 
Seminary at Hampden Sidney, Virginia, and at an earlier day 
a pastor in the Valley near McCormick s old home, was the in 
ventor s chief southern correspondent. If Smith was correctly 
informed, his views concerning the reunion question were 
moderate compared to those of the majority of his colleagues. 13 
For the next several years McCormick was also more hopeful 
of success than were most of his northern associates. 14 They 
reminded him that he was a southern and not a northern con 
servative in outlook, and that he did not give sufficient weight 
to the prevailing bitterness felt toward men recently in re 
bellion. 15 The direction of the wind could be judged from the 
action of the northern Old School Assembly of 1865, in session 

13 B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 8, 1865. 

mftLetters to C. H. McCormick of E. Erskine, Nov. 21, 1865, and Mch. 
16, 1866, L. J. Halsey, Mch. 5, and 20, 1866, S. Robinson. Mch. 17, 1866, 
C. H. Read, Richmond, May 6, 1866, and B. M. Smith May 12, 1866. By 
this date Dr. Smith, who had hitherto been rather optimistic that reunion 
would come, said he was convinced of its "utter hopelessness" and expected 
even more radical action by the northern branch of the church. In view 
of the declaration by its General Assembly before the close of that month 
he was justified in his prophecy. #See D. X. Junkin and B. M. Smith to 
C. H. McCormick, May 19 and 31, 1866, respectively. 

15 #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 16, 1866. 


during the excitement caused by the surrender of Lee and 
Johnston, and the assassination of Lincoln. This body re 
affirmed that both secession and slaveholding were "great 
crimes" against God, and that any southern Presbyterian de 
siring admission to a northern congregation must confess and 
forsake his sin ... before he shall be received/ 1G In this 
manner the church virtually prescribed a test "not recognized 
in Presbyterian standards" as a necessary preliminary to re 
newed fellowship, and also made arrangements to send mis 
sionaries" to the South as to a foreign field. 17 

This was not an auspicious setting for the inauguration of 
McCormick s policy of reunion. To him the action of the 
Assembly was "without a single redeeming feature of charity 
or Christian spirit." By it the church had assumed the pre 
rogative of the government and had condemned and imposed a 
punishment without giving the accused the benefit of a 
hearing. 18 

Alas, for the poorness of human nature [he wrote], and there 
fore the consequences of taking a first false step . . . and thus per 
verting a power for infinite good to an instrument of positive 
mischief. But for the fatal error committed by the General Assem 
bly in its action taken in 1861 toward its members subject to the 
then ill-advised "Confederate Govern t," what an influence and 
power might and no doubt would now be exerted by that Church 

1 6 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865-1869, pp. 42, 45. Draft by 
C. H. McCormick of an article for the "New York Observer," n.d., but 
probably late 1865: "But it is objected that these Southern ministers and 
Church-members took an active part in the rebellion and therein committed 
a great sin. Grant it. Have not some of the most faithful of God s friends 
been led astray under the power of temptation? And has there ever been 
a great political conflict in a Christian country, where good men were not 
found on both sides? Do false political views necessarily invalidate piety? 
. . . Whatever may be said of the recent political course of Southern 
Christians no candid mind can deny to them the possession of piety." 

17 The phrase is taken from a letter of B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, 
Sept. 8, 1865. 

18 C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, July 14, 1865. 


for good, in reuniting the people North and South, in the bonds 
of fraternity and Christian fellowship. Whatever differences may 
have existed hitherto in the church on the abstract question of 
slavery, practically there could no longer have continued any 
trouble from that quarter. . . . But now, by the action of the 
General Assembly, if not reconsidered and changed, the disruption 
of the Church is to be perpetuated . . . while it is held by President 
Johnson that the status of the States remains the same as before 
the war ! 19 

McCormick hoped that the South would return if the north 
ern Old School Presbyterian Church in the 1866 Assembly 
rescinded its resolutions of the preceding year. 20 In his opinion 
every member of the denomination should work for their re 
peal because upon the issue depended the very life of his 
church. He insisted that the first step must be taken by the 
North, both because southerners out of regard for their own 
self-respect could not rejoin as long as the resolutions of 
1865 were still spread upon the journal of its supreme legisla 
ture, and because it was the northern, and not the southern, 
branch of the church which had created the schism of i86i. 21 
Possibly the Spring Resolutions should also be annulled, if by 
that additional confession of error the southerners would re 
unite the more quickly. 22 The matter must be handled in a 
practical way, and therefore the South must not insist at the 
outset upon more than the North would ever yield. 23 Christians 
were expected to be magnanimous, particularly to those of 

19 Idem to idem, July 14, 1865. 

2 >#C. H. McCormick to Rev. Wm. Brown, Oct. 6, 1865. 

21 #W. Brown, Richmond, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 8, 1865; C. 
H. McCormick to S. Robinson, Louisville, Ky., Dec. 7, 1865; to the "North 
western Presbyterian" (Chicago), n.d., but late 1865 and to the "New York 
Observer," Apr. 2, 1866. 

22 C. H. McCormick to the "Northwestern Presbyterian." Here he denies 
that he demands the rescinding of the Spring Resolutions. 

23 C H. McCormick to S. Robinson, Dec. 7, 1865, and to "The Pres 
byterian" (Phila,), Dec. 25, 1865. 


their own sect, but McCormick apparently forgot that men, 
whether Christian or otherwise, who are victorious in a civil 
war, are not often charitable. He took for granted that his 
northern brethren wished the southern churches to return. 
Here, too, he misjudged, for many did not desire to strengthen 
the hands of the conservatives and thus impede the movement 
toward a union with the New School. 24 

He also found far less sentiment for union in the South 
than he had hoped. As Dr. Smith explained to him, all in that 
section were agreed that their Assembly should make no ad 
vances and that they should never return unless the northern 
church repealed some or all of its wartime deliverances. At 
the outset he believed that to expunge the resolutions of 1861 
and 1865 would be sufficient, but others demanded that all 
declarations bearing upon secession and slavery should be 
passed into oblivion. 25 Some in the South shrewdly saw a 
chance to benefit by remaining aloof, for would not the border 
state presbyteries and a goodly number of the Old School con 
servatives of the North refuse to join with the New School 
Church? 26 If so, there might yet be a national Old School 
Church, but it would arise as a result of northerners seeking 
affiliation with the southern General Assembly, and not by the 
ex-Confederates coming "puling and whining about the [north 
ern] church door, like a whipt spaniel, . . . asking for admit 
tance." 27 Many wanted no cooperation with the hated North 
under any condition, and their number increased as the South 

24 SE. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 16, 1866: "The North is 
intensely opposed to any reactionary movement." 

25 B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 8, 1865, *Oct. 12, 1865, and 
SFeb. 22, 1866. SH. A. Boardman to C. H. McCormick, Aug. i, and Dec. 
7, 1866. Dr. Boardman urged against a secession of conservatives from 
the Old School Church of the North. He admitted, however, that if radi 
calism maintained its ascendency in this church, the southern denomination 
would gradually extend its membership north of Mason and Dixon s line. 

26 SB. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 12, 1865. 

27 SB. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 22, 1866. 


felt the full force of the "thorough" reconstruction policy of 
Congress. 28 Even the conciliatory position taken by Dr. Hodge 
and the Princeton group found small favor in the South, 29 
and the few northern religious journals which in 1865 tried to 
present the situation impartially tended to become more critical 
of the southerners as they found them emphasizing concessions 
more than compromise. 30 

Little could be expected when southern clergymen wrote 
in the vein of Dr. Samuel B. Wilson, now eighty-four years 
of age and for sixty years a preacher of the gospel : "They 
require us to confess the sin of political error (if it be an 
error) and all the sin of slavery. We can do neither. Obedience 
to the powers that be is a Christian duty we believe. But 
whether obedience be due to the State or the U. S. they have 
no right to decide. As to slavery we cannot confess it to be 
a sin without impeaching the character of God casting re 
proach on Moses, the Apostles and our Church from its origin 
to this day." 31 

In view of these conflicting attitudes, Cyrus McCormick 
was seeking to achieve the impossible. His southern friends 
gave him much advice but little help, and even the conserva- 

28 Wm. Brown, Richmond, to C H. McCormick, Sept. 8, 1865. To para 
phrase: There is no reunion sentiment among us worth naming, and its 
absence is not more due to exasperation, than to a wish to defend a prin 
ciple. Brown added that the southern position was precisely the stand 
taken in 1861 by Dr. J. H. Thornwell in his "Address of Our General 
Assembly to All the Churches of Christ Throughout the Earth." 

20 #B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 22, 1866. To Dr. Hodge s 
suggestion that the southerners should not require the rescinding of the 
deliverances of 1862, 1863 and 1864, because they related only to the north 
ern church, Smith answered that they must be expunged because they 
were unconstitutional. #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 16, 1866. 

3 B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 8, 1865 ; C. H. McCormick to 
L. J. Halsey, n.d., but early 1866; to W. Brown, Jan. 7, 1866, and #to E. 
Erskine, May 5, 1866. 

si JS. B. Wilson, Union Theolog. Sem., Hampden Sidney, Va., to Rev. 
J. M. Wilson, June 4, 1866. 


tives in the North seemed unwilling to make a vigorous fight. 
Dr. Rice, who might have rendered yeoman service, was 
broken in health. 32 McCormick paid for the publication of 
some of his correspondence with leading southern divines. 33 
He gave financial aid to the "Central Presbyterian" of Rich 
mond, 34 and the "Free Christian Commonwealth" of Louis 
ville, 35 because he believed that these papers could do much to 
influence southern church sentiment in the right direction. To 
his chagrin, however, he found that the northern Presbyterian 
press, almost without exception, was either hostile or indiffer 
ent to the movement. 36 Some editors, professing friendliness 
toward reunion, urged that to discuss the matter in their col 
umns would merely delay success by still further inflaming 
opinion on each side. 

In late 1865 McCormick conferred with several leaders of 
the southern church and recommended that their General As 
sembly at its Macon, Georgia, meeting in December should 
remain silent on the issue. 37 Since the Confederacy was no 
more, this Assembly made the necessary change in the name of 
the denomination, and resolved to continue the separate exist 
ence of its church. Although nothing else could well have been 

32 C. H. McCormick to E. Erskine, Jan. 29, 1866. 

33 (C. H. McCormick to S. I. Prince, Nov. 4, 1865, and to "The Pres 
byterian," Dec. 25, 1865, and Jan. 4, 1866. ^Letters to C. H. McCormick, 
of B. M. Smith, Sept. 8, 1865, and Apr. 15, 1866, S. I. Prince, Oct. 27, 1865, 
C. H. Read, May 6, 1866, "The Presbyterian," Jan. I and 15, 1866, and of 
E. Erskine, Nov. 21, 1865. The "New York World," Nov. 13, 1865. 

34 *B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, July 22, 1865; W. Brown to C 
H. McCormick, Sept. 8, 1865. 

35 #A. Davidson, Louisville, to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 16, 1865; tC. H. 
McCormick to A. Davidson, Jan. 24, 1866. 

36 Even Dr. Erskine in his "Northwestern Presbyterian" abandoned his 
position of benevolent neutrality and became mildly anti-southern in tone. 
#M. B. Grier to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 30, 1865; #W. Brown to E. 
Erskine, Nov. 29, 1865 ; C. H. McCormick to "Northwestern Presbyterian," 
n.d., but probably late 1865. 

37 #M. B. Grier to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 30, 1865; C. H. McCormick 
to "The Presbyterian," Jan. 4, 1866. 


done under the circumstances except to dissolve and beg for 
admittance to the northern church, "The Presbyterian" of 
Philadelphia, the most influential of the Old School papers 
and hitherto friendly to the cause of reunion, now asserted that 
the southerners had deliberately affronted the North and barred 
the way to reconciliation. It closed its columns to any further 
discussion of the subject after expressing the pious hope 
that the passage of years would serve to change the views of 
the South. 38 

To widen the breach still further, the General Assembly of 
the northern church, convening at St. Louis in 1866, reaffirmed 
in more vigorous terms the resolutions of 1865, and because 
the Louisville Presbytery had refused to subscribe to those 
and other wartime deliverances, virtually expelled it from 
fellowship. "We trust the day is not distant when these dregs 
of rebellion shall be purged from the Church," ran the pastoral 
letter adopted by that convention. 39 

38 "The Presbyterian * continued to print the articles signed "Augustine 
of Hippo" which were unfriendly to the South. Eds. of "The Presbyterian" 
to C. H. McCormick, Jan. i, and 5, 1866; C. H. McCormick to "The 
Presbyterian," Jan. 4, 1866; #B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 22, 

3 9 "Minutes of the Gen l. Assembly," 1865-69, pp. 160, 166, 169-77. On 
Sept. 2, 1865, the Presbytery of Louisville adopted a "Declaration and Tes 
timony against the Erroneous and Heretical Doctrines and Practices which 
have . . . been propagated in the Presbyterian Church . . . during the last 
five years." These "heretical doctrines" all concerned slavery and rebellion. 
Forty-one ministers and seventy-eight ruling elders, mostly from the Ky. 
and Mo. synods, signed this protest, and were often called the "Declaration 
and Testimony" men. JAs early as Sept 30, 1865, M. B. Grier wrote to C. 
H. McCormick that the "Louisville Movement" was most unfortunate in 
its effect upon the cause of reunion. It stirred up radical furore, and threat 
ened to reduce still further the conservative strength in the northern church. 
C. H. McCormick to E. Erskine, Jan. 29, 1866. C. H. McCormick to B. 
M. Smith, Feb. 4, 1866 : "It remains to be seen in what way Christ designs 
that all these differences shall ultimately promote His Glory, and the good 
of the Church." SA. T. McGill of Princeton to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 20, 
1869: The "Declaration and Testimony" men are in dilemma. They can 
not go South for their connection because Mo. is filling with northerners. 


Shortly before this Assembly convened, McCormick ex 
pressed the opinion that its action would determine the status 
of the reunion question for the "next 25 years. " 40 At St. 
Louis he exerted what influence he could in behalf of recon 
ciliation, but he experienced one of the "saddest disappoint 
ments" of his life when he found the majority there "a 
tyrannical mob." Once more it was impressed upon him that 
the will of the many and not the " Constitution" was the new 
law of his church. 41 At the close of the convention, he and his 
friends agreed that reunion in the near future could not be 
expected. McCormick, however, determined to change his 
tactics rather than abandon the fight. 

His new policy toward the southern question was in part 
shaped by the action taken by this Assembly on matters relat 
ing to the seminary at Chicago. While some of the conserva 
tives in the church liked to believe during 1865 that their num 
bers were slowly being recruited in the East, they had no 
doubt that the outlook in the Middle West was most dismal. 42 
Perhaps Princeton and Western (Allegheny) seminaries might 
withstand the radical tide, but Chicago was clearly doomed. 
The board of directors there began a policy of proscription 
against all conservatives under its jurisdiction, 43 and Dr. L. J. 
Halsey, the one friend of McCormick left on the faculty, 

If they stay independent they will lose their property. They do not want to 
join the North again because of the O. S.-N. S, reunion, but by the terms 
of this reunion all rules adopted by either branch during the period of 
separation fall to the ground unless reenacted. Hence the Pittsburgh legisla 
tion of 1865 so falls, and this is hopeful. In 1868, however, the Ky. pres 
byteries (and in 1874 the Mo, synod) joined the Southern Presbyterian 
Church. SL.P.CB. No. i, 2nd ser., pp. 6-9, C. H. McCormick to B. M. 
Smith, Apr. 5, 1870. 
4 C. H. McCormick to Editors of "New York Observer/ Apr. 2, 1866. 

41 #D. X. Junkin to C. H. McCormick, June 11, 1866; C. H. McCormick 
to J. W. Brockenbrough, June 18, 1866. 

42 #M. B. Grier, from Phila., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 30, 1865; #E. 
Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 20, 1865. 

43 JC. Crosby, Dixon, III, to C. H, McCormick, Oct. 28, 1865. 


withheld his resignation only because the inventor appealed to 
his loyalty and sent him small sums of money to supplement 
his too meager salary. 44 Matters reached a climax in early 
April, 1866, when the directors by a close vote resolved to 
request the General Assembly to promote Dr. Lord to the 
McCormick Chair of Theology. 45 This action signified that 
the radicals had finally gained control of the administration 
and with the help of a sympathetic majority in the General 
Assembly would be able to work their will with the seminary. 
Furthermore, the Assembly, as a rule, gave much weight to the 
opinions of the delegates from the Chicago Presbytery about 
matters relating to the school, and on this occasion its spokes 
men would be predominently radical in viewpoint. 46 

These "New Friends/ as they were called in the correspond 
ence of the period, were the leaders among the many Presby- 
trians in the Northwest who had sulked in their tents after 
the MacMaster forces had been defeated in the Assembly of 
1859. Hitherto, most of them had refused to extend financial 
aid to the school. Although they now talked optimistically 
about the sums they expected to raise in order to make their 
period of control a brilliant one, McCormick and his group 
regarded their poverty as the one ray of hope in a rather 
desperate situation. He had yet to pay the last $25,000 of his 
$100,000 pledge, and he had held out the promise of additional 
sums if all went smoothly. Even his foes might pause before 
inaugurating a policy which would lead him to withhold these 

44 C. H. McCormick to L. J. Halsey, Mch. 12, 1866 : "You are now the 
salt of the Seminary, and what would it be if you had left? . . . Has his 
[Dr. Lord s] thirst for blood been slaked? After his failure to get the pas 
torate of the N. Church, there was some talk of his resigning his professor 
ship. Is there yet no hope of the early realization of that happy event?" 

45 ^Letters to C. H. McCormick of C A. Spring, Sr., Apr. 6, 1866, W. W. 
Harsha, Apr. 9, 1866, J. M. Paris, Apr. 21, 1866, and of E. Erskine, Apr. 27, 

46 #D. C. Marquis to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 24, 1868 ; SE. Erskine to 
C. H. McCormick, Dec. 24, 1868. 


large gifts. Their action, however, in asking for Dr. Lord s 
appointment suggested that they had thrown caution to the 
winds, although saner views might prevail in the General 

When McCormick heard the news from Chicago he de 
termined to go to St. Louis in May and block the move to 
elect Dr. Lord. "I rather feel like having a bit of a fight with 
the Dr.," he wrote, "and don t feel a bit like being whipped." 47 
He asked the support of eastern clergymen whose word would 
be listened to with respect in the convention, and he tried in 
vain to prevent news of his projected trip from reaching the 
friends of Dr. Lord. 48 That he would not pay the $25,000 in 
the event of the election of Dr. Lord, or of another holding 
the same views, might well be held in reserve to use as a 
devastating surprise in case matters came to a desperate pass. 
At the Assembly he would base his opposition to the proposed 
appointment on the grounds that considerations of economy 
counseled that the fourth Chair should remain vacant for 
awhile, and that Dr. Lord, in any event, was not fitted to 
teach the theology of the Old School Church. 49 

As has already been mentioned, McCormick was bitterly dis 
appointed at the stand taken by the General Assembly at St. 
Louis on the question of reunion with the South. Its provision 
for the Chicago Seminary was almost equally unsatisfactory. 
It admitted that the opposition to Dr. Lord s appointment was 
so "firm and weighty" as to make it inadvisable, but it chose 
Dr. E. D. MacMaster, who was hardly more pleasing to Mc 
Cormick. 50 The able old antislavery champion accepted, al- 

* 7 C. H. McCormick to Rev. J. M. Faris, Apr. 27-30, 1866. 

^s #B. M. Smith to C. H, McCormick, May 12, 1866. 

49 #D. X. Junkin to C. H. McCormick, May 19, 1866. 

5( > "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865-1869, pp. 133, 152. This body 
believed that "both the comfort and usefulness of Dr. Lord will be best 
secured by retaining his valuable services in his present department." It 
also congratulated him upon the "able and faithful" manner in which he 


though with characteristic honesty and forthrightness he re 
fused to draw his salary from funds given by a man who had 
opposed his views for so long. 51 

Dr. D. X. Junkin believed that the election of MacMaster in 
defiance of McCormick s wishes would so "shake the con 
fidence of monied men in our Church, as to deter them from 
any investments of the kind for many years to come. / never 
knew a greater outrage. 3 52 MacMaster s period of service at 
the seminary was a very brief one. When he reached Chicago 
in September, the inventor was informed by his confidential 
clerk that "the Dr. looks more as though he was fit for a 
coffin than a Chair of Theology." 5%3 Exposure to Chicago 
weather on the way to his classes, so Dr. Halsey wrote, 
brought Dr. MacMaster s career to a close on December io. 54 
Some years later McCormick, who had always admired his 
sincerity and courage, helped to pay for the monument erected 
over his grave at Xenia, Ohio. 55 

Before leaving the General Assembly of 1866 McCormick 

had for several years taught courses in theology, in addition to his regular 

51 C. H. McCormick to E. Wood, May 25, 1868. "The Presbyter" (Cin 
cinnati), Dec. 2, 1868. This journal, in its issue of Dec. 9, 1869, denied 
that MacMaster had ever said that he would not accept income from the 
McCormick endowment. 

52 $D. X. Junkin to C H. McCormick, June II, 1866. For the same 
thought see Dr. Erskine s editorial in the "Northwestern Presbyterian," 
May 8, 1869. 

53 1C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Sept 4, 1866: "How shame 
fully they have treated you in the whole affair. It does seem as though 
wickedness gets mixed up in the Churches as bad as anywhere else." 

s 4 JL. J. Halsey to C. H, McCormick, Dec. 15, 1866: MacMaster s 
brief career here was conciliatory. He told me he believed you would be 
satisfied with him when you came to know him personally. 

55 Memo, by C. H. McCormick, dated Mch. 18, 1867. Here McCormick 
calls the late Dr. MacMaster "that highminded and noble hearted Christian 
Professor & gentleman." $J. G. Monfort and D. McMillan, Cincinnati, to 
C. H. McCormick, Feb. 12, 1875. C. H. McCormick sent $20. See, S L.P.C.B. 
of C. H. McCormick, Nov. i873-June 1876, p. 269, D. E. Bradley, for C. H. 
McCormick, to J. G. Monfort, Feb. 27, 1875. 


talked with Mr. Jesse L. Williams, the close friend of Dr. 
Lord and able leader of the radical group in control of the 
board of directors of the seminary. Contrary to Williams s 
later recollection, McCormick understood from the conversa 
tion that he would no longer be expected to pay the $25,000 
still due on his original gift. Over two years later when the 
inventor endeavored to remember what had been said at this 
parley, he believed that Williams assured him of the "New 
Friends " readiness to take their turn at seminary control and 
of their determination to sustain their administration by funds 
raised through their own efforts. 56 

Thus the General Assembly adjourned with McCormick 
defeated on both the seminary and southern church questions, 
and with the resolution of "fraternal affection and of desire 
for organic union" with the New School denomination a 
certain indication that "liberal" theological doctrines were 
rapidly coming to the fore. 57 Clearly it was time to revise a 
policy which had brought nothing except defeat. Personal in 
fluence, incessant letter-writing, and occasional articles in re 
ligious journals had been insufficient to bring a victory. Mo 
mentarily, the thought of abandoning his connection with the 
religious life of Chicago was given consideration. Late in 
1866 he purchased a home on Fifth Avenue, New York, and 
a pew in Dr. Rice s Presbyterian Church not far away. 58 He 
decided to retain his seat in the North Church of Chicago for 
a time at least, but for several years he declined to contribute 

5Q C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, June 24, 1866, and to W. Lord, 
Jan. 16, 1869. Correspondence between C. H. McCormick and J. L. Wil 
liams, publish in the "Northwestern Presbyterian/ Dec. 19, 1868, and 
Jan. 9, 1869. Memo, of C. H. McCormick, Mch. 18, 1867. 

67 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865-1869, op. cit. f p. 138. 

58 #C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, Dec. 25, 1866. The residence was 
at 40 sth Ave. (corner of loth St. and 5th Ave.). C. H. McCormick to 
D. X. Junkin, Dec. 3, 1866: "Chicago, while a great city, and with a great 
future before it, has lost much of its interest for me by means of the Radical 
rule there. What is to become of the Seminary remains to be seen!" 


more than the pew rent to its support. 59 He was glad, however, 
to learn that the aged Dr. D. C. Junkin had retired, 60 and 
that for the first time since the resignation of Dr. Rice, the 
Chicago congregation was favored with one of the ablest pas 
tors in the city, the young and eloquent Rev. David C. 
Marquis. 61 

Although the Chicago Seminary lost its attraction for him 
now that it was in the control of the radicals, he could not 
give up his interest in Old School Presbyterianism. If he were 
unable to help its cause by contributing to the school in the 
Middle West, there were other places in the country where 
it needed aid. He had pledged the $25,000 to his denomination, 
and he believed that it would be unethical to invest this sum 
for his own profit merely because the original object of his 
benevolence would no longer heed his counsel. 62 Dr. B. M. 
Smith had asked him seven years before at Indianapolis to 
"do something" for the cause of Presbyterian education in 
Virginia, and McCormick had vaguely promised to lend a 
hand after the Chicago Seminary was well started. 63 The 
Civil War destroyed almost one-half of the endowment of 
Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, and the balance 
brought only a very uncertain and slender income to the 

59 #C. H. McCormick to D. C Marquis, Jan. 10, 1867; to #E. Wood, 
Jan. 21, 1867; to H. A. Hurlbut, Dec. 3, 1866. #H. A. Hurlbut to C. H. 
McCormick, Jan. 31 and Oct. 11, 1866. SE. Wood to C. H. McCormick, 
Jan. 9, 1867. JJ. Forsythe to C. H. McCormick, June 27, 1870. SL.P.C.B. 
No. i, 2nd ser., p. 289, C. H. McCormick to D. C. Marquis, Oct. 30, 1870: 
I will pay my share of the $12,000 debt of- the North Church. 

6C> Mary Adams to Nettie F. McCormick, May 7, 1866 ; Mary Ann to N. 
F. McCormick, Apr. 16, 1866. Letters to C. H., of L. J. McCormick, Apr. 
17, 1866, #C. A. Spring, Sr., Apr. 17, 1866, and of #C. A. Spring, Jr., Apr. 
17, 1866, 

61 Mary Ann to N. F. McCormick, May 8, 1866; Mary Adams to 
Nettie F. McCormick, May 20, 1866; #C. A. Spring, Sr., to C. H. McCor 
mick, May i, 1866; #H. A. Hurlbut to C. H. McCormick, Oct. u, 1866. 

2 C. H. McCormick to Rev. R. G. Thompson, Nov. 17, 1868. 

s$B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, July 7, 1865. 


harassed institution. 64 The few buildings were so dilapidated, 
wrote Dr. Smith, that "we have to keep buckets in our garret 
when there are heavy rains, to save our ceilings/ 65 Here was 
a needy school which for a long generation before the war 
had sent out many competent preachers of sound doctrine to 
pulpits in Virginia and North Carolina. When Dr. Smith re 
minded McCormick of his promise of 1859, he shrewdly re 
marked: "We have never had isms and fanatical men. The 
Virginia clergy have always been moderate, conservative 
men." 66 

This was written in 1865, just after the close of the war, 
and McCormick sent Smith $1,000 to meet his immediate 
emergency. The inventor expressed a wish to reserve decision 
upon the question of a larger gift until the outlook was more 
hopeful for a reunion of the northern and southern churches. 67 
Southern ministers and their congregations were so impover 
ished that they could not aid the seminary at Hampden Sidney, 
and without the help of McCormick and other conservative 
Presbyterians in the North its doors would have closed. Con 
ditions were even worse at the historic seminary at Columbia, 
South Carolina, 68 and it was doubtful whether it could ever 
be revived. If it were not, the Union Theological Seminary 
would have no competitor in the South, east of the Alleghenies. 
This, to Dr. Smith, was his one reason for good cheer. 69 

64 "Lynchburg Virginian," June 23, 1866 ; "Lexington Gazette," June 27, 
1866; SB. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, May 31 and June 28, 1866. 

65 $Idem to idem, Dec. n, 1866. 

66 $Idem to idem, May 12, 1865. It was established in 1824. 

67 Dr. Smith at once came to New York to see McCormick and they went 
for a drive in Central Park together. C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, 
July 14, 1865; B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, ttjuly 22, and Sept. 8, 

68 Dr. Smith believed that the Columbia Seminary should be moved across 
the mountains, where it would serve as a focus for Presbyterian education 
in the lower Mississippi area. SB. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Dec. n, 

69 Idem to idem, May 31, 1866. 


Even more significant for the future, so Dr. Smith rea 
soned, was the swelling tide of radicalism in the North. Soon 
his seminary, being so close to the border, would be the only 
haven remaining where "old fashioned sound Presbyterians 
over the whole land must rally. It must be made such an in 
stitution as the crisis and opportunity demand." T0 The course 
of the General Assembly of 1866 confirmed him in this be 
lief. At its close, taking advantage of the proper psychological 
moment, he addressed another appeal to Cyrus McCormick. 
"Aid the Southern Church to resist the assaults of Satan 
from whatever quarter they may come. You have labored man 
fully for union, until Radicalism has made that an impos 
sibility. Now you may consistently say, Very well then, Til 
turn my energies to the Southern Church/ Connect your name 
with a Professorship here. . . . You will, of course, couple 
with your gift any conditions by which you may avoid a 
similar mortification [i.e., as at the Chicago Seminary] here 
after." 71 At the same time, Dr. Samuel B. Wilson, who had 
taught at Hampden Sidney for twenty-five years, reinforced 
the plea of the president by reminding McCormick that "the 
peculiar institutions, character and customs of the South" de 
manded that her clergymen be trained within her borders. 
"Northern preachers, from obvious causes," he continued, "are 
less acceptable than in past time. Their prejudices, their igno 
rance of the character and feelings of both white and black, 
utterly unfit them for the ministerial work among us. There 
may be, I admit, some exceptions to this statement." 72 

These appeals were well timed. Doubtless McCormick would 
bring down upon his head a new blast of criticism from the 
radical press for aiding a "rebel" school, but he was happiest 

Idem to idem, Oct. 12 and Dec. 20, 1865, and Apr. 5, 1866. In Decem 
ber, 1865, this seminary had twenty students. 

71 %Idem to idem, May 31, 1866. 

72 SS. B. Wilson to C. H. McCormick, June 2, 1866. 


when engaged in controversy. 73 Here was the opportunity to 
use the money he had set aside for the education of ministers, 
in a manner well calculated to promote conservative theology 74 
not to mention the inward satisfaction of knowing that his 
foes would believe the $25,000 was irretrievably lost to the 
seminary at Chicago. 75 

In mid-June, 1866, McCormick promised Dr. Smith that he 
would endow the professorship of Biblical and Oriental 
Literature at Union Theological Seminary with $30,000, and 
would begjn at once to pay six per cent interest on that sum. 
He reserved the right to revoke the grant if the seminary 
should ever come under the control of another denomination. 
In such an event, the money would be allocated to the aid of 
Presbyterian theological education elsewhere in Virginia. 76 
Following the passage by Congress of the Military Recon 
struction Acts in the spring of 1867, Dr. Smith feared that 
he might be ousted from his position by the negro-carpetbag 
government, particularly since the Professor of Theology had 
been a captain in the Confederate Army and a considerable 
part of the seminary s income depended upon annual appro- 

78 Some of McCormick s church friends in the North erroneously believed 
that a gift from him to Union Seminary would help to restore good feeling 
between North and South. Letters to C. H. McCormick of #M. B. Grier, 
Phila., Pa., Sept. 30, 1865, H. A. Boardman, Phila., Pa., July 11, 1866, and 
of SB. M. Smith, Dec. n, 1866. C H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, June 24, 
1866. "Chicago Daily Times," July 5, 1866. "Chicago Evening Journal," 
July 19, 1866. 

74 SB. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 22, 1866. As early as Mch. 10, 
1866, two months before the meeting of the Genl. Assembly, McCormick 
wrote Rev. Stuart Robinson of Louisville that he would probably soon "give 
something" to the seminary at Hampden Sidney. 

75 C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, June 24, 1866, and to S. Robinson, 
July 3, 1866. 

76 Memo, of C. H. McCormick, June 18, 1866; SB. M. Smith to C. H. 
McCormick, June 20, 28, July 5, Aug. 18, Sept. 19, 1866, and May 23, 1867. 
The Chair endowed was Dr. Smith s and he soon hung a framed photograph 
of C. H. McCormick in his class-room. On July 23, 1866, he sent Dr. Smith 
$900 interest in advance of the date when it was due. 


priations by the state legislature. He, thereupon, had Mc- 
Cormick sign a new instrument making assurance doubly sure 
that his gift would not be diverted from the purpose for which 
it had been given. 77 By the autumn, however, Dr. Smith could 
write- that "our lot has been much easier than we had reason 
to expect/ and four years later the student body had increased 
to about sixty. 78 

No one realized better than McCormick that a gift to a 
conservative Presbyterian school in the South, while gratifying 
as a rebuke to the radicals in Chicago and elsewhere, could 
not measurably help toward reuniting the divided church or 
promoting sound doctrine in the region where it was most 
needed. The battle must be fought in the North, and especially 
west of the Alleghenies. Here were the votes which would 
determine the course both of the church and the nation. The 
conservative Presbyterians of the eastern cities who looked 
toward Princeton as their focus could do little in the General 
Assembly unless they were supported by some of the ministers 
and elders from the prairie belt. The Chicago area had been 
predominantly "sound" in the faith in ante-bellum days and 
might be made so again, if the Presbyterians there could be 
effectively reached. 

But what chance did the "old guard" have to influence 
opinion in 1865, when political events encouraged radicalism, 
and the leading papers of the denomination were bending in 
the same direction? There were the radical "Presbyterian Ban 
ner" of Pittsburgh, the "noisy Presbyter " of Cincinnati 

77 #B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 4, 12 and Apr. 17, 1867. 

78 B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, SOct. 10, 1870, JOct. 20, 1871, and 
Dec. 12, 1872. Dr. Smith and some of his seven children occasionally visited 
C. H. McCormick in his N. Y. home. By 1880, when McCormick finally 
sent his check for the $30,000, he had already paid to the seminary on this 
sum interest totaling about $26,000. B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, 
#Mch. 9 and Sjune 16, 1869, and Feb. 26, 1876; "Central Presbyterian" 
(Richmond), Dec. 8, 1880. 


under the editorship of the able but partisan Dr. J. G. Monf ort, 
each with its six thousand or more subscribers; 79 the "Prince 
ton Review," too scholarly to carry a wide appeal ; the sleepy 
"Presbyterian" of Philadelphia, with almost twelve thousand 
on its mailing- list and disinclined to lose them by advocating 
unpopular issues; 80 and the "Standard" of Philadelphia, as 
radical as the "Presbyter/ 5 and about to publish a Chicago 
edition. 81 Up to this time the "Presbyterian" had been able 
to prevent the establishment of a serious rival in New York 
City. 82 The "Observer" of that metropolis was friendly toward 
the conservatives but devoted too many of its columns to 
secular affairs to be a real force. For McCormick to use the 
"Central Presbyterian" of Richmond, the "Free Christian 
Commonwealth" of Louisville, 83 or the "Missouri Presby 
terian" of St. Louis 84 as his vehicle would be impracticable, 
for the first two of these had been banned from most northern 
tables because of their abusive references to the Yankees, 
while the third was a journal of small circulation and little 

As early as the autumn of 1865 Cyrus McCormick learned 
that Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, lately a pastor at Stirling, Illinois, 

*E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 16, 1866. 

80 Idem to idem, Nov. 21, 1865, and Mch. 19, 1866; #H. A. Boardman to 
C. H. McCormick, Apr. 2, 1867 ; C. H. McCormick to L. J. Halsey, Feb. 28, 

S1 #C. Crosby, Dixon, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 28, 1865: If the 
"Standard" is published in Chicago it will "scatter firebrands, arrows, and 
death" #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 20, 1866: The "Standard" 
was brought here to revolutionize your Seminary, and to drive Copperhead- 
ism from the Chicago churches. 

82 D. X. Junkin to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 19, 1866. 

83 #A. Davidson to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 16, 1865; E. Erskine to C. H. 
McCormick, Mch. i, 1866. 

84 C. H. McCormick to S. Robinson, Mch. 10, 1866; #S. Robinson to 
C. H. McCormick, Mch. 7, 1866 ; 1C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Nov. 7, 1865. C. H. McCormick subscribed to at least five of these Presby 
terian journals in 1866. 


planned to establish a conservative Old School paper in Chi 
cago, to be known as the "Northwestern Presbyterian/ 85 Its 
first issue appeared in November, and its editor offered pre 
miums to those who secured subscriptions to the journal. This 
practice caused some old-time clergymen to frown, but Erskine 
soon had about four thousand on his mailing list and bought 
out the Chicago branch of the "Standard." 86 If he were able 
to continue publication for a year or so, he might make his 
paper self-supporting. He hoped that McCormick would help 
him, and the inventor for a time seemed inclined to do so. 87 
Only a few years before this time McCormick had learned 
how expensive a journalistic venture could be, and he was 
unwilling to embark upon another one unless he were first 
convinced that the managing editor was a competent business 
man and thoroughly committed to the views which his financial 
backer wished to have advanced. 88 

Erskine was unable to persuade McCormick that he was 
the proper man, although as his policy is viewed from the 
perspective of seventy years, there is much to be said in its 
defense. 89 McCormick always believed in a smashing attack 
with no quarter asked or given before the end of the battle. 
This was not Erskine s way and he bluntly told the inventor 
that if those tactics were used the "Northwestern Presbyterian 

ss |C. Crosby, Dixon, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 28, 1865. 

86 #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 20, Mch. 13, and 16, 1866; JtA. 
Davidson to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 24, 1866. 

7 C. H. McCormick to E. Erskine, Jan. 29, and SMch. 10, 1866; to L. J. 
Halsey, Mch. 12, 1866. 

88 Idem to idem, Mch. 12, 1866. Writing of the proposed paper, McCormick 
remarked : "I should deeply regret to be found in a wrong position, and the 
more so when to get there could only be at considerable cost. I am accus 
tomed to acting under decided convictions may they not in this case be 
wrong ones?" #B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 5, and Aug. i, 1866. 

89 C. H. McCormick to L. J. Halsey, Feb. 28, 1866: I can not support 
Erskine s paper until I learn whether he is made of stern enough stuff to 
face the ordeal to which he will be subjected. C. H. McCormick to E. 
Erskine, Jan. 29, 1866; C. H. McCormick to Dr. Magill, Mch. 15, 1866. 


would have a very short life. 90 Dr. Halsey and others agreed 
with Erskine s opinion that the first essential was a large 
number of subscribers. 91 Care must be taken at the outset not 
to offend by being too forthright on controversial issues. Far 
better for him to be impartial in his editorials, and freely to 
open the rest of his journal to articles from contributors who 
wished to engage in debate. Gradually the paper could be 
swung over to champion conservatism and by this subtle 
change its readers would unwittingly be led to favor the same 
position. 92 As Dr. D. X. Junkin wrote in a letter, remarkable 
for its clerical craftiness : 

By this process we can gradually get them out from under the 
influence of the ecclesiastical demagogues that are now distracting 
our beloved Zion. If we attempt to drive a wedge butt foremost, it 
won t go into a gnarly log. We must put it point foremost and 
drive it cautiously or it will bounce out. ... Its [the proposed 
paper s] ostensible control must be in the hands of men that we 
can trust, and yet men who are not specially obnoxious to the 
radicals. . . . Our Great Father on high works unseen, yet works 
mightily. Far be it from me to commend any deception, or any 
thing unfair but I do recommend prudence, and a wise regard 
to the common sense possibilities of the enterprise. ... Of course 
this is confidential so far as to conceal opinions that would injure 
me if disclosed. 93 

But McCormick was not prepared to follow this rather 
sinuous course. If, because of his unpopular political views, 
it would injure the standing of the paper for his name pub 
licly to be associated with it, he would unwillingly consent to 
aid it financially and remain in the background. Far better, 

9 JE. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 13, 1866. 

si #C. Crosby to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 28, 1865 ; JL. J. Halsey to C H. 
McCormick, Mch. 5, 1866. 

2 #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 6, 1865, and Mch. 16, 1866: 
"We mean to be firm and fearless. We have gone just as far as truth and 
conscience would suffer us to go in order to conciliate the radicals." 

93 #Rev. D. X. Junkin to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 19, 1866. 


however, in his judgment, to fight in the open, persuade Dr. 
Stuart Robinson of Louisville to merge his tottering journal 
with the "Northwestern Presbyterian"; immediately and 
proudly run up the banner of conservatism at the masthead; 
call the new paper the "National Presbyterian/ and publish it 
both in Chicago and New York. 94 Such a course would fore 
doom the project to failure, countered Erskine, if for no 
other reason, because any association with Dr. Robinson would 
place an ineradicable stigma on the journal, so far as northern 
readers were concerned. 95 By this stage of the deliberations, 
McCormick was certain that Erskine was not the man to lead a 
desperate charge against heavy odds. By his great zeal to con 
ciliate his foes, he drew too much upon the forbearance of his 
friends. He had not boldly championed reunion with the South 
in his "Northwestern Presbyterian/ In the inventor s estima 
tion his paper was "a miserable thing," and its editor a "poor 
stick" and the "weakest brother I know." 96 This judgment was 
unfair. He had few truer friends in Chicago during his contest 
with Dr. Lord than the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, but it was 
1869, and too late, before McCormick was convinced of the 
fact. 97 

Thus, largely because of failure to agree, a year went by 
with nothing done toward the establishment of the paper which 
all conservative leaders agreed was so much needed. The tem- 

94 $Letters to C. H. McCormick of B. M. Smith, May 12 and Aug. I, 
1866, D. X. Junkin, Mch. 19, 1866, and of E. Erskine, Mch. 19, 1866. 

95 #Letters to C. H. McCormick of E. Erskine, Jan. 20 and Mch. 16, 
1866, D. X. Junkin, Mch. 19, Dec. 6, 1866, and of L. J. Halsey, Mch. 20, 

96 C. H. McCormick to Rev. J. M. Faris, Apr. 27-30, 1866, to S. Robinson, 
July 3, 1866, to H. A. Boardman, July 8, 1866, and to L. J. Halsey, Feb. 28, 
1866 : "I don t know but that he [Erskine] has sold the control of his paper 
to the Radicals ! At all events, they now have it, & are using it, as I think, 
with a vengeance & to the greater injury of our cause, as I believe, than 
could be affected by the most out & out Radical in the land." #D. X. Junkin 
to C. H. McCormick, June n, 1866. 

97 E. Wood to C H. McCormick, Apr. 17, 1867. 


per of the St. Louis General Assembly served to magnify 
their peril. "We have reached a crisis," wrote Dr. Henry A. 
Boardman of Philadelphia to McCormick in late June, 1866. 
"If a stand be not made against radicalism now, our whole 
Church will soon be enslaved to its unsparing tyranny." 8 If 
the publication of a paper were desirable before the meeting 
of this General Assembly, it was now vital as a means of unify 
ing the conservatives and teaching them their strength." 

McCormick agreed with his friends in the ministry, but 
unlike them he felt that the financial cost of such a venture 
should be taken into consideration. 100 This burden would fall 
for the most part upon him. The outlook was not a cheering 
one in the summer of 1866. Now that the Princeton group 
and the influential Dr. Gurley of Washington were inclining 
toward a compromise with the radicals, 101 and the conserva 
tives of the Chicago area were reading the "Northwestern 
Presbyterian," it was doubtful whether a new enterprise cen 
tered at New York, could be successfully launched without 
great expense. Dr. Rice could probably be induced to serve 
as editor, but the "Presbyterian Expositor" under his man 
agement had been a financial failure. No one in the church 
could debate a question more ably than he, either in writing 
or from the platform, but his articles were too "solid" and 
lacking in humor. Even a religious paper must be "sprightly 
and versatile" in order to live. As Dr. B. M. Smith wrote a 
few years later: "The religious publick wants excitement 

8 #H. A. Boardman to C. H. McCormick, June 20, 23, July n, Nov. 6, 

99 $Idem to idem, Aug. i, 1866. 

100 C. H. McCormick to H. A. Boardman, July 8, 1866, and #Apr. 9, 
1867; to D. X. Junkin, Dec. 3, 1866. 

101 C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, July 23 & Aug. 11, 1866: "Black 
Republicanism I am afraid has its influence with Dr. Hodge, while as I have 
said, ... [he is] a noble specimen of a Preacher & man." #B. M. Smith to 
C. H. McCormick, Sept. 19, 1866. JH. A. Boardman to C. H. McCormick, 
Aug. i, 1866. C. H. McCormick to W. S. Plumer, Dec. 3, 1866. 


tickle and entertain us or we die is the cry and if that enter 
tainment is provided by flings at our Church so much the 
better." 105 

In view of the increasing radicalism, potential subscribers 
to a conservative paper would probably decrease rather than 
increase as the months went by. It would be foolish to engage 
in a project which was doomed to fail from the outset. The 
success of the proposed journal would largely depend, so Mc- 
Cormick reasoned, upon the ability of President Johnson to 
guide the public away from radicalism. For this reason no 
definite action should be taken until after the direction of the 
wind was shown by the autumn elections of i866. 103 These 
were as discouraging in result as the course of the St. Louis 
Assembly six months before. They made clear to the inventor 
that a conservative religious paper would be a losing venture, 
and that radicalism in religion and radicalism in politics were 
closely allied. 

Why could not a weekly paper succeed which joined religion 
and politics and advocated conservatism in both? This should 
attract both Old School Presbyterians and Democrats, as well 
as many Republicans who were longing for the return of 
sanity. Since politics and religion seemed now to be insepara 
ble, it was time to give up trying to keep them apart, and 
turn to the work of making the union a salutary one for both 
church and state. 104 By the close of 1866 McCormick was seek- 

102 C. H. McCormick to H. A. Boardman, July 8, 1866. ILetters to C. H. 
McCormick of D. X. Jtinkin, Dec. 6, 1866, H. A. Boardman, Dec. 10, 1866, 
and Feb. 27, 1867, and of B. M. Smith, Jan. 22, 1870. 

103 IH. A. Boardman to C. H. McCormick, Aug. i, 1866: "I can ap 
preciate your allusion to Mr. Johnson. If by God s blessing he can make a 
successful stand ag st. the Political radicalism of the country, it will react 
auspiciously upon the churches." 

1( > 4 C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, Aug. n, 1866: "About the paper I 
hope much for the success of Andrew Johnson in the political church ques 
tion if we must have politics with the church." C. H. McCormick to D. X. 


ing the proper man to manage the political phase of an enter 
prise of this kind. He was told by his friend, Reverdy John 
son, that the "ablest editor of the country" was James C. 
Welling, formerly a Whig on the staff of the "National In 
telligencer" of Washington, but "latterly a Democrat in prin 
ciple." Welling, however, refused to accept, 105 and McCormick 
found that those ministers for whose judgment he had the 
highest regard were not agreed upon the wisdom of the plan. 
To Dr. Plumer and Dr. D. X. Junkin it was an admirable 
suggestion. "It may be, Mr. McCormick," wrote Junkin, "that 
God is leading you to the rescue of the Church & the country 
from the great peril by which both are threatened, by assist 
ing to establish such a journal." On the other hand, Dr. Board- 
man believed that to join religion and politics was to favor 
precisely what all conservatives had heretofore opposed, and 
that the "New York Observer," whose "spiritual residuum is 
of the homeopathic order," was a melancholy example of an 
attempt to present church and state affairs in the same paper. 106 
Dr. Rice, moreover, who was always considered when the 
question of a religious editor was discussed, soon resigned his 

Junkin, Dec. 3, 1866. C. H. McCormick to H. A. Boardman, Dec. 3 and 22, 
1866: The secular section wouldn t be Democratic "in politics," but only in 
"principles." "Sh d. not the value of the paper politically help the sale of the 
Presbyterian paper with all conservative men of whatever religious de 
nomination? . . . might not the course proposed prove a bold stroke at 
popularizing the paper on a great common principle, . . . ?" 

i5 Q H. McCormick to J. C. Welling, Dec. 12, 1866. J. C. Welling to 
C. H. McCormick, Dec. 18, 1866. Dr. J. Leyburn of Baltimore, Dr. H. A. 
Boardman of Phila., and Dr. Robt. L. Breckinridge of Kentucky were con 
sidered for the position of religious editor. #J. Leyburn to C. H. McCormick, 
Dec. 12, 1866. C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, Aug. n, 1866. *W. S. 
Plumer to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 21, 1866. Plumer advised McCormick to 
ask either ex-President Pierce or Buchanan to suggest a secular editor. 
R. L. Breckinridge to H. A. Boardman, Feb. 19, 1867, and to #C. H. 
McCormick, Mch. 26, 1867. H. A. Boardman to C. H. McCormick, Jan, 8, 
22 ; Feb. 25, 27 ; Mch. 16, 26, 1867. 

to idem, Dec. 7, #20, $25, 1866, and Jan. 8, Feb. 4, 25, 27, 1867. 

Cyrus Hall McCormick 
Engraved from a portrait by A. Cabanel, 1867 


pastorate of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church because of 
ill health. 107 

By now it was April, 1867, and although the zeal of Dr. 
Boardman for a paper was unabated, he felt that it would be 
best to delay matters for a few weeks until after the meeting 
of the General Assembly. At this time 108 McCormick was 
planning an extended trip to Europe and was seeking to inter 
est his friend, S. L. M. Barlow, one of the owners of the 
"New York World," in his newspaper project. 109 Boardman 
did not look with favor upon this alliance, and McCormick, 
tired of arguing the matter and unable to arouse much en 
thusiasm for it among rich Presbyterians in New York City, 
decided by mid-May to shelve the whole question until his 
return from abroad. 110 

As for the seminary at Chicago, Dr. MacMaster s death 
had once more left vacant the Chair of Theology, and Dr. 
Lord was as eager as ever to fill it. 111 Since the directors 
were unable to raise the money needed to endow the Chair 
and were weary of trying to sustain a financial "white ele 
phant," they wished to reach an accommodation with Mc 
Cormick. 112 Because he had never formally stated that he 
would not pay the $25,000 remaining due from his pledge of 
eight years before, the board outwardly assumed that he would 
ultimately fulfill what they judged to be his obligation. Un- 

if> 7 Letters to C. H. McCormick of #J. Leyburn, Mch. 28, 1867, H. A. 
Boardman, Mch. 11 and 16, 1867, and of SB. M. Smith, Apr. 17, 1867. 

i 8 #H. A. Boardman to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 4, 1867: You must 
arrange for the financial backing of the paper before you leave for Europe. 
*D. X. Junkin, to C. H. McCormick, July 22, 1867. 

i#C. H. McCormick to H. A. Boardman, Apr. 9, 1867. C. H. Mc 
Cormick to Manton Marble, Dec. 18, 1866. 

no SH. A. Boardman to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 10 ; May 7, 13,, 14, June 
4, 1867. Boardman was "sadly disappointed" at McCormick s decision, but 
admitted that without a "generous supply" of money, it was unwise to 
launch the paper. 

1 11 $E. Wood to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 9 and Apr. 29, 1867. 

112 $Idem to idem, Apr. 29, 1867, 


willing to widen the breach while in such sore financial straits, 
it decided at its April meeting not to recommend to the Gen 
eral Assembly of 1867 the appointment of Dr. Lord to the 
Chair of Theology. 113 

McCormick, however, showed no disposition to compromise. 
He wrote to a friend in Chicago who was a trustee of the 
seminary that he would not pay the $25,000 until Dr. Rice, 
or some one else equally acceptable to him, was appointed to 
the vacant Chair and his friends who had been forced to 
resign were reinstated so that the control of the seminary 
would again be in sympathetic hands. In his opinion, how 
ever, it would be wise to let matters hang fire until i868. 114 
He believed that the radicals would compromise with him 
only long enough to get his money, and once they had it they 
would again cast him aside. 

Learning that nothing was to be hoped for from McCormick 
unless they agreed to an unconditional surrender, the rad 
icals determined to effect Dr. Lord s appointment. They won 
their way with the General Assembly. Thus the inventor was 
defeated on every issue. He soon sailed for France, resolved 
to banish from his mind the problems of seminary, religious 
paper, and church reunion while he attended the Universal 
Exposition at Paris. 115 

113 E. Wood to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 17, 1867. 

114 C. H. McCormick to E. Wood, Jan. 21 and Apr. 21, 1867, and to N. L. 
Rice, May 5, 1867. 

^ 5 $C. A. Spring, Sr., to C. H. McCormick, May 17 and June 3, 1867. 
"Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865-1869, pp. 272-273. The Assembly 
recommended that the friends of the seminary "endeavor to forget all past 
differences, and cooperate cordially in all practical measures to secure its 
full endowment." 




ILL feeling between the radical and conservative wings of 
the Old School Presbyterians in Chicago did not subside 
during Cyrus McCormick s eight months stay in Europe. 
Hardly had he returned to New York in March, 1868, than 
he reopened the contest by urging his church friends to sup 
port Dr. Rice s candidacy for the Chair of Church History at 
the seminary. 1 When the General Assembly convened at Al 
bany in May, its Committee on Seminaries and Colleges 
unanimously nominated Df. Rice for the post. Contrary to 
custom, however, the Assembly disregarded this recommenda 
tion and appointed Dr. William M. Blackburn of Trenton, 
New Jersey, who belonged to the Lord wing of the denomina 
tion. 2 Thus McCormick lost the initial skirmish of the new 

The four faculty Chairs were now filled for the first time 
since 1861. When the seminary opened that autumn, the direc 
tors formally notified McCormick that they would be grati 
fied to receive the $25,000 3 remaining unpaid from his pledge 

1 C H. McCormick to E. Wood, Apr. 29 and May 25, 1868. Dr. Rice, 
much improved in health, had lived in New Brunswick, N. J., since his 
resignation as pastor of the Fifth Avenue (New York) Presbyterian Church. 

2#E. Wood to C H. McCormick, May 21, 23, 26, 1868; SL. J. Halsey to 
C. H. McCormick, June 3, 1868. "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865- 
1869, pp. 345, 362, 368, 371. 

3 #C. A. Spring, Sr., and R. G. Thompson to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 16, 



of 1859. A month went by before he replied. 4 In this letter, 
soon published, he reaffirmed his unabated interest in the insti 
tution and promised that when its board of control should 
withdraw from politics, recognize the wishes of its founders, 
and cease the proscription of his friends, he would pay the 
$25,000, and add $5,000 more to the endowment of each 
Chair. 5 Reduced to its simplest terms, this meant that Dr. 
Lord s tenure of the Chair of Theology, and possibly Dr. 
Blackburn s occupancy of the Chair of History, were costing 
the seminary $45,000. 

This was the presidential election year and McCormick was 
active in the campaign. Some of its political heat was carried 
over into the discussion aroused by the inventor s reply. 6 For 
the first time since the beginning of the controversy over three 
years before, McCormick had publicly thrown down the gaunt- 

* C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Sr., and R. G. Thompson, Nov. 17, 
1868. Many of the letters relating to the seminary controversy were pub 
lished in pamphlet form in 1869 tinder the title, " Important Correspondence* 
Concerning the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Between Rev. Willis 
Lord, D.D., Professor of Theology, . . . and Mr. Cyrus H. McCormick, 
Founder and Trustee, . . ." (New York, 1869). 

5 C. H. McCormick to Eds., "Northwestern Presbyterian," Nov. 28, 1868. 
I prefer to remain silent, but matters have "reached the point where, in my 
judgment, further silence would be improper, and a vindication of myself 
becomes a duty." #D. C. Marquis to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 4, 1868 : "Your 
letter has stirred up the hornet s nest. . . . You have brought the question 
to a plain square issue which makes it necessary for Dr. Lord s friends 
either to complete the endowment or retire." 

6 The "Dubuque Herald" (Dubuque, la.), Dec. 4, 1868, friendly to Mc 
Cormick; "New York Observer," Dec. 3, 1868, non-committal; the "Pres 
byterian Banner" (Pittsburgh), Dec. 2 and 30, 1868, unfriendly to Mc 
Cormick; "Christian Observer" (Richmond, Va.), Dec. 10, 1868, friendly; 
the "Presbyter" (Cincinnati), Jan. 6, 1869, unfriendly; the "Evening 
Bulletin" (Cairo, 111.), Jan. 7, 1869, friendly; the "World" (New York), 
Jan. 13, 1869, friendly, and the "Virginia Gazette" (Lexington, Va.), March 
3, 1869, friendly. This last paper remarked: "The caustic pen of the cele 
brated Pascal found a fit theme for its most biting sarcasm in the way in 
which the ecclesiastics of his day abused the charitable funds entrusted to 
them. The history of Jesuitism affords no more iniquitous perversion of a 
sacred trust than we now have been reviewing." 


let. The Republican press of Chicago rushed to Dr. Lord s 
defense with articles that well illustrate the skill of Recon 
struction Period editors in the use of vituperative language. 
McCormick was sarcastically hailed as the "Presbyterian 
Pope" who sought to make the seminary a mill for the fash 
ioning of Copperhead preachers. His whole war record was 
reviewed and even his inventive genius was ridiculed. He was 
told that his proper home was not in Chicago but in Virginia. 7 
All except four of the thirty-five students of the seminary 
adopted resolutions supporting Dr. Lord. 8 "He" [Mr. Mc 
Cormick], sneered the editor of the "Chicago Evening Post," 
"sees Dr. Lord in his soup, in his wash-bowl, in his wine glass, 
in his incomings and outgoings, in his risings and settings, 
and in his dreams and visions. Dr. Lord, loyal, fearless, and 
devoted, is the bane of his existence, . . . Dr. Lord, like Stan- 
ton, sticks." 9 The Democratic "Chicago Times" replied with 
equal vigor in his behalf. McCormick s sole purpose, in its 
opinion, was to make the seminary a place of "piety instead 
of partisanship," and to stop its use as "a manufactory of 
political preachers of the Jacobin persuasion." 10 

Dr. Lord and Cyrus McCormick were not willing to stand 
aside and let others wage their battles. Soon these two an 
tagonists entered the lists and engaged in a duel of public 
letters which lasted from McCormick s first shot of November 

T "Chicago Daily Tribune," Dec. 2, 1868. 

*MS. entitled "Facts and Allegations as to Dr. Lord." "Resolutions" of 
thirty-one students of Northwestern Theological Seminary, Dec. 5, 1868, 
asserting that Dr. Lord had never brought politics into the class-room. 

9 "Chicago Evening Post," Dec. 4, 1868. See also, the issues of Dec. 2, 
1868, and Jan. 2, 1869. The reference is to Edwin Stanton, Secretary of 
War, who in 1867 and 1868, relying upon the Tenure of Office Act, refused 
to resign his office at the behest of President Johnson. "Chicago Daily 
Tribune," Dec. 2, 1868 : McCormick "will not, if he can prevent it, permit 
any man, who contributed by word or deed to the abolition of human 
slavery, to educate preachers of the Gospel." 

10 "Chicago Times," Dec. 2, 1868. 


28, 1868, to his last on March 20, 1869. The inventor wrote 
from his home in New York with Dr. Rice at his elbow, 11 
and after his letters reached Chicago they were carefully edited 
for publication in the "Northwestern Presbyterian" by Rev. 
D. C. Marquis and Rev. E. Erskine. 12 Presbyterian clergymen 
and elders far and wide hastened to send to McCormick extra 
rounds of argumentative ammunition for use against his op 
ponent. 13 Those who assisted Dr. Lord to prepare his fulmina- 
tions are not named in the records, but doubtless Mr. Jesse L. 
Williams, Drs. Blackburn, R. W. Patterson, and J. G. Mon- 
fort, in whose "Presbyter" Lord s replies were published, were 
valuable allies. 14 Judging from the interest aroused, the Old 
School Church viewed Lord and McCormick as personifica 
tions of the radicalism and conservatism in conflict within their 
denomination. 15 

Dr. Lord accused McCormick of simony and breach of con- 

" N. L. Rice to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 26, 1868; C. H. McCormick to 
N. L. Rice, Dec. 31, 1868 ; C. H. McCormick to E. Erskine, Dec. 30, 1868 
and Jan. 25, 1869. When Dr. Rice came to New York from New Brunswick, 
N. J., for purposes of consultation, McCormick paid his expenses. Dr. 
Henry Van Dyke of Brooklyn also read McCormick s second letter before 
it was published. 

12 #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 9, 13, 14, 26, 27, Feb. 4, Mch. 
8, n, 12, 1869. "Some of your statements are very involved and obscure, 
(Excuse me but it is so.) ... It is the most important letter of your life, 
involving character and a great and important interest." #C. H. McCormick 
to L. J. Halsey, Jan. 6, 1869. 

13 #B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 4, 1868; C. H. McCormick to 
J. McCosh, Jan. 15, 1869; T. V. Moore to W. Lord, Mch. 5, 1869; ftC. A. 
Spring, Jr., to C H. McCormick, Jan. 15, 1869; #D. X. Junkin in the 
"Presbyterian Banner," Mch. 24, 1869; article signed "Prudence" (J. W. 
Brockenbrough, Rector of Washington College) in "Virginia Gazette" 
(Lexington), Mch. 10, 1869. 

14 Letter of J. L. Williams in the "Northwestern Presbyterian," Dec. 19, 
1868. C. H. McCormick s reply in id., Jan. 9, 1869. C. H. to E. Erskine, 
Dec. 30, 1868; C. H. McCormick to J. G. Monfort, Jan. 2, 1869. 

15 MS. entitled "Facts and Allegations as to Dr. Lord" ; "Virginia Gaz 
ette," Mch. 3, 1869; "Northwestern Presbyterian," May 8, 1869. #E. Erskine 
to C H. McCormick, Mch. 12, 1869. 


tract. With less appropriateness, he tried to divert the argu 
ment into a discussion of McCormick s war record and of the 
slavery influences attending the birth of the seminary. 16 The 
inventor showed that the church, and not he, had "openly and 
grossly violated" the "understood and implied pledges 5 of his 
1859 agreement, and he stated that his dissatisfaction with 
Lord was due to his unorthodoxy and not to his politics or 
his position on the slavery issue. Lord was portrayed as the 
chief cause of the North Church schism during the war, and 
as one who had quickly changed his views when public opinion 
in Chicago made it prudent for him to do so. 17 McCormick 
argued that the church should show a regard "consistent with 
duty" for the wishes of those who contributed to the endow 
ment of the seminary. 18 

"If we do not succeed in the present Seminary controversy," 
wrote McCormick in March, 1869, "I don t know what can 
remain worth laboring for. I may fight on until I get back the 
$75,000 ... or know why not." 19 As in most debates of 
this kind, the winner was apparent only to the friends of each 
contestant. Certainly McCormick presented his case with great 
force, and to Drs. Rice, Halsey, Junkin, Marquis, and others, 
his arguments were "overwhelming." 20 To the "Evening 
Post," however, Lord s first letter was "the most triumphant 
bit of public letter writing that the year 1868 afforded," while 

16 W. Lord to C H. McCormick, in the "Presbyter," Dec. 23, 1868, and 
Feb. 17, 1869. "Chicago Daily Tribune," Feb. 23, 1869. 

17 C. H. McCormick to W. Lord, in the "Northwestern Presbyterian," 
Feb. 6, 1869. Eight hundred extra copies were struck off to be sent to non- 
subscribers. $E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 4, 1869 ; Letters of C. H. 
McCormick to L. J. McCormick, Feb. 4, 1869, and to C. A. Spring, Jr., 
Feb. 6, 1869. C. H. McCormick to W. Lord, in the "Northwestern Presby 
terian," Mch. 20, 1869. 

is C. H. McCormick to the "Presbyterian," n.d, but probably Feb., 1869. 

19 C. H. McCormick to "My dear Sir," Mch. (?), 1869. 

20 Letters to C. H. McCormick of #L. J. Halsey, Feb. 9, 1869, D. X. 
Junkin, Feb. 4, 1869, SE. Wood, Aug. 23, 1869, and L. J. McCormick, Feb. 9, 


his second one, in the view of the "Chicago Tribune," placed 
"Mr. McCormick in a position from which any man who has 
a particle of loyalty or patriotism in his composition would 
be glad to escape." 21 

The test of the success of this debate would be the action 
taken by the General Assembly of 1869. To give the letters 
their widest possible influence, McCormick had them published 
in pamphlet form and distributed to those in the church whose 
word carried weight. 22 Until the eve of the convention, he 
hoped that a union of the New and Old School Churches could 
be prevented, and that the conservative cause could be saved 
before another year had elapsed, by the readmission of the 
southern Presbyterians. Pressure was again brought to bear 
upon him to establish a religious paper to advance the good 
work, and the "Northwestern Presbyterian" seemed to be the 
logical foundation upon which to build. Notwithstanding 
Erskine s services during the controversy with Dr. Lord, Mc 
Cormick still refused to come to his assistance, and the maga 
zine passed into hostile hands in the early summer of i869. 23 

Sharp was the battle in Chicago over the election by the 
presbytery of representatives to the General Assembly of 1869. 
If the McCormick forces could dominate this delegation, a 
long step toward victory would be taken. Rev. W. W. Harsha 
was about to resign the pastorate of the South Church, and 
efforts were made to induce Dr. Rice to be his successor, 
with the hope that he could be one of those to speak for the 
Chicago Presbytery in the Assembly. 24 Although Rice had re- 

21 "Chicago Daily Tribune," Feb. 23, 1869. 

22 C. H. McCormick to E. Erskine, Mch. 15, 1869. 

23 #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 29, Apr. 17, June 5 and 10, 

24 "Chicago Daily Tribune," Apr. 17, 1869; #D. C. Marquis to C. H. 
McCormick, Nov. 24, 1868; C. H. McCormick to H. A. Boardman, Mch. 
15, 1869; #C. A, Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 12, 19 and Apr. 
28, 1869. 


cently accepted the presidency of Westminster College at Ful 
ton, Missouri, he viewed the call with favor, until his board of 
trustees, by extraordinary exertion, succeeded in increasing the 
endowment of the institution. He then decided that it would 
be ungrateful of him to resign. 25 The directors of the Chicago 
Seminary now ousted three members of its board of trustees 
who were friendly to McCormick, and Dr. Lord tried in vain 
to rush through the ordination of three students there so that 
his hand would be strengthened in the presbytery meeting. 26 
Although McCormick paid the expenses of ministers and elders 
friendly to his cause who could not have otherwise attended 
this gathering, the forces of Dr. Lord controlled the session 
and the professor was chosen to head the delegation to the 
Assembly. 27 

Thus McCormick was checkmated, but he wrote that he 
would not make peace until Dr. Lord resigned as Professor 
of Theology. "No one thing more, than to do simple justice 
in this case," he added, "would [so] favor an early restoration 
of fraternal feeling between the North and South." 28 Mc 
Cormick worked to have his cause properly presented before 
the General Assembly by the most eminent ministers of the 

25 #N. L. Rice to J. Forsythe, June 28, 1869 and to C. H. McCormick, 
Nov. 9, 1870. In Oct., 1874, Dr. Rice accepted a professorship at Danville 

26 #H. A. Hurlbut to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 26, 1869. #E. Erskine to 
C. H. McCormick, Mch. 29, 1869. In order to strengthen his influence in 
the presbytery, Dr. Lord secured the election of his friend, Rev. Daniel 
Lord of Bridgeport, Conn., to the pastorate of the Fullerton Avenue Presby 
terian Church of Chicago. 

s? SH. A. Hurlbut to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 8, 1869; C. H. McCormick 
to E. Erskine, Apr. 20, 1869; "Chicago Daily Tribune," Apr. 17, 1869. #E. 
Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 17, 1869: "With a little more expense 
and more effort in time we d have had five more votes present." As it was, 
it was the largest presbytery meeting ever held. "Chicago Times," Apr. 2, 
3, 4, 1869. 

28 #J. G. Monfort to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 14, 1869; C. H. McCormick 
to J. G. Monfort, Apr. 21, 29, 1869. 


East, 29 and although Dr. Rice was not a delegate, he paid 
his expenses from Missouri so that he could be on hand to 
use his influence. The inventor s few friends on the board of 
directors carefully prepared a "Minority Report" vigorously 
attacking the administration of the seminary and particularly 
its financial inefficiency. 30 "This is a battle for truth and 
righteousness/ wrote Rev. D. C. Marquis of the North 
Church. 31 

In so far as the seminary question was concerned, the action 
of the General Assembly was a victory for neither side. A 
decision was postponed until a Committee of Investigation 
could thrash over the whole matter in Chicago, and report its 
findings to the next meeting. Fortunately for the welfare of 
the institution, a joint Assembly of the Old and New School 
Churches was to meet in Pittsburgh in November, and in con 
sequence the seminary issue would not have to await decision 
for a whole year. The regular Assembly of 1869 with great 
unanimity endorsed the terms of union between the Old and 
New School branches, and was gracious enough to express 
the desire that the day may not be distant when we [the Pres 
byterian Churches North and South] may again be united in 
one great organization." 32 That day has not yet come, but this 
friendly gesture was cheering to the many who had long hoped 
that war bitterness would be forgotten in the councils of the 

For nine days at the Tremont House, Chicago, the Com 
mittee of Investigation listened to the testimony of C. H. Mc- 

29 #E. Erskine to C H. McCormick, May 7, 10, 22, 1869. 

30 1C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, May 12, 15, 17, 1869. MS. 
Report of the Minority of the Board of Directors of the Pres. Theo. Sem. 
of the N.W. to the Committee of Inquiry of the General Assembly, May 15, 

si SD. C. Marquis to C. H. McCormick, May 15, 1869. 

32 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865-1869, pp. 454, 467, 468, 471, 


Cormick and all others who had been conspicuous in the semi 
nary controversy during the past five years. 33 McCormick 
declared that he would not insist upon the election of Dr. 
Rice to the Chair of Theology. He preferred to recommend 
no one for that position and was willing to rely upon the 
fairness of the General Assembly. He did demand, however, 
"that this settlement should be upon the basis of justice rather 
than of majorities; that we should inquire what is right rather 
than what is popular." His services, and those of his friends, 
to the seminary should be given "a proper recognition." 34 

With the facts before it the committee persuaded the con 
testants to accept a compromise. All agreed that "bygones shall 
be bygones." McCormick was released from the payment of 
the $25,000, and Dr. Lord was retained in the Chair of 
Theology. The "New Friends" promised to make a "prompt 
effort" to raise funds to endow his Chair, and new trustees 
"not unacceptable to either party" were to replace the three who 
were ousted by the radicals a short time before. The committee 
also expressed the belief that "times of fearful excitement" 
had doubtless contributed much to the origin of the dispute, 
and that "Dr. Lord s character has not been essentially affected 
by any testimony adduced before it." In matters relating to 
the seminary, "a courteous consideration" of Mr. McCormick s 
wishes was declared to be his due. So overjoyed and surprised 
were the members of the committee to bring the controversy to 
a close that "in a fervent outburst we sang the Doxology, 

33 A copy of the testimony taken at this meeting from Oct. 25, to Nov. 3, 
1869, is in the library of the McCormick Historical Association. ID, X. 
Jtmkin to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 21, 1869; #C A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. 
McCormick, Sept. 25, 1869. C. H. McCormick to ?, Oct. 26, 1869. C. H. 
McCormick to Rev. E. P. Humphrey, Nov. 8, 1869. 

84 Undated Draft of a speech (?) prepared by C. H. McCormick for 
delivery before the Committee of Investigation. C. H. McCormick to Hon. 
C. D. Drake, Chairman of this Committee, n.d., but probably the autumn of 
1869. C. D. Drake was a U. S. Senator from Missouri. 


and lovingly, hopefully concluded our work/ The General 
Assembly at Pittsburgh adopted this report. 35 

Few compromises square with logic and this one was no 
exception to the rule. If McCormick were released from pay 
ing the fourth instalment because the Assembly had broken 
the spirit of its 1859 agreement with him, as the Committee 
of Investigation had declared, surely he could rightfully ask 
for the return of the $75,000 already contributed. 36 The Report 
of the Committee almost completely vindicated McCormick 
and it damned Dr. Lord with faint praise. The victory, how 
ever, brought small satisfaction to the inventor because the 
Chair of Theology, bearing his name, was still occupied by 
his enemy. 37 Furthermore, the seminary was now under the 
control of a united church, and representation on the faculty 
and in the directorship would doubtless have to be accorded 
to the New School element. How could this be done without 
still more firmly entrenching the radical Old School group in 
its control of the institution? 

By good fortune, a possible way out was soon disclosed. 
For several years the New School Church had been endeavor 
ing to establish a university in or near Chicago (Lake Forest 
College), and the movement was at last well under way. 38 

35 "Minutes of the General Assembly," 1865-1869, pp. 505-508. "Chicago 
Times, * Nov. u and Dec. 13, 1869. 

36 JR. Frame, Morris, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 12, 1869. #E. 
Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 28, 1869. 

37 Undated MS., written by C. H. McCormick, summarizing his opinion 
of the Report of the Committee of Investigation. He felt that in recommend 
ing the retention of Dr. Lord, the committee sacrificed principle for the sake 
of peace, and did the seminary and himself a "great injustice." "As the 
Report says that nothing was proved essentially 1 affecting his character/ it 
may be interesting to know just what was proved." 

88 IE. S. Skinner to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 25, 1869; #D. C. Marquis to 
C. H. McCormick, Dec. 8, 1869 and Mch. 25, 1870. Marquis saw this effort 
to interest the Old School conservatives in Lake Forest as a trap set by 
the Lordites to divert their attention from the seminary and to win New 
School support for it. #Rev. C. P. Jennings, Shelbyville, Ind., to C. H, 
McCormick, Dec. 2, 1868. In the fall of 1860, the Synod of Illinois resolved 


McCormick declined to aid this institution unless its promoters 
would support him in seminary affairs. 39 For a short while 
these tactics yielded a return in friendliness from the New 
School group. 40 McCormick reciprocated by accepting the posi 
tion of trustee of Lake Forest College and subscribing $5,000 
to the stock of a company, headed by New School men, which 
was formed to rejuvenate the tottering "Northwestern Pres 
byterian" under the name of "The Interior/ He was given to 
understand that the journal would not be used as a mouthpiece 
for the Lordites. 41 To help further toward a rapprochement, 
he let it be known that should Dr. Lord leave, and an accept 
able appointment were made in his stead, he would complete 
the payment of his original pledge and add to the endowment 
of each of the four Chairs. 42 This was the more appealing 
since the friends of Dr. Lord were having but slight success 
in raising funds to pay his salary. The day seemed to be won 
in April, 1870, when Dr. Lord signified his intention of re 
signing in order to accept the presidency of the University of 
Wooster in Ohio, and the directors of the seminary reinstated 
the three trustees friendly to McCormick, who had been ousted 
two years before. 43 

to campaign for the establishment of a Presbyterian College in its state. 
"The election of Mr. Lincoln brought such gloom upon the public that we 
deemed it prudent to lie still." New effort was made in 1864 to found a 
"Princeton of the Northwest" but to little avail thereafter for several years. 
Post, p. 301, ftn. 102. 

89 C. H. McCormick to E. S. Skinner, Dec. 6, 1869, to R. W. Patterson, 
June 22, and to D. C. Marquis, Oct. 3, 1870. 

40 *H. G. Miller to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 8, 1870. 

41 The first number of the new magazine appeared about Mch. i, 1870. 
^Letters to C. H. McCormick from E. S. Skinner, Mch. 7, 1870; fH. A. 
Hurlbut, Dec. 24, 1869, #H. Miller, Dec. 26, 1869, and D. C. Marquis, Dec, 
27, 1869, Jan. 5, 7, 25, and Feb. n, 1870. 

42 C. H. McCormick to E. P. Humphrey Nov. 8, 1869 ; #D. C. Marquis 
to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 2, 1869. McCormick wished Dr, Humphrey to 
accept the Chair of Theology. 

"SL.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd ser., p. 6, C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, 
Apr. 5, 1870. #E. Erskine to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 24, 1870; SD. C. 
Marquis to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 9, 17, 20, 25, and Apr. 8, 1870. Dr. 


This should have ended the long contest, but almost two 
years more were to pass before peace descended upon the 
seminary. Although Dr. Lord left Chicago, his followers were 
resolved to "carry on," and in fact his departure set the stage 
for a new campaign. Gloom soon replaced the good cheer of 
the winter just closed. Who should succeed Dr. Lord at the 
seminary? The radical Old School group, the New School 
group, and the conservative Old School group, each had a 
different answer. The duel had broadened into a three-cornered 
contest, with each faction of the Old School churchmen playing 
for the support of the new-comers who held the balance of 
power. Dr. Robert W. Patterson, pastor of the Second Presby 
terian Church of Chicago and leader of the New School forces, 
was believed to covet a place on the faculty. McCormick was 
willing for him to occupy a fifth Chair and expound the rela 
tionships between science and theology, if his New School ad 
mirers would pay his salary and consent to an Old School min 
ister in the Chair of Theology. 44 There was some likelihood 
that an alliance would be cemented on these terms, until the 
Patterson forces were told that the inventor had in mind to 
bring Dr. Rice, Dr. Humphrey, Dr. Boardman, or Dr. Skin 
ner to the Chair which bore his name. 45 These men were too 
conservative, in the opinion of Dr. Patterson. Even some of 

Lord was the first President of the University of Wooster and served until 


^fyldem to idem, Feb. n, 17, Apr. 18, 26, and May 5, 1870. C. H. Mc 
Cormick to Rev. Mr. McLaren, Feb. 13, 1871, and to #H. G. Miller, Feb. 21, 
1871. The discontented Dr. Halsey received a call to Danville Seminary in 
the autumn of 1869, but declined it after a long period of indecision. Mc 
Cormick privately supplemented his small salary in order to keep one 
anti-Lordite on the faculty, and to prevent a vacancy which his enemies 
might fill with a New School man. 

45 #L.P.C.B. No. I, 2nd ser., pp. i, 26, C. M. McCormick to D. C. Marquis, 
Apr. 4 and 18, 1870. ^Letters to C. H, McCormick of E. P. Humphrey, 
Louisville, Ky., Mch. 25, 1870, Wm. Blackwood, Phila., Mch. 29, 1870, L. J. 
Halsey, Apr. 7, 9, 22, 1870, and D. C. Marquis, Apr. 3, 8, 18, 22, 26, 1870. 


McCormick s friends felt that the seminary should have teach 
ers who were in step with the new age. "Our very foundation 
questions have to be settled again/ he was told by Dr. Black- 
wood of Philadelphia. "From New England, from Great 
Britain and from Germany, people and questions are ever 
and anon coming to the surface that only modern students 
can ever understand/ 46 

To overthrow the Lord faction, McCormick was willing 
to put aside many of his old prejudices and cooperate with 
the New School party. Before an agreement could be reached, 
however, the Chicago Presbytery once again elected a radical 
delegation to the General Assembly. McCormick went to its 
sessions at Philadelphia to work for harmony, but witnessed 
with chagrin the New School men insure for themselves the 
control of the seminary by electing enough new directors from 
their own number to hold the balance of power. 47 For several 
years he had opposed the New School-Old School reunion 
because he had foreseen that the liberals in theology would 
dominate the united church. Now his worst fears were realized. 

When the Lordian Radicals in the Assembly joined with 
the New School party to elect the moderately conservative Dr. 
George L. Prentiss of New York to the Chair of Theology, 
McCormick was not alone in suspecting that this gesture of 
conciliation was an act of bad faith, 48 His friends believed that 

46 #Wm. Blackwood to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 29, 1870. 

47 $D. C. Marquis to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 18, 1870 ; C H. McCormick 
to Rev. Dr. Adams, May 30, 1870. &L.P.CB. No. i, 2nd sen, p. 83, C. H. 
McCormick to D. C. Marquis, May 9, 1870 : "If we don t succeed properly, 
we had better all abandon the cause. / am not now under any obligation to 
give more money to that Sem y., and if justice be withheld longer, there 
will be found the worthy objects for which money may well be applied." 

48 $L.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd ser., p. 119, C. H. McCormick to D. C. Marquis, 
June 6, 1870. C. H. McCormick to R. W. Patterson, June 22, 1870. #E. 
Erskine to C. H. McCormick, June 7, 1870. C. H. McCormick to Rev. 
Shedd, Feb. n, 1871. *D. C Marquis to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 26, 1870. 
#Report of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Seminary to the General 


those who voted for Dr. Prentiss well knew that he would 
refuse to accept, but before he did so, they hoped that the 
inventor would pay the $25,000. With that sum in their pos 
session, and with Dr. Prentiss out of the running, the board of 
directors would then place Dr. R. W. Patterson in the Chair of 
Theology with the confident expectation that the next General 
Assembly would make his ad interim appointment permanent. 49 
So discouraged and disgusted were McCormick s supporters 
at what they chose to call this "unpardonable outrage" and 
"premeditated fraud/ that they severed whatever official con 
nection they had with the seminary and for a time washed 
their hands of the whole matter. 50 Rev. D. C. Marquis, who 
was perhaps the most indignant of all, was unable to with 
stand the increasing New School membership of the North 
Church, and yielded his pastorate before the close of the year 
into the charge of the memorable Dr. David Swing. 51 

When friends gave up the fight in despair, McCormick was 
at his best. 52 If his enemies had, in fact, prepared a trap 

Assembly, May, 1870. McCormick and his friends believed that, in justice, 
the Old School radicals should now withdraw from the picture, since the 
agreement of the previous autumn had obliged them to raise funds for the 
support of the seminary, and they had failed to do so. Dr. Prentiss was a 
brother of the noted orator and Whig Congressman from Mississippi, Sar 
gent S. Prentiss (died in 1850). 

49 SD. C. Marquis to C. H. McCormick, June 8, and July 4, 1870. H. A. 
Hurlbut to C. H. McCormick, June n, 1870. 

50 ID. C. Marquis to C. H. McCormick, June 16, and July 15, 1870: I 
am going to try and forget there ever was a seminary. E. Wood to C H. 
McCormick, June 20, 1870. "Chicago Times," July 16, 1870. 

51 Letters to C. H. McCormick, from L. J. McCormick, Nov. 14, 1870, 
R. Hall McCormick, Nov. 25, 1870, and #G. Morrison, Dec. 2, 1870. R. Hall 
McCormick to Nettie F. McCormick, Dec. 5, 1870. In Feb., 1871, the North 
Church and the Westminster Church united to form the Fourth Presbyterian 

52 C. H. McCormick to D. C. Marquis, Oct. 3, 1870: "With God and 
right on our side, and in a cause that (if anything) is for the glory of God 
alone, we can afford to fight so long as he gives us power to stand up to 
the work." On June 15 (IL.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd sen, p. 147) he wrote to 


for him, he would see to it that they were caught in their 
own snare. Perhaps if sufficient inducements were held out 
to Dr. Prentiss, he would accept and Dr. Patterson would then 
have to look elsewhere for an opportunity to teach theology. 
In the meantime, he would correspond occasionally with Dr. 
Patterson and thus keep open the door for compromise. For 
over a year McCormick pursued Prentiss, while the group 
in control of the seminary went deeper and deeper into debt. 5S 
In August, 1870, Dr. Prentiss definitely declined; 54 by Feb 
ruary, 1871, he agreed to reconsider; 55 and by the summer of 
1871 he seemed inclined to accept if his teaching would not 
be censored. By this time McCormick was ready to guarantee 
him a salary of $6,500 a year, over twice the sum received 
by any other member of the faculty, and he suspected that Dr, 
R. W. Patterson was attempting to block the negotiations by 
covertly reminding Dr. Prentiss that it would be well to learn 
in advance whether his teaching would be under restraint. 56 
On this point, McCormick assured him that he would only be 
expected to teach "the Theology of the Presbyterian Church 
according to its standards pure and simple/ " 57 This well il 
lustrates his eagerness to end the schism at the seminary, 

Dr. Marquis: "Feeling that I have only commenced fighting in this case; 
determined to see it out, and finally to quit the Church and any Church in 
wh. no justice can be had. But I don t despair" 

53 C. H. Mc;Cormick to R. W. Patterson, June 22, and Aug. 29, 1870. 
#D. C Marquis to C. H. McCormick, Sept 6, 1870. The directors, unable 
to procure donations, were forced to borrow $7,000 in order to pay the 
faculty. *H. G. Miller to C H. McCormick, Sept. 18, 1870. 

54 #L. J. Halsey to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 24, 1870. SG. L. Prentiss, 
D.D. to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 4, and 27, 1870. 

55 $C. H. McCormick to G. L. Prentiss, Feb. 14, 1871. #C H. McCormick 
to H. G. Miller, Feb. 21, 1871. 

56 C. H. McCormick to G. L. Prentiss, Mch. 6 and SApr. 22, 1871, and 
Smany others between this date and mid- July. #G. L. Prentiss to C. H. 
McCormick, Feb. 28, 1871. 

57 JC. H. McCormick to G. L. Prentiss, July 19 and Aug. 6, 1871. G. L. 
Prentiss to C. H. McCormick, July 29, 1871. 


since but a few weeks before he had written friends in Chicago 
that he would require Old School theology to be taught there. 58 
Dr. Prentiss, disappointed for the time being in his ambition 
to join the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in New 
York City, could no longer afford to refuse McCormick s 
offer, and in August, 1871, he promised to come. "This seems 
really like being e out of the woods/ 3 McCormick wrote, "and 
if there is to be any crowing* in the case, at all, now is about 
the time for it, I suppose ! . . . And let it now be made a point 
not to admit of a failure." 59 Of the $65,000 endowment 
needed for Prentiss s Chair, McCormick agreed to give 
$45,000, and others in Chicago guaranteed to raise the balance 
by October i. 60 The Ne^y School Presbyterians refused to con 
tribute, but the campaign for funds was yielding encouraging 
returns when the Great Fire came to render many of the 
pledges worthless. 61 On that fateful October 9, 1871, when 
his factory was in flames, McCormick carried out his part of 
the agreement by signing a check for $45,000 to endow the 
Chair of Theology. 62 The fire burned to the edge of the semi 
nary grounds, but providentially, so it seemed, Ewing Hall and 
the residences of the professors, although blistered by the 
heat, were saved. The securities of the seminary had been kept 

58 C. H. McCormick to G. L. Prentiss, July 10, 1871, ^Letters to C. H. 
McCormick of H. G. Miller, July n, J. Forsythe, July 18, and S. M. Moore, 
July 18, 1871. 

5 < *C. H. McCormick to H. G. Miller, Aug. 8, 1871; *G. L. Prentiss to 
C. H. McCormick, Aug. 18, 1871. 

S. M. Moore to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 22 and 23, 1871 ; C. H. Mc 
Cormick to S. M. Moore, Aug. 27, and to G. L. Prentiss, Sept. 10, 1871. 

61 #C. H. McCormick to G. L. Prentiss, Oct. 15 and 22, 1871. 

62 C. H. McCormick to Trustees of the Presby. Theol. Sem. of the N. W., 
Oct. 9, 1871. Probably this check never reached its destination, for the 
receipt from the trustees for $45,000 is dated Mch. i, 1872. They agreed that 
this endowment should hold good only as long as "the instruction imparted 
by said incumbent be in harmony with the Doctrinal Standards of said 
Church as understood and interpreted by its General Assembly." "Cyrus 
Hall McCormick, Inventor," in "The Interior" (Chicago), Dec. 14, 1882. 


in a safe in the business district of the city, and even these 
were found to be intact when the strong-box had cooled enough 
to open it. 63 

When Dr. Prentiss s congregation heard of this disaster, it 
refused to accept his resignation. The clergyman wrote to Mc- 
Cormick expressing his regret and assuring him that neither 
the failure to raise the full $65,000 nor the fire was the cause 
of his inability to fulfil his promise. 64 McCormick could not 
wholly conceal his anger behind the courteous phrases of his 
reply. 65 Thus rather ironically ended the long-sustained effort 
to secure the services of a man whom the New School group 
had originally supported because they believed he would not 
accept, and whom McCormick did not highly favor, but was 
determined to have in order to bring peace to the seminary 
and block Dr. Patterson s ambition. 

The Great Chicago Fire burned out old enmities and re 
minded some Christians that they should dwell together in 
love. The group in the saddle at the seminary had heretofore 
been unable to pay current expenses, and now that they were 
faced with the task of raising funds from the citizens of a 
ruined city, they were at last ready to resign the reins into the 
hands of the only man who had the heart and the means to 
carry the school through the crisis. 

Although McCormick had been waiting for this day for ten 

63 JC. H. McCormick to G. L. Prentiss, Oct. 15 and 22, 1871. SH. G. 
Miller to C. H. McCormick, Oct 15, 1871. C. H. McCormick to W. E. 
McLaren, Detroit, Nov. 3, 1871. 

64 #G. L. Prentiss to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 30, 1871. C. Butler to C H. 
McCormick, Nov. 4, 1871. Butler, a leading member of Dr. Prentiss s church, 
stated that the members of the congregation believed that in view of the 
now depleted resources of the seminary it was doing the institution a 
service by ndt releasing their pastor. #Rev. G. Morrison to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Nov. 17, 1871. 

es $ C. H. McCormick to G. L. Prentiss, Nov. 19, 1871. C. H. McCormick 
to C. Butler, Nov. 19, 1871. In 1873, E> r - Prentiss became a member of the 
faculty of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. 


years, he realized that if the institution were to prosper it must 
be so conducted as to secure the cooperation of the whole 
church. "We are looking for a New School man of Old School 
theology," he wrote to Dr. W. E. McLaren of Detroit, at the 
close of November. 66 Dr. A. A. Hodge of Western Seminary 
was his first choice, but he declined. He suggested that Mc- 
Cormick approach the young and brilliant friend of Dr. Henry 
J. Van Dyke, Francis L. Patton, 67 who was decidedly ortho 
dox" and had entered the ministry too recently to be distinctly 
identified with either the New or the Old School. A committee 
was at once dispatched to Brooklyn to listen to Mr. Patton s 
preaching, and to talk with his father-in-law, Dr. J. M. Steven 
son. The report which came back to Chicago was most enthusi 
astic 68 and soon Mr. Patton visited McCormick in his Chicago 
home in order to come to a decision more quickly. On Feb 
ruary 7, 1872, he signified his acceptance, and with his arrival 
in Chicago about March i a new day dawned for the Pres 
byterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest. 

As an offset to Dr. Patton, Dr. Robert W. Patterson, the 
"Nestor of the New School" in Chicago, accepted the invita 
tion of the board of directors to teach Apologetics without 
pay. 69 The four Chairs at the seminary were once more filled, 

66 #C. H. McCormick to W. E. McLaren, Nov. 3, and 12, 1871. 

67 fW. E. McLaren to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 29, 1871: 7 deliberately 
and earnestly hold that he is the very best man in the whole church for the 
place, who is in any probability available" (W. H. Hornblower to A. A. 
Hodge, from Allegheny City, Nov. 27, 1871. 

8 S. M. Moore to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 9 and n, 1871. W. W. Harsha 
to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 12, 1871: His sermon brought out the "great 
doctrines of imputation and vicarious atonement in a manner which indicated 
his soundness in the faith and his love for those truths so fundamental to our 
system. He is a mental master of those much older than he." 

^ *F. L. Patton to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 29, and Feb. ft 1872. #C. H. 
McCormick to F. L. Patton, Feb. 10, 1872. "Annual Announcement of the 
Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest," June i, 1872. "Chi 
cago Times," June 2, 1874. Although Dr. Patterson received no salary from 
the seminary, his congregation established a small endowment which yielded 


and for the first time in over ten years, Cyrus McCormick 
was satisfied. As he wrote to his old friend, Charles A. Spring, 
Sr. : "We may yet feel compensated for the great delay and 
trouble we have been subjected to in accomplishing the great 
result we have achieved and this is saying a good deal but 
God reigns/ 70 For the sake of peace, McCormick would no 
longer endeavor to foist Old School principles upon an un 
willing church, but for his own spiritual satisfaction, he would 
cling to them until the end. 

Shortly before January, 1870, when McCormick invested 
$5,000 in the stock of the Western Presbyterian Publishing 
Company to promote the publication of "The Interior," 71 he 
dreamed of issuing without charge a very large number of 
copies of "a missionary paper" to furnish religious reading to 
people not reached by Presbyterian ministers or missionaries, 
to promote the reunion of the northern and southern churches, 
and "to look after the purity & democracy of the world." 72 
This ambitious program was never inaugurated, and his 
friends urged him to adopt the more practicable course of buy 
ing out the "moribund Presbyterian 3 of Philadelphia. 73 Mc 
Cormick showed an interest in this suggestion for a time, but 
he turned his attention elsewhere after learning of the very 
high price that its editor demanded. 74 It was then that he de- 

hfm a "very meagre income" as a compensation for his teaching. He con 
tinued to teach at the seminary until 1881. Between 1876 and 1878 he was 
president of Lake Forest College. ftL.P.CB. of C. H. McCormick, Nov. 
i88o-May 1881, p. 289, C. H. McCormick to Dr. McCosh, Mch. 14, 1881. 

C. H. McCormick to C A. Spring, Sr., Mch. 7, 1872. JC. A. Spring, 
Sr., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. i, 1872. 

71 Supra, p. 243. 

72 C. H. McCormick to D. C. Marquis, Dec. 3, 1869. 8L.P.C.B. No. i, 
2nd ser., pp. 6-9, C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, Apr. 5, 1870. 

73 IA. T. McGill, Princeton, N. J., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 20, 1869. 
#D. C. Marquis to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 15, 1869. 

74 #J. M. Backus, Baltimore, Md., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 5, 1870. 
#B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 22, May 7, 10, and June 3, 1870. 


cided to support the Chicago project, mentioned above. He 
had been assured that Dr. Arthur Swazey, the senior editor of 
"The Interior/ would be fair to both the Old and New 
Schools, but within three months after its first number ap 
peared McCormick found that the journal had become wholly 
New School in its position and was supporting radicalism in 
its editorials. 75 The paper was inefficiently managed, and al 
though it had nearly twelve thousand subscribers when its 
plant was destroyed by the Great Fire, it was heavily in debt. 
After the fire, the magazine was quickly revived, but its 
unpaid obligations grew from month to month. 76 McCormick s 
friends urged him to acquire a majority interest in the venture 
in order to promote the welfare of the seminary and the cause 
of reunion with the southern Presbyterian church. 77 When 
Professor Patton reached Chicago in March, 1872, he ex 
pressed his willingness to be an associate editor, but Dr. Swa 
zey refused to admit him to his staff. 78 Before the close of that 
summer the control of the paper fell into new hands and Dr. 

75 #L.P.C.B. No. 2, 2nd ser., p. 444, C. H. McCormick to ?, Apr. 20, 1872. 
^Letters to C. H. McCormick from D. C. Marquis, June 8, 1870, E. Erskine, 
June 7, 1870, H. G. Miller, Apr. 19, 1871, and #C. A. Spring, Jr., July 10, 
1871. Spring had been told that "The Interior" would "run behind" about 
$30,000 that year. 

76 #W. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 13, 1873. At the time of the 
fire the paper was $10,000 in debt. 

77 The Northern Presbyterian General Assembly of 1869 sent a delegation 
to the Southern Presb. Gen l. Assembly with the proposal that reunion 
should be accomplished by each branch agreeing to treat as of no effect the 
resolutions enacted by the other since 1860, with the exception of those 
accepted by both. This reasonable offer was rejected by the southerners who 
demanded that the northern church specifically repeal its offensive measures. 
Dr. Smith had warned C. H. McCormick that the times were not yet ripe 
for such an overture and he regretted the "lamentably unfortunate" result. 
McCormick was both disappointed and angry at the outcome. "Alas that 
men of talent and genius are so often deficient in practical common sense." 
SB. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, May 7, 1870. C. H. McCormick to 
B. M. Smith, July 20, 1870, in #L.P.C.B. No, I, 2nd ser., p. 137. 

78 C. H. McCormick in "The Interior," Feb. i, 1873. 


Swazey was obliged to resign. 79 The two clergymen who now 
tried to earn a livelihood by its publication found their sub 
scribers falling away, and their debts alarmingly increasing. 80 

In mid-January, 1873, Cyrus McCormick reluctantly yielded 
to the pressure of his friends, paid $15,000, and became sole 
owner of the enterprise. 81 The first issue of "The Interior" 
under the new regime showed at the head of its editorial page 
that he was its publisher, Francis L. Patton, editor, and Wil 
liam C. Gray, managing editor. 82 Gray had entered the service 
of the Western Presbyterian Publishing Company in October, 
1 87 1. 83 He and McCormick became warm friends, and largely 
owing to Gray s business ability and devotion to his task, "The 
Interior" within a decade was one of the most widely read 
religious journals in the land. 

The four-fold purpose of this magazine, announced by 
Cyrus McCormick in its first issue after he had gained con 
trol, was thenceforward followed in the main during the rest 
of his life no party politics, impartiality between the Old and 

#H. G. Miller to C. H. McCormick, July 22, 25, 31, 1872. JR. B. Mason 
to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 14, 1872. 

so These two men were Rev. Benjamin W. Dwight and Rev. James H. 
Trowbridge. See fW. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 18, 1873. The 
financial accounts of "The Interior" had become so confused that an accurate 
balance could not be drawn. #W. J. Hanna to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 10, 
1873- L.P.CB. No. 145, p. 254, D. W. Cobb to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 10, 
1873. "Chicago Times," May 26, 1874. 

51 At No. 400, 606 South Michigan Ave., is the agreement of C. H. Mc 
Cormick and B. W. Dwight, Jan. 20, 1873. C. H. McCormick to the Faculty 
of the Seminary, n.d., but probably Jan. 1874: "I accepted the responsibility 
solely for the benefit of the Seminary and the cause of Presbyterianism 
generally." "The Interior," Dec. 14, 1882, p. 4. "Chicago Times," Jan. 26 
and Feb. 2, 1873, 

82 "The Interior," Feb. I, 1873. This was McCormick s first issue. 
SL.P.C.B. No. 3, 2nd ser., p. 77, C. H. McCormick to L. J. Halsey, n,d. but 
about May i, 1873: I am told you and others are in doubt whether you 
will be paid for articles written for "The Interior." I hope you will con 
tribute gratis this year. 

* 3 *W. C. Gray to C, H. McCormick, Sept. 13, 1873. 


New Schools, promotion of the interests of the seminary, and 
the advancement of the cause of reunion between the northern 
and southern branches of the Presbyterian Church. 84 

By 1879, "The Interior" had about thirteen thousand sub 
scribers. 85 Hitherto, it had been operated at a net loss of over 
$n,ooo, 86 but Gray reminded McCormick that he should 
judge of its success in terms of the good that it had accom 
plished for the church. 87 After 1879, it was self-sustaining 
and its managing-editor welcomed the opportunity in March, 
1884, to purchase a one-half interest in it from the inventor. 88 

Although its competitors had long since ceased strongly to 
urge reunion between the northern and southern branches of 
the church, "The Interior" never wearied of championing this 
cause. For this reason, it was the one Presbyterian publication 
in the North which had a growing circulation below Mason 
and Dixon s Line, and Gray spoke with truth when he called it 
the only national paper of his church. Each year after 1872, 
McCormick and Gray prepared a reunion article for its col 
umns and distributed reprints of it to the delegates at the 

84 The resolve of McCormick to hold an even balance in "The Interior" 
between the Old and the New Schools, caused some heart-burning among the 
arch-conservatives. #G. Morrison to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 12, 1873; #D. 
X. Junkin to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 9, 1875. 

85 1C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 12 and Nov. 7, 1879. 
W. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 23, 1875, #Sept i, 1876, Aug. 6, 
1877, and Nov. 29, 1878. L. J. Halsey to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 31, 1878. 
Its subscription price was $2.50 a year. 

86 1C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 12, 1879. ^Statement of 
Assets and Liabilities of C. H. McCormick, Aug. i, 1881. "The Interior" is 
here listed as a net asset of $45,000. 

87 SW. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 16, 1879. JL. J. Halsey to C. 
H, McCormick, Sept. 24, 1879. 

88 IAgreement between W. C. Gray and C. H. McCormick, Mch. 18, 
1884. McCormick stipulated that he should control the policy of the paper 
as long as he lived and that it should bear his name forever. In recognition 
of Gray s faithful and able service as editor and business manager, Mc 
Cormick paid his expenses to Europe for a vacation in the summer of 1881. 
IW. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, May 2, 1881 ; Feb. 28, 1883. C H. 
McCormick to Dr. H. Calderwood, Edinburgh, Scotland, July n, 1881. 


northern General Assembly. 89 It was a discouraging task since 
southern leaders were still insisting upon larger concessions on 
questions of property, church discipline, and wartime deliver 
ances than most northern Presbyterians were prepared to 
yield. The members of the southern branch were apparently 
quite happy to go their own way unless the North would make 
an unconditional surrender. 90 Finally, in 1882, the two wings 
established fraternal relations by exchanging delegates, and 
McCormick and Gray felt that they and "The Interior" de 
served some credit for the victory. The "half-way house" to 
organic union, so they believed, had at last been reached, and 
fusion was without doubt "among the blessings foreordained 
from all eternity!" 91 

Many believed that the compromise effected by the appoint 
ment of Professors Patton and R. W. Patterson to the faculty 
of the seminary in Chicago in 1872, would lead the churches of 
the Northwest to rally to its support. 92 In this hope McCor 
mick and others who were anxious to promote the welfare of 
the institution were disappointed. The New School congrega 
tions still viewed the seminary with distrust. 93 The forceful 

S9#L.P.C.B. of C. H. McCormick, Nov. i873-June 1876, p. 406, C. H. 
McCormick to B. M. Smith, Apr. 5, 1876. SW. C. Gray to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, June 2 and Nov. 15, 1882. In the N. F. McCormick Biog. Asso. 
Files is a folder containing fifteen letters from W. C. Gray to C. H. Mc 
Cormick between 1879 and 1884. 

90 B. M. Smith, Hampden Sidney, Va., to C. H. McCormick, July 23, 
1873, March 2, 1875, Apr. 13 and May 9, 1877. 

<* "The Interior," June I, 1882; fW. C Gray to C H. McCormick, June 
2, 1882. C. H. McCormick to W. C. Gray, June 8, 1882: "And now for 
Part 2 Reunion. This is even more important and should be looked to as 
the final consummation of what has been so happily begun by the two 
assemblies. I hope to see more about that in The Interior. " H. Johnson to 
C. H. McCormick, June 6, 1882: The northern Church has withdrawn its 
wartime changes of schism, heresy and blasphemy. 

*2 w. W. Harsha, Jacksonville, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 18, 1881, 
and JR. W. Patterson to W. S. Curtis, Rockford, 111., Feb. 4, 1881. 

S3 D. Marquis to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 19, 1876. H. A. Hurlbut to 
C. H. McCormick, Sept. 19, 1876. He wrote of the lack of support of the 
seminary by the Fourth Presbyterian Church and hoped that if Dr. French 


figure of Dr. Patton dominated the life of the campus, and his 
courses in theology, in the view of some of his colleagues, 
held too prominent a place in the curriculum. 94 His post as edi 
tor of "The Interior" also brought him the attention of the 
religious public, and he there advocated more conservative 
doctrines than many of his fellow-clergymen could endorse. 

The aversion of the Presbyterian liberals for Patton 
changed to open hostility in April, 1874, when he laid before 
the Chicago Presbytery two charges of heresy against the Rev. 
David Swing. Among the twenty-eight specifications compris 
ing this indictment were a tendency toward Unitarianism and 
mysticism, laudation of John Stuart Mill, sympathy for "the 
doctrine commonly known as Evolution/ " denial of the in 
fallibility of the Bible, "flippant" references to infant baptism, 
and the use of "language in respect of Penelope and Socrates 
which is ... contrary to ... the Confession of Faith." 95 
Swing had come to Chicago in 1866 from a professor s chair 
at Miami University in Ohio, to accept the pastorate of the 
Westminster Church. Five years later his congregation united 
with the members of the North Church to form the Fourth 

were called to its pulpit, he would work a change of feeling. C. H. Mc- 
Cormick to Rev. Dr. Niccolls, St. Louis, Sept. 24, 1876. Niccolls was being 
considered for the place also and C. H. McCormick, although not favoring 
him because of his "unsound" theological views, was glad to find that he 
was a friend of the seminary and "The Interior." In McCormick s opinion, 
these two agencies, with the church, constituted "the foundation of our 
Presbyterian system." W. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 26, 1877. 
In this letter Gray expressed the belief that the prejudice against Patton 
among Chicago preachers was dying out. 

94 J. M. Paris to C. H. McCormick, June n, 1879; #C. Elliott to C. H. 
McCormick, May 29, 1880. 

95 The twenty-eight specifications will be found in A. T. Andreas, "His 
tory of Chicago from the Earliest Period to the Present Time" (3 vols., 
Chicago, 1885), H, PP- 802-803. See also, "Chicago Times," Feb. 24, 25, and 
Mch. i, 1874; "Chicago Daily Tribune," Apr. 14, 15, 1874. Dr. Swing had 
also offended by saying that Catherine II of Russia was less likely than the 
pagan Socrates to go to Heaven. 


Presbyterian Church. 96 When McCormick reestablished his 
home in Chicago in October, 1871, he refused to abide Swing s 
preaching, and joined the Third Presbyterian congregation, 
of which Dr. Abbott E. Kittredge was the pastor. Swing s ser 
mons, however, drew larger and larger audiences, and editors 
found that the circulation of their newspapers increased when 
they printed his discourses and essays. He was soon acknowl 
edged to be the most dangerous foe of conservative Presby- 
terianism in the Chicago area. To the editor of the "Chicago 
Tribune/ on the other hand, Professor Patton was a "i6th 
Century bigot brought to the city by C. H. McCormick to 
extirpate heresy." 97 

The attitude of the conservative Presbyterians toward Dr. 
Swing is well summarized in a letter received by McCormick 
early in 1874. "If Prof. S [wing s] positions are sustained, no 
one can tell what is the Bible, & what is not. ... If our 
Church can tolerate views, which Unitarians & other sceptics 
endorse, and which all evangelical Christians ignore, the time 
has arrived, when another Division of the Church will take 
place. It has become fashionable to reduce the word of God 
to the level of ... the inspired platform of Plato/ " 98 

The memorable Swing heresy trial of May, 1874, is un- 
mentioned in the letters of Cyrus McCormick, but messages 
received by him from sympathetic clergymen, and articles in 

96 The Fourth Presbyterian Church was burned in the fire of 1871. There 
after for over two years, Dr. Swing gathered about him the members of his 
congregation and many other people in Standard Hall or McVicker s 
Theatre. Finally, on Jan. 4, 1874, a new Fourth Presbyterian Church edifice, 
at the corner of Rush and Superior streets, was ready for services. 

7 "Chicago Daily Tribune," March i, 1874. 

98 #R ev . W. H. Van Doren, Clifton Springs, N. Y. to C. H. McCormick, 
Feb. 28, 1874. Van Doren in 1884 gave 1,300 volumes to the Chicago Semi 
nary. See, A Committee of the Presbytery, editor, "The Trial of the Rev. 
David Swing before the Presbytery of Chicago" (Chicago, 1874), and "The 
World s Edition of the Great Presbyterian Conflict: Patton vs. Swing" 
(Chicago, 1874). 


the daily press, leave no doubt that he supported the prosecu 
tion." The pastor of his church, Dr. Abbott Kittredge, de 
fended the accused and was with difficulty restrained from 
resigning his charge before the summer was over. 100 Even 
prior to the opening of the trial, Swing announced that he 
would sever his connection with a denomination that empha 
sized "dogma rather than love." He was vindicated by a three 
to one vote of the Chicago Presbytery, but the Synod of North 
ern Illinois, composed largely of preachers from rural churches, 
resolved by an overwhelming majority to eject him from its 
fellowship. Dr. Swing, of his own volition, had withdrawn 
from the denomination five months before. 101 About one-third 
of the congregation of the Fourth Church gave up their mem 
bership rather than abandon their pastor. His reputation in 
creased, and by 1878 he was obliged to preach in Central 
Music Hall in order to provide seats for all who wished to 
listen to him. 

99#L.P.C.B. of C. H. McCormick, Nov. 1873- June 1876, p. 162, D. E. 
Bradley (secretary of C. H. McCormick) to Nettie F. McCormick, Sept. 
28, 1874: "Dr. Patton will require my services no doubt and I hold myself 
at his call, which he understands. Some 30 copies of the Trial were sent in 
and have been mailed to the Synod." In the previous May, during the trial, 
several meetings of the Chicago Presbytery were held in the "Presbyterian 
Room" of the McCormick Block. *B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 
2, 1874; T. H. Skinner to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 12, 1874. H. G. Miller, 
L. J. Halsey, and W. C. Goudy, friends of C. H. McCormick, testified 
against Mr. Swing. The trial was conducted with dignity. Swing pleaded 
"Not Guilty/ and contended that Patton s charges for the most part con 
sisted of sentences torn from the context of his sermons. See also, "Chicago 
Daily Tribune," March 5, 6, 8, and June 6, 1874. According to "Chicago 
Times" of Jan. 17, 1875, the outspoken attacks upon Swing by "The In 
terior" led many to cancel their subscriptions by the close of 1874. 

100 #A. E. Kittredge to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 10, and July 14, 1874; 
"Chicago Daily Tribune," June 6, 1874; "Chicago Times," June 6 and 9, 


101 "Chicago Daily Tribune," Apr. 29, May 21, 26, and Oct. 24, 1874. 
"Chicago Times," May 22, and Oct. 17, 24, and Nov. i, 1874. To recover 
lost ground and to make "The Interior" the voice of an united Presbyterian 
Church, Rev. C. L. Thompson, the new school pastor of the 5th Presbyterian 
Church of Chicago, was made co-editor with Dr. Patton in Jan., 1875. 


This episode widened the breach between the two wings of 
Presbyterians in the Middle West, and made assurance doubly 
sure that the liberals would not support the seminary as long 
as Professor Patton occupied its senior Chair. Nevertheless, 
Jesse L. Williams, no longer a political radical, joined with 
Cyrus McCormick and C. B. Nelson of Chicago in 1874, to 
make possible the erection of a new building on the seminary 
campus a "chapel, library, and recitation hall combined. This 
was dedicated in the spring of i876. 102 Conservatives com 
forted themselves with the belief that the church was moving 
slowly back to orthodoxy, and they viewed Dr. Patton s elec 
tion as moderator of the General Assembly of 1878 as a cheer 
ing indication of this tendency. 103 

Early that year the agent of the seminary, John M. Faris, 
summarized in a circular letter the critical financial condition 
of the school. By a strange chance, one of its greatest future 
assets was at this time a heavy liability. Those who gave the 
institution twenty-five acres of land on the North Side in 1863 
had stipulated that this property could not be sold or mort 
gaged before 1888. Following the Great Fire, the city grew 
rapidly in the neighborhood of the seminary, and it was har 
assed by heavy taxes and special assessments. The value of the 
real estate increased from year to year but it returned no in 
come. Five of the twenty-five acres were to be reserved for 
the campus, and the balance by sale or lease would some day 
add substantially to the endowment. The chief financial prob- 

102 "Chicago Times," Apr. 3, 1874, and Apr. 7, 1876. Each of these men 
gave $5,000, and $15,000 more was raised in New York. J. M. Faris to 
C. H. McCormick, Aug. 16, 1875 ; J. L. Williams, Fort Wayne, to C. H. 
McCormick, May 29, 1878. Pamphlet, "Services at the Laying of the Corner 
Stone, and Addresses at the Dedication of the Chapel and Library of the 
Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest" (Chicago, 1876), 
p. 6. 

10 3 C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," N. F. to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., June 3, 1878: "What a triumph and what a just recognition by the 
church of one who has defended truths so dear to her, and away from which 
there has been such a tendency to drift." 


Jem of the fifteen years after the fire was to keep the institu 
tion out of debt until that happy day arrived. By then it was 
expected that the twenty acres would have a value of $400,000, 
or double their estimated worth in iS/S. 104 

The crisis at the seminary at this time was the more serious 
because the money given by Cyrus McCormick to endow the 
Chair of Theology had for the most part been loaned to John 
Forsythe of Chicago, who had invested it in suburban lands. 
These properties were now unproductive and Forsythe was 
unable to pay to the seminary each year the interest guaran 
teed when the loan was made. By March i, 1879, Patton s 
salary was $10,000 in arrears, and as early as 1875 he had been 
obliged to accept the pastorate of the Jefferson Park Presby 
terian Church in order to support his increasing family. 105 The 
endowment of the other Chairs also failed to return an in 
come adequate to pay the living expenses of their incumbents. 
Dr. L. J. Halsey, in poor health and often on the point of 
leaving, managed to keep out of debt by serving as senior edi 
tor of "The Interior" after Patton resigned in i876. 106 Mc 
Cormick expected that the members of the faculty would 
contribute articles to this weekly without charge, but the pres 
sure of their seminary duties and the need of devoting their 
spare time to tasks which would supplement their salaries, 
rendered this impossible. 107 

104 Circular letter of J. M. Paris, Jan. 10, 1878. J. M. Paris to C H. 
McCormick, June n, 1879. C. H. McCormick to T. H. Skinner, June 20, 1881. 

105 J. M. Paris to C. H. McCormick, May 15, 1879 ; W. C. Gray to C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., May 3, 1879; H. G. Miller to C. H. McCormick, June 9, 
1879. "Chicago Times/ Sept. i, 1879. 

i6 "Chicago Times," Jan. 30, 1876. Letters to C. H. McCormick of SF. L. 
Patton, Jan. 22, 1876, D. C. Marquis, Apr. 19, 1876; #L. J. Halsey, Jan. 7, 
1874, JfMarch 18, 1876, and #Sept. 24, 1879, C. L. Thompson, Oct. 22, 1877, 
and from W. C. Gray, Oct. 26, 1877. ^Circular letter of J. M. Paris, Jan. 
10, 1878. JL.P.C.B. No. 4, 2nd ser., p. 48, C. H. McCormick to W. Gray, 
Oct. 21, 1877. 

i 7 L. J. Halsey to C. H. McCormick, May 9, 1873, and #Jan. 7, 1874. He 
thought that his ideas were too old-fashioned, and his style "too grave and 


When the seminary was founded, the inventor hoped that 
each professor would also be a pastor in the city. From finan 
cial necessity, and not by choice, this had come to be the 
rule, 108 but during the past twenty years those in charge of the 
leading seminaries in the land had decided that these two 
functions should not be combined. "I know the tastes of stu 
dents well/* wrote Dr. James McCosh of Princeton to McCor- 
mick in 1881, "and of all things they hate the sermonizing 
hortatory style. They simply will not tolerate it; if forced 
upon them, it will disgust them. This is the case in all coun 
tries & in all Theological seminaries. They must have Theo 
logical subjects treated scientifically. We have it now in all 
our Eastern Theological Seminaries. Students will not go now 
either to Colleges or Seminaries where the Professors are 
dividing their time between preaching & lecturing. 1 109 If the 
seminary at Chicago followed this trend, the endowment of 
each chair would have to be increased. 

Dr. McCosh s letter also suggested another problem at 
Chicago. The homes of the members of the faculty were 
widely separated because they were obliged to be near their 
churches, or to live where rents were low. As a result, there 
were lacking that professional esprit de corps and feeling of 
oneness between the teaching staff and the students which were 

serious" to suit the prevailing mode, or to interest the younger generation. 
C. H. McCormick to Faculty of Presbyterian Theological Seminary of 
N. W., n.d. but probably early Jan., 1874. Up to this time, he writes, he has 
been publishing "The Interior" at a loss, and suggests that he cannot afford 
to continue the paper unless its expense can be reduced. W. M. Blackburn 
to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 27, 1874. He was too busy cataloging the 4,000 
volumes in the seminary s library to write for "The Interior." Although Dr. 
Halsey was the titular senior editor for a short time after Dr. Patton s 
resignation, W. C. Gray was the active directing head, under C. H. Mc 
Cormick. See, SL.P.C.B. of C. H. McCormick, Nov., i873~June, 1876, pp. 
369-370, C. H. McCormick to L. J. Halsey, Feb. n, 1876. 

i 8 W. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 26, 1877. 

109 JJ. McCosh to C. H. McCormick, March 28 and 29, 1881. 


so desirable at a theological seminary. 110 To secure these ad 
vantages, houses for the faculty should be erected on the 
campus. If this were done, the portion of a salary which could 
be equated as rent would be a sum larger than the annual 
income to be expected from a safe investment of the money 
in another way. 111 In short, quite apart from considerations of 
morale, the erection of four or five dwellings would be a 
shrewd financial stroke. 

Furthermore, by 1879, with the exception of Professor 
Patton, the members of the faculty were either too old or were 
not in accord with the theological views of the few "giving 
members," as they were called, of the Presbyterian Church in 
or near Chicago. Patton was the only professor of national 
reputation on the staff, although it had been McCormick s 
early dream to make this seminary the equal of the best in the 
land. 112 To do this he had expected the cooperation of the 
whole church, but it had not been given, probably in some 
measure because he had said more than once after 1872 that 
he would not let the institution fail. With this assurance, even 
the friends of the seminary felt satisfied to sit back and permit 
him to carry most of the burden. 113 The Fire of 1871 and the 

110 H. Johnson, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 9, 1881. 

111 #J. M. Paris to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 20, 1881. He believed that 
each house, erected at a cost of about $8,000, would permit the salary of 
each professor to be reduced by as much as $900 or $1,000 a year. Thus the 
investment would yield the seminary about 12% income. 

" 2 *J. Milligan, Princeton, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 28, 1880. C. H. 
McCormick to B. B. Warfield, Allegheny, Pa., May 15, 1881. 

113 S. M. Moore to F. L. Patton, July 16, 1880: What is the use of 
maintaining a board of directors and trustees if McCormick is obliged to 
pay all the costs of the seminary? S. M. Moore to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 
9, 1880. W. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Aug. n, 1880: "I confess I get 
mad when I notice one of the brethren sit down, stick his heels high, light 
a cigar, and say : Mr. McCormick must do so and so. " SL.P.C.B. of C. H. 
McCormick, Nov., i88o-May, 1881, pp. 4-6, C. H. McCormick to H. John 
son, Nov. 13, 1880: I am ready to help in the seminary crisis but I don t 
think all the burden should fall on me. The seminary is central in the 
present church emergency and should be aided by all Presbyterian congrega- 


years of depression between 1873 an d I &79 doubtless increased 
the difficulty of raising money. No wonder that Rev. J. M. 
Faris in the summer of 1879 suggested that the "McCormick" 
Theological Seminary would be a more appropriate name for 
the institution. 114 

In the spring of that year, when Dr. Patton received a 
tempting offer from the Presbyterian Theological Seminary 
of London, McCormick induced him to decline by paying him 
one-half of his back salary, and guaranteeing that he would 
receive $4,500 a year until 1882. The fear that a New School 
man would be appointed to the Chair of Theology if Patton 
should leave, was one consideration influencing McCormick 
to make this pledge. 115 Hardly had this danger been avoided 
than the professor was approached by representatives of the 
Princeton Theological Seminary who wished him to return 
and serve his Alma Mater. These negotiations were soon 
common knowledge. They brought the troubles of a decade 
to a focus, and precipitated one of the most serious crises in 
the life of the Chicago institution. 

Following McCormick s arrangement with Patton in the 
summer of 1879, his colleagues, and particularly Dr. Elliott, 

tions. Ibid., p. 324, C. H. McCormick to W. W. Harsha, Jacksonville, 111., 
March 22, 1881. C. H. McCormick to D. L. Moody, Feb. 23, 1881. JG H. 
McCormick, Jr., to T. H. Skinner, Oct. 4, 1883. 

i"*]". M. Faris to C. H. McCormick, June 3, 1879. This is the first time 
that this suggestion was made, so far as I have found. 

us W. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Jr., May 3, 1879; J. M. Faris to 
C. H. McCormick, May 15, and SOct 24, 1879; H. G. Miller to C. H. 
McCormick, June 9, 1879; SC. H. McCormick to F. L. Patton, June 26, 
1879. C. H. McCormick was to receive the coupon notes of the Forsythe 
loan and endeavor to gain reimbursement in that way. By Nov. 1879, For 
sythe owed the seminary about $60,000, but at that time one of his friends 
assumed the obligation. See, #R. B. Mason to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 3, 
1879. #F. L. Patton to C. H. McCormick, July I, 1879. Patton here states 
that he declined the London call largely because McCormick told him that 
his resignation would be disastrous to the seminary. "Chicago Times," July 
2, 1879. 


took no pains to hide their displeasure at the preferred treat 
ment which he had been accorded. 116 To allay this discontent, 
McCormick promised to pay the arrears of salary due to each 
member of the faculty/ 17 but he approved and most probably 
inspired the action of the board of directors in the spring of 
1880, inviting all of the teaching staff with the exception of 
Patton to hand in their resignations by the close of the next 
academic year. Dr. Halsey, in recognition of his long and 
faithful service, would retire with the rank of Professor 
Emeritus. 118 Every possible expedient was employed to influ 
ence Dr. Patton to remain. McCormick told him that his de 
parture would bring "almost temporary ruin" to Presbyterian 
interests in the entire Northwest, and that he would gladly 
loan him $10,000 without interest so that he could build a 
home near the seminary. He would also assure him of a salary 
of $4,500 until i888. 119 Mr. R. L. Stuart of New York, who 

. Elliott to C. H. McCormick, May 29, 1880; S. M. Moore to C. H. 
McCormick, Nov. 10, 1880. 

117 C. C Brown, Springfield, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 2, 1880. 
"Chicago Times," Apr. 2, 4, 6, 1880. 

118 #C. M. Howe to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 19, 1880; *C. Elliott to C. H. 
McCormick, May 29, 1880: "If you search the annals of the Presbyterian 
Church, you will not find an action, by men professing to be ministers and 
servants of Christ, so mean and so disgraceful. We were given no chance to 
speak in our own defense, and we are asked to resign on the alleged ground 
that the Seminary is financially embarrassed." In a letter to JR. L. Stuart, 
New York City, Aug. 2, 1880, C. H. McCormick stated that the faculty 
were ousted in order to rid the seminary of the "unsoundness" which pre 
vented the churches of the Northwest from supporting it. Viewed from one 
angle, this housecleaning was the last gun in the Lord-McCormick contro 
versy, for Professor Blackburn had been appointed by a radical General 
Assembly, and was one of Dr. Lord s close friends. He was also a stanch 
supporter of Dr. Swing. #R. W. Patterson to W. S. Curtis, Feb. 4, 1881 ; 
S. M. Moore to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 4, 1880; C. H. McCormick to 
B. B. Warfield, May 15, 1881. In April, 1880, C. H. McCormick was elected 
president of the board of trustees of the seminary. 

119 C. H. McCormick to F. L. Patton, Dec. 5, 1880. There is a notation 
on this letter that it was never sent, since C. H. McCormick, Jr., went to 
Dr. Patton s house that day and made the offer verbally. 


had endowed the new Chair at Princeton with Patton in mind, 
was made aware of the serious injury he was doing to one 
seminary by his gift to the other. 120 But Patton, now thirty- 
seven years of age, felt that his advancement at Chicago had 
not been sufficiently rapid. He desired an opportunity to spe 
cialize, and he was tired of the gloomy outlook with its "suspi 
cions, conflicts, delays, and cliques." 121 Before he fully real 
ized how much McCormick would do to tide the seminary over 
the lean years until its land endowment could be sold, he 
promised his admirers at Princeton that if he received a formal 
call to come there, he would accept. 122 

This came in due season, but not before McCormick had 
let it be known that he would give $100,000 to the seminary 
if a like sum could be raised from other sources. 123 He also 
induced Dr. Herrick Johnson, the able pastor of the Fourth 
Presbyterian Church of Chicago, whither the inventor had 
transferred his membership in 1877, to lecture at the semi 
nary during the session of 1880-1881. 12 * Thus both the qual- 

i 20 #C. H. McCormick to R. L. Stuart, Aug. 2, 1880. Stuart was a wealthy 
sugar-refiner. W. M. Paxton, Princeton, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 16, 

12 * F. L. Patton to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 6 and Dec. 17, 1880; to W. S. 
Plumer, Sept. 6, 1880 ; H. Johnson to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 9, 1880. 

122 S. M. Moore to C. H. McCormick, July 23, Aug. 23, Sept. 13, and 
Oct. i, 1880 ; F. L. Patton to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 6, 1880, and to the 
board of directors, Nov. 24, 1880. The first advances of Princeton to Dr. 
Patton were made during the absence, and without the knowledge of Dr. 
McCosh. See his letter to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 29, 1880. 

123 S. M. Moore to F. L. Patton, July 16, 1880. This letter indicates that 
McCormick s original proposal was to give $50,000 if a like sum were raised 
by the churches. Moore urged Patton to stay, on the ground that if he left, 
McCormick would not give so much to the seminary. Letters to C. H. Mc 
Cormick of S. M. Moore, Aug. 9, 23, 1880; W. C Gray, Aug. n, 1880, and 
of H. Johnson, Aug. 16, 1880. 

124 S. M, Moore to C. H. McCormick, July 6, 1880. C. H. McCormick 
was to pay the bill $2,000 a year. As pastor of the Fourth Church, Dr. 
Johnson received $8,000 a year. The Fourth Church steadily grew in mem 
bership and influence. In a memorable two weeks "drive" in 1878, with C. H. 
McCormick as the "pivot man," its burdensome debt of $35>ooo had all been 


ity of its faculty and the state of its finances seemed to augur 
a brighter future in the late summer of 1880, and McCormick 
hoped that these advantages would resolve any doubts which 
Patton might have as to his proper course. Patton did hesi 
tate, so much so in fact that his health was temporarily im 
paired, and the liberals among the Presbyterians of the city 
began to fear that he might choose to remain. As the weeks 
went by, his inability to reach a decision embarrassed the 
directors of both seminaries. 125 Finally, in December, he de 
clared, "The verdict of my judgment is preponderating in the 
direction of Princeton as the field of my life work." 126 By so 
narrow a margin did Princeton secure a man who within 
eight years would be her president. 127 

A few men, and notably Dr. Herrick Johnson, felt that the 
seminary had been placed in a humiliating position by the too 
insistent efforts of its officials to retain Patton. 128 Nor could 

paid the inventor contributing $5,000. Following Dr. Swing s resignation 
in 1874, the church had no regular pastor until the well-beloved Rev. John 
A. French of Morristown, New Jersey, was installed in the spring of 1877. 
Ill health obliged him to resign on Jan. i, 1880. Dr. Johnson became pastor 
in April of that year and served until July I, 1883. Johnson was puritanical 
in his attitude toward amusements. He was known as "the scourge of the 
Chicago theatre." He had formerly been a professor in the Auburn (N. Y.) 
Seminary. C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," Nettie F. McCormick to 
C. H. McCormick, Jr., Jan. 30, 1878; H. W. King to C H. McCormick, 
March 19, 1877. 

125 H. Johnson to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 21, 1880 : Patton should make 
up his mind at once. He too often puts himself in a posture to be urged and 
pleaded with. 

e #F. L. Patton to S. M. Moore, Dec. 10, 1880. Patton s decision seems 
to have been forced by the determination to send a committee to Princeton 
to endeavor to secure a release for him from his pledge. 

127 C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," Nettie F. McCormick to C 
H. McCormick, Jr., March 24, 1888. She expressed her gratification at the 
news that Dr. Patton had been elected President of Princeton College. C. H. 
McCormick in 1881, however, believed that Patton had made "the mistake 
of his life" in going to Princeton. See, C. H. McCormick to H. Johnson, 
Aug. 6, and #10, 1881. 

128 H. Johnson to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 16 and Oct. 21, 1880 : "Institu 
tions are stronger than men." "Chicago Times," Dec. 5, 1880. 


W. C. Gray, the editor of "The Interior," account for the 
general air of despondency occasioned by the news of Patton s 
resignation. "We must galvanize new life into the Directory," 
he wrote McCormick. "We need hopeful, vigorous, aggressive 
leadership. ... If the Chair of Theology is occupied by a 
man who is satisfactory to yourself, and to the more conserva 
tive element of the Church, the Ship is secure. Put young, en 
thusiastic men in the other chairs." 129 This was one aspect of 
the task which faced the friends of the seminary in the au 
tumn of 1880. The other was well summarized by Dr. John 
son : "We want a contingent fund," he wrote, "that will make 
it unnecessary for the Seminary to go every year and lie like 
a pauper at the gates of opulent churches begging for a few 
pittances with which to get its daily bread." 13 Men and 
money would bring the renaissance. 

While the seminary officials, without much hope of success, 
were considering ways and means of raising $100,000 in order 
to meet McCormick s offer of a like amount, 131 the inventor 

129 W. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Aug. n, and Sept. 30, 1880. 
&L.P.C.B. of C H. McCormick, Nov. i88o-May, 1881, pp. 66-69. C. H. 
McCormick to Dr. Hall, New York, Dec. 19, 1880: "The great agony now 
over, Professor Patton goes to Princeton next spring. I need not now 
trouble you with the long, tedious, and inconsistent course of Professor 
Patton in coming to a decision. ... I do not know a single person who 
would now, under all the circumstances, have it otherwise. The universal 
feeling already seems to be in accord with the expression once made by 
yourself, that such an institution could not depend upon the action or agency 
of any one man." Apparently this was never mailed to Dr. Hall, but it 
doubtless expressed C. H. McCormick s true feeling. #C H. McCormick to 
D. Marquis, June 28, 1881 : The seminary should be "extended and liberal 
ized" and lifted out of "old ruts." My name has been to some extent con 
nected with this "old rut charge." The narrow and contracted course has 
kept prominent men from helping the school. 

iso H. Johnson to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 16, 1880. 

131 Letters to C. H. McCormick of S. M. Moore, Aug. 9, 1880, F. L. 
Patton, Sept. 6, 1880, and H. Johnson, Sept. 10, 1880. In view of the poor 
success attending the drive for funds from the churches, McCormick by this 
date had apparently revised his proposal a third time, and now promised 
$50,000 -unconditionally and $50,000 more if a like sum were raised from 
other sources. 


was wondering who could be found to succeed Dr. Patton in 
the Chair of Theology. His first choice for the position was 
Professor Henry Calderwood of the University of Edinburgh, 
but his name failed to arouse much enthusiasm from McCor- 
mick s associates. 132 Dr. Faris believed that his appointment 
would "exert a depressing influence on home scholarship/ and 
that he would most likely be "tainted with the prevalent and 
growing rationalism." If he should come he "would bring a 
degree of British lordliness that would be odious in Republican 
America, and especially in our free and easy Chicago and 
the North West. Students cannot brook haughtiness in a Pro 
fessor." 133 

In view of these "perils/ it was perhaps fortunate that Cal 
derwood declined, and McCormick turned for advice to Dr. 
McCosh, who had lived over fifty years under the British flag. 
This oracle of sound Presbyterianism, now that Dr. Charles 
Hodge had gone to his reward, warned McCormick that the 
heresy he was "most likely to meet with in the present age 
does not relate to soundness of doctrine but to the authenticity 
of the books of Scripture. This error comes from Germany 
and ... is far deeper and more dangerous than the other. 
You must watch specially over the Chair of Biblical Criti 
cism." 134 "The danger/ he resumed in a later letter, ". . . 
comes from those who . . . tell you that Moses did not write 

132 JL.P.GB. of C. H. McCormick, Nov., i88o-May, 1881, pp. 72, 95-96, 
121, 145, C. H. McCormick to Dr. McCosh, Dec. 21, 1880, Jan. 3, 13 and 23, 
1881. C. H. McCormick thought CalderwoocTs appointment would be worth 
$50,000 to the seminary and was willing to build him a house. See, "Dic 
tionary of National Biography" (N. Y., 1909), XXII, p. 373. J. M. McCue, 
Afton, Va., to J. D. Davidson, Apr. 8, 1881. 

* 33 Letters to C. H. McCormick of #J. M. Faris, Dec. 22, 1880, and of 
H. Calderwood, Edinburgh, Mch. 22, 1881. 

"*J. McCosh to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 18, 1881. SL.P.C.B. of C. H. 
McCormick, Nov., i88o-May, 1881, p. 308. C. H. McCormick to J. McCosh, 
Mch. 19, 1881 : I d like to find an "old light" man for Theology and a "new 
light" one for Exegesis. 


the Pentateuch, that the commandments were not delivered 
from Mt. Sinai [and], that the Gospel usually ascribed to 
John was not written by him." 135 

Finally, after scores of letters had been exchanged and the 
first half of 1881 had brought little return except discourage 
ment and conflicting counsel, 136 a tentative slate of professors 
was agreed upon. Dr. Thomas H. Skinner, pastor of Lyman 
Beecher s old church in Cincinnati, was the choice for The 
ology. After much hesitation, in some degree due to his ab 
sence in Europe, he accepted and reached the campus by late 
October. 137 He entered upon his new work with enthusiasm, 
and was soon spending more of his modest fortune in behalf 
of the seminary than he was receiving in salary. 138 Dr. Her- 
rick Johnson was Professor of Homiletics, and in 1883 re 
signed his pastorate in order to devote all of his time to teach 
ing, 139 Dr. David C. Marquis, an alumnus of the seminary and 
now a successful preacher in St. Louis, promised to occupy the 
Chair of Exegesis as soon as his unwilling congregation would 
release him. He was unable to assume his duties before the 

135 J. McCosh to C. H. McCormick, Mch. n, 1881. 

136 *S. J. Niccolls, St. Louis, to C. H. McCormick, June u, 1881; (W. 
W. Harsha, Jacksonville, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 20, May 12, and 
28, 1881 ; C. H. McCormick to B. B. Warfield, Allegheny, Pa., Apr. #8, #15, 
#27, May 15, 1881. Dr. Warfield, a grandson of Dr. R. J. Breckinridge, was 
offered the Chicago Chair of Theology at this time, but he declined. So, also, 
did Dr. A. T. Pierson of Detroit. 

137 C H. McCormick to T. H. Skinner, June 20, 1881 ; ST. H. Skinner, 
Constance, Switzerland, to C. H. McCormick, July 8, 1881; Dr. Herrick 
Johnson did not favor Skinner for the Chair. He wrote to C. H. McCormick 
in a tone of irritation about seminary matters on SAug. 4, 1881, complaining 
that his advice was not followed. C. H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., July 20, 1881 ; #W. W. Harsha to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 2, 1881. 
"Chicago Times," Sept. 7, 1881. 

138SL.P.CB. of C. H. McCormick, May, i88i-Jan., 1882, p. 204, C. H. 
McCormick to D. C. Marquis, Dec. 29, 1881. ST. H. Skinner to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Sept. I, 1882; Apr. 14, 1883. 

*$Idem to idem, Apr. 6, 1883; C. H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., July 17, 1883. 


spring of 1883, an d Dr. Halsey substituted for him until that 
time. 140 Dr. Willis G. Craig of Keokuk, Iowa, who had been 
chosen for the Chair of Biblical History, finally secured the 
consent of his presbytery to the appointment in April, 1882. 141 
The forced resignation of the old faculty, and the uncer 
tainty whether there would be either professors or money on 
hand in the autumn of 1881 to begin the new academic year, 
reduced the student enrolment from its normal number of 
over thirty, to ten. 142 Because the New School Presbyterians 
viewed the appointments with distrust, little financial aid could 
be expected from them. 143 Furthermore, it was well known 
that the delay of Marquis and Craig in coming to Chicago was 
in large measure due to the fact that there were no homes 
provided for the use of the faculty. 144 Letter after letter came 
to McCormick in 1881 urging him to bear the expense of 
erecting three or four houses on the seminary campus. 145 He, 
thereupon, withdrew his earlier proposals and eventually 
agreed to give $100,000 unconditionally to the endowment 
fund. In addition, he promised to have three residences built 
at a cost of about $9,000 each. 146 He hoped that if Dr. Her- 

140 Letters to C. H. McCormick of #J. Milligan, Apr. 4, 1882, C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., May 18, 1882, D. C. Marquis, June 5 and 15, 1882, and 
*S. J. Niccolls, June 19, 1882. Letters of C. H. McCormick to D. C. 
Marquis, May 9 and June 15, 1882, to C. H. McCormick, Jr., May 13, 1882, 
and to Nettie F. McCormick, June 7, 1882. "Chicago Times/ Apr. 10, 1883. 

141 #W. G. Craig to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 3 and March 19, 1881 ; Jan. 
3, and Apr. 22, 1882. 

142 ^Letters to C. H. McCormick, of J. Milligan, Aug. 29, and Sept. 24, 
1881, of H. Johnson, Aug. 12, 1881, and of S. M. Moore, Sept. 2, 1881. 

143 w. W. Harsha, Jacksonville, 111., to C. H. McCormick, March 18, 
#June 1 6, and if Nov. 2, 1881. 

**S. J. Niccolls, St. Louis, to C. C. Brown, Apr. 13, 1881. #J. Milligan 
to C. H. McCormick, Aug. n, 1881. 

145 ^Letters to C. H. McCormick of W. W. Harsha, May 24, 1881, S. M. 
Moore, Aug. 29, 31, Sept. 2, and 27, 1881, J. Milligan, Sept. 13, 1881, and 
of H. Johnson, Sept. 9, 1881. C. H. McCormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Sept 5, 1881. 

146 C. H. McCormick to D. L. Moody, Feb. 23, 1881. In this, C. H. Mc 
Cormick states that he has agreed to give $75,000 unconditionally. C. H. 


rick Johnson resigned his pastorate, those members of his 
congregation who disliked his liberal theological views would 
offer to provide a house for him in order to speed his depar 
ture. 147 It was too patent, however, that McCormick would 
do it, if they did not, and thus it turned out. 148 By the close of 
1 88 1, each professor or prospective professor, was assured of 
a salary of $3,000 a year and a dwelling. 149 

Word of the new day at the seminary brought a quick 
return in increased enrolment and reputation. By the autumn 
of 1883 the student body numbered over fifty. The dormitory 
was now too small. 150 Professors went from door to door in 
the neighborhood seeking lodgings for their flock, and some 
students were obliged to room so far from the campus that 
they asked to be excused from attending early-morning pray 
ers. 151 McCormick s generosity had been most largely respon- 

McCormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 5, 1881. McCormick is now 
urged to increase the $75,000 promise by $25,000. "Further he [Judge S. M. 
Moore] does not advise your requiring the right to nominate all the Profs, 
for that you will have anyway as the Committees have always deferred to 
you and always will!" Shortly thereafter, McCormick agreed to give 
$100,000. W. C Goudy, H. Johnson, and others at this time hoped that 
he would donate $500,000. #W. C. Goudy to C. H. McCormick, July (?), 
1881 ; #H. Johnson to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 9, 1881. In Dec., 1881, Mc 
Cormick gave $50,000; half of this sum was for the Chair of Theology and 
half for the Chair of History. In 1882, he paid another $25,000 and a like 
amount was given shortly after his death. Virginia McCormick to C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., Dec. 12, 1881 ; C. H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., 
Dec. 13, 1881, and June 5, 1882. The three residences were started in the 
autumn of 1882, and by the first of the next year McCormick had paid 
$27,000 for them. "Chicago Times," Oct. 2, 1881. 

147 *W. C Gray to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 6, 1882 and May 17, 1883; 
C H. McCormick to W. C. Gray, May 17, 1883. 

148 T. H. Skinner to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 8, 1883, 

^ C. H. McCormick to H. Johnson, Aug. 6 and #10, 1881. C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 13, 1881. 

i 5 T. H. Skinner to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 24 and Sept. 17, 1883: 
"Your large generosity to the Institution is now being recompensed and 
your wise foresight vindicated. I rejoice that you have lived to see this day. 
. . . Your name will be cherished in the Church as the Benefactor of 

151 Idem to idem, Sept 24, and Oct. 8, 1883. 


sible for this growth. Because of it, new demands were now 
made upon his benevolence. Urged for four years to allow the 
seminary to bear his name, 152 he now authorized his eldest son 
to write that, under the circumstances, the proposal "seems not 
unreasonable or out of place," and that plans for a new dor 
mitory should be prepared without delay. 153 In early February, 
1884, the faculty and fifty-nine students met at his home to 
give thanks for a seminary which at last, after twenty-five 
years of trial, exemplified "the fruition of his hopes and am 
bitions." Dr. Skinner told of the transformation of the campus 
from its dreary aspect of 1881 when the "weeds were almost 
waist high," and he emphasized- the even more significant 
improvement in morale. To Dr. Craig, and probably also to 
McCormick, this institution, with its dozen graduates a year, 
was as satisfying a monument to his persistence and devotion 
to a cause as his factory with its annual output of fifty thou 
sand machines. 154 

The inventor did not live to witness the dedication of "Mc 
Cormick Hall," as the new dormitory was called. In the spring 
of 1884 the members of the board of directors expressed their : 

sense of profound gratitude to Almighty God that He raised up 
and qualified one for a work so great, at a period in the world s 
history so full of peril to the cause of evangelical religion. With 
rationalism spreading itself abroad so widely, especially in the 

152 c. H. McCormick to S. M. Moore, Sept. 2, 1881 : The idea that the 
seminary should bear my name did not originate with me, and has never 
been "a cherished thought of mine." J. M. Paris to C. H. McCormick, 
June 3, 1879; *H. Johnson to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 9, 1881 ; C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 5 and 13, 1881. The institution 
took its new name in 1886, but in 1928 it was rechanged to the Presbyterian 
Theological Seminary of Chicago. 

iss |C. H. McCormick, Jr., to T. H. Skinner, Oct. 4, 1883; T. H. Skinner 
to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 8, 1883. The "Chicago Daily Tribune," Jan. 30, 
1884, p. 8. At this time the cornerstone was laid. 

154 ^Typewritten "Report of Meeting of Professors and Students of the 
Seminary at the Residence of Mr. C. H. McCormick, February 8, 1884." 
"Chicago Times," Apr. 15, 1884. 


Great Northwest . . . with materialism massing its forces on 
every hand for the overthrow of spiritual Christianity . . . with 
Romanism girding itself for a conflict that is to determine the 
religious control of the new world ... we can but regard it as 
a special mark of the Divine favor that the King and Head of the 
Church raised up, at such a crisis, one who, by his beneficence in 
the past, and by a wise and prudent provision for the future, has 
reared at this great center of influence a bulwark against these 
varied powers of evil. 155 

155 The four professors residences and the gift of the dormitory were 
formally presented to the seminary in April, 1884. "Chicago Daily Tribune," 
Apr. 14, 1884, p. 6. On October 14, 1884, when McCormick Hall was dedi 
cated, C. H. McCormick, Jr., spoke in behalf of the donor. The building 
with its 52 rooms cost about $80,000. (Ibid., Oct. 14, 1884, p. 8.) The total 
of McCorrmck s gifts to the seminary during his lifetime was about $325,000. 
In 1885, $104,361.09 more was given mainly in payment of pledges made 
by McCormick before his death. Year by year thereafter, the trustees of 
his estate extended additional help to the institution, $92,936.37 in 1886; 
$10,400 in 1887; $35,783.58 in 1888; $157,194.19 in 1889. "The Interior" of 
Aug. 7, 1884, gives the sum donated by McCormick as $400,000. This would 
appear to be an exaggeration. 


MANY Virginians turned to Cyrus McCormick for aid 
in 1865. He was one of the few men of wealth and 
influence in the North who did not assume that they richly 
merited their humiliation. His native Valley of Virginia had 
been repeatedly ravaged by northern armies, while in the low 
country were broad areas where little remained except the 
land. 1 With their buildings burned, slaves freed, and Confed 
erate currency and bonds worthless, planters were reminded of 
the man who had dared to champion peace when enthusiasm 
for the war was the test of loyalty. 2 Money was very scarce 
in the Old Dominion, interest rates were exorbitant, and 
creditors could not collect because of the stay laws. 3 Land was 
a drug upon the market, and those who trusted that better 
times would come in the near future hesitated to sell their one 
asset when prices were ruinously low. Cash was immediately 
needfed, however, to buy food and clothing for their large 
families, to satisfy the tax collectors of the national govern 
ment, and to pay for the labor and seed required to "put in 

ifR. Ridgeway, Congressman-elect, Amherst Co., Va., to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, June 1 8, 1866, describes the devastation between Petersburg and 
Appomattox C. H. "Two or three thousand people in this district, mostly 
women and children, need food until the corn can be harvested in November. 
But I do not want to put my people before the public in the attitude of 

2 IT. J. Michie, Staunton, Va., Jan. 12, 1866, to C H. McCormick. He 
had lost four of his five sons in the war, and wished to borrow $3,000 or 
$5,000 for about two years. 

3 #D. E. Moore, Lexington, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 21, 1865. 



a crop." 4 Under these circumstances, a few planters decided 
to sell out at a sacrifice and move to Mexico or Brazil. Finan 
cial embarrassment was not the only cause for this decision. 
Refusal to live under the United States flag, to submit to the 
indignity of caring for negroes who had once been their prop 
erty, or perhaps even to be ruled by them, were other consid 
erations of much weight. 5 

Members of this social class sought loans or gifts from 
Cyrus McCormick to enable them to start life anew. In every 
instance, he refused to assist men to desert the "dear old 
state." Due to the failure of the wheat-harvest in Virginia in 
1866, the partial failure of 1867, an d the inauguration of a 
negro-carpetbag government that spring, calls of this kind be 
came more numerous and insistent. The plea of J. Marshall 
McCue, a large landholder in the Valley of Virginia, is typi 

The impending ills of which the present is only a foreshadowing, 
. . . cause thousands of our down-trodden people, sad as it may 
be, to expatriate themselves and to leave the graves of their fathers 
& Virginia, proud, glorious, noble, Old Virginia, and find a home 
down there [Brazil], . . . We are now under a military satrap 
whose ipse dixit overrides our code. I have given my last vote. 
My boy Sander (ex-slave) yet in my employ, in the estimation of 
our masters at Washington, is a better man than your unworthy 
correspondent. My spirit is too unbending to brook this, . . . / 
will not do it. . . . Have you not made money enough in the icy 
north, my dear sir, to determine now when like ours your raven 
locks are mixing with gray, to find a sunnier and more congenial 
clime south of the equator, . . . The change . . . would seem 
like stepping out of Purgatory into Paradise. 6 

4 Sallie M. Paxton, Pleasant View, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 19, 
1866. Miss S. A. Roane, Fredericksburg, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 9, 

5 #W. I. Massie, to C. H. McCormick, May 29, 1868. 

6 J. M. McCue, Mt Solon, Va., to C H. McCormick, Apr. n, 1867. 
McCue remained in Va. 


Here are illustrated the discontent, the personal pride, the love 
of state, and withal, the eloquence, characteristic of many 
of these requests for help. "When I form the acquaintance 
of a perfect lady or Gentleman I take it for granted that they 
are Virginians/ admitted an exile who was languishing in 
Tennessee; "I am a Virginian and my devotion to the old 
precious state will cease only with my life." 7 

Closely akin in spirit to those who would leave the state or 
the country rather than accommodate their lives to the new 
day, were the pleas for aid received by Cyrus McCormick from 
the Virginia Historical Society, and other organizations de 
signed to preserve a civilization that already lay in ruins. In 
no way better than by a study and contemplation of the past, 
ran its appeal, "can our people be prevented from leaving those 
good and ancient paths which have been trodden by their 
fathers." A knowledge of Virginia s history will act as an 
antidote for "these days of materialism, when so much is 
thought about laying up treasure." 8 Cyrus McCormick was 
a conservative on most questions, but he knew that this was 
not the thread to lead Virginia out of her maze of difficulties. 
He was grateful for a sprig of evergreen from Stonewall 
Jackson s grave, 9 and he helped those who had associated to 
care for the cemeteries of the Confederate dead, but although 
the southern cause was a most honorable one to have died for, 
it was now a "lost cause" for all that. 10 

7 #Mrs. L. F. Johnson, Bristol, Tenn., to C. H. McCormick, July 2, 1866. 
T. H. Ellis, Chicago, to C H. McCormick, Sept. 10, 1881. 

8 #Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Va., to C. H. McCormick, 
Apr. 19, 1869. SB. M. Smith, to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 14, 1867: "Our 
folks are generally quiet to publick matters Corn & Tobacco Cabbages & 
Potatoes are more interesting topicks than Federal Relations. It seems 
Virginia is now to live in a present for a long time; heretofore, our people 
have lived on the fame of the past they are now as comfortably congratu 
lating themselves on the fame that is to be." 

9 #Rev. S. D. Stuart to C. H. McCormick, from Staunton, Va., Apr. 14, 

1( > Mrs. Wm. Brown, Richmond, Va., to C. H. McCormick, June 22, 1866. 
tfW. R. Denny, Winchester, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 10, 1879. He 


Most Virginians of gentle breeding, however, were willing 
to remain in the state if by any means they could ward off 
starvation. They freely admitted that the war had worked a 
revolution, and that former ways of life were no longer ade 
quate. They wrote to McCormick asking him to advance 
money at reasonable rates of interest for two or three years 
so that they could begin anew at their old homes. They would 
secure his loans by giving him mortgages on their land. 11 The 
feeling was widespread that tobacco could no longer be profit 
ably raised by free labor, and that plantations must be divided 
into smaller units with more attention given to intensive farm 
ing, fertilizers, and crop rotation. 12 Capital was required in 
order to make the shift from tobacco to small grains and to 
purchase the machinery necessary for its cultivation. Some 
expected the negroes to move to the North or West, and that 
immigrants from Europe would soon be the "hired hands" of 
the South. 13 

The apex of the social pyramid of Virginia was represented 
among the many persons who sought to borrow or to receive 
a gift from Cyrus McCormick. The Tuckers, Lees, Garnetts, 14 

wished McCormick to contribute to a $10,000 monument to the "Unknown 
and Unrecorded Dead," the only one of its kind in the world. 

11 $C H. McCormick to T. J. Massie, Aug. 6, 1866; Letters to C. H. 
McCormick from #T. T. Tredway, Prince Edward Co., Va., July 5, 1866; 
J. M. McCue, Mt. Solon, Va., May 8, 1868; #M. C. Massie, Tharsalia, Va., 
June 5, 1869; $J. Horace Lacy, Chatham, Va., Oct. 27, 1870. $Ex-Senator 
C. C. Clay, U.S.A., C.S.A., Huntsville, Ala., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 29, 
1869, and May 13, 1870. McCormick loaned Clay $1,000 @ 7%. Check 
Stubs, Importers and Traders 1 National Bank, New York City, July i, 

12 ST. J. Massie, Nelson Cy., Va., to C. H. McCormick, July 2, 1866. 
No one in Virginia has money "except a few dogs that speculated in cotton 
& tobacco during the war." As soon as the northern soldiers leave, the 
negroes "will as a people, die before they will work. The Bureau* some 
times handles them very roughly, a great deal more so than we ever did & 
It drives them into work." $S. C. Robinson, Richmond, Va., to C. H, Mc 
Cormick, Feb. 16, 1868. 

13 A. M. Paxton, Vicksburg, Miss., to C. H. McCormick, May 12, 1868. 

14 SH. T. Garnett, Baltimore, to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 22, 1866. 


Hills, Elands, 15 Stuarts, 16 Braxtons, 17 Gilmers, 18 and 
Cockes 19 are a few of the better-known families represented in 
this extensive correspondence. R. H. Glass, editor of the 
"Lynchburg Republican," 20 and C C. Baldwin, 21 former pub 
lisher of the "Lexington Gazette/ asked for loans in order 
to start in business once more. Most wrote with evident hesi 
tation, and some asked that their names should not be divulged. 
Not a few of these manuscripts run for page after page of 
closely written script, but McCormick s replies usually show 
that he had read them to their close. N. Beverley Tucker, who 
had gone to Canada in the service of the Confederacy, wrote 
that he was "terribly and most unjustly persecuted and in 
dire need of money. 22 S. Adams Lee, a war invalid and cousin 
of Robert E. Lee, wished McCormick to aid him by purchas 
ing his complete set of autographs of the signers of the 
Declaration of Independence. 23 Thomas T. Hill, brother of 
the late General A. P. Hill, remarked that he became "sick 
whenever I let my pen run into politicks" and wondered 
whether the "atmosphere of Chicago" would be prejudicial to 
the success of a good Virginia lawyer who had lost his all in 

15 Mrs. J. R. Bland, Prince Edward Cy., Va., to C. H. McCormick, July 
16, 1866. 

16 A. A. Stuart, Waynesborough, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 2, 1868. 
"The morals of our once happy and law abiding people have become very 
much corrupted, & horse stealing and burglary are common." For the same 
thought, see A. M. Hamilton, Keswick, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 15, 

i 7 #Henrietta Braxton, Hybla, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 5, Apr. 24, 
1866; July 25, 1868; Mch. 26, 1871. 

18 *W. W. Gilmer, Ivy Creek, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 21, 1868. 

19 *C. C. Cocke, Fluvanna Cy., Va., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 16, 1870. 

20 |R. H. Glass, Lynchburg, Va., to C. H. McCormick, July 4, 1866. 

21 SC. C. Baldwin, Balcony Falls, Va,, to C. H. McCormick, July 7, 1866. 
C. H. McCormick to C. C. Baldwin, Aug. 14, 1866. 

22 #B. Tucker, St. Catharines, Canada, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 8, 1868. 
#Check stub of C. H. McCormick, Sept. 15, 1868. 

23 *S. A. Lee, Winchester, Va., to C. H. McCormick, July 13, 1869. 
McCormick declined to buy, and thus missed a real opportunity. 


the war. 24 Judge John W. Brockenbrough, Rector of Wash 
ington College, was hounded by the tax-collector, and requested 
McCormick to buy a portrait, said to be by Gainsborough or 
Lawrence, for one hundred dollars. The painting was for 
warded to New York and the inventor returned a check for 
the amount asked. 25 

Among the letters none is more characteristic of the mood, 
or better reflects the dignity of a Virginian leader in defeat, 
than the following from ex-Governor ("Honest") John 
Letcher : 

Since released from prison on parole, I have been quietly at 
home engaged in the practice of law, and expect to devote my 
remaining days to my profession, in hope of laying up something 
for the evening of life. The war has swept from me all my prop 
erty, and I am now commencing life anew. I have health, energy 
and industry, and I feel confident of success. . . . 

I have not cast a vote since May, 1861, nor do I expect either 
as a voter or otherwise, to meddle in politics. I have no desire to 
do so, and even if I had, it would in my present condition, be little 
short of absolute madness. I served the country faithfully in the 
better days of the Republic; I have no desire to serve in these 
days of its decline. 26 

Those, like Alexander Rives, who did not know McCormick 
well, wrongly imagined that they could win his sympathy by 

24 #T. T. Hill, Culpeper C. H., Va., to C H. McCormick, July n, 1866; 
*F. H. Hill, Madison C. H., Va., to C. H. McCormick, July 29, 1867, 

25 f J. W. Brockenbrough to C. H. McCormick, Apr, 28 and May 3, 1868. 
# Check stub of C. H. McCormick, Feb. 22, 1869. The portrait was found 
later to have been painted by an inferior artist. 

26 J. Letcher, Lexington, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 23, 1866. ST. J. 
Massie, Nelson Cy., Va., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 22, 1866 : "I sometimes 
feel ready to exclaim N importe* from the conviction that we have, North 
& South, verified the lesson of all past history that man is incapable of 
self-government, and the sooner we run the race of mobocracy the better 
for the whole country tho* I had hoped the thing would last a little longer 
untill [sic} my hour was over." 


condemning the course taken by "that vile party" which had 
led the South out of the Union. 27 The inventor would aid 
northern ministers who had been driven from their pulpits 
because they would not preach political sermons, 28 but al 
though he had opposed secession, he would not lend a hand 
to a southerner who had been untrue to his state. Some in 
Virginia and elsewhere in the South enticed him to join with 
them in buying up the debts of the planters, in order promptly 
to foreclose upon their rich bottom-lands as soon as the stay 
laws were lifted. Others urged the purchase of deserted fac 
tories or a speculation in city lots. 29 These letters went un 
answered, for McCormick was determined not to profit from 
the distress of the South. 

By far the largest number of requests for private aid came 
from those who were not of the South s first families. These 
spin out their pitiable stories of privation at greater length, if 
possible, than those already mentioned, and unrestrained emo 
tion is their chief characteristic. 30 Some were alleged relatives 

27 A. Rives, Carlton, Va., to C. H. McCormick, June 27, 1865 #D. E. 
Moore, Lexington, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 21, 1865. Moore s letter 
must have been particularly offensive to McCormick since it bitterly ar 
raigned his close friend, General Roger Pryor, for leading the "infamous 
deputation" to South Carolina in order to precipitate war by firing on Fort 

28 ^Letters to C. H. McCormick from the Revs. J. N. Schultz, Michigan 
City, Ind., Dec. 4, 1864, W. M. Ferguson, Washington, O., July 13, 1866, 
C. Axtell, Bellevue, la., Mch. 18, 1869, G. Morrison, Brighton, 111., Dec. 2, 
1870, and J. Ustick, Earlville, 111., June 9, 1875. 

29 #S. C. Robinson, Richmond, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 16, 1868. 
He argued that if McCormick took over three iron- and wood-working 
factories in the city, his example would draw more capital to Virginia for 
investment. # A. M. Paxton, Vicksburg, Miss., to C. H. McCormick, May 12, 
1868. #B. M. Smith, D.D., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 14, 1867. 

30 A most noteworthy series of letters was written by Mrs. C. M. Legare, 
who had evidently known better days, but was then living in extreme 
poverty in the piney woods country of South Carolina. Her long, almost 
hysterical, descriptions of life there are remarkably realistic. McCormick 
sent money and clothing to her several times. See, tfMrs. C. M. (James) 
Legare, Adams Run, S. Car., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 15, 1867. $Idem, 


and old friends of Cyrus McCormick ; many believed that resi 
dence in Rockbridge or Augusta counties, Virginia, gave them 
a special claim to his favor, while others professed to have 
been of material assistance in launching the reaper upon its 
successful career. 31 A few assumed that they could rightfully 
demand his help, but most believed that flattery, couched in 
some variation of the phrase "your proverbial kindness and 
generosity/ was the surest road to his heart. 32 Prior to 1865, 
Cyrus McCormick had received few letters of this kind and for 
a short while following the war he attempted to reply briefly 
and courteously to each. The publicity given to his gifts to 
seminaries and colleges, and the announcement each year in 
the press of the amount of his taxable income, encouraged 
a flood of solicitations. To answer all of them was impossible. 
A favorable response led to less modest requests and brought 
similar petitions from the neighbors of the one who had been 
fortunate. Worthy persons whom he knew were given assis 
tance, 33 and his several former slaves in Virginia never asked 

to D. L. Moody, Apr. 23, 1868: "We are in a Pine Land Village and you 
can t think how barren and desolate everwhere (sic} looks the very night 
birds have a sadder cry than anywhere I ever heard them the place looks 
like a vast Cemetery just the white pillars showing through the weeds as 
you pass along and famine seems to be our fate. . . . Can you think what 
it is to have the grim Wolf hunger hanging around your door all the 
while?" SJ. Craig, Yorkville, S. Car., to C. H. McCormick, June 30, 1867: 
"Many farmers running from one to three ploughs will mortgage their 
whole crops for a loan of from 10 to 50 $ to buy them corn enough to put 
them over to oats & wheat which will be coming in now in a very few 

31 Letters to C. H. McCormick of J. M. Hite, Guilford, Va., Oct. 10, 1865, 
$Mch. 19 and May 3, 1866, A. McCormick, Warrenton, Va., Feb. 20, 1866, 
#G. Holbrook, Wytheville, Va., Dec. 18, 1868, SL. P. Holbrook, Port 
Republic, Va., Nov. n, 1880, $"Old Fellows Citizens" of South River, Va., 
June 8, 1869. 

32 IK. G. Hering, Bridgewater, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 13, 1879. 

33 SC H. McCormick to D. S. Evans, M.D., Concord Depot, Va., Sept. 20, 
1880: "It is not often that I feel warranted in responding to the calls that 
come to me in considerable numbers for assistance; and indeed I could not. 
... If the small sum of one hundred dollars would be of any assistance 


in vain. He bought a cabin and a lot "lying well to the sun" 
for his old body servant, "J" Anderson. 34 Dr. B. M, Smith 
was his almoner for the neighborhood about Hampden Sidney, 
Virginia, and relief associations in southern cities rarely met 
a refusal if they presented their cases briefly. 35 He and his 
brother, L. J. McCormick, occasionally instructed the factory 
office to forward small sums of money or a machine to help 
the needy in the South. 36 

Although the total of McCormick s gifts and loans for the 
relief of individuals in the South was a large one, his more 
notable service there was in behalf of religious and secular 

toward the education of one of your boys I cheerfully give it to you, with 
the single request that he employ his education with a view to the benefit 
of his fellow men. I prefer that you would not mention the matter to any 
one." H. A. Kellar, in a letter to Cyrus Bentley on Aug. 24, 1925, stated 
that between 1865 and 1878, C. H. McCormick received 199 calls for aid 
from institutions in Virginia or residents of that state. Of these he granted 
thirty-nine in whole or in part, refused twenty-five, and ignored 135. The 
total sought approximated $250,000. He sent or pledged $63,000, refused 
requests for a total of $113,000, and ignored others asking for a total of 

34 Check stubs, Importers and Traders Bank, New York City, checks 
of May 22, 1868. #"Jo" Anderson to "Dear Master" from Greenville, Va., 
June 12, July 12, Nov. 23, 1869: Some one has stolen all my salted meat, 
and "I m sorry to say I think one of my own colour got it." In his letter 
to "Jo" Anderson on Jan. 19, 1870, McCormick expressed regret that "Jo" 
had not followed his advice and gone West before the war. McCormick gave 
him $800 to purchase the property he desired. #Emily Harris to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, June i, 1870, from Greenville. She had named one of her sons 
for her former master. "I m very hard run at this time." 

35 #J. E. Edwards, Richmond, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 16, 1866. 
#Check stubs, Importers and Traders Bank, New York City, Checks of 
Feb. 14, 1866, Apr. 23, 1868, Aug., 1869, passim. #B. M. Smith, D.D., to 
C. H. McCormick, Jan. 14 and 30, 1867. #M. D. Hoge, Richmond, to C. H. 
McCormick, Apr. 9, 1870. 

36 L.P.CB. No. 80, p. 559, C. A. Spring, Jr., to J. S. Campbell, Con 
federate Prisoner at Fort Delaware, Del., June 6, 1865. L. J. to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Mch. 12, 1866. No. 93, p. 525, C. A. Spring, Jr., to I. W. Martin, 
Ky. Relief Society, Spring Station, Ky., Nov. 9, 1866. No. 97, p. 865, 
W. J. Hanna to Rev. S. Robinson, Louisville, Ky., Mch. 23, 1867. No. 105, 
p. 315, L. J. McCormick to Mrs. Chas. Gennet, Richmond, Va., June 9, 1868. 


education. The endowment of a Chair in the Union Theologi 
cal Seminary has been mentioned in an earlier chapter. 37 As 
soon as the war was over, he was impressed by the challenge 
offered to his denomination by conditions within the prostrate 
Confederacy. If Presbyterianism were to be kept to the fore, 
aid from the North was essential. 38 Over twelve hundred 
churches had been destroyed; congregations were unable to 
support their ministers or contribute to the rebuilding of their 
houses of worship, parsonages, and seminaries. 39 Devout 
southerners turned to their Bibles for consolation. "Our re 
ligious liberty and our Church privileges are all that we have 
left now to cheer and comfort us in our oppressed and sad 
condition. There is no music now so sweet to us as the sound 
of the church bell summoning us to the sanctuary on the 
Sabbath morn." So wrote a Virginian from Culpeper Court 
House in i869. 40 Ex-Governor Patton of Alabama believed 
that "nothing except bread could be more acceptable than 
books to replace the burnt libraries." 41 

Several million negroes, ignorant, impressionable, and fit 
subjects for the propaganda of the Freedmen s Bureau, north 
ern missionaries, ministers, and religio-political tracts pub 
lished in northern cities, should be gathered into Sunday- 
schools and taught the fundamentals of peaceful and 

37 Supra, pp. 220 ff. 

38 Rough draft of an article by C. H. McCormick, for the "New York 
Observer," n.d., but probably early 1866. $Mrs. T. M. Joseph, Galveston, 
Texas, to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 24, 1876. She complained of the inroads 
of the Episcopalians because of the poverty of the Presbyterian Church. 

39 fRev. W. W. Mqrrison, Houston, Fla., June n, 1866. He and many 
other ministers had been obliged to enter business, in order to support their 
families. #R. J. Taylor, Rockbridge Baths, Va., to C. H. McCormick, 
Dec, 19, 1868: Due to emancipation and the necessary changes in our 
household arrangements, we are no longer able to board our ministers and 
their families. There are no houses for rent, so we have to build parsonages. 

4 $G. D. Gray to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 5, 1869. 

4 i IL. J. Halsey to C H, McCormick, Dec. 15, 1866. 


purposeful living by southerners who understood them best. 42 
"There are among the colered [sic] people," confided Robert 
Logan of LaGrange, Georgia, in the autumn of 1865, "a 
great many who have been restrained only by the severity of 
the lash from being outlaws. Now that fear is removed and 
they are developing their true character. We have no civil law, 
and the military are on the side of the negro so that crime 
goes unpunished." 43 Christianity, taught from the southern 
viewpoint, was the proper corrective. McCormick s interest in 
the welfare of the Negro was shown by his continued support 
of the American Colonization Society, and by donations to 
southern secular schools established for their education. 44 

Southern ministers urged that the frontier line from Balti 
more to St. Louis should be held for Old School Presbyterian- 
ism against the incursions of the northern liberals and radicals 
of the church. 45 Hundreds of young Virginians moved to Bal 
timore after the war and the church buildings of that city 
were soon overtaxed. A new edifice was needed, manned by a 
Presbyterian minister from Virginia, who should "preach and 
pray without saying anything to jar on their feelings or wound 
their sensibilities." 46 By 1869, Baltimore was more southern 
in tone than in 1861. Dixie was moving north. 

42 S. B. S. Bissell, New York, to C H. McCormick, Dec. 10, 1866; G. 
Owen, Secretary of Md. S.S. Union, Baltimore, to C. H. McCormick, 
Dec. 25, 1866: "Jay Cooke declines to aid us until a better spirit pervades 
the people of the South. Jas. Lenox of New York gave us $400." J. Mc- 
Cullagh, Henderson, Ky., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 25, 1868. 

43 #R. Logan, LaGrange, Ga., to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 10, 1865. 

4 * C. H. McCormick contributed $100 annually for several years to the 
American Colonization Society. #Check stubs of May 21, 1868, Mch. 31, 
1869, and Feb. 15, 1870. These show that on July 16, 1868, he made a 
donation to the Biddle Memorial Institute of Charlotte, N. C., and on 
Mch. 23, 1869, to the Southern Pioneer Aid Society Boys School, of 
Charleston, S. C. 

45 #Rev. R. Carson, Louisville, Ky., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 10, 1866. 

46 SB. M. Smith, et al., Hampden Sidney, Va., to C. H. McCormick, 
Apr. (?), 1869. $100,000 was soon given for this purpose by the widow of 
George Brown, late of Brown, Shipley & Company, international bankers. 


To meet this religious crisis in his church, McCormick gave 
financial aid to many ministers and individual congregations. 47 
Rev. John Leyburn of Virginia was employed as his secretary 
until he was able to start on his long and notable career as a 
pastor in Baltimore. 48 He assisted his old friend, Dr. W. S. 
Plumer, to move his family to Columbia Seminary in South 
Carolina, where he succeeded the distinguished Dr. J. H. 
Thornwell as Professor of Theology. 49 He sent money to 
Plumer to glaze the windows of his war-ruined home and to 
pay taxes which equaled over ten per cent of his meager 
salary. As this indefatigable clergyman completed one after 
another of his thirty volumes of religious writings, and over 
one hundred and fifty tracts, the inventor often supplied him 
with the funds to finance their publication, and occasionally 
purchased copies enough for each student in the seminary at 
Chicago. 50 As a director and member of the Executive Com- 

47 #Mrs. E. H. Brown, Richmond, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 10, 26, 
1870, and #M. D. Hoge, D.D., Richmond, to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 9, 
1870. $Check stubs of May 19, 1868, and Mch. 22, 1870, in favor, respec 
tively, of Rev. Philo Calhoun and "the needy ministers of East Hanover 
Presbytery, Va." 

48 Leyburn was Secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Missions in 1861, 
but resigned at that time to accept a similar position in the southern church. 
C. H. McCormick to A. Leyburn, Oct. 9, 1865; #C. H. McCormick to 
B. M. Smith, Feb. 22 and Aug. 12, 1866 ; #J. Leyburn to C. H. McCormick, 
Dec. 12, 1866. 

4 HW. S. Plumer, D.D., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 21, 1866. SCheck 
stubs, Importers and Traders Bank, New York City, check of Jan. 10, 1867. 
Letter of J. Plumer to C. H. McCorrnick, June i, 1880. Plumer was com 
pelled by the Columbia Seminary to retire in 1880. In that year, when 
seventy-eight years of age, he traveled 12,500 miles, preached ninety-seven 
times, and raised more than the amount of his salary for the seminary. He 
died before the close of the yean He had given away all that he made 
during his lifetime and a Plumer Memorial Fund was started to support 
his two daughters. See, the Committee to C. H. McCormick, from Baltimore, 
Nov. i, 1880. C. H. McCormick donated $600, and four years later C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., sent another $100. C. H. McCormick was also interested in. 
a project to publish the works of Dr. N. L. Rice, who died in 1877. See, 
J. W. Dulles, Phila., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 10 and 19, 1877. 

5 C. H. McCormick to W. S. Plumer, D.D., Jan. 2, and Dec. 3, 1866 ; 
SW. S. Plumer to C. H. McCormick, Dec, 5, 7, 1866; Jan. 18, 22, 1867; 


mittee of the Southern Aid Society for the assistance of 
struggling churches, he contributed generously to its work. 51 
The daughter of at least one impoverished minister in the 
Valley of Virginia owed her training in a "female seminary" 
to him, 52 and his money helped rebuild several churches in the 
South. 53 In 1869, and for several years thereafter, he paid the 
salary of Rev. J. S. K. Legare, a Yale graduate from South 
Carolina, who was the first, and a very successful, organizer 
of Sabbath schools for negroes and poor whites in the Vir 
ginia Piedmont. 54 

During the early Reconstruction Period many southern 
colleges, institutes, and academies asked assistance of Cyrus 
McCormick. The reasons given for their needs followed a 
definite pattern buildings burned by northern or southern 
troops, libraries scattered or destroyed, investments in Con- 
May 9, Aug. 25, Oct. 10, 1870; Apr. 10, May 27, 1871; Sept. i, 1873; 
Mch. 4, Aug. 22, 1874; July 14, 1879. Check stubs, Importers and Traders 
Bank, New York City, checks of July 2 and Aug. 2, 1868. #J. B. Andrews, 
Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 7, 1874. 

51 #Check stubs, Importers and Traders Bank, New York City, checks 
of mid-Jan., 1866, and Jan. 29, 1867. #J- B. Waterbury, New York, to C. H. 
McCormick, Nov. 29, and Dec. 8, 1865. 

52 #J. M. M. Caldwell, President of Edgeworth Female Seminary, Greens 
boro, N. C., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 17, and Aug. 6, 1870; #Lucy C. 
Martin, Lynchburg, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 23, 1870. 

53 Check stubs, Importers and Traders Bank, New York City, checks of 
Feb. 12, Apr. 7, May 2, Nov. 20, 1866, in favor of the churches at Brandy 
Station, Woodstock, and Warrenton, Va., and of Holly Springs, Miss. 
Others of Sept. 29, and Oct. 3, 1869, for aid to churches in Miss, and 
N. C. IR. J. Taylor, Rockbridge Baths, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 23, 
1871, thanking him for sending $100 to the Timber Ridge Church. 

54 J. S. K. Legare, Lynchburg, Va., to C. H. McCormick, #Mch. 19, 
SJuly 20, #Dec. 20, 1869; Oct. 23, Nov. 20, Dec. 20, 1871. During a five- 
weeks period in the summer of 1869, he established seven negro and one 
white Sunday-schools, with a total of 551 pupils. Reading, as well as re 
ligion was taught, and he tried to provide stoves so that these schools could 
remain, open in winter. He mentioned with pride in one letter that a negro 
girl "last Sunday recited no verses from Luke." His salary was $1,000 a 
year. #J. McCullaugh, Phila., Pa., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 26, 1870, 
and from New York City, Mch. 17, 1872. 


federate bonds or state stock either worthless or unremunera- 
tive, and the high cost of living and the poverty of southern 
families making increased salaries and the endowment of 
scholarships imperative. Because college professors customar 
ily received as a part of their stipend a percentage of the fees 
paid by the students, a smaller sum was required to endow a 
Chair in a college than in a theological seminary where no 
tuition was charged.^ 5 An amount which would yield about 
$1,200 in interest a year would be sufficient to sustain a pro 
fessor if his share of the tuition receipts were as much as 

Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the letters writ 
ten to McCormick by college authorities, and particularly by 
those in Virginia, is the determination expressed by so many 
of them to introduce the study of scientific subjects, engineer 
ing, chemistry, and agriculture. The feeling was prevalent that 
the emphasis in southern higher education should be changed. 
Less stress should be given to the classics, law, and oratory, 
because, as some said, the bane of Virginia had been her poli 
ticians. The youth of that state who no longer could look 
forward to careers in Congress, the Army, or as planters grow 
ing tobacco with slave labor, must now for the good of their 
commonwealth learn how to develop its mineral and timber 
resources, build its canals and railroads, and till its soil in 
tensively. This was the note struck by General Francis H. 
Smith, the Commandant of the Virginia Military Institute at 
Lexington, when he called upon McCormick to help him re 
store the results of twenty-six years of work, which had been 
destroyed in a few hours time in 1864 by the "Vandal 
Hunter." 5l6 The same objectives were stressed by Professor 

55 #B. M. Smith to C. H. McCormick, May 12, 1866. He estimated that 
double the amount was needed for the endowment of a Chair in a theological 

56 General David Hunter, U.S.A., had gained this sobriquet among the 
folk of the Shenandoah Valley, by his campaign there in May and June, 


Charles S. Venable, and A. Johnson Barber, the rector, in 
their letters asking aid for the University of Virginia. 67 

On the other hand, General Benjamin S. Ewell, President 
of William and Mary College, and for long a vigorous advo 
cate of renewed harmony between the North and the South, 
requested funds to erect new buildings over the "mass of 
ruins" in his charge, for the sake of removing a "painful 
reminiscence of civil strife." 5S Davidson College in North 
Carolina, 59 soon to welcome young Woodrow Wilson as an 
undergraduate, Cumberland University at Lebanon, Tennessee, 
with its new motto, (f E cineribus resurgo" 60 and the Presby 
terian Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina, 61 which re- 

1864. #F. H. Smith to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 25, and Nov. 23, 1865; 
Nov. 19, 1866; June 2 and 25, 1868. #Col. J. T. L. Preston, Lexington, Va., 
to C. H. McCormick, May 20, 1868. By this time V.M.I, again had 250 
cadets. McCormick declined to contribute to the $150,000 endowment drive, 
but he gave $500 for the purchase of books. 

57 #C. S. Venable, Charlottesville, Va., to C. H. McCormick, July 31, 
1866. The University then had 260 students. #A. J. Barber, Gordonsville, 
Va., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 10, 1868. We wish to teach the young men 
of the South the "dignity of Labor." We must accommodate our teaching 
to the new order of things, and make our courses more practical. 

58 IB. S. Swell s circular letter of Jan. 6, 1869; *J. Tyler, Richmond, Va., 
to C. H. McCormick, July 26, 1866 ; 1C. B. T. Coleman, Williamsburg, Va., 
to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 29, 1866. 

59 #E. N. Hutchison, Davidson College, N. C., to C. H. McCormick, 
Sept. i, 1866; ttMrs. J. M. Anderson, Davidson College, to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jan. 13, 1871. 

This institution had been burned by Confederate troops. JPresident 
B. W. McDonald, Lebanon, Tenn., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 13, 1870. 
By this date it was said to have 400 students, as well as 350 more in its 
preparatory school. "I ve pledged my life to develop this stronghold of 
evangelism and conservative politics." 

^ftW. S. Plumer to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 7, 1866. It was probably 
with a view to aiding southern schools that McCormick in 1867 invested 
in the stock of the University Publishing Company of New York. Its 
president was General J. B. Gordon, and secretary, Henry Heath. This firm 
specialized in the publication of textbooks for southern schools, "written 
without sectionalism and by southern writers." #J. Leyburn to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jan. 26, 1870. 


garded General Sherman as a modern Alaric, were three other 
institutions whose appeals were regretfully declined by the 
inventor. 62 Shortly after his death in 1884, $7,000 from his 
estate was used to help construct a hall at Tusculum Univer 
sity, Greenville, Tennessee ; $4,000 to purchase land for Park 
College in Missouri; and additional sums to erect Thornwell 
Orphanage at Clinton, South Carolina, a school-building at 
McCormick in the same state, and, to assist Maryville College, 
in Tennessee. 63 

Perhaps the chief reason why McCormick felt obliged to 
refuse most of the requests for aid from southern centers 
of learning, was his decision to help Washington College at 
Lexington, Virginia, in the county of his birth. He was 
interested in its welfare as early as the summer of 1865 when 
he learned that its board of trustees, by a happy inspiration, 
had asked Judge Brockenbrough to make a pilgrimage to that 
"noble patriot," General Robert E. Lee, and offer him the 
presidency of the institution. Lexington was not served by a 
railroad, and it held out to the General the seclusion which 
his modesty and sensitiveness so much welcomed. Since he 

62 Still others were Hampden Sidney College, Va. (Letters to C. H. Mc 
Cormick of ST. T. Tredway, Prince Edward Co., Va., July 5, 1866, and of 
#R. Mcllwaine, Farmville, Va., Jan. 17, 1868) ; Ann Smith Academy, Lex 
ington, Va. (3J. A. Scott, Lexington, to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 7, 1866) ; 
Presbyterian Female School, Yorkville, S. C. (#J. Craig, Yorkville, 
S. C., to C. H. McCormick, June 30, 1867) ; East Alabama Methodist 
College (SE. J. Hamill, Auburn, Ala., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 3, 1868) ; 
ICing s College, Bristol, Tenn. (SCheck sent for $100, June 13, 1868, to Rev. 
C. A. Caldwell) ; and Westminster College, Fulton, Mo. (SN. L. Rice, 
Fulton, Mo., to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 9, 1870, Check for $1,000 sent, 
Dec. 7, 1870). 

63 P. M. Bartlett, Maryville, Tenn., to Nettie F. McCormick, Apr. 27, 
Aug. 30, and Nov. 20, 1885; C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," 
Nettie F. McCormick, to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Oct. 23, Nov. i, and 17, 
Dec, 9, 1884, and Feb. 12, 1885. "Second Annual Report of the Board of 
Aid for Colleges and Academies of the Presbyterian Church in the United 
States of America" (Chicago, 1885), pp. 10-12. The "Press and Banner," 
Abbeville, S. C, July 22, 1885. 


was in great financial need, and refused the many gratuities 
offered to him, the salary of $2,500 a year and a house added 
to the attractiveness of the proposal. 64 So he mounted his 
famous gray charger, "Traveller," and rode to the campus in 
the Valley of Virginia. 

Although his experience as Commandant of West Point, 
about fifteen years before, was not the best preparation for 
his new work, his renown immediately became the chief asset 
of the college. Those who were most closely connected with 
its life, were soon convinced that the institution could hardly 
survive without the influence and inspiration of his presence. 65 
Many of the ninety-seven students who matriculated there in 
the autumn of 1865 had recently put aside their gray uniforms, 
and they probably accepted Lee s strict discipline as a matter 
of course. Judge Brockenbrough reflected the campus atmos 
phere in a letter to McCormick in January, 1866: 

The distinguished President of the College has not as yet taken 
charge of any special class, but exercises a wise and unremitting 
supervision over all. He requires the Professors to make a detailed 
report a la West Point ... of the standing of each student in 
scholarship and conduct, at the end of each week, and when he 
finds that any youth is falling behind in his studies he is invited 
to a private interview with the late "Commander in Chief of the 

4 J. W. Brockenbrough, to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 28, 1865. Lee s actual 
salary was $1,500, but his share of tuition fees was expected to add another 
$1,000. The expression "noble patriot" is taken from C. H. McCormick s 
letter to A. Leyburn, Oct. 9, 1865. 

es ^Letters to C. H. McCormick of J. M. McCue and B. Christian of 
Staunton, Va., Apr. 21, and Apr. 6, 1870, respectively. Washington College 
had been under Presbyterian influence and at least one trustee feared that 
Lee, supported by most of the faculty of V.M.I., would swing the college 
toward Episcopalianism. He hoped McCormick would buy an organ for the 
Presbyterian meeting-house at Lexington to help counteract this adverse in 
fluence. JA. Leyburn to C. H. McCormick, Jan, 3, 1867. Whether the 
college was, or was not, denominational, disturbed the trustees as late as 
1873, when they decided by a vote of n to 2 in the negative. #B. Christian 
to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 4, 1874. 


Armies of the Confed. States of America." The unhappy delin 
quent is tremblingly ushered into the august presence, and is in no 
danger of soon forgetting the admonition, stern but paternal, then 
and there administered ! He retires profoundly impressed with the 
simple grandeur of the character of his illustrious preceptor, and 
the next week s report attests the influence of this private audience. 
... In short, my dear sir, I think we may justly claim that our 
College is, today, the best governed school on the Continent. 66 

General Hunter and his troops In 1864 had slaked their 
thirst for destruction chiefly upon the property of the Vir 
ginia Military Institute, but they had plundered the library 
of Washington College and broken its windows and "exten 
sive Chemical and Philosophical Apparatus/ Its endowment 
had been much reduced by investments in Confederate securi 
ties. The board of trustees in July, 1865, however, agreed upon 
an ambitious program of expansion, later endorsed by Lee. 
If money could be secured for the endowment of five new 
Chairs, the college would give more emphasis to training in 
scientific subjects. Of the $150,000 needed, not over $50,000 
could probably be raised in the South, and Cyrus McCormick, 
among others in the North, was asked for "a good round 
sum." 67 

Dr. Adam Leyburn, a close friend of McCormick, was the 
first to approach him in behalf of the college, 68 but his letter 
was quickly followed by others from Judge Brockenbrough 
and General Lee. "To you who are so conversant with the 
necessities of the Country, & its vast undeveloped resources," 
wrote Lee in November, 1865, "the benefit of applying scien 
tific knowledge & research, to agriculture, mining, manufac- 

66 J. W. Brockenbrough to C H. McCormick, Jan. 16, 1866. 

67 Idem to Idem, Nov. 28, 1865: "Nor is there another capitalist living 
to whom I would have addressed" a similar appeal. The endowment of the 
college was then about $100,000. 

A. Leyburn to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 21, 1865. C. H. McCormick 
to A. Leyburn, Oct. g, 1865, and Jan. 2, 1866. 


turing, architecture, & to the construction of ordinary roads, 
R. Roads, Canals, bridges etc., will be at once apparent, & it 
is hoped will elicit your approval." 69 McCormick replied to 
Brockenbrough that his finances were not in the happy state 
"so elegantly portrayed by you." He believed that the college 
was attempting to do too much but he would give $10,000, 
"reserving the privilege of adding to it thereafter, when it 
shall become clear that the full complement of Professorships 
embraced in your plans will be met by corresponding contribu 
tions/ 5 70 Within six months he added $5,000 to his gift and 
a like sum three years later. 71 The interest from $20,000 was 
enough to pay the salary of a professor, if it were supple 
mented by a share of the tuition fees, but no money remained 
with which to obtain the apparatus customarily provided when 
a Chair was endowed. 72 

This gift was used to create the "McCormick Professorship 
of Experimental Philosophy and Practical Mechanics." Rich 
ard S. McCulloch, who had taught at Columbia College in 
New York City until the war made him a colonel in charge 
of the Bureau of Nitre and Mines at Richmond, was the first 
occupant of the Chair. 73 McCormick s donation, together with 
his contribution to the Union Theological Seminary at the 
same time, brought him widespread criticism from the north- 

6 9 R. E. Lee to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 28, 1865. 

70 C. H. McCormick to J. W. Brockenbrough, Jan. I, 1866, and to R. E. 
Lee, Dec. 30, 1865. J. W. Brockenbrough to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 16, 
1866. "Lexington Gazette," Jan. 10, 1866. McCormick paid the $10,000 on 
March 5, 1866. 

T1 Ibid., June 27, 1866. C. H. McCormick to J. W. Brockenbrough, June 
18, 1866. He paid 6% interest on the $5,000 pledged in the summer of 1866, 
until he sent a check for the principal in Apr., 1868. He sent the last $5,000 
on June 17, 1870, with six months interest. 

72 #A. Leyburn to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 10, 1866; C. H. McCormick to 
A. Leyburn, Dec. 4, 1866. 

73 #A. Leyburn to C. H. McCormick, May 3, 1866; #J. W. Brockenbrough 
to C. H. McCormick, May 14, 1866. McCulloch was to receive $1,000 a 
year. His ninth of the tuition fees would probably add $1,000 or more to 
this sum. 


ern press for aiding the "nest of rebels* headed by the "trai 
tor" Lee. 74 

Under Lee s auspices, the student body increased to about 
four hundred by the autumn of 1867. The endowment fund 
grew more slowly, but a house for the president and a chapel- 
library building were erected in 1869. Here portraits of Lee 
and Cyrus McCorrnick were hung side by side, and Judge 
Brockenbrough, with some exaggeration, informed the inven 
tor that his gift to the institution was larger than any since 
Washington s. 75 When, in the spring of that year, McCormick 
was elected to the board of trustees, he hesitated long before 
accepting the appointment. Although he wished to serve the 
college which was "dearer to me [him] than any other of its 
kind in the country/ he realized that his business cares in the 
North would oblige him to be absent from most of the meet 
ings. 76 Not until the autumn of 1875 was he able to visit the 
campus. 77 

74 C. H. McCormick to W. Lord, Jan. 6, 1869. McCormick reminded 
Dr. Lord of the gift of Henry Ward Beecher to Washington College, and 
of the southern philanthropies of George Peabody. 

75 5J. W. Brockenbrough to C. H. McCormick, Feb. n, 1869. Washing 
ton had given $50,000. McCormick s gift at this time totaled $15,000. The 
Cincinnati Society of Virginia in 1807 made a donation which eventually 
brought $25,000 to the college, and in 1826 John Robinson of Rockbridge 
County bequeathed it an estate valued at $46,500. For a summary of the 
sources of the endowment of Washington and Lee University in 1885, see 
"Richmond Dispatch," Aug. 14, 1885. J. D. Davidson, Lexington, Va., 
June 20, 1868, to C. H. McCormick. This indicates that McCormick s por 
trait was in reality a photograph. 

76 C. H. McCormick to J. W. Brockenbrough, Apr. 26, June 17, 1869 ; 
R. E. Lee to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 26, 1869. McCormick was elected to 
fill the vacancy left by the resignation of the venerable S. McDowell Reid 
who had been a trustee for fifty years. Judge Brockenbrough hoped that Mc 
Cormick s election would not occasion a "fresh radical attack" upon him. 
#J. D. Davidson to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 19, and Apr. 30, 1869. C. H. 
McCormick to J. D. Davidson, Apr. 27, 1869. On the plea that he could not 
find time to attend the meetings, C. H. McCormick sent in his resignation 
in 1874, but the board refused to accept it. #J. Fuller, Lexington, Va., to 
C. H. McCormick, June 26, 1874. 

77 C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," Nettie F. McCormick, to 
C. H. McCormick, Jr., Oct. 4, 1875, from Lexington, Va. 


By that time the old college had undergone and partially 
recovered from a severe crisis. Early in 1870 McCormick was 
told that Lee, because of ill health, would be unable to join 
him at Boston, as a member of the committee sent to represent 
the college at the funeral of George Peabody. 78 While the 
General was absent that spring on a visit to Georgia, his 
friends took counsel together for the purpose of finding a way 
of gaining his consent to a trip abroad for the sake of his 
health. Lee hesitated to make the voyage at the expense of the 
college, and he shrunk from any course which might tax the 
generosity of his friends or appear to be a bid for honors or 
notoriety. He did not wish to be an "incubus" to the college, 
and was with difficulty persuaded not to resign by associates 
who believed that the welfare of the institution and his con 
tinuance in the presidency were synonymous. 79 He was also 
distressed by his inability to provide adequately for his in 
valid wife in the event of his death. In April, 1870, during 
his absence, the trustees agreed to arrange for Mrs. Lee s 
future in a manner calculated to relieve her husband s anxiety. 
Several of them wrote to McCormick, urging him to invite the 
General to go with him to the Continent. 80 u Could you, do 
you think," asked J. Marshall McCue, "induce Lee to visit 
Europe in company zvith you, say with the pretext of viewing 

78 SB. Christian, Staunton, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 24, 1870: 
"There is some unhealthy adhesion or growing fast of some of the viscera 
that prevents him [Lee] taking his favorite mode of exercise entirely, i.e., 
horseback riding & affects his walking very seriously." #J. W, Brocken- 
brough, Lexington, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 10, and 25, 1870. In 
1869, Peabody transferred to the college his claim against the state of Vir 
ginia for bonds lost in the SS. Arctic disaster in 1854. For long, it was 
believed that it could not be realized upon, but eventually it brought the 
institution over $150,000. ttL.P.C.B. of McCormick & Funkhauser, p. 83, 
C. H. McCormick to C. W. Allen, Feb. 10, 1870. 

79 #B. Christian, Staunton, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 6, 1870; tj. 
Echols, Staunton, to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 13, 1870. 

80 SJ. M. McCue, Staunton, to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 21, 1870. 


the great universities of Europe and examining their improve 
ments in the astronomical, chemical, and other instruments, or 
their libraries, or their most noted agricultural schools, etc?" 

Mr. and Mrs. McCormick expected to go overseas in early 
July, and "it wd. give us the greatest pleasure ... to be able 
to join the Gen l. in crossing shd. that time suit him." 81 
The General was back in Lexington by early June and was 
half-way persuaded to accept his friends suggestion, espe 
cially since two railroad companies and a southern insurance 
concern were competing for the privilege of paying him a 
salary and all expenses if he would make the journey "even 
incidentally in their interest." 82 The trip was never made. Lee 
died on October 12, 1870, and his son, General G. W. Custis 
Lee, then teaching at the Virginia Military Institute, was 
chosen to be his successor. 83 

A Lee Memorial Association was at once formed in Lex 
ington to raise money for a tomb, and McCormick accepted 

8i$L.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd sen, pp. 12-15, 35, 131, C. H. McCormick to B. 
Christian, Apr. 9 and June 17, 1870, and to R. E. Lee, Apr. 19, 1870. 
McCormick wished Lee to come to his home in New York for a visit. 

82 SB. Christian to C. H. McCormick, June 6 and Oct. 31, 1870. Lee 
accepted the presidency of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad because he be 
lieved that his influence might hasten the completion of a project that would 
mean much to Lexington and to the college. 

83 $Idem to idem, Oct. 31, 1870. "The Southern Collegian" (Lexington, 
Va.), Oct. 15, 1870. Lee s death came as a surprise. This student paper com 
ments that he characteristically, in his last illness, said "nothing for the 
sensational press to seize upon." During the closing months of his life, Lee 
was especially eager to secure funds for an astronomical observatory. The 
University of Virginia also wished one. L. J. McCormick purchased an 
exceptionally powerful telescope, and, after considerable hesitation occa 
sioned by the inability of either institution to raise the funds necessary 
to build and maintain an observatory, gave it to the University of Virginia. 
The competition of the two colleges for this instrument was embarrassing 
to its owner, and he wrote to Professor C. S. Venable of Charlottes ville on 
Apr. 17, 1878: "I can assure you that I was never more perplexed by any 
question in my life," For this letter, see L.P.C.B. No. 179, pp. 262-265. See 
also, No. 177, PP. 570-572, 756-757, and No, 132, p. 612. 


the presidency of the New York City branch. 84 After Mrs. 
Lee had made clear to citizens of Richmond that Lexington 
and not the capital city would be her husband s last resting 
place, the campaign for funds was pressed with vigor. The 
sarcophagus, with its recumbent statue of the General by the 
Virginia-born sculptor, Edward V. Valentine, cost about 
$25,000 and was unveiled in i883. 85 

The financial needs of Washington and Lee College, as it 
was now called, caused real concern to its trustees during the 
i87o s. 86 A meeting was held in Independence Hall at the 
time of the Centennial Exposition to launch a drive for an 
endowment fund of a million dollars. McCormick, W. W. Cor 
coran, Morrison R. Waite, Robert C. Winthrop, William M. 
Evarts, Charles F. Adams, and other men of like prominence, 
sponsored the movement. 87 The campaign was heralded as an 
excellent method of bringing the North and South into closer 
harmony. Although the inventor was asked to "do something 
handsome" for the college, he declined to add to his previous 
gifts. 88 Shortly after his death, the trustees of his estate con- 

84 #E. C. Cabell to C. H. McCormick, Dec. n, 1870, and #J. B. Dorman, 
of Lexington, to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 13, and Feb. i, 1871. 

85 $Idem to idem, June 24, 1871. 

86 #A. Leyburn to C. H. McCormick, June 2, 1874 Leyburn, who was 
then the Rector of the College, urged McCormick to complete the endow 
ment of the Chair that bore his name. 

87 Between 1880 and 1886 the income of Washington and Lee doubled. 
Pamphlet, "Centennial Organization for the Better Endowment of Washing 
ton and Lee University. Report of the Meetings Held in Independence Hall, 
Philadelphia, Oct. 10, 1876, and June 8, 1881" (New York, 1882). SR. D. 
Lilley, Phila., Pa., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 2, 1876. 

88 #R. D. Lilley, Lexington, to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 7,^1882: "Your 
example with a small gift now would be worth to us ten times the face 
value of the donation." It is perhaps significant that McCormick s aid to 
Washington and Lee ceased after its board of trustees had resolved that it 
was non-denominational, although there is nothing in his correspondence re 
ferring to this resolution. On the other hand, in his letter (#L.P.C.B. of 
C. H. McCormick, Nov., 1873- June, 1876, pp. 267-268) to A. H. Pomeroy 
(?) on Feb. 7, 1875, he said: "I shall be most glad to add still more to it 


tributed $20,000 to the endowment of the McCormick Chair, 
and by 1931 his children had given $200,000 more. In the 
autumn of that year a statue of Cyrus McCormick was un 
veiled on the Washington and Lee campus, in recognition of 
the services of a son of Rockbridge County to the university, 
and to agriculture wherever grain is grown. 89 

McCormick s gifts during the period of Reconstruction were 
not confined to men and institutions in the South or to south 
erners who were stranded north of the Ohio. 90 Presbyterian 
missions, both foreign and domestic, received his continued 
aid, and for many years he furnished a room without charge 
in the McCormick Block in Chicago to the Women s Presby 
terian Board of Missions of the Northwest. 91 He was a spon- 

[his gift to W. & L.] whenever I can see my way clear to do so, feeling 
myself, that there is hardly any more worthy object of beneficence to be 
found than W. & Lee. University." 

9"Lynchburg Virginian," July n, 1884; "Rockbridge County News" 
(Lexington, Va.), Jan. 27, 1888; "The Interior" (Chicago), Aug. 7, 1884; 
Pamphlet entitled "McCormick Celebration, Washington and Lee University, 
September 25, 1931-" 

90 The most noteworthy of these, besides Beverley Tucker already men 
tioned, was Col. W. H. H. Taylor, who had probably been McCormick s 
agent in southern Ohio over twenty years before. In 1868 he was seeking 
to support his ten children by truck-gardening near Minneapolis. Owning 
land in Virginia and Ohio, at the outset of the war, he had, to his regret, 
fought for the North. "I was unfortunately a Democrat, and went into 
the Army like a fool, to help them steal my own negroes, abuse my own 
people, destroy my own government, and then be denounced as a traitor 
and Copperhead." fW. H. H. Taylor, to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 15, and 
June i, 1868. He asked for a loan of $2,000, and McCormick, on May 16, 
sent him a gift of $100. 

si C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "D," MS. sketch of Nettie F. 
McCormick by Dr. J. G. K. McClure. On Aug. 29, 1873 this board began 
to hold its regular Friday morning meetings at No. 48 McCormick Block. 
Mrs. McCormick participated actively in its work and served it in several 
official capacities. On p. 8 of its 7th Annual Report (1878) it is stated that 
"This donation of rent [for 5 years in the past] is a larger gift than has 
been received from any other individual." C. H. McCormick, Sr., to Mrs. 
G. H. Laflin, Feb. 7, 1883, Room 48, McCormick Block, can be the home of 
the board, "as long as it cares to stay there." C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS., 


sor of the Christian School of Philosophy, a Presbyterian 
enterprise which met each summer at Richfield Springs, where 
he spent some weeks almost annually. 92 For several years, a 
Bible-worker in Chicago and a missionary in Iowa were largely 
supported at his charge. 93 He declined to heed the repeated 
requests of C. A. Spring, Sr., that he carry out on,e of the 
last wishes of William S. McCormick and found a home where 
girls from five to ten years of age would be taken "from 
destructive Parental & other influence and be clothed, fed, 
and educated in a religious and moral environment so that 
they "may safely be trusted to be good domestics, nurses, 
milliners, Box makers, etc." 94 The American Sunday School 
Union, city missions, the Chicago "Home for the Friendless," 
the Presbyterian Hospital in that city, the American Tract 

Book "C," N. F. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Feb. 26, 1891. 
C. H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Nov. 4, 1882. He gave $1,000 
to home missions and $500 to foreign missions almost every year. 

02 C. H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Aug. 28, 1883 ; #C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 2, 1883. No attempt has been made 
in this paragraph to differentiate the sums donated by Cyrus McCormick 
from those given by his wife. To do so would be without significance, be 
cause their ideas of worthy benevolences harmonized. 

93 Helen B. Syme was the Chicago Bible- worker who in the late i87o s 
was sending Mrs. McCormick monthly reports of cottage prayer-meetings, 
"scripture readings & conversations held," Bibles given, "backsliders re 
claimed," "hopeful conversions," etc. ftCheck stubs of Dec., 1881. 

4 C. A. Spring, Sr., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. i, Nov. 15, 1865, Feb. 17 
and Sept. 28, 1866. Spring s influence had finally induced the city council 
of Chicago to vote funds for the establishment of a Chicago Juvenile Reform 
School for Boys, and he was now eager that a similar provision should be 
made for girls. He believed that too much emphasis was placed upon punish 
ment, and not enough upon the prevention of crime. #C. A. Spring to C. H. 
McCormick, Mch. 2, May 12, 1866. C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
July 25, 1866. Spring, Sr., lived to be a very old man. He was troubled by 
weak eyesight after (dr.) 1868 and spent most of each year at Manteno, 111., 
where, as he said, he "raised strawberries and grandchildren" (#His letter 
of May i, 1865 to C. H. McCormick). He was an indefatigable worker for 
Presbyterianism and was especially interested in religious training for 
children. McCormick aided his church at Manteno. He moved to LeMars, 
la., in 1878, and outlived McCormick. 


Society, orphan asylums, the Illinois Industrial School for 
Girls, the Citizens League for the Suppression of the Sale 
of Liquor to Minors, and the Society for Promoting the Gos 
pel Among Seamen in the Port of New York, were some of 
the institutions or causes to which he annually rendered as 
sistance. 95 His espousal of the Port Society, as the organiza 
tion last named was usually known, probably induced Captain 
W. J. Murphy of New York to name his sea-going wrecking 
vessel "Cyrus Hall McCormick." McCormick, in accordance 
with the custom, furnished it with its first suit of flags. 96 

Unless the circumstances were exceptional, he refused to 
rent his Chicago store properties to saloon-keepers. 97 While 
Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes, the wife of the President, was 
attracting international comment by her stand against liquor, 
McCormick wrote to congratulate her upon her courage. "You 
have set an example which will prove to be of very high value 
to the moral and material interests of the country at large, 

95 Victims of the Boston Fire of Nov. 1872; McCormick contributed 
$1,000. See, "Chicago Times," Nov. 12, 1872. Sabbath School Work; 
L.P.C.B. No. 145, P- 269, W. J. Hanna to Mrs. C. H. McCormick, Avon 
Springs, N. Y., Sept. 10, 1873: You have subscribed $1,500 to this in 
1872-73. City Missions: iRev. D. C. Marquis, Chicago, to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Mch. 25, 1868. Presbyterian Hospital; the "Chicago Daily Tri 
bune," July 22, 1883. Home for the Friendless; #E. C. Boring, Chicago, 
to C. H, McCormick, May 7, 1868. Orphan Asylums; #Check stubs, Im 
porters* and Traders Bank, checks of Apr. 28, 1868, Mch. 22, and Apr. 7, 
1870, Dec., 1881. American Tract Society; In 1871, C. H. McCormick 
pledged $1,000 to this Society but either due to his losses in the Great Fire, 
or because he did not like the political tenor of some of the tracts sent to 
the South, he never paid it. Nevertheless, he contributed smaller sums to 
its work. SJ. L. Shearer, New York, to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 4, 1872; 
Sept. 27, 1873. J. M. Stevenson to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 25, 1874. Port 
Society; f Check stubs, Importers and Traders bank, New York City, 
checks of Apr. 16, 1868, May 25, 1869, June 8, 1870. 

96 #W. J. Murphy, to C. H. McCormick, July 25, Aug. 27, 29, 1872; Jan. 
12, 1876. 

9T $M. Evans to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 6, 1871. Evans, who was a 
saloon-keeper, furnished an endorsement from Lambert Tree, and W. C. 
Goudy added that he was a "Stirling and unflinching democrat." 


and especially to the working men upon whose industry, so 
briety and integrity, the great manufacturing interests of our 
country depend. . . . Many daughters have done virtuously, 
but thou excellest them all/ " 9S This is the more surprising, 
since McCormick was not a total abstainer and occasionally 
imported wines and liqueurs from France for his own table." 
He believed in temperance, however, and thought that only 
those should drink who could afford to do so. 

Of the northern institutions of learning which asked him 
to help, he refused aid to the Princeton Theological Seminary 
on the grounds that others were in more need of assistance, 100 

98 C. H. McCormick to Mrs. R. B. Hayes, Jan. 31, 1881. In that year, 
McCormick was a vice-president of the Citizens League for the Suppression 
of the Sale of Liquor to Minors. $A. M. Luynes, S.J., N.Y., July 4, 1869, 
to C. H. McCormick. Before McCormick would continue Thomas Meighan 
as his coachman, he obliged him to sign a temperance pledge in the presence 
of this priest. N. F. McCormick contributed about $100 annually to the 
work of the W.C.T.U. L.P.C.B., No. 225, p. 447, C. H. McCormick, Jr., 
to A. Kimball, Iowa State Temperance Association, Des Moines, la., July 3, 
1882. In 1882, C. H. McCormick, Jr., was one of a committee formed in 
Chicago to sponsor a nation-wide series of meetings against "polygamous 
Mormonism." "Let the moral sentiment of the Country be felt in Washing 
ton." The Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act became a law that year. By 1884 
he was an active member of the Civil Service Reform League. 

9 9 Cyrus Adams to J. B. McCormick, Oct. 14, 1868: "Uncle Cyrus has 
bought twenty gallons of very superior Kentucky Whiskey @ $8.00." C. A. 
Spring, Jr., to D. R. Riddle, July n, 1879; C. H. McCormick to J. B. Mc 
Cormick, June 9, 1868 : "I am now using the best whiskey, I think that I 
have found Ky. made at $10 a single gallon here. . . . You may send 
me some of the best for purity & health." In September, 1873, a group in 
Chicago approached him to learn whether he was in sufficient agreement 
with its program to be its candidate for mayor. One of its planks read, 
"Intemperance in all things whatever ought to be combated with all suitable 
means." On this, McCormick commented as follows : "I should hardly say 
that these objects can only be accomplished by elevating the moral standard 
of the people through enlightened education; but should think that some 
other suitable means. . . " He did not elaborate, but his words suggest 
action by the government. According to the "Chicago Times" of Oct. 20, 
1882, C. H. McCormick, Jr., believed "the prohibition movement would be 
simply local and never would become a prominent national issue." 

100 He occasionally sent small sums to assist deserving students at Prince 
ton. #A. T. McGill, Princeton, N. J., to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 15, 1865 ; 


declined to sponsor the establishment of a Presbyterian Fe 
male Academy at Terre Haute, Indiana, 101 and although he 
was a trustee of Lake Forest (Illinois) College, he contrib 
uted during his lifetime, so far as the records show, but $1,000 
to its support. 102 Through the columns of "The Interior," he 
endeavored to have Danville (Kentucky) Seminary trans 
ferred to the control of the southern branch of the Presby- 
terial Church, his editor, W. C. Gray, reminding him in 
confidence that if this were done, more northern students 
would be drawn to the seminary at Chicago. 103 The laying of 
the corner-stone at McCormick Hall at Hastings College in 
Nebraska, in 1883, was made possible by his benevolence, and 
an additional sum was later given to this institution by the 
trustees of his estate. 104 They also, in 1884 and 1885, ren- 

Dec. 17, 20, 1869; C. H. McCormick to A. T. McGill, n.d. but early Jan., 

101 $Many letters between C. H. McCormick and Rev. Geo. Morrison in 

102 *J. V. Farwell, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 3, 16, 1874; 
"Chicago Times," Apr. 2, 1878; C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Dec. 10, 1878, and Jan. 18, 1879. These last two letters show that the $1,000 
was paid at this time. Rev. D. S. Gregory, Lake Forest, 111., to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Apr. 18, 1881, SFeb. 8, 1882, and Apr. 24, 1884. The trustees of 
his estate gave $500 more to this college. C. B. Farwell to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jr., July 9, 1885. Perhaps McCormick s unwillingness to extend 
substantial aid to Lake Forest was in part due to the fact that it was tinder 
"New School" control. However, President Gregory in a letter to C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., on May 18, 1885, wrote: "It was the earnest endorsement 
which your father gave to the enterprise here at Lake Forest that more 
than anything else, induced me to undertake the difficult task of carrying 
it forward in the interests of Presbyterianism." "Chicago Times," May 15, 
1884, p. 8. 

103 f Converse & Co., Louisville, Ky., to W. C. Gray, Apr. 25, 1883. In 
1883 the seminary was closed by order of the General Assembly of the 
northern Presbyterian Church. $W. C. Gray to C. H. McCormick, May 3, 

i 4 fH. Johnson to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 30, 1883; C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., MSS. Nettie F. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., May 14, 1883. 
"The Observer" (Omaha, Neb.), July 27, 1883. C. H. McCormick to C. H. 
McCormick, Jr., July 28, 1883. The total gift to Hastings College between 
1883 and 1885 was $8,000. To Pierre University, an institution under the 


dered financial assistance to a number of other academies and 
colleges in the upper Mississippi Valley. 105 In almost every 
instance, the educational organization which benefited by his 
help was under Presbyterian control, and often it was so 
located that it could aid this denomination keep step with the 
moving frontier. With increasing frequency in his later life, 
he asked his pastor or the Board of Aid of his church to in 
vestigate pleas for contributions from individuals or institu 
tions before he made his decision. 106 

With the exception of the seminary and his church, the 
Young Men s Christian Association in Chicago appealed most 
strongly to Cyrus McCormick. 107 Due to the effectiveness of 
his work among the poor, and the success of his large Sunday- 
school, the young Dwight L. Moody won the support of sev 
eral of the city s leading citizens even before the Civil War. 
His enthusiasm and eloquence, and the "drive" with which he 
accomplished the seemingly impossible, aroused McCormick s 
interest upon his return from Europe in 1864. By that time, 

aegis of the Presbytery of Southern Dakota, the trustees of his estate con 
tributed $7,500 for a McCormick Hall in 1885. The "Chicago Daily 
Tribune," Sept. 15, 1884. Gov. Gilbert A. Pierce, Bismarck, Territory of 
Dakota, to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Oct. 21, 1885. 

105 "Second Annual Report of the Board of Aid," op. cit. f pp. 10-12, $500 
to Galesville University in Wisconsin; $500 to Union Academy, Anna, 111.; 
$250 to Corning Academy at Corning, la. C. M. Charnley, Chicago, to 
C. H. McCormick, Jr., June 27, 1885. S. M, Johnson to C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., Oct. 26, 1885. 

loe c. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," Nettie F. to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jr., Nov. 20, 1884: "Mrs. Vanderbilt was here today and says 
she don t even pretend to reply to all her begging letters. Dr. Hall tells me 
he has sifted cases from south and has found them unworthy." C. H. Mc 
Cormick s interest in Protestantism in Europe is illustrated by his gifts to 
the Scotch Church in Rome and the Protestant Evangelical Church in 

107 "Chicago Daily Press," June 21, 25, 1858. The Y.M.C.A., which then 
had 150 members, held its first regular meeting on June 21, and Cyrus 
Bentley, its president, presided. The Y.M.C.A. boycotted the "Chicago 
Times" in 1863. See, A. C. Cole, "The Era of the Civil War, 1848-1870" 
(Springfield, 111., 1919), p. 303. 


Moody had enlisted in the cause of the Y. M. C. A., and in 
the following year began to campaign for $125,000 with 
which to purchase land and erect an Association building, 
"bigger than the Crosby Opera House." 

The evangelist asked McCormick to subscribe to this ven 
ture, and with J. V. Farwell, T. W. Avery, George Armour, 
and others, to be one of the original trustees. This was not a 
bid for charity. Each investor was to receive stock, and event 
ually, so it was hoped, the sums advanced would be returned 
from the rent paid by the occupants of the offices in the 
proposed building. Thereafter, the profits would be used for 
city benevolences. "More depends on your decision than on 
that of any other man/ wrote Moody in April, 1866. "Your 
name will help us through. The public will think if you take 
hold of it, it must succeed." 108 Few were able to resist 
Moody s appeals. McCormick promised $10,000 to the "com 
mendable and plausible enterprise," and consented to be a trus 
tee. By May, 1866, the full sum had been pledged, and work 
on the building was commenced. 109 Hardly was the structure 
finished than it burned to the ground, with a loss of $75,000. 
Before the close of 1867, Moody was pushing forward a 
rebuilding program involving an expenditure of $i35,ooa 110 
McCormick again purchased $10,000 worth of stock. By Janu 
ary, 1869, the large new hall was ready for use, but the fire 

108 Letters to C. H. McCormick from D. L. Moody, Apr. 5, 17, 1866; 
J. V. Farwell, Apr. 3, 1866, #C. A. Spring, Sr., Mch. 29, 1866, and C. A. 
Spring, Jr., Feb. 22, 1866. 

i 9 McCormick paid the $10,000 for the stock in Jan., 1867. L.P.CB. 
No. 94, p. 510, C. A. Spring, Jr., to D. L. Moody, Jan. 2, 1867. D. L. Moody 
to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 25, May 5, 1866, C. H. McCormick to D. L. 
Moody, Apr. 24, 1866. 

no D. L. Moody to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 15, 1868 : We won t start the 
new building until the money is raised. "The harvest is already perishing 
for want of the reapers." The completed structure, with the "finest public 
hall in the country," was dedicated on Jan. 19, 1869. See, idem to C. H. 
McCormick, Jan. i, 1869. 


of 1871 completely destroyed it. Three years later the Chicago 
Y. M. C A. was ready to open its third home. 

Although Moody preached thrice each Sabbath and made 
two addresses each week-day, he now found time to solicit 
funds for a library building to be erected on land adjoining the 
Y. M. C. A. Chicago had no public library or reading-rooms, 
and the book collection of the Young Men s Association, so 
Moody complained, was too much dominated by a Unitarian 
minister. "We want the leading library of the Northwest 
under the control of the friends of Christ," he added. 111 John 
V. Farwell was the layman who gave most generously of his 
wealth and time to the cause of the Y. M. C. A. in Chicago, 
but McCormick and others who had subscribed to its building 
now converted their investments into gifts, in order to help 
erect the library. 112 By the close of 1870 it was completed. 113 

Thereafter, the inventor contributed almost yearly to the 
support of the Association in Chicago, 114 and in 1881, at 
Moody s request, donated $1,000 toward a Y.M.C.A. build 
ing for San Francisco. 115 In February of that year he ten- 

111 Idem to idem, Jan. i, 1869. 

112 Idem to idem, Aug. 6 and 27, 1869. "Report to the Stockholders of the 
Y.M.C.A., Chicago," Aug. 16, 1869. 

1 13 D. L. Moody to C. H. McCormick, Dec. i, 1870. In 1874 the Y.M.C.A. 
established an employment bureau in Chicago to assist young men who 
were strangers in the city to find work. "We thought this was the best help 
we could give young men in temporal matters and through this help ob 
taining an influence over them that would lead to spiritual good." 

114 w. W. VanArsdale to C. H. McCormick, Sept. (?), 1875; J. V. 
Farwell to C. H. McCormick, June 5, 1876. C. H. McCormick to J. A. 
Weeks, Nov. 18, 1876, in re his $1,000 subscription to Moody and Farwell 
Hall. N. F. McCormick to McCormick Co., Oct. 10, 1877: "Pay $1,000 to 
Mr. Henry Field for my pledge to Moody and Farwell Hall." This may be 
the same subscription that is mentioned in the letter above. C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," Memo, of N. F. McCormick, Dec. 13, 
1881, $1,000 to D. L. Moody. Purpose not specified. 

115 #L.P.C.B. of C. H. McCormick, Nov. i8So-May, 1881, pp. 233-236, 
C. H. McCormick to D. L. Moody, Feb. 23, 1881. In this letter, the inventor 
refused, but he reconsidered by early summer. D. L. Moody to C. H. Me- 


dered a reception in his home to the members of the Interna 
tional Committee of. the Association, and invited to meet them, 
wealthy citizens of the city who might be persuaded to help 
the cause. 116 

In the same year, a Virginian who had on several occasions 
tried without success to borrow money from McCormick, 
wrote that he threw appeals from the poor into the waste- 
basket and limited his donations to conspicuous enterprises 
which would give him extended notice in the press. The earlier 
pages of this chapter have shown the injustice of this charge, 
although it is true that he was primarily interested in large 
causes and disliked to loan money to any one. 117 Contributions 
to reputable institutions or to societies which extended intelli 
gent aid to the unfortunate, were less likely to be squandered 
than those sent in response to pleas by mail from unknown 
persons who might well be impostors. In the household ac 
count books, carefully kept by Mr. and Mrs. McCormick 
during at least some of their twenty-six years of life together, 
are many notations of "gifts" ranging in amount from ten 

Cormick, Feb. 9, SMch. 4, and July 14, 1881 ; T. K. Cree, San Francisco, 
CaL, to C. H. McCormick, June 14, 1881. 

"Chicago Daily Tribune," Feb. 25, 1881 ; "Daily Inter Ocean," Feb. 25, 
1881. On this occasion, C. H. McCormick, Jr., talked to the gathering on 
the importance and needs of the Y.M.C.A. in the colleges of the land. The 
Chickering Quartet played and Miss Fanny Kellogg, of Boston, sang. 
SL.P.C.B. of C. H. McCormick, Nov. i88o-May, 1881, p. 284, C. H. Mc 
Cormick to E. G. Keith, Chicago, Mch. 9, 1881 : "The Young Men s Chris 
tian Association ... is as much an object of interest to me as ever it was. 
... I shall be at all times ready to cooperate with you in the noble work 
of the Association." See also, C. H. McCormick, Jr., MSS. Book "B," 
N. F. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Feb. 12, 1878. She was then 
entertaining Major Hardee of Selma, Ala., one of the national commanders 
of the Y.M.C.A. C. H. McCormick, Jr., held several official positions in 
the Y.M.C.A. after 1880. The friendship between Moody and McCormick is 
reviewed by Mrs. N. F. McCormick in "The Interior," Jan. 4, 1900, p. 3. 

117 J. M. McCue, Afton, Va., to J. IX Davidson, Apr. 8, 1881. C. H. Mc 
Cormick to H. Chrisman, St. Augustine, 111., Apr. 27, 1877: "I have had 
to adopt as a rule of business for my protection to loan no money." 


cents to one dollar. Probably these were tips, or gratuities to 
beggars who came to their door or approached them on the 

In point of time, McCormick was most generous between 
1858 and 1861, 1866 and 1871, and from 1880 until his death 
four years later. The outbreak of the Civil War and the severe 
setback occasioned by the Great Fire restrained him from 
making new commitments until he could see light ahead, re 
coup his losses, and carry out pledges already given. In each 
of these periods the seminary at Chicago was the most favored 
of his interests. The Presbyterian Church, its seminaries and 
secular schools, received by far the largest portion of the total 
sum donated by him during his lifetime. 

This total can not be precisely determined, but $550,000 is 
approximately the correct figure. Of this amount about $445,- 
ooo was devoted to enterprises directly or indirectly connected 
with his church; $45,000 to the Democratic Party, $25,000 to 
his sisters and several nieces and nephews, $25,000 to the 
Y.M.C.A., and about $10,000 to such miscellaneous purposes 
as literary, art, and music societies, commemorative statues, 
sanitary fairs, Confederate prisoners, war orphans and 
widows, newsboys, and firemen. 118 Compared with the philan 
thropies of George Peabody, James Lenox, and several other 
very wealthy men of his own day, McCormick s contributions 

118 Included in the $445,000 is his $20,000 gift to Washington (and Lee) 
College, although its Presbyterian "flavor" was probably not the factor 
chiefly responsible for his interest in this institution. The files of the N, F. 
McCormick Biographical Association contain a statement itemizing gifts 
made by him totaling $124,462.41 between June i, 1880, and May 9, 1883. 
Of this sum, about $85,000 was donated to the church and seminary, $13,000 
to the Democratic Party, $8,000 to a sister, a niece, and a nephew, $1,000 
to the Y.M.C.A., etc. See, Chapters One, Six and Seven for his contribu 
tions to the Presbyterian Church, and Chapters Two and Nine for his gifts 
to the^Democratic Party. His subscriptions totaling $45,000 or more to the 
campaign funds of his party do not include his probable losses of $20,000 
from the "Chicago Times" or of $6,500 from the "Chicago News." 


were not impressive in amount. His fortune, however, was 
much smaller than theirs. About one dollar of every twenty 
that he made, was given away. With unimportant exceptions, 
his largess was never impersonally bestowed as in perform 
ance of a duty required by his ample wealth. His heart was 
in the causes he supported and he usually insisted that his gift 
should be used to help toward the attainment of a definite 
objective that he considered to be desirable. 

Within five years after his death nearly $475,000 was given 
from his estate to the Presbyterian Church, seminary, and a 
dozen institutions of collegiate rank. These benefactions, and 
many others taken from the same fund, were dispensed in 
fulfilment of a provision of his will. This clause, wisely allow 
ing the trustees of his property almost complete discretion, 
stated that they were empowered "to make such reasonable 
donations therefrom to charitable or benevolent purposes as 
in their judgment I would have made if living." 119 
119 "Chicago Daily Tribune," May 20 and July 25, 1884. 


FOR seven years following his return from Europe in 
1864, Cyrus McCormick spent most of his time in New 
York City. By 1866, he was a member of the Manhattan 
Club, the Democratic counterpart of the Union League. 1 In 
its rooms on lower Fifth Avenue, a short walk from his resi 
dence and his church, he shared the friendship and political 
counsels of Samuel J. Tilden, Manton Marble, S. L. M. 
Barlow, John Van Buren, August Belmont, George Ticknor 
Curtis, and other leaders who were seeking to rebuild the 
fallen fortunes of their party. Reverdy Johnson was his chief 
political correspondent at Washington, and borrowed money 
from him on easy terms. 2 William, Marcy Tweed counted him 
among the many advocates of honest city government whom 
he had deceived. In the summer of 1871, when the notorious 
boss was already under heavy fire, McCormick wrote to him, 
endorsing his administration. "They [the reformers] are hon 
est men, and conscientious, but they forgot the fable! Better 
prove all things, and hold fast that which is good not adopt 
the insane policy of burning down the barn to insure the ex 
termination of unseen rats !" 3 Before the end of the year, 

iM. Marble to C. H. McCormick, Jan. (?), 1866. The initiation fee of 
the Manhattan Club was $150, and the annual dues $50. 

2 C A. Spring, Jr., to C H. McCormick, #Aug. 6, n, and #Dec. 12, 1866; 
Jan. 13, 10, Feb. 21, Mch. 30, and Apr. i, 1867. C. H. McCormick to R. 
Johnson, Jan. 6, 1886, Jan. 7, and #17, 1867. #G. T. Curtis to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Oct. 7, 1869. Curtis sought a loan of $1,200. 

3 #C. H. McCormick to W. M. Tweed, 1871, either late June or early 
July. A bi-partisan movement was on foot to end Democratic control at 



Charles O Conor and other associates of McCormick in the 
Manhattan Club had proved much, and the inventor doubtless 
wished that he had left unanswered Tweed s invitation to 
Tammany s Fourth of July celebration. 

While living in New York City, McCormick retained his 
citizenship in Illinois, 4 and Democratic leaders there expected 
and received his financial aid in their campaigns for office. 5 
The New York group also made demands upon his purse, and 
Virginia Democrats, too poor to pay their own expenses to 
national conventions, were grateful for his checks. 6 Politicians 
both from Virginia and Illinois were welcomed in his home, 
and although some friends cautioned him that his hospitality 
and generosity were abused by those who sought his money, 
he felt that he was, thereby, aiding a most deserving cause. 7 

The cause was, of course, the overthrow of radical rule at 
Washington and in the South. The Republican "redestruc- 
tion" policy, as he called it, must be ended, since the Union 
and national prosperity could not be completely restored until 

Albany in order to oust Tweed in New York City. McCormick opposed this 
move. "Third parties in politics have never yet accomplished anything 

4 C. H. McCormick to I. R. Diller, Dec. 3, 1866, and to T. H. Hoyne, 
June 17, 1869. 

5 1. R. Diller to C. H. McCormick, July 23 and Nov. 4, 1866, and Apr. 22, 

6 $Check stub, July 6, 1868, for $250, "to enable the gentlemen of Rich 
mond to come to Democratic Convention." 

7 C. H. McCormick to C. A. Spring, Jr., June 6, 1868. He wished the 
Chicago delegation to stay at his New York home during the national 
nominating convention, but all except Isaac Diller, the Chairman, "with 
one accord began to make excuses," See #C. A, Spring, Jr., to C. H. 
McCormick, June n and 12, 1868; I. R. Diller to C. H. McCormick, June 
25, 1868; W. C. Goudy to C. H. McCormick, June 19, 1868. Goudy 
promised to call on McCormick and learn his views as to the proper course 
for the Chicago delegation to follow in the convention. Young Men s Demo 
cratic Association of Chicago to C. H. McCormick, June 12, 1868: We are 
coming between five hundred and a thousand strong to the Convention. Will 
you please arrange accommodations for us? 


the Democratic Party was again in control. 8 President John 
son deserved the support of all conservative men who desired 
peace and reconciliation. Although McCormick agreed with the 
President s objectives, he did not always approve of his method 
of attaining them. 9 The inventor s optimism during these try 
ing days is the only unusual characteristic of his political 
outlook. He underestimated the strength of the Radicals, and 
expected an early end to their rule. Once the soldiers were 
withdrawn from the late Confederate states, the whites there, 
in his opinion, would readily dominate the negroes, and the 
traditional alliance in politics of the South and West could 
then be reestablished. Until that time arrived, the southerners 
would be well advised to submit peacefully to the measures of 
Congress, since resistance strengthened the hands of the Vin- 
dictives and prolonged their control. 10 The United States was 
destined to be the greatest country in the world, the southern 
ers should remain under the flag, and turn their faces toward 
the glorious future. 11 

McCormick was as ready to offer his services as his wealth, 
to hasten the happy day when this dream would come true. 
He did not care to enter the arena, however, unless his chances 
of victory were fair. Reports from the West were far from 
encouraging when he sailed for Europe in 1867. While abroad, 
he confided to Reverdy Johnson his willingness to be United 
States Ambassador to Austria-Hungary, if President Johnson 

8 C. H. McCormick to J. D. Davidson, Lexington, Va., Mch. #9 and 18, 
1867; C H. McCormick to R, Johnson, #Mch. 9, 1867. 

9 C. H. McCormick to L. J. Halsey, Mch. 12, 1866 ; to R. Johnson, Jan, 6, 
1866: "I have been pleased with the President s message [to Congress] 
tinder the circumstances. He has had a hard trial, but I trust his courage 
will be found equal to it. He Is favored with the opportunity to display 
greatness, while I have slight misgivings as to his improving it to that 
extent" C H. McCormick to J. D. Davidson, Mch. 18, 1867: "Andy 
Johnson is still the best trump in the pack. . . . The future is dark, but 
still the Lord reigns !" 

10 Letters of C. H. McCormick to J. W. Brockenbrough, JLexington, Va., 
Apr. 9, 1867, and to J. M. McCue, Mt. Solon, Va., Apr. 24, 1867. 

" C H. McCormick to B. Tucker, Sept. 15, 1868. 


were unable to secure a hostile Senate s consent to the appoint 
ment to that post of a "professional politician." "I need not 
say to you, my dear sir/ McCormick continued, "that my 
ambition is quite satisfied in having reached the highest point 
of success in the pursuit of my own business, . . . But if 
. . . the popularity of my name in Europe . . . might , . . 
make my services useful at Vienna ... I might be able to 
meet such a call to the best of my ability. This is all I could or 
need say. I leave all else with you." 12 Almost before Reverdy 
Johnson received this letter, the House of Representatives re 
solved to impeach the President for high crimes and misde 
meanors. The post at Vienna remained vacant. 13 

Upon his return to America in the spring of 1868, Mc 
Cormick tried to gain an appointment as a delegate of his 
party in Illinois to the national nominating convention. 14 
Again he failed, but he attended its sessions in New York 
City in July, and was named one of a special committee of 
nine men to assist the national committee in organizing the 
campaign. 15 During the convention, he sought to persuade its 
southern members to vote for Salmon P. Chase for the presi 
dential nomination, since he believed the only hope of success 
lay in the choice of a candidate who could draw some Republi 
can support. 16 In this he was unsuccessful, and when the chair- 

12 C. H. McCormick, Paris, to R. Johnson, Feb. 4, 1868. 

C. H. McCormick to B. M. Smith, Apr. 24, 1868: "Nor do I now think 
the Prest. will be convicted" 

i* f C A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 31, Apr. 16 and 17, 1868. 

is C. H. Adams to M. Andrews, June 27, 1868 ; C H. McCormick to 
C. B. Norton, July 29, 1868; S. G. Selden to C. H. McCormick, Sept 19, 
1868; J. C. Spencer to C. H. McCormick, July 29, Aug. I and 6, 1868. 
Spencer, of the law firm of Rapallo and Spencer of New York, was the 
most active member of the Committee of Nine. He stayed at McCormick s 
home in New York, while the inventor was at Avon Springs. The work of 
this committee was chiefly to arouse enthusiasm by organizing an "Order 
of the Union Democracy/ and Spencer felt very much encouraged by the 
response received. Its motto was "Our Federal Union: It Must Be 

C H. McCormick to B. Tucker, Sept. 15, 1868. 


man of the convention, Horatio Seymour, became the unwill 
ing nominee and repudiated the "easy" money plank of the 
platform in his acceptance speech, McCormick was the more 
convinced that a fatal mistake had been made. He was a 
"gold" Democrat, but he was ready to support a stand for 
the taxing of United States bonds, and the issuance of sev 
eral millions more of greenbacks, if thereby the discordant 
wings of his party could be held together long enough to win 
the national election. To wrangle over money or tariff ques 
tions when radical rule at Washington threatened the very 
existence of the Union, seemed to him to be a fatuous course 
leading surely to ruin. As always, he saw only the main goal, 
and was impatient when his fellow-workers allowed their 
energy and attention to be diverted to issues which, in his 
estimation, were relatively unimportant. 

From the outset of the campaign, McCormick felt that his 
friend Seymour was not the man to win. The Republicans, as 
in 1864, helped their own cause by misrepresenting the plat 
form of their opponents. Bond-holders were assured that a 
vote for Seymour was a ballot cast in favor of the repudia 
tion of the war debt, and the negroes were warned that the 
Democrats would return them to slavery. Seymour made no 
ringing declaration of purpose to counteract the effect of these 
falsehoods. He had accepted the nomination against his better 
judgment, and although he congratulated himself that he was 
"free from all pledges, alliances or other entanglements/ he 
was unwilling to wage a vigorous campaign. "My theory is," 
he assured McCormick, "that this election is in the hands of 
business men. It will go as their judgments shall dictate. I am 
very anxious to lay my theories before you and to get your 
opinions. If you can come [to my home at Utica] let me know 
when." 17 

17 H. Seymour to C. H. McCormick, Sept 15, 1868: "My nomination was 
made under circumstances in many respects embarrassing. In other ways I 


The inventor contributed about $12,000 to the Democratic 
war chest/ 8 and conferred with Seymour on several occasions. 
"I venture to suggest," he wrote to the candidate in late Sep 
tember, "whether ... it may not be in your power to check 
mate the course of fanciful misrepresentations upon which, 
manifestly, the Radicals depend for success, by a simple and 
concise statement of ... the course your administration (if 
elected) will pursue on the great issues . . . before the coun 
try." 19 But this was not forthcoming, and in early October, 
Tilden, McCormick, S. L. M. Barlow and others considered 
the advisability of asking both Seymour and Francis P. Blair, 
Jr., the vice-presidential candidate, to resign in order to place 
Chase (with possibly Tilden) at the head of the ticket. When 
news arrived that the October elections in Pennsylvania, Ohio, 
and Iowa had brought Republican victories, McCormick felt 
that it was time to act "to save the Constitution and the Coun 
try." On October 15, without Tilden s approval, he wrote Sey 
mour, frankly stating that his New York friends believed the 
outlook, as matters then stood, was "hopeless," and asked 
whether he would resign his candidacy to Chase, provided the 
Chief Justice would accept. 20 

have some great advantages. . . . As I did not seek a place upon the ticket, 
... I can take such positions as I may deem wise as to men and in some 
degree as to measures. I do not know how the election may turn but I must 
now contemplate success so that I may avoid false positions and not drift 
into any difficulties." 

18 $Check stubs, Importers & Traders Bank of New York; checks of 
July 21, Sept. 30, Oct. 2, 8, 1868. C. H. McCormick s telegram to H. Sey 
mour, from Sheldon, Vt, Sept. 21, 1868. 

19 $C. H. McCormick to H. Seymour from Missisquoi Springs, Vt., 
Sept. 24, 1868: "believing as I do that upon the result of this election to a 
great extent depends the stupendous fact whether this Republic is to last, or 
be destroyed by the party now in possession of it" 

2*Idem to idem, Oct. 15, i868 7 from New York City: "Your closest 
friends here consider success in Novr. hopeless as we stand. . . , Chase s 
friends say, and it [is] generally conceded that large numbers of conserva 
tive Republicans, and wavering or fence Democrats would be secured by 


It was a most difficult letter to write, and that their friend 
ship remained unbroken, is a tribute to the character of 
Seymour and to the ability of McCormick to express a blunt 
thought tactfully. "I have been very much perplexed," an 
swered Seymour on the twentieth. The events of the past 
six days have been so pregnant with consequences that I have 
needed the counsel of my friends. . . - You knew I had no 
wish to go upon the ticket nor have I a wish to remain on it. 
I should be glad to have another name in place of my own, 
but I do not wish to shrink from defeat, or to shove it off 
upon another. ... I must be governed by the [National] 
Committee. If they can see that I can with honor decline, can 
any candidate be found who will give us strength? I do not 
believe Mr, Chase would take a nomination/ 21 There the 
matter rested, although Seymour consented to make an address 
at Buffalo to clarify his position upon the issues of the cam 
paign. The Republicans won by a large margin of electoral 
votes, and McCormick took comfort in the thought that he had 
decided against returning to Chicago for the purpose of run 
ning for Congress that autumn. 22 

his acceptance of the candidacy, that would otherwise be lost. It would 
surely be a grand and glorious achievement by a bold manoeuvre of this 
sort to save the Constitution and the Country, while its novelty and great 
ness would stamp your name more indelibly in connection with it than if 
you had been elected President of the U. States." This was not mailed until 
Oct 16 and then he added a RS. "Mr. Tilden appears more decidedly 
opposed to the course suggested above this A.M. than yesterday." 

21 After C. H. McCormick wrote the letter of Oct. 15-16 in New York 
he went to Utica, but Seymour was on his farm, and the inventor did not 
see him. H. Seymour to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 20, 1868: "I am now urged 
frojm every quarter to make some speeches. I wanted your advice upon that 
point. It is very disagreeable to do so. In addition to other things which 
make it unpleasant is the fact that the labors of the Canvass have worn me 

22 f C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 24, 1868. Spring warned 
McCormick that the party only wished to run him for Congress in order 
"to bleed him." C C. Copeknd to C H. McCormick, Aug. 28, 1868 : "You 
couldn t succeed to the nomination and election without spending your entire 


Following the Democratic fiasco of 1868, over three years 
passed with hardly a mention of politics in the correspondence 
of McCormick. He rejoiced in 1869 when the carpet-bag rule 
in Virginia was overthrown, 23 and his good Presbyterian and 
political friend, Roswell B. Mason, was elected the reform 
mayor of Chicago. 24 During these years his controversy with 
Dr. Lord and the New School group within his church reached 
a climax, and occupied much of the time that he could spare 
from his rapidly growing business interests. 25 The Great Fire 
in 1871 led him to reestablish his home in Chicago and, there 
after, for several years the task of rebuilding his factory and 
other city 26 properties absorbed most of his attention. Never 
theless, the future of his party, the South, and the nation at 
large seemed to hang upon the issue of the campaign of 1872, 
and he felt that he could not stand aloof. 27 

In 1868 the Democrats had unwisely, in his opinion, nomi 
nated a candidate who could not draw the vote of Republicans 
weary of radical rule. Now on May i, 1872, members of 
this discontented group met at Cincinnati and selected Horace 

time & money without limit. ... No true Democrat can be elected. I don t 
think it wise for you to run. You are too busy." C. H. McCormick did not 
vote in this election. He came to Chicago to do so, but was told that since 
he lived in New York, his right to cast his ballot would probably be 
challenged. C. H. McCormick vs. the Pennsylvania Central RR. y Case on 
Appeal, 1-87$, testimony of C. H. McCormick, p. 39. 

23 3J. D. Davidson to C. H. McCormick from Lexington, Va., July n, 
1869: "The Vinegar aspect* so prevalent amongst us some time ago, has 
disappeared from the faces of our people, & we are already singing, *O 
Carry Me Back to Old Virginny. " 

24 D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 7, 1869; I. R. Diller to C. H. 
McCormick, Oct. 5, 1869. 

25 Supra, Chaps. VI and VII. 

26 *C. H. McCormick to Hons. Messrs. Stevenson, Thurman, and Lewis 
of U. S. Senate; Brooks of New York; and Harris of Virginia, House of 
Representatives, Feb. 22, 1872. In this, McCormick urged all Democrats 
to support the bill then before Congress to extend relief to Chicago. 

27 S. J. Tilden to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 27, 1871 ; "These are times 
which call on such men as you to come to the front." 


Greeley as their standard-bearer. They obviously hoped that 
the Democrats would also make him their choice for the presi 
dency. Although differing in their position on most issues, 
Horace Greeley and Cyrus McCormick had been friends for 
over twenty years. Their mutual interest in agricultural reform 
had first drawn them together, and Greeley had graciously 
given publicity in the "New York Tribune" to the inventor s 
triumphs abroad. Now and again, during the Civil War, they 
had corresponded on the subject of peace, and in 1867 Greeley 
had been one of the sureties of Jefferson Davis when he was 
released from prison on bail. This last should work to Gree- 
ley s advantage in the South, although his former arch-Repub 
licanism, his lead in the abolition movement, and his support 
of high tariffs would certainly make the Democrats most re 
luctant to accept him as their candidate. 28 If McCormick were 
correct, a Democratic-Liberal Republican fusion was the only 
formula of victory, and whatever had been the "Tribune" 
editor s stand on slavery mattered little now, since that issue 
was (or should be) dead. These practical considerations, as 
well as a desire to aid a friend, were additional reasons which 
impelled the inventor to come to the front in the campaign of 

As soon as he heard of Greeley s nomination by the Liberal 
Republicans, he urged the two Democratic newspapers of Chi- 

28 C. H. McCormick to H. Greeley, from Chicago, May 10, 1872: 
** Although silent so long since your nomination at Cincinnati, I have not 
I assure you been idle or indifferent about the matter. Please command me 
if I can in any way do anything for you. . . . Please have the Tribune sent 
to me." H. Greeley to C. H. McCormick, May 13 and June 8, 1872: "I can 
not foresee the issue of this contest, but I know that the Cincinnati move 
ment affords a basis for a genuine and hearty reunion of our whole people. 
How long I have labored and what sacrifices I have made for that end you 
partly (?) know. If it fails now, I hope not to be blamed." 

29 Letter of C. H. McCormick in "Chicago Daily News," May 17, 1872. 
McCormick here tells the Democrats that Greeley is "fairly pledged to non 
interference . . . with the tariff question." 


cago the "Times" and the "News" to come out in his sup 
port. Wilbur F. Storey of the "Times" refused to do so and 
during the rest of the campaign occupied a hostile or "Bour 
bon" position. 30 McCormick was a stock-holder of the recently 
established "News," and its editor, Daniel Cameron, had been 
active on the "Times" ten years before. 31 From conviction, 
and perhaps also because he much needed financial aid, he at 
once ran up the Greeley flag. Within a few weeks, he became 
McCormick s recognized political agent and spokesman in Illi 
nois. Before the close of June, McCormick reported to Greeley 
that of sixty-one Democratic papers in the state, all except 
four supported his candidacy. 32 Even the powerful "Chicago 
Tribune," now tinder the editorship of Horace White, threw 
its influence on the same side, 33 Certainly a new era had ar 
rived when McCormick and the "Tribune" were in agreement 
upon a public issue. 

The first damper to the enthusiasm of McCormick over the 
political outlook came in late June when the Democratic leaders 
of Illinois met at Springfield to choose delegates to the na 
tional nominating convention at Baltimore. These were in- 

30 Ibid., Greeley s plea for "a genuine and hearty reunion of our whole 
people" must be the "keynote of the democracy in this presidential contest. 
This and the platform adopted at Cincinnati, furnish the best compromise 
for uniting with Liberal Republicans. ... It is now certain that the endorse 
ment of Greeley by the Baltimore [Democratic] Convention will elect him, 
. . . Let us not, then, . . . risk another suicide." C. EL McCormick 
to H. Greeley, June 4, 1872. D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, July 18, 
1872. H. Greeley to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 15, 1872, "I do not approve 
of meetings anywhere to denounce the Bourbons. They are simply Grant 
men in disguise. Holding meetings to denounce them would only give them 
undue importance." The "Bourbons" met in convention at Louisville in 
September and nominated Charles O Conor for President See, J. F. Black 
burn, Fairburg, 111., to O. M. Hatch, Sept 13, 1872. 

31 D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 19, 21, 1872. 

32 C. H. McCormick to H. Greeley, June 22, 1872. 

33 H. White to C. H. McCormick, May 31 and Aug. I, 1872; H, White 
to E. L. Gross, Springfield, 111., July 14, 1872, 


structed to support Greeley s candidacy, and McCormick was 
named chairman of the state central committee. 34 This was 
gratifying, but due to the machinations of W. F. Coolbaugh, 
president of the Union National Bank of Chicago, and his 
son-in-law, the future Chief Justice of the United States 
Supreme Court, Melville W. Fuller, the Springfield meeting 
failed to name McCormick as a delegate-at-large to the Balti 
more convention. 35 This was perhaps a petty matter at best, 
but most of the Cook County spokesmen at Springfield had 
wished him to be a delegate, and it was humiliating for the 
chosen head of the party in the state to be overlooked when 
its official representatives in the national get-together were 
selected. For the next two months the rift in Illinois Demo 
cratic councils caused by this episode threatened seriously to 
affect the conduct of the campaign in that state, 36 McCormick 
temporarily refused to accept the chairmanship of the state 
central committee, and those who knew him best were con 
vinced that he would not rest until young Fuller had been 
properly disciplined. 37 

8 *L.P.C.B. No. 135, p. 282, C A. Spring, Jr., to J. B. McCormick, 
June 25, 1872: C. H. McCormick goes as a delegate to the Democratic 
Convention at Springfield tonight. "Chicago Times," June 23, 1872. 

35 "Daily Illinois State Register" (Springfield), June 27, 1872. Carter H. 
Harrison supported C. H. McCormick, urging that Coolbaugh was an anti- 
Greeley man. Fuller replied that he was certain Coolbaugh would be for 
Greeley. C. H. McCormick was elected alternate delegate at large but re 
fused to accept C. H. McCormick to H. Greeley, July 2, 1872. Fuller was 
president of the Democratic Invincible Club of Chicago in 1863, then an 
anti-abolitionist organization, but formed five years before to aid Stephen 
Douglas. "Chicago Times," Sept. 23, 1863. 

^H. White to C. H. McCormick, Aug. I, 1872. White diplomatically 
assumed in this letter that Cameron was to blame for the "pitiful and 
small" quarrel, and that McCormick had of course not "entertain [ed] it 
for a moment" L. Trumbull on July 22 wrote to McCormick in the same 
vein :^ "If you would come to Chicago, I think you could settle their bicker 
ings in an hour." 

87 "Qiicago Daily News," July 18, 1872; D. Cameron s telegram to C H. 
McCormick, July 17, 1872. 


Although not a delegate, McCormick engaged a suite of 
rooms In the Eutaw Hotel at Baltimore and with Cameron 
and other friends was on hand when the national convention 
opened on July 9. Greeley was nominated on the first ballot 
and McCormick was a member of the Committee of Notifica 
tion. 38 The platform of the Liberal Republicans was accepted 
in its entirety. The inventor took the place of the recalcitrant 
Wilbur F. Storey on the national committee of the party and 
barely failed of selection as its chairman. 39 This recognition 
strengthened his hand in Illinois, and boded ill for those who 
were opposing him there. 

McCormick often found suspense a most effective weapon 
to use against his foes. At the close of the convention he went 
to New York City to attend the first meeting of the national 
committee and promised to contribute $10,000 to the campaign 
fund. 40 He stipulated, however, that this should be used for 
the cause in Illinois, a doubtful state, whose twenty-one elec- 

88 H, Greeley to C. H. McCormick, June 24, 1872: "It looks as though 
we were bound to win." C. H. McCormick to H. Greeley, July 2, 1872: 
I must go to Baltimore "because I think I can be of some service to your 
cause there. . . . My friends say they will move in Baltimore Convention 
to put me in Storey s place on the National Committee." 

39 "Richmond Daily Whig," July 10, 1872. C. H. McCormick was also 
named one of the ten men on the executive committee of the national com 
mittee. C. H. McCormick to D. Cameron, July 16, 1872: "I would have 
been elected [chairman of national committee] but for the usual intrigue 
and fraud as practiced by Chicago anti-Greeley men, who want the offices 
without Greeley, but in any event want the offices!" I desired the position, 
and the southern delegates supported me. "I have subscribed as much as 
any other member of the Committee." In his MS. Reminiscences, Judge 
M. F. Tuley says that McCormick was to be an ambassador if Greeley won. 
"C. H. was no diplomat, and he was too much of a democrat to wear knee 
breeches." No mention of this ambition is made in McCormick s letters of 
1871-1872. H. Chrisman, St. Augustine, 111., to ? (probably D. Cameron), 
Dec. 16, 1876; "I had him (C. H.) elected once, within $1,000, Chairman 
of Natl. Democratic Central Committee, and he declined the honor. . . . 
I inferred he didn t approve of the principle of purchase." "Chicago Times," 
July 10, 1872. 

C. H. McCormick to D. Cameron, July 15, 1872. 


toral votes were well worth fighting for. 41 Democratic and 
Liberal Republican leaders there were hard pressed for money 
and were, of course, aware of McCormick s pledge, but it was 
some weeks before they realized that he had characteristically 
attached some implied qualifications to his gift. 42 It finally 
occurred to them that the money would be paid over when 
their campaign organization and leadership were changed to 
meet his approval. To give them time to puzzle this out for 
themselves, ill health furnished McCormick a valid excuse to 
withdraw for the two months following the convention to 
Richfield Springs, New York. He asked Daniel Cameron to 
act for him in Illinois. 43 

In mid-July, without McCormick s knowledge or approval, 
the Liberal Republican state committee, led by Governor John 
M. Palmer, and three-fourths of the members of the Demo 
cratic state committee, met at Springfield and named a bi 
partisan executive committee to manage the state campaign. 44 
McCormick was not a member. Palmer was its chairman and 
the headquarters were to be at the state capitol. Melville Fuller 
was on this board, although he had no place on the Democratic 
state central committee. Learning of this action from the 

41 C. H. McCormick to F. O. Prince, July 24, 1872. 

42 Letters of C. H. McCormick to D. Cameron, July 16, 1872, and to 
A. Schell, July 19, Aug. 16 and 18, 1872. D. Cameron to Q H. McCormick, 
Aug. i, 1872. 

43 Telegram and two letters of C. H. McCormick to D. Cameron, July 17, 
23, and 25, 1872. For a good summary of McCormick s position in this 
controversy, see the draft of his speech to the Democratic state central com 
mittee, Aug. 27, 1872. 

44 Horace White had advised against this fusion, before the meeting on 
July 16. See, his letter to E. L. Gross, Springfield, 111., July 14, 1872. The 
letter-press copy-book of this committee is in the files of the Nettie F. 
McCormick Biographical Association. The first letters are dated July 19, 
1872, and thereafter until Sept. 7, 1872, they are mailed from Springfield. 
Then follows a week when no letters were sent and beginning in mid- 
September, they were written in Chicago. The last letter in the book is 
dated Nov. 6, 1872. D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, July 17 and 23, 1872; 
G. Kimberly, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, July 19, 1872. 


faithful Cameron, McCormick determined that he, and not 
Palmer, was entitled to the chairmanship, and that Fuller must 
be ousted. 45 Until these changes were made, the rebels might 
rely upon whatever paltry funds they could raise in a Chicago 
impoverished by the fire. 46 Apparently his enemies within his 
own party planned to leave him with the empty honor of chair 
man of the state central committee; give the de facto control 
of the canvass to the so-called executive committee, and expect 
him to pay the bills. 

The Palmer-Fuller group was not without its defense. 
Cooperation between the Liberal Republicans and Democrats 
was necessary if victory were to be won, and all personal 
grievances should be shelved for the good of the common 
cause. Probably the chief tasks of the campaign would be to 
persuade Democrats to vote for Greeley and to induce Repub 
licans to associate with men who had been in many instances 
unenthusiastic, or even disloyal, during the Civil War. 47 It 

45 D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, July 18, 1872 ; C. H. McCormick 
to D. Cameron, July 24 and 31, 1872; M. W. Fuller to ? (probably J. M. 
Palmer), Aug. 15, 1872. After speaking of McCormick s "silliness," he 
adds : "If my presence on the Comm. interferes with McCormick s liberality, 
it is little to sacrifice me and let him shell vigorously. . , . When a man 
of his wealth seeks political notoriety or preferment, he should be willing 
to pay liberally, and such is my hope in regard to him. . . . Consider my 
head in the basket so soon as the proper number of ducats can be coined 
out of the political life stream expected thereupon to leave my veins the 
blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. " 

46 W. Trumbull to C. H. McCormick, July 22, 1872; Greeley and Brown 
Campaign Committee to O. M. Hatch, Sept. 20, 1872. 

47 $L.P.C.B. of Lib. Exec. Comm., pp. 55-64, the Comm. to A. Schell, 
New York, Aug. 16, 1872: C. H. McCormick claims "the authority to 
relocate Head Quarters and substantially demands that the whole control 
of the campaign shall be placed in his hands. Something more than money 
is needed; every overture for conciliation that the vital necessities of the 
campaign or the common proprieties of life could justify has been unsuccess 
fully made." C. H. McCormick to H. Greeley, June 22, 1872: "I have for 
some time thought that the most important if not the only point in the 
canvass that required attention was to checkmate the effort by the Grant 
party to make it appear to Republicans that your election would be a 


was foreseen early in the canvass that there would be far more 
Republicans in Illinois who would hesitate to vote for Greeley, 
than Democrats who would actively work against him. The 
Bourbon element could, therefore, be disregarded, and, in fact, 
they numbered only three thousand in the election returns. For 
this reason, sound campaign strategy dictated that everything 
possible should be done to entice Republicans away from the 
Grant banner. This was the justification, in the opinion of 
Palmer, Lyman Trumbull and others, for the strong Repub 
lican representation upon the joint executive committee which 
McCormick so much disliked. He argued that the Democrats 
would furnish most of the votes, and in fact most of the 
money, and should therefore have a majority voice in the 
directing of the campaign. 48 The obvious answer to this con 
tention was that in any election, primary attention must be 
given to the "floating vote/ and since this mainly consisted of 
undecided Republicans, they should be assured of an equal 
share in party honors and offices both before and after the 

The unusually large number of Illinoians who were "on the 
fence" in the summer of 1872, made it imperative that the 
campaign should start early and vigorously. The party which 
first reached these doubtful ones with their propaganda and 
their promises would likely capture their support on election 
day. 49 Since the Grant forces controlled all the postoffices and 

Democratic triumph. ... It now seems that your election is assured by an 
overwhelming majority." In truth, the chief difficulty came to be to arouse 
enough Greeley enthusiasm among Democrats to make them take the trouble 
to vote. See, L. Trumbull to C H. McCormick, Sept. 16 and Oct. 17 1872* 
G. A. Bixby, Plum River, III, to O. M. Hatch, Aug. 13, 1872; C. H. Moore, 
Clinton, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Sept 23, 1872. 

* s C H. McCormick s telegram to D. Cameron, July 30, 1872. C. H. Mc 
Cormick to D. Cameron, July 31, 1872. 

48 J. R. Blackford, Clinton, 111., to H. White, July 29, 1872 G W 
Brockhaus, Mascoutah, 111., Sept. 16, 1872: "We have nearly all the leading 
Republicans on our side excepting the Methodists and they are not very 
strong here in numbers." T. J. Johnson, Dwight, 111., to O. M. Hatch, 


most of the national banks, they had every advantage. 50 There 
was not time to wait until Cyrus McCormick felt that his 
health was sufficiently restored to return to Chicago, Because 
he had never directed a state-wide campaign, veteran "wheel- 
horses" in Illinois wrongly believed that he would be satisfied 
to acquiesce in whatever tactics they advised. But, if for no 
other reason, McCormick always demanded a controlling voice 
in the spending of his own money, and although he was quite 
willing to let Cameron handle all the details, he wished to be 
more than a nominal head. 51 The national committee refused 
to extend aid to the Illinois Democracy until it had made its 
peace with the inventor, 52 As a gesture of conciliation, Gov 
ernor Palmer offered to resign in McCormick s favor as chair 
man of the executive committee, and to recommend that its 
office should be moved to Chicago. 53 The Democratic members 
of the committee would not agree to this, and the deadlock 
Was still unbroken when McCormick returned to Chicago 
about August 8. 

Although a gathering of "prominent gentlemen" from all 
parts of the state 54 had been summoned by Palmer to meet 

Aug. 26, 1872: "It now looks to me to be a nip & tuck race with the 
Phylosopher about 4^/2 ft. ahead and he seems to be gaining all the time 
. . . quite a goodly number are in the Suspension State (in a State of 
betwixity) ." 

so O. C. Royce, Ashton, 111., Aug. 4, 1872, to C. H. McCormick R. A. 
Mills, Galena, 111., Sept. 14, 1872, to C. H. McCormick. It was charged 
that government funds were loaned by the national banks to Republicans 
for electioneering purposes. 

51 C. H. McCormick to D. Cameron, July 25, 1872 : "There is now for us 
the job of getting subscription list, competent secretary, accountant, offices, 
speakers, documents distributed. I can never do this work! I can only advise 
and keep an oversight. You do it." 

52 A. Schell to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 7, 1872. 

53 J. M. Palmer to C. H. McCormick, July 19, 1872; W. Trumbull to 
C, H. McCormick, July 22, 1872. 

54 J. M. Palmer to D. Cameron, Aug. 7, 1872, and to C. H. McCormick, 
Aug. 9, 1872; J. A. McClernand to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 12, 1872; 
J. C. Robinson, G. W. Shutt, and J. W. Patten s telegram to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, from Springfield, Aug. 13, 1872. 


at Springfield, the inventor declined his pressing invitation 
to attend. At this assembly a definite plan of campaign was 
decided upon, but the executive committee refused to yield 
to McCormick s wishes. 55 Thereupon he summoned the Demo 
cratic central committee together in Chicago on August 27, 
and to this body he presented his grievances and laid down 
his terms. 56 Up to this time he had paid only $1,000 of his 
$10,000 pledge, and the early optimism of the Greeley forces 
had been cooled by the reports of the large amounts of money 
which the regular Republicans were spending in their can 
vass. 57 McCormick s golden argument was unanswerable, and 
within ten days Governor Palmer and Melville Fuller had 
resigned from the executive committee, and its office had been 
transferred from Springfield to Chicago. 58 Whether the un 
conditional surrender demanded by McCormick was conducive 
to party and interparty harmony may well be doubted, and 
perhaps the "illness" which kept several of the most popular 
Liberal Republican orators from meeting their appointments 
in early September may be laid at the inventor s door. 59 

In the meantime, steps were going forward to press a close 

55 J. M. Palmer to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 13, 1872; telegram of J. W. 
Patten to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 16, 1872. 

*H. White to O. M. Hatch, Aug. 8, 1872: "He [C. H. McCormick] 
does not talk unreasonably at all, except on the point of Fuller s election. 
Whether he is unreasonable as to that or not I am not able to say." Draft 
of a speech of C H. McCormick to State Democratic Central Committee 
at Chicago, Aug. 27, 1872. C. H. McCormick to O. M. Hatch, Aug. 29, 1872. 

57 MS. undated Reminiscences of Judge M. F. Tuley. He recalled that 
McCormick assigned him the task of supervising the campaign finances. 
"He demanded a rigid accounting even of the smallest items." 

58 "Daily Illinois State Journal" (Springfield), Sept. 9, 1872. The move 
of the committee to Chicago was "to get it out of the control of Springfield 
Liberals and nearer to the dollars and dimes of McCormick" 

58 J. A. McClernand to C. H. McCormick, Sept 16, 1872; G. W. Koerner 
to O. M. Hatch, Sept. 11, 1872; C. H. McCormick to A. Schell, Sept 9, 
and to H._Greeley, Sept n, 1872. Koerner, Palmer, and Black, the candi 
date for Lieut Gov., were either ill or had illnesses in their family. 


canvass in every part of the state. 60 Contrary to plan, some 
county organizations refused to endorse a fusion ticket for 
their local offices. 61 Hundreds of Greeley and Brown clubs 
were formed, with "White Hat, White Coat, White House" 
as their slogan, and with their members appropriately uni 
formed whenever their treasury could stand the strain. 62 One 
Liberal and one Democrat in each county, or a board of four 
or five men, were appointed by the state executive committee 
to direct the local campaigns, and to receive and distribute 
printed matter from the national and state headquarters. 63 
The county board had the duty of naming a correspondent in 
each township and precinct, who kept them and the executive 
committee informed of the state of opinion in his neighbor 
hood. He should prepare a list of all voters in his district, visit 
every one of them, and note down their political preferences. 
These lists, or "window books," as they were occasionally 
called, revealed the weak spots in the state and could also be 
used effectively on election day both to round up tardy voters 
and to influence balloting at the polls. 64 

60 Circular letter of O. M. Hatch, Secy, of Exec. Comm., July 21, 1872. 

61 A. M. Herrington, Geneva, 111., to J. M. Palmer, Aug. 7, 1872; J. B. 
Jones, Sparta, 111., to Lib. Repub. Exec. Comm., Aug. 31, 1872. Nomina 
tions for county offices were made at mass conventions of the party, often 
enlivened by a barbecue. 

62 Hand and Metzke, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 17, 1872. The 
cost of a complete Greeley-Brown uniform was $1.50, including cap, cape, 
torch and flag. J. N. Cornett, Chicago, to O. M. Hatch, Aug. 13, 1872. 

63 The state central committee was made up of one man from each county. 
The Cook County committee, which managed the Chicago campaign, cooper 
ated with, but did not consider itself to be subject to, the direction of 
the state organization. Chicago Democrats, unlike those of rural Illinois, 
were permanently grouped into ward clubs, etc., and the state executive 
committee had no reason to interfere with their work. For this reason, 
Governor Palmer was probably correct in his opinion that the executive 
committee for the state should have its headquarters in central Illinois, at 
Springfield, and not at Chicago. 

64 C. H. Hunger, Marion, 111., to Lib. Exec. Comm., Aug. n, 1872. J. S. 
Moore, Lebanon, III., Sept. 18, 1872. 


Whitelaw Reid of the "New York Tribune" office prepared 
"boiler plate" material for the rural press, and Theodore 
Tilton who edited the "Golden Age" in the Tribune building, 
offered to send to every new subscriber a large and handsome 
lithograph of Horace Greeley. 65 A total of twenty different 
campaign pamphlets was distributed in Illinois. Some appeared 
in English, German and Scandinavian editions. The many 
Germans who for ten years and more had been a source of 
strength to the Republican side, now hesitated to vote for a 
party whose administration had allowed arms to be sold to 
France in the Franco-Prussian war, 66 and which had as its 
vice-presidential candidate the old "Know-Nothing," Henry 
L. Wilson. 67 They believed in honest government, and the 
Democrats in their appeal to them, made much of the scandals 
that had disgraced Grant s term of office. Furthermore, Gus- 
tave Koerner, of their own race, was the Liberal Republican- 
Democratic candidate for Governor, and he, Carl Schurz, and 
the Chicago boss, Caspar Butz, were relied upon to wield large 
influence over German audiences. 68 

To offset these men the Grantites sent to the state Franz 
Sigel, a German hero made by the Civil War. He and other 
speakers pictured Greeley as a rabid temperance agitator, and 
as one who would, if elected, return to the South all the fruits 

* 5 T. Tilton to Democratic and Liberal Republican State Committee of 
III., Oct 14, 1872. * L.P.C.B. of Lib. Exec. Comm., O. M. Hatch, Secretary, 
to W. Reid, Aug. 7, 1872. Whitelaw Reid was a close friend of C H. 

G. W. Brown, Butler, III, to J. M. Palmer, July 26, 1872. G. W. 
Koerner to O. M. Hatch, Sept. II, 1872. 

67 L. North, Kewanee, 111., to E. L. & W. L. Gross, June 19, 1872. H. L. 
Wilson was "the Grand High Cockalorum of the Know-Nothings who 
organized every lodge in Mass, and was one of the authors of the reading 
and writing test in Mass.** 

68 G. W. Brockhaus, Mascoutah, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 16, 1872. 
F. M. Araiis, Aurora, 111., to O. M. Hatch, Sept. 2, 1872. G. W. Koerner to 
O. M. Hatch, July 31, 1872, and to D. S. Phillips, Sept. 22, 1872. 


of the war. 69 The early hope of carrying the German votes 
to Greeley proved delusive. The powerful "Staats-Zeitung" of 
Chicago stood for Grant, and it was difficult at any time to 
make Germans believe that a ticket backed by the Irish de 
served their support. The Swedes and Norwegians of Illinois 
had been almost solidly for Grant in the 1868 election. They 
were harder to convert than the Germans, since for the most 
part they did not speak English, and their political opinions 
were derived from their clergymen who were Republicans 
almost without exception. 70 The large Irish vote of northern 
Illinois was expected, as always, to be predominantly Demo 
cratic. 71 

Naturally there was much bickering between the Liberal 
Republicans and the Democrats, but the many campaign letters 
sent to the executive committee by workers in all parts of 
the state also reveal an astonishing lack of coordination be 
tween the local organizations and the central body. Until 
harvest was over in mid-August, the Greeley partisans in the 
rural districts were satisfied to assemble occasionally in the 
school-houses and listen to local leaders discuss the issues. 72 
Once the grain was in the shock, however, they demanded an 
opportunity to gather of a Saturday at the county seat and 
applaud prominent orators whose eloquence would be fortified 
by a barbecue, band, and parade. One Liberal Republican and 
one Democratic speaker were usually the core of these pro- 

9 R. R. Finley, Galesburg, 111., to J. K. DuBois, Aug. 29, 1872. R. A. 
Mills, Galena, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Sept 14, 1872: "A little money 
expended judiciously amongst the Brewers and with the Volksfreund (of 
this city) will prevent the Radicals from making any further accessions 
from the Germans." 

70 S. Peterson, Knoxville, 111., to State Central Committee, Aug. 27 and 
Sept. 30, 1872. Bill of J. C. Hansen, Printer, Oct. 24, 1872. J. C. Bundy, 
St. Charles, 111., to O. M. Hatch, Aug. 4, 1872. 

71 J. N. Cornett, Chicago, to O. M. Hatch, Aug. 13, 1872. R. A. Mills, 
Galena, III., to O. M. Hatch, Sept. 14, 1872. 

72 R. C. Burchell, Oregon, III., Aug. 12, 1872, to Lib. Exec, Comm. 


grams, but if choice had to be made, a Liberal Republican 
was always preferred. 73 Koerner, Trumbull, Palmer, Schurz 
and Cassius M. Clay were the most popular of all General 
John A. McClernand and other soldiers of Democratic per 
suasion were welcome on any platform, since their very pres 
ence disproved the threadbare Republican charge that the 
Democrats had been disloyal during the recent struggle. 74 
The votes of the veterans were worth having, for, as Sergeant 
Bates of Saybrook, Illinois, remarked, "100 soldiers of the 
late war have more influence politically in any community than 
200 citizens who never robbed henroosts or masticated Hard- 
Tack in range of Rebel guns." 75 

Local committees were expected to request the Chicago 
headquarters for speakers, and they invariably asked for the 
most prominent men. They sometimes, however, negotiated 
directly with the orator, and he would learn from the executive 
committee, too late to make any change of plan agreeable to 
all concerned, that he was scheduled to address two audiences 
at widely separated points at the same time. 76 At the central 
office was kept a record of the engagements and open dates of 
each spell-binder. The local organization would be informed 
that Cassius Clay, for example, would be on hand at Bloom- 
ington at 8:30 P.M. on November i. Hand-bills and posters 
would be printed and elaborate preparations would be made 
for a torch-light procession to escort him from the depot to 
the "Opera House/ Farmers would come to town on the ap 
pointed evening, sometimes from a considerable distance, and 
would learn to their disappointment and anger that illness, bad 

C Bennett, Mattoon, 111., to O. M. Hatch, Sept. 26, 1872. G. Berry 
Greenville, 111., to J. M. Palmer, Aug. 5, 1872. J. F. Blackburn, Fairburg, 
111., to O. M. Hatch, Sept. 19, 1972. 

74 F. P. Griffith, Lagrange, Ind., Aug. 2, 1872. J. A. McClernand to C H. 
McCormick, Aug. 26, 1872. 

75 G. H. Bates to G. W. Shutt, Springfield, 111., Aug. 12, 1872. 

76 G. Koerner to O. M. Hatch, July 31, 1872. 


roads, faulty train connections, or an emergency call from 
some center that could poll more votes, had made it necessary 
for a substitute orator to take the place of the promised lion. 
Occurrences of this kind, all too frequent, dampened enthusi 
asm and lost votes. 77 

McCormick and his committee were warned by the national 
headquarters to be on their guard against the plan of the 
Republicans to "colonize" negro voters from Dixie in the 
"Egypt" section of Illinois just before election day. 78 They 
also must keep a sharp watch over the Chicago area, for the 
elections in Indiana took place in October, and it was to be 
expected that their rivals would rush "floaters" from Illinois 
across the border to swamp the polls in the northern counties 
of the Hoosier state. 79 General John A. Logan, one of the 
most popular of the Republican orators, was, with a degree 
of truth at least, charged with raising a company in southern 
Illinois in 1861 to fight for the Confederacy. 80 A Democrat 
of Chicago, who was a friend of the routemaster of Fore- 
paugh s circus, secured from him the confidential schedule of 
the dates when the show would be at different towns in 
Illinois during the summer and early autumn. Democratic 
rallies were arranged for those dates and large crowds as 
sured. 81 Sometimes local celebrities had to be outfitted with 

77 W. H. Neeces, Macomb, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 28, 1872. 
J. C. Crocker, Mendota, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 17, 1872. File of 
letters dated from Aug. to Oct., 1872 from Stewart Crawford of Galena 
to State Central Committee. 

78 A. Schell, Chairman of National Committee, to C. H. McCormick, 
July 25, 1872. This was possible since there was no preliminary registration 
of voters. 

79 E. S. Alvord, Indianapolis, to Illinois State Central Committee, Sept 21, 

80 G. Abbott to O. M. Hatch, from Duquoin, 111., Aug. 20, 1872 : "Send 
me anything to make his [Logan s] record obnoxious in print as a Republi 
can. I can get up some affidavits here that he raised a rebel company in 61 
in Marion & Williamson counties." 

si J. Garrick, Chicago, to O. M. Hatch, Aug. 9, 1872. 


clothes so that they could make a presentable appearance before 
their audiences. 82 

Thus the campaign ran its course, with McCormick irked 
by the details which required his attention and disappointed 
because his party seemed determined to saddle him with the 
whole cost of the canvass. The "Chicago News" was the only 
Democratic Greeley paper of importance in the city. In July, 
1872, it had a circulation of 3,500 and its subscribers were 
increasing at the rate of about one hundred a day. McCormick 
owned $2,500 worth of its stock and he was one of the few 
holders who had paid in full for his shares. The journal could 
not be allowed to fail during the campaign, but it was running 
behind about $1,000 a month. 813 To no avail McCormick 
stormed at the delinquent stock-holders, and finally in Septem 
ber, after making several small gifts of money to its editor, 
loaned the paper $4,000 at ten per cent interest, taking a 
chattel mortgage on the plant (estimated to be worth $6,000) 
as his security. 84 On the day before election a petition was 
filed to place the "News * in the hands of a receiver. Repub 
lican papers here and there in Illinois, which had turned to 
the support of Greeley, were boycotted by many former sub 
scribers and advertisers, and begged for aid from McCormick 
and his committee. 85 

82 D. G. Hay, Burnt Prairie, 111., to "Dear Brown," July 26, 1872. 

83 C H. McCormick to D. Cameron, July 15, 23, 25, 1872: "How then 
can I get along carrying the News, and how could I get on without it! 
. . . Why do they [the other stock-holders] throw the load on me whose 
boat, as you know, is already so heavily loaded down as to be in danger of 
swamping!" D. Cameron, to C. H. McCormick, July 18, 23, 24, 26, 1872. 

s * Inventory of "Daily News" Property, Nov. 12, 1872. Account-sheet 
of C H. McCormick with the "Chicago Daily News" Company, 1872. 
"Chicago Times," Nov. 4, 1872. 

85 H. M. Hale, Galesburg, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Sept 9, 1872: the 
"Galesburg Free Press" shifted to Liberal Republicanism and is "now being 
starved otrt." D. Randall, Aurora, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 30 and 
Oct I, 1872; J. L. Stickney, ed of "Fox River Press," Aurora, to State 
Exec. Comm., Sept. 21, 1872. 


The national committee called upon Illinois for money and 
speakers to help in the eastern campaign, and McCormick 
countered by requesting funds from the New York headquar 
ters for use in his own state. 86 Although Greeley maintained 
a brave front, he had lost most of his initial optimism by 
mid-September. At that time McCormick managed to decipher 
enough of a letter from the editor to read: "We have many 
discouragements. Our Committees lack both experience and 
money. But criticism is vain. We must do our best and trust 
Providence," 87 The critical illness of Greeley s wife added to 
his despondency, and on her account he refused to venture 
west of Cincinnati during the last weeks of the campaign, 
fearing that she might die before he could reach her bedside. 88 

When the news of Republican victories in the October elec 
tions in a number of northern states reached McCormick, he 
must have realized that defeat was certain the next month. 
The campaign in Illinois had been almost at a stand early in 
October in order to aid the cause of Democracy in the hard- 
fought state of Indiana, 89 and the inventor immediately there- 

SQ A. Schell to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 7, 20, 24, 1872; to J. M. Palmer, 
Aug. 13, 1872. C. H. McCormick to H. Greeley, Sept. n, 1872. L.P.C.B. 
of Lib. Exec. Comm., p. 189, C. H. McCormick to A. Schell, New York, 
Oct. 2, 1872: "The fact is that we have to this time been able to collect 
next to nothing." 

7 H. Greeley to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 15, 1872; C. H. McCormick to 
J. D. Davidson, March 30, 1881. 

ss H. Greeley to C. H, McCormick, Sept. 17, Oct. 6, 8, 21, 1872; Telegram 
of "New York Tribune" office to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 18, 1872. 
IL.P.CB. of Lib. Exec. Comm., pp. 148, 192-194, C. H. McCormick to 
H. Greeley, Sept. 17 (?) and Oct 4, 1872. In these, McCormick expresses 
his great disappointment because Greeley will not come to Chicago. McCor 
mick hopes that Greeley will at least attend the big political rally in the city 
on Oct. ii. 

89 J. S. Williams, Indianapolis, to J. C. Robinson, Aug. 13, 1872: "We 
are in trouble and need assistance. If we lose Indiana you are gone up in 
Illinois, and what you do for us, you do for yourselves. Morton is working 
as he never worked before and spending money like water." E. S. Alvord, 
Indianapolis, to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 3, 1872: I will draw on you for 


after hurried to New York to attend a meeting of the national 
committee. 90 Upon his return he, George Pendleton, and 
Thomas A. Hendricks addressed a large Democratic mass- 
meeting in Chicago on October 22. McCormick presented a 
most rosy view of the political situation and prophesied vic 
tory. He closed his address by denouncing Wilbur F. Storey of 
the "Chicago Times" for his desertion of the cause. 91 As late 
as November i, the chairman of the national committee tele 
graphed him that Greeley would carry New York state by a 
big majority. 92 Doubtless these extravagant predictions, in the 
face of many signs pointing in quite the opposite direction, 
were designed to exalt the spirits of the rank and file on elec 
tion-day. The returns gave Grant the victory by a very large 
margin of electoral votes. The Republican majority in Illinois 
was bigger than ever before in her history, and Grant also 
carried every other state north of Mason and Dixon s Line. 

$5,000 "as it will aid much in protecting us from the frauds being practiced 
by the Rads. who are desperate. The Legal Vote of the State will Elect 
Hendricks handsomely." Alvord was Chairman of the Ind. Democ. State 
Central Committee. There are many other letters from him in the Mc 
Cormick Histor. Asso. Library. 

9L.P.C.B. No. 138, telegram of C. H. McCormick to H. Baldwin, 
Philadelphia, Oct. 12, 1872. S. M. Moore and B. G. Caulfield, Chicago, to 
C. H. McCormick, Oct. 12, 1872. They urged McCormick to persuade 
Greeley to resign in favor of a Hendricks-Hancock ticket, or ex- Governor 
Curtin of Pennsylvania. "Any change is better than the condition we are 
in now, provided it would save our party organization." 

91 C. H. McCormick had hoped to have Seymour at this meeting, but 
the latter wrote: "it annoys and mortifies me to be unable to meet any 
request you may make." H. Seymour to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 19, 1872; 
MS. draft of speech of C. H. McCormick to Democratic mass-meeting, 
Oct 22, 1872. "Chicago Times," Oct. 23, 24, 26, 28, 1872. This paper uni 
formly refers to the inventor as "Boss" McCormick. 

92 A. Scheli s telegram to C. H. McCormick, Nov. i, 1872; A. Schell to 
C, H. McCormick, Oct 18, 1872: "So far in this campaign our disasters 
have come from a concentration of the whole power of the administration 
on separate states. Now we have an opportunity to diffuse this pressure. 
Hence the importance of a general fight all along the line." 


Many Democrats stayed away from the polls rather than sup 
port Horace Greeley, and the Illinois vote by no means accu 
rately indicated the strength of their party. McCormick turned 
back to his business, noting with regret that his political ac 
count was overdrawn by almost $3,ooo. 93 

For six years following 1872, party lines in Illinois were 
not clearly drawn. A goodly number of Liberal Republicans 
resumed their old allegiance, but many too, like John M. 
Palmer and Gustave Koerner, held aloof, and played for the 
support of the discontented farmer groups. The smoke of the 
1872 battle still hovered over the political field when the 
Granger forces arrived in strength to take the place of the 
scattered Liberal Republicans and keep the contest a three- 
sided one. Times were hard and Illinois farmers were more 
interested in economic than in political ills. In their estimation, 
the Liberal Republican-Democratic alliance of 1872 had placed 
too much emphasis upon dishonest government at Washing 
ton and in the South, and too little upon ways of raising the 
price of corn and lowering transportation costs to the eastern 
seaboard. Although the grain growers were not ready as yet 
to make common cause with the erstwhile "rebels" of the 
South for lower tariffs, they strongly felt that import duties 
were too high and lessened the foreign market for their crops. 
Above all, so far as the central government was concerned, 
they wished "soft" money in abundance, so that prices would 
rise and old debts could be paid off for less, or at least not 
more, value than they had received at the time the obligation 
was incurred. Although railroads could be regulated by the 
state legislature, only Washington could adjust the money 

93 Free Press Printing Company to C H. McCormick, Oct. 21, 1872. 
The company threatened to sue for a bill of $652. L.P.C.B. No. 138, 
pp. 452, 472, C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. Henrottn, Nov. 6, 1872, and to C H. 
McCormick, Nov. 7, 1872. Voters who failed to come to the polls by 
noon on election-day were furnished free transportation by their respective 
party organizations. 


situation, and for this reason farmers must make their 
strength felt at the national capital 

To the Democratic Party of Illinois, following the election 
of 1872, the question of whether the alliance with the Liberal 
Republicans should be maintained was relatively unimportant 
when compared with the need and difficulty of determining 
its official attitude toward the Grangers. Their success in the 
state elections of 1873 was a most convincing evidence of their 
power. They had mostly been Republicans, and their votes 
were urgently needed by the Democrats. To gain them, how 
ever, would require an adoption of their principles, and this 
would most likely repel the few rich men of Chicago who 
supplied the necessary funds for the campaigns. Of these, 
Cyrus McCormick was the chief. He was still the chairman of 
the Democratic state central committee. 

The issue touched him very closely because his business 
depended upon the good-will of the farmers, and the high 
price of agricultural machinery was one of their many griev 
ances. Although his factory conceded less to them in the matter 
of prices than did many other reaper manufacturers, 94 he as 
a politician was willing to make a stronger bid for their votes 
than were most Republicans. While in 1873 he believed that 
"masterly inactivity 7 was the best policy in order to allow the 
full extent and nature of the Granger movement to become 
clear, 65 by the next year he was ready to announce how far 
his party should go so as to profit by it. He would support the 
farmers in their desire for adequate railroad regulation and 
lower tariffs, and he would follow them far enough along the 
road of inflation to convince them of his sympathy. "No im 
mediate resumption of specie payments, and no sudden, reck 
less inflation," summarizes his position on the money question, 
"The agricultural community has unquestioned and grievous 

*Post, pp. 582 ff. 

95 C. H. McCormick to J, B. Danforth, Aug. 16, 1873. 


wrongs to complain of," he told the central committee in the 
summer of 1874, "and the Democracy should stand pledged to 
their redress, without however violating a single vested right 
or resorting to the extreme legislation which has proved so 
embarrassing to other States." 96 He was accustomed to say 
"This is a big country, and government must go by com 
promise," 97 

When this advice was given, probably a majority of the 
Democratic leaders in the state, as well as Liberal Republicans 
like John M. Palmer, favored an immediate resumption of 
specie payments. The Democrats and their Liberal friends 
assembled in convention at Springfield in the late summer of 
i874- 98 In spite of Cameron s urgent request, McCormick did 

#Speech of C. H. McCormick to Illinois Democratic State Central 
Committee, July 29, 1874. "Chicago Daily Tribune/ July 30, 1874, D. 
Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 25, 1874: "The East looks today to 
Illinois on the finance question, and you are regarded as the one who is 
producing a healthful influence on that great subject." In the 1868 letter 
file of C. H, McCormick there is an undated memo, which expresses his 
views of the money question at that time: "Pay $25,000,000 of debt annu 
ally. Fund all S-2o s [U. S. Bonds] for 40 years and pay in gold bonds 
@ 5% if desired. Tax the govt. bonds and issue several millions more of 
greenbacks to add to the volume of currency for prompt relief, reducing 
taxation, etc. This should satisfy both East and West." In this connection 
it should be remembered that he had purchased very few U. S. Bonds 
during the war. G. T. Lanigan, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, May 23, 
1874; A. Schell to C. H. McCormick, June 5, 1874; B. D. Buford, Rock 
Island, 111., to C. H. McCormick, July 23, 1874. SL.P.GB., Nov., i873-Jone, 
1876, pp. 77, 97, 105, no, letters of C. H. McCormick to A. Schell, New 
York, May 22; to E. S. Merritt, Springfield, 111., July 13; to J. M. Palmer, 
July (?), and to W, T. Dowdall, Peoria, 111., July 31, 1874. 

97 MS. speech of C. H. McCormick to Dem. State Cent Comm., n,d. 
but summer of 1876. "Chicago Daily Tribune," Jan. 9, 1876. 

as Letters to C. H. McCormick of $E. L. Merritt, Springfield, July 8, 
14, and 18, 1874; J- M. Palmer, July 27, 1874; J. A. McClernand, July 
fi6 and 28, 1874; W. L. Hamilton, Carthage, III, July 27, 1874; S. 
Heagy, Hampton, 111., July 14, 1874, and E. Barrett, Niota, III., July 27, 
1874. Letters of C. H. McCormick to D. Cameron, July 9, 1874; W. A. J. 
Sparks, July 16, 1874, and to E. L. Merritt, tjuly 15 and 21, 1874. In 
general, Democratic leaders in southern Illinois wanted their party divorced 
from the Liberal Republicans and a return to "Democracy pure and simple." 


not attend." Here a sharp contest over the money issue oc 
curred, but finally a plank very similar to the McCormick 
"straddle" mentioned above, was agreed to. The elections that 
autumn, both in Illinois and throughout the North, greatly 
encouraged the Democrats and pointed the way toward victory 
in 1876. After 1874 the Grangers, as an organized political 
group in Illinois, were no longer important, but their principles 
remained to the fore, and because many of them transferred 
their support to the Independent National (Greenback) Party, 
the Republicans and Democrats still had to reckon with a third 
party of uncertain strength. 

McCormick s share in forming a Jefferson Club in Chicago 
as a preparation for the 1876 election, won him the congratu 
lations of both Seymour and Tilden. 100 In the interest of party 
harmony, he urged that "Reform/* and not the controversial 
money question, should be the chief rallying cry of 1876. Not 
that inflation was the demand solely of the rural folk of 
Illinois. The currency question caused no clear-cut division 
between city and country-side. Men in Chicago told McCor 
mick that if resumption of specie payments should come in the 
midst of the hard times, many of the most substantial men 
of the city would be ruined. 101 Chicago was not suffering as 

On the other hand, McCormick, McClernand and other leaders of central 
and northern Illinois wished if possible, to preserve the entente. 

99 C. H. McCormick, in poor health, was spending- a few days at Wau- 
kesha, Wisconsin. Cameron, jealous of McClernand s influence over McCor 
mick, thought that he should be at Springfield to promote his (C. H. 
McCormick s) senatorial hopes. 

10 "Chicago Times," May 26, 1875, P- 4 C. H. McCormick to Jefferson 
Cub, Chicago, June 22, 1875; S. J. Tilden and H. Seymour to C. H. 
McCormick, July 26 and 29, 1875, respectively. &L.P.C.B., Nov. 1873- June, 
1876, pp. 267-268, C. H. McCormick to A. H. Pomeroy, Feb. 7, 1875: 
"Agreeing with you that scarcely anything short of madness in the man 
agement of our political leaders stands in the way of the election of a 
Democratic President in 1876, which however would not be new to us." 
In 1876, C. H. McCormick was also a member of the Municipal Reform 
Club of Chicago. "Chicago Times," Dec. 3, 1875. 

101 E. W. Cummings, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, July 28, 1876. 


much as New York from the depression, since the Great Fire - 
had kept most of its citizens from participating in the reckless 
speculation preceding the crash in 1873. The hard times were, 
in fact, a chief asset of the Democratic Party, if it refrained 
from too much f orthrightness in advocating definite ways and 
means to restore prosperity. 102 

Between 1874 and 1876, McCormick was mentioned time 
and again as a likely candidate for governor, 103 vice-presi 
dent, 104 or United States Senator. So far as the evidence 
shows, 105 he wrote little either to encourage, or to discourage, 

i 2 O. B. Ficklin, Charleston, III, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 21, 1876. 

10 3 "Chicago Times," Apr. 8, 20, and May 21, 1876. "Daily Illinois State 
Register," July 15, 1876. D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 24 and 
June 4, 1876. By late March, C. H. McCormick had evidently authorized 
him to "sound out" the possibility of his nomination for governor. W. T. 
Dowdall, Ed. of "National Democrat" (Peoria), to C. H. McCormick, July 
27, 1875. Dowdall urged him to announce his candidacy for governor. It is 
perhaps of significance that Dowdall owed McCormick money, which Mc 
Cormick for long was unable to collect D. Cameron thought Dowdall 
had too many enemies to be a helpful sponsor. 

104 Column in "Chicago Times," June 2, 1876, headed, "Cyrus the Great. 
At Least He is Willing to Take the Second Place on a Presidential Ticket 
... If McCormick Can t Get the Vice Presidency, He s Willing to be 
Governor of Illinois. Barcus is WillinV " J. V. Farwell to C. H. McCor 
mick, June 5, 1876. Farwell believed that if C. H. McCormick gave $5,000 
to Dwight L. Moody s cause in Chicago, the gift would be widely advertised 
through the Associated Press and help C. H. McCormick more toward the 
vice-presidency "than all the money you could put into the hands of polit 
ical wire pullers." "Daily Inter Ocean," May 14, 1884. This account states 
that in 1876 C. H. McCormick was urged for the vice-presidential nomi 
nation at St Louis but withdrew when Hendricks appeared to be the 
choice of the close states. McCormick was mentioned at the convention for 
this office but Hendricks was nominated by a unanimous vote on the first 
ballot "Daily Illinois State Journal," June 9, 1876. The editor thought 
that the move to get the vice-presidential nomination for McCormick was 
merely to divert him from seeking to be the candidate for governor. Mc 
Cormick attended the convention at St Louis. "Chicago Times," June 28, 

" D. E. Bradley to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 26, 1874. SL.P.C.B., Nov., 
i873-June, 1876, p. 413, C. H. McCormick to J, Reilley, Apr. 25, 1876. 
McConnick here thanked Reilley for nominating him for President This 


these proposals. Doubtless he was receptive, but he did not 
wish to start a premature boom in his behalf, and he seemed 
unable to decide which of the three offices held the most 
attraction for him. 106 He knew that he was not fitted for a 
rough and tumble campaign, and he did not wish to spend 
much money unless the prospects were favorable for success. 
His business advisers cautioned him that his interests would 
suffer, as well as his health, if he added to the burdens on his 
already overloaded shoulders. He was ever reminded that he 
had reached the top of the manufacturing world, and to ven 
ture at his age upon a new career in politics, with success at 
least problematical, would be an anticlimax. His wife, so far as 
is known, did not permit her views in this matter to influence 
his course, and, taking him at his word, the only reasons why 
he might decide to throw his hat in the ring would be to help 
advance the principles for which he stood, and to aid in over 
throwing the radical rule in Washington. 

McCormick tried in vain to persuade the Democrats to hold 
their 1876 national convention in Chicago, and hoped that 
either Samuel J. Tilden or Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana 
would be the candidate for the presidency. 107 Many of his 
party in Illinois, including the formerly hostile Coolbaugh- 
Fuller faction in Chicago, and Storey of the "Times," agreed 
with him. 108 Not a few rural Democrats, however, favored 

probably referred to a magazine article, which the writer has been unable 
to locate. 

106 w. x. Dowdall to C. H. McCormick, Feb. n, 1876: Cameron now 
tells me you want to be senator. "I advise you as a friend to make up 
your mind what you want and I think, indeed I feel sure, we can with your 
power secure it for you." 

w$L.P.C.E., Nov., 1 873- June, 1876, pp. 344, 364, C H. McCormick 
to A. Schell, New York, Dec. 23, 1875, and to H. Seymour, Utica, New 
York, Jan. 26, 1876. C H. McCormick to S. J. Tilden, May (?), 1876: 
"Men must be nothing principles everything. But principles must be 
coupled with availability. The soundest principles can avail nothing if a 
candidate can t be elected, for whatever cause." 

1&s D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, June 4, 1876. 


David Davis, an associate justice of the United States Su 
preme Court who because of his stand in the Legal Tender 
Cases was believed to be a friend of the greenbacks. 109 For this 
very reason McCormick opposed him and urged an assemblage 
of Illinois Democrats in January, 1876, to remain true to the 
innocuous money plank o i874. 110 In February, the "green- 
backers" met in Decatur, Illinois, and nominated Lewis 
Steward of Kendall County for governor. 111 They were more 
interested in warding off a resumption of specie payments, 
than in expanding the amount of money then in circulation. 
During the next five months the Democrats of the state de 
bated whether they should endorse Steward or nominate one 
of their own regulars. Finally in July, in the face of vigorous 
dissent from many of their leaders, they accepted him, but 
continued to stand upon the ambiguous currency platform 
adopted the preceding month by the national convention at 
St. Louis. 112 

. Chrisman, St Augustine, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 7, 1876. 
C. H. McCormick to H. H. Metcalf, Dover, N. H., Apr. 13, 1876. McCor 
mick would not favor the nomination of David Davis since he would prob 
ably split his party on the money question. 

110 MS. draft of speech of C. H. McCormick to meeting of Democrats, 
n.d., but January 8 r 1876 (Jackson Day speech). H. Seymour, Utica, to 
C. H. McCormick, Jan. 10, 1876. Seymour desired a conference. "Chicago 
Times," Jan. 9, 1876. This hostile paper often refers to C. H. McCormick 
as u a moss-back Democrat," "a centenarian politician," an "old Democratic 
warhorse," and as "a general by commission of Jeff Davis." 

111 H. Chrisman of St Augustine, 111., was present at this meeting as a 
scout for the Democrats. He reported to C. H. McCormick on IFeb. 7, 
1876, that the Grangers did not demand more inflation but would only vote 
with the Democrats if they stood against immediate resumption. H. Chris- 
roan to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 8, 1876 : "You could have been elected Govr. 
if I had had the presence of mind to buy the Decatur Convention Stewart 
[sic] only paid $2,000 for it ... I fear you are a trifle too modest for 
the best interests of the Country." 

^MS. address of C. H. McCormick to state Democratic central com 
mittee, n.d., but July, 1876. D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Aug. II, 
16, 1876. L.P,CR, Nov., 1873-June, 1876, p. 389, C. H. McCormick ^ to 
M. Marble, March 23, 1876, enclosing a printed copy of an address whkh 


Thus, whatever hope McCormick may have had of being 
the party s candidate for governor, was ended by the choice 
of a man who was prominently associated with the manufac 
ture of the Marsh Harvester. For the second time, however, 
the inventor was drafted to manage the state campaign in a 
presidential election year, and he was still a member of the 
Democratic national committee. 113 Repeating his tactics of 
1872, and disregarding the criticism directed against him for 
his inactivity, he turned over the active management of the 
canvass to Daniel Cameron, and stayed at Richfield Springs 
from late August until early October. 114 

During these months a better county, township, and ward 
organization was perfected by the Democrats than ever before, 
and their enthusiasm reached a pitch unequaled since the days 
of Douglas, fifteen years earlier. 115 The demand for campaign 
documents was unprecedented. As always, the Democratic 
treasury was not as ample as the Republican, but it was full 
compared with its condition when Greeley was the candi 
date. 116 More help was given by the national headquarters to 
Illinois than in 1872. No longer was it necessary for the local 

McCormick had made on "the issues of the day." McCormick hoped that 
his compromise stand on the money issue, known to many in Illinois as 
the "McCormick Platform," would be accepted by the Democratic Party at 
its national convention, 

us "Chicago Times," Aug. 9, 10, 13, 1876; "Daily Illinois State Register," 
Aug. 10, 1876. Post, p, 527, 

114 C. H. McCormick s telegram to T. Shirley, Secy, of the State Dem. 
Comm., Sept. 26, 1876. D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 6, 1876. 
On Oct 2, he telegraphed: "Great dissatisfaction about your absence and 
silence. Earnestly ask your return or campaign will be ruined." At the 
close of the campaign, Cameron was extremely angry because C. H. Mc 
Cormick only allowed him the "contemptible pittance" of $2.00 a day for his 
expenses during the canvass. D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 4, 

115 D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 26, and Sept. n, 1876. J. 
Jackson, Amboy, 111., to T. Shirley, Sept. 12, 1876. 

116 J. Jackson to Dem. Exec. Comm., Oct. 20, 1876. W. S. Andrews, 
New York, to W. Brown, Sept. n, 14, 1876. D. Cameron to C. H. McCor 
mick, Aug. 31, 1876. 


committees to furnish their own canvassing books and blanks 
for the organization of clubs. 117 They were now standardized 
and sent on request by the national committee. This board also 
despatched skilled workers to assist in regimenting the voters 
in doubtful states. 118 It even forwarded to the state central 
committee stamped envelops, addressed to each county in Illi 
nois, containing campaign propaganda. All that the Chicago 
bureau had to do was to write the name of the appropriate 
county chairman on each envelop and drop it in the mail. 119 
Before the close of August, the work of organizing three- 
quarters of the counties of Illinois was completed, and the task 
in the balance of them was well advanced. 120 During the first 
two weeks of the next month, the Democratic leaders of 
Illinois spent most of their time assisting their brethren in 
Indiana. Torches and calcium lights were sent across the 
border to help manufacture enthusiasm. The belief was wide 
spread in 1876, as in 1872, that Indiana was the key to the 
vote of the Old Northwest, and the apparently inexhaustible 
financial resources of Senator O. P. Morton needed to be 
offset by oratory, bands, and parades. It would be a fatal 
blow if Hendricks, the vice-presidential candidate, could not 
carry his own state in the elections of mid-October. 121 
The political "set-up" varied widely from county to county. 

n 7 G. Q. Leake, New York, to C. H. McCormkk, Sept. 16, 1876. 
"SH. H. Finley, Milwaukee, Wis., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 30, 1876. 

119 W. S. Andrews to W. Brown, July 26, 1876; W. A. Anderson, Madi 
son, Wis,, to T. Shirley, Sept. 8, 1876. The temper of the local workers 
is illustrated by the following word from J. M. Campbell, Macomb, 111., 
to the Dem. Cent. Comm., Sept. 18, 1876: "James C. Allen or Judge 
Doolittle etc., will make Grant and his co-workers tremble with consuous 
[sic] gilt [sic]. Their doom is fixed and the Glory of our Country made 
manifest. . . . We do not want any one who cannot denounce the crime of 
Sallery [sic] Grabing [sic]." 9 

120 D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 23, 1876. 

121 Letters to R. E. Goodell of E. J. Church, La Porte, Ind. r Oct. 24, 
1876; J. W. Clampett, Indianapolis, Oct. 2, 1876; J. G. Thompson, Colum 
bus, O., Sept. 19, 1876, and of W. W. Boyd, Vienna, III., Oct. 14, 1876. 
C. M. Babcock, Galesburg, 111., to B. F. Bergen, Oct. 10, 1876. 


In some the Greenbackers and the Democrats worked arm 
In arm and ran but one ticket for the local offices. In others 
there was a distinct committee of each party and each had 
its own slate of candidates. 122 In still others, harmony or 
jealousy at the outset of the campaign changed to the opposite 
feeling after a few weeks, and necessitated changes in the 
names and the number of the office-seekers. 123 The Democratic 
chairman of each county central committee was asked to state 
from which major party the Greenbackers were gaining the 
more recruits for the national ticket. The many answers re 
ceived to this question indicate that the Republicans were 
believed to be suffering the most casualties, but, in the light 
of the final returns, these preliminary estimates greatly exag 
gerated the number of defections, since only seventeen thou 
sand out of over 535,000 voters on election day gave their 
preference to Peter Cooper, the Greenback presidential can 
didate. 124 A Republican or a Democratic leader occasionally 
encouraged the Greenback movement as one way of weakening 
the strength of his chief rival. 125 

The many letters from party-workers throughout the state 
sent to the Chicago headquarters during the canvass leave no 

322 Letters to Dem. Cent. Comm. of G. Thode, Metamora, 111., Aug. (?), 
1876; Power & Harl, Metamora, 111., Sept. 23, Oct. 31, 1876, and G. W. 
Andrews, Murphysboro, 111., Sept. 13, 1876. J. A. McClernand to C. H. 
McCormick, Oct. 27, 1876. He opposed the tendency to fuse the tickets. 

123 W. A. Sparks, Carlyle, III., to "Dear Gen l.", July 31, 1876. T. W. S. 
Kidd, Springfield, 111., to R. E. Goodell, Oct. 27, 1876. W. C. Green, Ful 
ton, III., to C. D. Hoiles, Aug. 28, 1876. 

124 J. F. Snyder, Virginia, 111., to Dem. Exec. Comm., Oct. 16, 1876, 
J. T. Hoblit, Lincoln, 111., to C. D. Hoiles, Aug. 28, 1876. F. H. Marsh, 
Oregon, III., to B. F. Bergen, Aug. 28, 1876. D, Cameron to C. H. McCor 
mick, Sept. n, 1876. In this, Cameron quite accurately predicted that the 
Cooper strength might possibly total 20,000, of which three-fourths would 
be Republicans and one-fourth Democrats. 

125 J. W. Chapman, Oswego, 111., to State Cent. Comm., Oct. 16, 1876. 
C H. Lanphier, Springfield, 111., to B. F. Bergen, Sept. 3, 1876. G. M. 
Andrews, Murphysboro, III, to T. Shirley, Sept 28, 1876. R. Babcock, 
Pontiac, III, to T. Shirley, Oct. 27, 1876. 


doubt that the winning of the Germans was scarcely secondary 
in interest to the unnecessary concern about the Greenback 
movement. Of the hundreds of Republicans who appeared to 
be "on the fence/ the Germans comprised a principal part, 
and the Tilden leaders made special efforts to gain their 
favor. 126 Both parties rounded up foreigners and rushed 
through their naturalization papers so that they could vote. 127 
Carl Schurz was no longer available to aid in the good work, 
for he, together with many other Liberal Republicans, sup 
ported Hayes with a clear conscience. But Joseph Pulitzer, the 
rising young Democratic editor of St. Louis, was listened to 
with respect by many Germans in southern Illinois, and the 
"National Demokrat" of Chicago was laboring in the same 
cause. 128 Even before the end of August, Daniel Cameron 
believed that the Germans, "almost to a man," would be for 
Tilden and Hendricks. 129 His viewpoint was not an impartial 
one, but probably was to a degree justified since Chicago and 
certain southern counties, although Republican in 1872, shifted 
to the Democratic column in 1876. 

For the first time, the Democrats made an extra effort to 
win the coal-miners of Illinois to their standard. Much stress 
was laid in the pamphlets and posters, prepared for their 

B. Shumway, Peotone, III., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 24, 1876. 
H. M. Gallagher, Peru, 111., to State Dem. Comm., Oct. 13, 1876. S, D. 
Stevenson, Tuscola, 111., Sept. 19, 1876. J. W. Alexander, Sterling, 111., 
to R. E. Goodell, Oct. 23, 1876. 

127 W. E. Cook, Lacon, 111., to R. E. Goodell, Oct 31, 1876. Judge D. 
Kyes, Pekin, III, to T. Shirley, Oct. 23, 1876: "Parties are coming in 
at all hours of each day for the purpose of being Naturalized." J. Braun, 
Joliet, III., telegram to R. E. Goodell, Nov. 3, 1876. 

128 W, J. Onahan, Chicago, to C. C. Copeland, Nov. 28, 1876. E. Rummei, 
Chicago, to L. Steward, Aug. 18, 1876. F. Schell, ed. of "Stern des 
Westens," Belleville, 111., to E. Rummei, Oct. 9, 1876. 

12 D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 23, 1876. H. C. Conde, St. 
Louis, to J. M. Corse, Sept. 29, 1876. E. Hoechster, Peru, 111., to R. E, 
Goodell, Oct 27, 1876. J. H. Mann, Danville, 111., to B. F. Bergen, Sept. i, 


benefit, upon Governor Hayes* support of the operators in 
mine-labor disputes in Ohio. 130 A Soldiers and Sailors Na 
tional Reform Association was organized to appeal to the 
members of the G. A. R. and Cyrus McCormick paid for the 
transportation of a car- full of veterans to an enthusiastic rally 
in Indianapolis early in October. 131 Both political parties made 
arrangements with railroad and steamboat lines to carry voters 
to political meetings at half-fare rates, 132 and every student 
at Rush Medical College, who was old enough to cast a ballot, 
was given a round-trip ticket to his home on election-day. 133 
The usual effort was made by the Democrats to prevent the 
migration of negroes to southern Illinois during the last weeks 
of the campaign, and several colored orators attempted with 
poor success to persuade men of their own race to vote for 
Tilden. 134 

In fact, nothing was left undone to insure victory. 135 Over 
one hundred thousand more Illinoians than in 1872 came to 
the polls and the number of Democratic voters increased by 
70,000. Although the Republicans carried the state by a nar- 

13& J. G. Armstrong, Ottawa, III, to W. F. Storey, Oct. 30, 1876. G. M 
Andrews, Murphysboro, 111., to T. Shirley, Sept. 28, 1876. 

131 Letters to C H. McCormick of D. Cameron, Oct. 3, and Nov. 2, 
1876; R. Magee, Indianapolis, Ind., Sept 20, 1876, and of D. Downing, 
National Soldiers Home, Dayton, O., Aug. 17, 1876. Many of the 400 Illi 
nois^ soldiers ^ here are Democrats but the Govt. only supplies us with the 
"Chicago Tribune." Send us a Democratic paper. Many of the 2,500 here 
"are getting tired of Grantism." 

132 W . F> Pitney> Q u i ncy , m 9 to c H< McCormick, Oct. 9, 1876. 

133 W. H. Boak and J. S. Barry, Chicago, to Dem. State Cent. Comm., 
Nov. 6, 1876. 

134 O. Edson, Villa Ridge, 111., to Dem. Cent. Comm, Oct. 28, 1876. 
J. W. Clampett, Fort Wayne, Ind., to R. E. Goodell, Sept. 27, 1876. 
For the effort to prevent "floaters" entering Indiana from the Chicago area 
on election-day, see T. J. Wood, Crown Point, Ind., to C. H. McCormick, 
Sept 21, 1876. T. W. Halliday, Cairo, 111., to R. E. Goodell, Oct. 6, 1876: 
"Negroes are passing through here in small squads bound Eastward bound 
for Indiana, we suppose, to help the Rads. out of their scrape." See also 
his letters of Oct. 19, 27, 1876. 

IK w. T. Pelton to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 3, 1876. 


row margin, the Democratic national committee warmly 
thanked McCormick for the energy with which he and his co- 
workers had prosecuted the campaign, and unofficially in 
formed him that it would be most gratified if he were chosen 
to succeed John A. Logan in the United States Senate, In any 
event, he deserved well of his party, and if Tilden were inau 
gurated President, he would not be forgotten. 136 

That this hoped-for event would ever take place, was by 
no means certain in mid-November. The issue of the national 
election hung upon the disputed returns from Florida, 137 
South Carolina 138 and Louisiana. 139 Although the Democrats 
were convinced that the majority of the voters in those states 
had expressed their preference for Tilden and Hendricks, they 
saw with anger and dismay that their opponents were resolved, 
through their control of the "carpet bag" canvassing boards, 
so to juggle the ballots that each of these commonwealths 
would officially report its electoral vote for Hayes and 
Wheeler. The details of this dramatic story have been too 
often told to bear repetition here. Excitement in Illinois was 
intense, and in some towns business for several days was 
almost at a standstill. 140 The Democratic state central com- 

136 H. H. Finley, Milwaukee, WIs., to C H. McCormick, Nov. 6, 7, 28, 
29, and Dec. 13, 1876. W. T. Pelton, New York City, to C H. McCor 
mick, Dec. 13, 1876. H. H. Finley s telegram to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 
15, 1876. "Chicago Times," Oct. 19, 1876, mentions C. H. McCormick s 
senatorial hopes. 

is? Xwo telegrams from Lake City, Fla., to Dem. Cent. Comm., Chicago, 
Nov. 9, 1876. 

138 A. C. Haskell s telegram from Columbia, S. Can, to D. Cameron, 
Nov. 10, 1876. Wade Hampton s telegram from Columbia, S. Car,, to D. 
Cameron, Nov. 7, 1876: "All reports in South Carolina quite favorable." 

139 j. w. Patton s telegram to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 7, 1876: "We 
carry city and State beyond doubt and despite of fraud." Telegraphic bulle 
tin from New Orleans, Nov. 10, 1876, stating that the Democrats probably 
had won Louisiana. P. H. Smith s telegram from New Orleans to J. M. 
Corse, Nov. 15, 1876. 

140 A mass-meeting in Chicago was addressed by C. H. McCormick, who 
opposed forcible resistance, "relying upon the supremacy of the law." 


mittee was showered with telegrams from anxious party- 
workers asking the latest news, the current betting odds on 
the outcome, and in not a few instances, urging the use of 
force to place Tilden and Hendricks in office. 141 

There were moments when revolution seemed to threaten. J 
Differences of opinion upon the proper course for the Illinois 
Democrats to pursue in the crisis made McCormick s life ex 
citing for several weeks. As might be expected, he stood for 
peace, believing that right would eventually triumph because 
there were many honest Republicans both in Congress and 
out, who would join with the Democrats to prevent the defeat 
by fraud of the people s will. 142 Members of his committee, 
Daniel Cameron, E. L. Merritt of the influential "Illinois 
State Register," and others, chafed at his inactivity and his 
apparent intention to "sit on the lid until it bursts with emo 
tion." 143 Most of those who demanded action were young 
men or those whose hopes of federal jobs would be blasted 
if Hayes were inaugurated. The national Democratic com 
mittee supported the inventor in his refusal to sponsor mass- 
meetings or any other demonstration by his party which would 

141 J. G. Sherman, Geneva Lake, Wis., to R. Goodell, Nov. n, 1876; J. 
M. Hall, Paxton, 111., telegraphed R. E. Goodell, Nov. 10, 1876 : "Is it safe 
to bet on Tilden?" H. M. Brown, Columbus, Wis., telegraphed to T. Shir 
ley, Nov. 10, 1876: "For God s sake give me your latest from Doubtful 
States." Telegrams to R. E. Goodell on Nov. 10, of J. S. Eckels, Prince 
ton, III, and Ed Keogh, Elgin, 111., and on Nov. n, of J. C. Campbell, 
Streator, 111. Telegrams of J. W. Duncan, La Salle, III, to T. Shirley, 
Nov. 10, of J. M. Brown, Atkinson, III, to J. J. Crowley, Nov. n, and of 
E. S. Bragg, Fond du Lac, Wis., to P. H. Smith, Nov. 11, 1876. 

* 42 Telegram of C D. Hoiles from Greenville, 111,, to C H. McCormick, 
Dec. 15, 1876. Telegram of C. H. McCormick to A. S. Hewitt, Nov. 17, 
1876: "My advice here as there [Louisiana]. All peaceful measures first 
exhausted for right." 

143 D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 25, 1876; R. M. Andrews, 
Pittsfield, 111., to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 27, 1876. "Chicago Daily Tribune," 
Dec, 17, 1876. 


still further inflame those who were well nigh already beyond 
control. 144 

This tense situation caused a schism within party ranks 
and led discontented Democrats to criticize McCormick pub 
licly in terms so abusive that he must have been reminded of 
Civil War days and his controversy with Dr. Lord. 145 Worse 
still, he was unable to hold in check all the members of the 
Democratic state central committee. A few of them tele 
graphed to the New York headquarters that "We have 100,000 
ex-soldiers in the North as a nucleus to prevent anything like 
violence in case of necessity. Tell the Governor [Tilden] he 
shall not be defrauded of his seat." 146 Against his wish, a call 
was issued for a meeting of the central committee at Spring 
field in late December, 147 and the "Illinois State Register" let 
it be known that the chief business of the meeting would be 
to oust "the imbecile" chairman. 148 Nevertheless, when the 
obstreperous few gathered together on the appointed day they 

S. Hewitt to C H. McCormick, Nov. 13, 1876. "Daily Illinois 
State Journal," Dec. 13, 1876. W. Kirkwood, Sullivan, 111., to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Nov. 27, 1876: "I do not believe in resorting to the bayonet to 
settle every little question. We have had too much of it already to be toler 
ated in a free government." $F. F, Marsh, to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 15, 
1876: "/ think thai if finances was required, some of the so-called leaders 
would be willing to listen to your advice." 

145 "Daily Illinois State Register," Dec. 2, and 20, 1876. "Daily Illinois 
State Journal," Dec. 14, 1876. This Republican paper defended C. H. Mc 
Cormick and remarked that he had "long carried the Democratic party of 
Illinois . . . Atlas like ... on his shoulders." SB. F. Bergen to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Dec. 25, 1876. 

146 Telegram of Dem. State Cent. Comm., Chicago, to W. T. Pelton, 
Nov. 8> 1876; B. F. Bergen 1 s telegram and letter to C. H. McCormick, 
Nov. 20 and 21, 1876. 

147 Letters to C. H. McCormick of G. Edmunds, Jr., Carthage, 111., Dec. 
18, and L. B. Parsons, Flora, III., Dec, 19, 1876. "Chicago Daily Tribune," 
Dec. 17, 1876. This paper also supported C. H. McCormick in the crisis. 

14S "Daily Illinois State Journal," Dec. 19, 1876; "Daily Illinois State 
Register," Dec. 12, 1876. "Chicago Daily Tribune," Dec. 23, 1876. 


were surprised to find McCormick there. His better counsel 
prevailed. In view of the approaching election of an United 
States Senator by the legislature, it seemed unwise to advertise 
and sharpen the dissension within the ranks of the party. 
There was no denying that without McCormick s money in 
1872 and 1876 the state campaign could hardly have been 
carried on at all, and to dispense with him before victory was 
gained, would be sheer madness. 149 This conference adjourned 
after McCormick agreed to call a Democratic convention to 
assemble at Springfield on January 8, 1877, in time, so it was 
hoped, to influence the senatorial election there and the count 
ing of the national electoral vote at Washington. 150 

Cheered by the favorable attitude of the national Demo 
cratic committee, and very anxious that a Democrat should 
replace John A. Logan in the United States Senate, McCor 
mick was not unwilling to be the choice of the legislature for 
this office. Political lines in that body were narrowly drawn 
and the Greenback group held the balance of power. His 
known middle-of-the-way position upon the currency question 
was hardly a disqualification, since he and the soft-money men 
of Illinois agreed that the resumption of specie payments 
should be postponed. His office superintendent at the factory 

149 "Daily Illinois State Register," Dec. 26, 1876; "Daily Illinois State 
Journal," Dec. 22, 1876 ; J. A. McClernand and C. A. Keys s telegram to 
C. H. McCormick from Springfield, Dec. 20, 1876; W. T. Steele, Spring 
field, to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 22, 1876. #L.P.CB., June i876-Apr. 
1878, p. 497, C H. McCormick to H. H. Finley, Dec. 22, 1876: "I thought 
it best to meet the Committee at Springfield yesterday. ... I had in the 
meantime ascertained that the thing was a complete flash in the pan. 
I went down as requested by many members to make the meeting regular^ 
and thought something useful might grow out of it ... I have never 
attended a meeting of the kind with more real satisfaction. ... I had 
fully informed the members (all) of the game, and there were special 
pains taken by them to show their sympathy and appreciation" 

i* -Daily Illinois State Register," Dec. 28, 1876. G. A. Fitch, Chicago, 
to C H. McCormick, Dec. 30, 1876; telegram of J. S. Drake, Rock Island, 
to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 19, 1876. 


corresponded with leading agents in Illinois, asking them to 
say a good word for the inventor to their friends. 151 

H. H. Finley, a New York lawyer and member of the Dem 
ocratic national committee, who was at Washington working 
in Tilden s behalf, suggested that $2,000 could persuade the 
party press of the capital city and throughout the northwest, 
as of its own initiative, to sponsor McCormick s candidacy for 
the Senate. Such weighty support, so it was believed, would 
exercise a salutary influence upon the Illinois legislature. 152 
A friend in Illinois wrote McCormick with disarming frank 
ness that a not unusual way to reach the United States Senate 
was to buy enough votes in a state legislature to insure a 
majority, and he was confident that the outcome of the election 
in this instance would be determined by the "arbitrament of 
cash/ 5 153 Rejecting the advice of both of these well-wishers, 

i5i p. H. Matthews to G. A. Willey, Belleville, 111., Nov. 25, 1876. 
Matthews of the factory office asks this agent whether "you could bring 
any influence to bear either through yourself or others to induce them 
[state senators and representatives] to vote and work for the right kind 
of man for Senator. . , . I would suggest that Mr. C. H. McCormick is 
just the man needed in this emergency. . . . Please consider what I have 
said as confidential." SL.RC.B., June i876-Apr. 1878, p. 27, C. H. McCor 
mick to H. Chrisman, St. Augustine, 111., Dec. 6, 1876. Here McCormick 
asked Chrisman to help him become U. S. Senator. McCormick believed 
that some of the Republicans in the state legislature would not vote for 
Logan. H. O. Goodrich (agent), Jerseyville, 111., to C. H. McCormick, 
Dec. 9, 1876: "I think I can influence some of the members from this part 
of the state." D. W. Cobb from Belleville, III, to Co., Sept. 17, 1877. 

* 52 H. H. Finley, Washington, D. C., to C. H. McCormick or to C. C 
Copeland, Dec. 2, 3, 6, 7, 1876. On the 3rd he wrote: "Tonight I have posi 
tive information from Mr. Grant that he will not interfere and that Mr. 
Tilden will be declared elected unless some new complications arise." C. C. 
Copeland to H. H. Finley, Dec. 9, 1876. 

153 H. Chrisman, St. Augustine, 111., to C. H. McCormick, D. Cameron, 
or C. C. Copeland, Dec. 8, 15, 16, 22, 1876. On the i6th he wrote either to 
Cameron or Copeland : "C, H. is the only man among us all that has money 
enough to gain us one vote in the Senate, One more vote in that body may 
prove vital. We know he has the public spirit to spend the money. But will 
he think it proper to do it; that is the question. . . . Believing that it 


he encouraged his close friend, C. C. Copeland, and several 
others, to engage in a "still hunt" among the Democratic 
assemblymen in an effort to pledge them to vote for him. 154 
Reports from these scouts in early December were optimistic 
in tone, but if any member of the legislature bound himself 
to support the inventor s candidacy, he flagrantly violated his 
promise as soon as the balloting began. 155 The official journals 
of that body make no mention of McCormick. 

He presided at the opening session of the Democratic con 
vention at Springfield on January 8. He was disappointed in 
the hope that many Republicans would join with his party 

can only be done with money it becomes important to know his views. 
... I could render him very valuable aid . . . with a very moderate sum, 
yet I should never venture to suggest it to him unless you advise me." 
On the 22nd he wrote C. H. McCormick: "I feel well satisfied that your 
judgment is correct not to invest in the Senatorial nomination but to remain 
a careful observer and withhold decision until it becomes reasonably ap 
parent that the means will secure the end." 

154 J. H. Oberly, editor of "Cairo Bulletin," to C. H. McCormick, Dec, 
24, 1876. He hoped C. H. McCormick would win, but he feared the oppo 
sition was too strong. W. J. Onahan, Chicago, to C. C. Copeland, Nov. 
28, 1876. M. W. Robinson s telegram to C. H. McCormick from Spring 
field, 111., Jan. 3, 1877: "I find matters looking very favorable. Why are you 
not down here?" 5L.P.C.B., June, 1876- Apr. 1878, pp. 34, 37, C. H. Mc 
Cormick to H. Chrisman and to H. H. Finley, Jan. 2, 1877. In these 
letters, McCormick admits that his senatorial chances "look so blue" that 
he doubts whether he will come out openly as a candidate. But the next 
day (id., p. 492) in a letter to M. W. Robinson, Springfield, he wrote: 
"There have seemed to be so many aspirants to this high honor among 
the best men of our State that I have at least felt it became me to wait 
for some indication that my services in the capacity referred [to] might 
be called for. Your telegram to me is one that I can not ignore, and for 
which accept my thanks. . . . While it may hardly be essential that I go 
immediately [to Springfield]. ... I have expected to attend the Conven 
tion . . . and may get down a day or two earlier than the 8th." 

155 C. C. Copeland to H. H. Finley, Dec. o, 1876. Momentarily in mid- 
December C. H. McCormick decided to withdraw his candidacy, but he 
received a letter from New York Democratic headquarters urging him to 
go on. C. H. McCormick to H. H. Finley, Dec. 15, 1876. W. T. Pelton, New 
York, to C H. McCormick, Dec. 13, 1876. H. H, Finley to C H, McCor 
mick, from Washington, D. C., Dec. 16, 1876, 


and endorse the resolutions drafted by this meeting, condemn 
ing the "conspiracy" to defraud Tilden, and demanding that 
the electoral vote be counted, not by the Republican presiding 
officer of the United States Senate, but by the members of 
both Houses in joint session. Since the House of Repre 
sentatives had a Democratic majority, and was, of course, 
much larger in membership than the Senate, this manner of 
determining the valid returns from the three southern states 
would result in making Tilden the victor. This peaceful ex 
pression of protest, in accord as it was with instructions from 
the national committee, had McCormick s hearty approval, 
and signified that the conservative wing of the party was in 
control. 156 

Interest then shifted from the situation at Washington to 
the Illinois Assembly which for the first time convened in 
the new state capitol, "a structure so magnificent that he who 
walks its pillared halls, and gazes on its granite and marble 
stairways, must feel himself lifted into a broader apprecia 
tion of our loved Prairie State, and the great resources gar 
nered from its rich, virgin soil/ 157 Having been warmed by 
this eloquence of James Shaw, the Speaker, the two houses 
soon deadlocked over the choice of an United States Senator. 
The lower chamber of the 45th Congress would have a Demo 
cratic majority, but the division in the Senate was so close 
that Illinois s decision might determine which party would 
control that body. For that reason, the election was of more 
than ordinary national interest, and McCormick keenly felt 
his responsibility. 158 

iss W. T. Petton, Natl. Dem. Comm., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 5, 
1877. The resolutions adopted at Springfield were almost identical with 
the suggestions of this letter. "Illinois State Register," Jan, 8, 1877. "Chi 
cago Times/* Jan. 8, 1877. 

1ST "Journal of the House of Representatives of the Thirtieth General 
Assembly of the State of Illinois" (Springfield, 1877), p. u. 

* 58 See, ftn. No. 153, supra. 


On January 16, 1877, the balloting at Springfield began. 
As had been expected, the Greenbackers controlled enough 
votes to prevent the election of either John A. Logan or John 
M. Palmer, the two candidates who had marshalled the most 
support. 159 Evidently the aspirant that could gain the favor 
of those who held the balance of power, would win. McCor- 
mick believed that the Republicans might use money as a last 
resort to effect their purpose, and on January 18 wrote to 
Chicago for $5,000 as an emergency fund. "Prospects strong 
for us here," he added, "and no expectation that anything but 
incidental expenses wanted." 16 However, the matter seemed 
vital, and he was prepared to fight fire with fire, if need should 
arise. Finally, on January 25, 1877, on the fortieth ballot, a 
union between the Democrats and members of the Greenback 
party, gave the victory (with no votes to spare) to David 
Davis. 161 

i 5 * "House Journal," op. cit., pp. 85-150, passim. D. Cameron to C H. 
McCormick, Jan. 15, 1877. "Dally Illinois State Journal," Jan. 15, 1877, 
p. 4- 

160 C. H. McCormick to Nettie F. McCormick, via Amanda Adams, from 
Springfield, Jan. 18, 1877. SL.P.C.B., June i876-Apr. 1878, p. 497. C. H. 
McCormick to H. H. Finley, Dec. 22, 1876. At Springfield it is said that 
no one except myself can beat Logan s money. "I am terribly disgusted 
with much that I see in connection with these matters, but if I could be 
instrumental in defeating &c. I should submit to a great deal to accomplish 
it ... If thought desirable by Govr. T. (whose election I consider still 
certain) I should still do all I could in some way, etc. etc. Please write 

161 "Chicago Times," Jan. 10 to 27, 1877. An editorial on Jan. 19 states 
that few at Springfield take McCormick s candidacy seriously, but many 
encourage him to stay in the race so as "to keep up the market price of 
members" of the Assembly. C H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., 
June 19, 1882. In this, C. H. McCormick recalls that his friend, C. C. 
Copeland, controlled some Chicago votes which were to be cast for Davis 
on the first ballot, and then to be shifted to him. But on that ballot, writes 
C. H. McCormick, enough votes were cast for Davis to give him the elec 
tion. The "House Journal" of Illinois for 1877 does not bear out this state 
ment, although it is quite possible that some of the Chicago representatives 
may have expected to shift to C. H. McCormick after giving Davis a com- 


McCormick was dissatisfied because he believed that Davis, 
who was known for the impartiality of his political views, had 
promised to accept a place on the Electoral Commission. In 
fact, the Democrats had been induced to accept this method 
of reaching a decision upon the disputed electoral returns, only 
. with the understanding that Davis would hold the balance 
between the other fourteen members who were equally divided 
in their party affiliations. McCormick s state of mind w r as 
probably quite accurately reflected by H. EL Finley, who wrote 
on February 1 1 that 

the duplicity of Judge Davis now well known and understood has 
placed him lower in the estimation of our people than Bradley 5 s 
perfidy or Miller s bigotry. Davis could have saved us. He prom 
ised to do so and . . . then connived to have himself rejected. Judge 
Clifford refuses ever to speak to Davis again and he has left here 
in disgrace. I mention these facts because I think that you should 
know the standing of Senator Davis with Mr. Tilden and his 
friends. No blame attaches to us for his election as Senator. He 
would have been false to us, if he had not been elected. 162 

This was probably an unfair judgment of Davis s course, but 
it was the characteristic reaction of an ardent Democrat who 
was just then witnessing the Electoral Commission, by eight 
to seven divisions, give the presidency to Rutherford B. Hayes. 

plimentary vote. On this, see D. Cameron to C. H. McCormick, n.cL, but 
either late Dec. 1876, or early Jan., 1877. H. Chrisman, Galesburg, to C. H. 
McCormick, Jan. 26, 29, 1877. Chrisman had heard that with C. H. McCor 
mick in the race, Logan would have been elected, and that to prevent this, 
C. H. McCormick gave up his chances and released his supporters to 
Davis. Chrisman, however, wanted a loan, was a sycophant, and too much 
trust cannot be placed in his word. See, "Mississippi Valley Historical 
Review/* XX, No. 2, Sept. 1933, p. 235. 

162 H, H, Finley to C H. McCormick from Washington, Feb. II, 1877. 
He is confident that Tilden will win. On Feb. 9, 1877, C. H. McCormick 
wrote to H, B. Tomlin of Virginia: "I have still myself however strong 
confidence that Tilden will be the next Pres. ! with a strong probability 
that Wheeler will be the Vice! While to satisfy Mr. Tilden & friends, I 
consented to take the chance of a hand at Politics for a time, though at 
the expense of great discomfort to my family & sell" 


To the end of his life, McCormick believed that Tilden 
rightfully should have been inaugurated in March, 1877. 
Hayes won his praise by his benevolent southern policy and 
sympathy for civil service reform, 163 but he was glad that the 
new Chief Executive was determined to serve only one term, 
since in his opinion the people must as an act of simple justice 
repudiate in 1880 a party which had been guilty of the bare 
faced frauds of 1876. 

In April, 1878, because of illness, he was obliged to have a 
friend read his speech on the issues of the day to a Democratic 
convention at Springfield. This was destined to be his political 

Ours will be the responsibility and trust of governing soon [he 
predicted]. It has not been and must not be a question of honors 
and offices. We must govern to bring honor, respect, prosperity, 
peace and happiness. 

Although he favored the Bland- Allison bill then before Con 
gress, he warned his hearers not to expect it to bring pros 

My preference [to the Bland- Allison bill] would be the adoption 
of the trade dollar of 120 grains with free coinage privileges, and 
the call of an International Congress in twelve months for the 
final settlement of the . . . question. . . . With these provisions, 
I do not think it necessary to require the resumption of specie 
payment ... on the ist of January, 1879. The present financial 
crisis ... is due to improvidence, extravagance, overtrading, 

IBS "While in New York last November [1877] I talked with Hayes 
and was satisfied with his original and honest intention to bring about, so 
far as his influence would go, ... a fraternal state of feeling . . . and to 
do what he could in the way of the reform of the government service." 
From a MS. speech of C. H. McCormick written for delivery to Dem. 
Cent. Comm. in late winter of 1877-1878. C. H. McCormick to Dem. Mem 
bers of the H. of R. r 45th Congress, Apr. 18, 1877. He recommended J. W. 
Clampett for postmaster of the House of Representatives for his efficient 
services in the campaign of 1876. "Chicago Times," Apr. 18, 1878. 


and excesses, and recovery can only come from economy, industry 
and frugality. . . . With old fashioned Democracy . . . the finan 
cial question will take care of itself, because these political virtues 
bring national wealth. 

While abroad he followed the course of European events 
with more interest than those at home. Disraeli and his foreign 
policy won his unqualified praise, and the views expressed by 
the London Times" so pleased him that he resolved thereafter 
to have it always in his home. 164 He returned from Europe 
broken in health and he was no longer a member of the Demo 
cratic national and state committees. Because the Presbyterian 
Theological Seminary required so much of his time and 
thought during the last five years of his life, and business 
problems crowded upon him daily, he was obliged to make 
some concessions to his advancing age and ill health. He there 
fore gave up politics the interest which was the least near 
to his heart although he attended the national nominating 
convention of his party at Cincinnati in 1880 with some hope 
that he would be the vice-presidential nominee. To the relief 
of his eldest son, his claims were overlooked. 165 In the same 

164 SC. H. McCormick to "Dear Sir" (prob. W. C Gray) from Paris, 
March 30, 1879, 

IBS "Chicago Times," Apr. 5, 1878 : "Cyrus H. McCormick is understood 
to be a candidate for re-election [to the State Central Committee] but 
there seems to be a general opinion that he has outlived his usefulness as 
a party manager, and he will no doubt be placed on the retired list." As 
early as Dec. 10, 1879, the "Chicago Times" mentioned C. H. McCormick s 
vice-presidential hopes. $ C. H. McCormick, Jr., to Nettie F, McCormick, 
June 19, 1880: "Father leaves tonight for Cincinnati. There has been some 
talk lately of his being put up for Vice President! He seems not averse 
to the idea. Mr. Copeland however goes with him and will keep off the 
sharks. . . . The idea seems to be that Illinois must be carried, hence a 
Vice President from Chicago I I hope the plan will not go through." f C H. 
McCormick, Jr., to Nettie F. McCormick, June 28, 1880: Father had a 
first rate time at Cincinnati and saw many friends. He "spent no money 
in subscribing to campaign &c . . . is well pleased with Hancock & English 
&c." Before going to Cincinnati, McCormick had attended the Republican 
national convention in Chicago and seen Garfield nominated. 


year he declined an invitation to serve as the chairman of the 
executive council of the state central committee. 166 

His interest in politics never flagged. 167 He was much 
pleased in 1879 when his close friend C. C. Copeland served 
as manager for Carter Harrison and helped elect the first 
Democratic mayor that Chicago had had in many years. 168 
It was gratifying in the campaign of 1880 to have party giants 
like Seymour and Tilden come to him for consultation, and 
to receive letters from Melville Fuller and other new leaders 
of the party in his state, asking for advice. 169 He attended 
several of the party s councils of war during this canvass, 170 
and Hancock, after his defeat, took pains to send him his im 
pressions of the election. "There is no doubt we would have 
gotten through safely," wrote the distinguished general, "but 
for the peculiar results in the cities of New York and Brook- 

166 R. B. Mason, Chicago, to C. H. McCorraick, June 30, 1880. 

167 C. H. McCormick to J. G. Priest, St. Louis, Oct. 7, 1879. He thinks 
that Tilden could not be elected in 1880, and should not be the nominee. 
"His managers blunder." According to "Chicago Times" of Dec. 9, 1879, 
McCormick had just been informed by Tilden that he was ready to be the 
presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in 1880, "if the people wanted 
him." By June, 1880, McCormick declared that he favored Tilden, if his 
views were accurately set forth in the "Daily Inter Ocean," of June 12, 

168 C C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, March 28, Apr. 5, 1879: The 
campaign cost us only about $3,000. "The main object [of Harrison] will 
be to strengthen the party and retain the control of the city." An ominous 
feature of this election was that the Socialists polled 12,000 votes, but in 
the November election their strength fell to 4,000. 

ifis M. W. Fuller, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 7, Oct. 20, 30, 
1880. S. M. Moore, Chicago, to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 9, Nov. 4, 1880. 
C. H. McCormick to S. J. Tilden, June 12, 1880. W. H. Barnum, Chair 
man of Nat. Dem. Comm., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 3, 30, 1880. C. H. 
McCormick s $10,000 contribution in this campaign was used to help the 
Democrats in Indiana and Ohio. <f We only wish we had more like you 
in our party and success would be assured" W. S. Scott to C. H. McCor 
mick, Oct. 5, 1880. "Chicago Times," Oct. 10 and 17, 1880. 

1T{ > R. A. Pryor, to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 2, 1880. C. H. McCormick 
was a member of the "Campaign Finance Committee" appointed by the 
Democratic national committee. 


lyn. ... I never felt in better spirits than I have since the 
election. Although I hoped for success ; yet when unsuccessful, 
I felt as if a great load of responsibility and care had been 
lifted from my shoulders." m C. H. McCormick, Jr., who 
had reached his majority in May of that year, received a tele 
gram from his father on the eve of election, cautioning him 
not to forget to vote. 172 Shortly, thereafter, Poultney Bigelow 
persuaded both father and son to join the Free Trade Club of 
New York. 173 

Occasional mention of long conversations with Roger Pryor 
on political subjects and the record of contributions sent to 
help the Democratic cause in Virginia are the only glimpses 
afforded of McCormick s interest in politics between 1881 
and i883. 174 Although he was an unswerving Democrat at all 
times, he gave $100 to help erect a building at Richfield 
Springs for a Republican state convention, 175 and employed 

* 71 W. S. Hancock from New York to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 28, 1880. 
$L.P.CB., Nov. 5, i88o~May 9, 1881, pp. 20-21, C H. McCormick to W. S. 
Hancock, Nov. 19, 1880: Once more we have been "cheated out of our 
election." You would have been President "could the fair vote of the people 
of New York . . . have been obtained." 

172 C. H. McCormick s telegram to C. H. McCormick, Jr., from New 
York, Nov. i, 1880. #C. H. McCormick, Jr., to Nettie F. McCormick, 
Nov. i, 1880: "I smiled audibly at Father s telegram be sure & vote* 1 
. . . We shall try & carry this county by at least one vote! ... I felt as 
big as a Thanksgiving turkey when I went to register!" 

* 73 P. Bigelow to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 16, 1882, and to C H. McCor 
mick, Jr., #March 2, 1882. 

174 C. H. McCormick draped his house at Richfield Springs in black on 
the death of President Garfield, and Mrs. C. H, McCormick advised her 
son to do the same to their Chicago home. Cyrus, Jr., MSS. Book "B," 
Nettie F. to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Sept. 21, 1881 : "Oh, why should a life 
so grand be cut off in darkness by a life so mean and low as that of the 
assassin?" R. A. Pryor to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 19, 1880. SC. H. Mc 
Cormick to R. Pryor, Nov. 1 1, 1881. C. H. McCormick to H. Shepperd, 
Alexandria, Va., Oct. 27, 1883. C. H. McCormick sends $500 for campaign 
expenses. $H. Shepperd, Alexandria, Va., to C. H. McCormick, Oct 15, 

175 tCheck stubs, Importers & Traders Bank, check of Sept. 17, 1883. 


Roscoe Conkling as one of his counsel. 176 In the early spring 
of 1884, he wrote twice to Tilden urging him for the sake 
of his country and his party to stand for the presidential 
nomination in the approaching campaign. 177 He believed that 
Senator Joseph E. McDonald of Indiana should be the vice- 
presidential candidate. In the interest of this idea, he enter 
tained in his home on the evening of April 4, 1884, McDonald 
and eight leaders of the Democratic Party in Chicago. All of 
his guests favored his proposal except the senator. He was 
not unwilling, but did not wish to come out for the nomination 
in advance of the convention, for fear of alienating Hendricks 
of his own state. Following this dinner, McCormick wrote to 
Tilden, telling him that "all felt that no other name could draw 
so many Democratic votes as yours," and requesting him to 
permit the launching of a boom for a Tilden-McDonald 
ticket. 178 The New York statesman had already informed Mc 
Cormick that he did not wish "to deprive" himself of his 
"home comforts," although he had not positively stated that 
he would not accept the nomination if offered. His reply to 
McCormick s second letter is lost, but most probably it was 
unfavorable since no further step was taken by the inventor 
in the matter except to urge his eldest son to call on Tilden 
when he was in New York in late April. 179 

It was quite fitting that McCormick, when seventy-five years 
of age, should close his political activities by advising a man 
who had just reached seventy that his candidacy was neces 
sary for the country s good. Grover Cleveland, who would be 
President before another April had come, never appeared 
above McCormick s horizon. The inventor was a conservative 

f, p. 758. 

177 C. H. McCormick to S. J. Tilden, March 27, 1884. 

178 Idem to idem, Apr. 5, 1884. 

17 Telegram of C. H. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Apr. 30, 
1884. Entry of May i, 1884, in MSS. diary of C. H. McCormick, Jr., "Saw 
S. J. Tilden said would not run for Pres. seems very feeble." 


to the last, clinging to the belief that the elder statesmen alone 
could save the nation. The inward satisfaction of espousing 
certain principles that were dear to him, and the friendship of 
men whose names, like his own, were household words, were 
his only rewards for twenty-five years of service to the Demo 
cratic Party. 180 

180 In each presidential year from 1868 to the end of his life he gave 
$10,000 to advance the cause, as well as other smaller sums to the Demo 
crats of his own state and Virginia, 


CYRUS McCoRMicK s fame as an inventor rests upon his 
patents of 1834, 1845, and 1847. Wherever he traveled 
during the last thirty years of his life, people came to con 
gratulate him for lessening the toil of the annual harvest 
season. At the Centennial Exposition of 1876, visitors were 
more eager to see him than to examine the machines displayed 
there by his company. His title of "inventor" was richly mer 
ited, but those who thought of him in terms of self-rake 
reapers, harvesters and automatic binders, forgot that although 
many of these machines bore his name, they were not the 
product of his inventive skill. Their success, to be sure, de 
pended upon the utilization of the basic mechanical elements 
first successfully combined in one machine by him, but the 
distinctive devices which set them apart as an advance over 
the hand-rake reaper of 1850 were first fashioned by other 
men. Occasional trips to the field after 1855 to watch an 
experimental machine in operation, and a letter now and again 
to his brothers suggesting methods whereby mechanical diffi 
culties might be overcome, are evidences of his continued 
interest in this aspect of his business, but his days as an 
inventor closed with his patent of 1847. 

To explain this change of emphasis in the life of Cyrus 
McCormick by writing that his talent for invention disap 
peared with his youth, is hardly convincing. In the late 1850*5, 
and thereafter, the general oversight of his rapidly expanding 
plant, the need to be ever on the alert to meet the sharp chal- 



lenges of more and more competitors, and the responsibilities 
arising from the management of an increasing fortune, ab 
sorbed most of his attention and gradually widened the gap 
which separated him from the harvest field and the machine 
shops of his factory. Chicago grew apace, and the line be 
tween city and country-side became more and more distinct. 
Of necessity, McCormick had to make his choice, and every 
circumstance constrained him to turn the last thirty years of 
his life about an urban focus. Doubtless, he did not sense the 
alternative thus presented to him, but after 1855 he most 
frequently saw the farmer from the window of a railroad car, 
or from his carriage on an afternoon s drive from his sum 
mer-home. News from the grain fields now reached him in 
directly through the office of his factory, whence clerks for 
warded generalizations made after a study of the minutiae 
contained in the monthly or weekly reports of the many agents. 
His subordinates endeavored to spare him the annoyance of 
petty problems, and the worthwhile suggestions from farmers 
or salesmen for the improvement of the reaper were shunted, 
as a rule, to the superintendent of construction at the factory, 
and rarely came to the immediate attention of the master who 
had founded the business. 

Although real loss resulted from thus breaking his direct 
contact with the daily routine of farm and factory, a proper 
perspective for the wise conduct of a large enterprise could 
be gained only from a position of considerable isolation. That 
McCormick, manufacturer and capitalist, tended to crowd out 
McCormick the inventor, accorded well with the trend of the 
times. Although the momentum of a society becoming increas 
ingly industrialized depended in large degree upon the progress 
of invention, the post-war generation of inventors, with a few 
conspicuous exceptions, were eclipsed by the business giants 
who exploited the new devices chiefly for their own profit. The 
remarkable increase in the annual number of patents granted 


by the United States government between 1855 and 1885 was 
both a cause and an effect of the Industrial Revolution, but it 
also suggests that both inventions and inventors paid the 
penalty of the commonplace. 

The laboratory of the inventor of harvesting implements 
moved from the workshop of the farm to the machine-shop 
of the factory. Invention became the tool, and the inventor 
the employee of the manufacturer. Doubtless mechanical skill 
was still assisted by inspiration, but to cage a genius within 
the brick walls of a factory stripped invention of much of its 
romance. Invention was now a business, and ingenious me 
chanics were as customary a segment of a big manufacturer s 
laboring force, as were his moulders and salesmen. 

The pressure of competition, translated into a crisp order 
from the office of the superintendent to the expert at the 
works, was the chief stimulus to invention. After the battle- 
smoke of each hectic harvest season had blown away, there 
often stood revealed some machine which had found favor 
with the farmer in spite of the ridicule and high-pressure 
salesmanship of its rivals. Common prudence at once dictated 
that invention should go forward at the factory under forced 
draft so that an improved implement for next year would 
compel last summer s "favorite" to retire from the field in 

To help toward this end as speedily as possible, McCor- 
rnick s agent, acting incognito, would purchase and ship to 
Chicago one of the machines which had been so successful in 
the harvest just closed. 1 The inventors at the factory then 

*L.P.C.B. No. 145, p. 124. W. J. Hanna to E. C Beardsley, Aurora, 
III, Sept I, 1873: "You might ship it [a Marsh Harvester] to your own 
name here, and then come to Chicago to get it at RRd depot. We don t at 
present want our name known in it" Minneapolis Harvester Works vs. 
McCormick Hanwsting Machine Company, Defendant s Record, United 
Stetfs Circuit Court, District of Minnesota (1890), pp. 120, 127, testimony 
of Dr. Edwin D. Bishop: "All machine manufacturers have a code of 

c 2 t: f sc 1 1-s 

v-i x; es.s tf Se 2 


studied It carefully for the purpose of discovering a way 
whereby the implements in their charge might attain a similar 
perfection of operation, without making their employer liable 
to a suit for an infringement of patent-rights. If this could be 
done, the law still required that the patent should be granted 
to the expert who had made the invention but he immediately 
thereafter assigned all of his interest in the monopoly to his 
employer. Thereupon, the latter gave him a new problem to 
master, and the process was repeated. In this fashion the in 
ventor of machinery was himself mechanized. The patrons of 
this Renaissance overshadowed the artists. 

Invention of harvesting implements was not confined alto 
gether to the machine-shop of the industrialist between 1855 
and 1885. In fact, the half-dozen most significant of the hun 
dreds of patents for improvements in self-raking reapers, har 
vesters, and binders during these years were granted to 
farmers or to small-town mechanics. Nevertheless, the control 
of these inventions tended quickly to gravitate to the big 
manufacturers. They, alone, had the capital to exploit a new 
mechanism. Their scouts, or "patent experts," searched the 
country-side for valuable devices. These might often be secured 
for a very small sum. 

This increasing tempo of invention in some degree reflected 
the insistent demand of the farmer for machinery whereby he 
might harvest larger crops at less cost, but it more truly 

morals of their own. Anything is public property that they can see any 
where, and one manufacturer does not differ from another in that respect, 
so far as my experience goes. ... If they can discover an invention, that 
another one is bringing out, they take pains to examine it, and look it 
over." A patent was sometimes purchased through an obscure person, who 
then assigned it to the company. In this way a lower price was paid, and 
unknown to its rivals, a company had valuable monopolies "up its sleeve" 
to use effectively at the proper moment. L.P.C.B. No. 171, p. 150, the Co. 
to Baldwin, Hopkins, & Peyton, March 23, 1877. If a company wished the 
services of an inventor working for another firm, the letter to him was 
mailed in a plain envelop, not bearing the sender s name. 


represented a widening of the industrial battle line. Without 
question, the number of patents bore a direct relationship to 
the perfection of the implement, but they were sought the 
more eagerly because they were effective weapons to embarrass 
a competitor by assessing him with heavy damages for in 
fringement. The manufacturer who controlled an essential 
device could oblige a rival to pay large royalties, could nip 
small producers in the bud, and could withhold an improve 
ment from the market until he had sold out his old stock of 
implements or was prepared to make the costly alterations in 
factory equipment which were, oftentimes, a necessary pre 
liminary to the building of new-style machines. 

A lawsuit was also an excellent method of advertising. 
Newspapers gave it free publicity, and its course and probable 
results were "played up to the limit" in the pamphlets, post 
ers, and handbills of the parties to the action. The peak of 
the selling season was the usual time to seek a court injunction 
against a rival, for the complainant company could then warn 
farmers that if they used the offending machine, they would 
also be liable for damages. 2 The advertisements, the rodo 
montade of agents, and the field contests at county and state 
fairs, leave the impression that the makers of reapers and 
mowers were ever at one another s throats. Without doubt 
they usually were, but the most bitter phase of the conflict 
the struggle for a strategic patent position was almost en 
tirely fought behind a curtain which the public could rarely 
penetrate. In fact, two firms, engaged in war without stint in 
a sales territory, might be working in close agreement in 
patent purchasing or in opposition to a third manufacturer 
who menaced the safety of both. 

Under these circumstances, invention could well be left to 
subordinates, but the acquisition and wise use of patents were 

2 L.P.CB. No. 224, p. 328, telegram of the Co. to C. Colahan, St. Paul 
Minn., Jtine I, 1882. 


vital to the success of the firm. For this reason also, Cyrus 
McCormick devoted more and more of his attention during the 
last thirty years of his life to this most intricate aspect of his 
business. The profits or losses to be anticipated from lawsuits, 
royalties, and shop rights, were reckoned by the hundreds of 
thousands of dollars, and in some years equaled in amount 
the proceeds derived from the sale of machines. 

The exceptionally liberal patent laws of the United States 
permitting an inventor to secure a monopoly for fourteen 
years (and perhaps a renewal for an additional seven years) 
on a device differing in no fundamental respect from another 
already patented, stimulated invention, but they also led to 
a veritable labyrinth of patents on harvesting machinery, 
wherein even the best of lawyers frequently lost their way. 
The resulting crop of "interferences" and lawsuits was natur 
ally very large. The retainers and counsel fees charged by the 
dozen or so outstanding patent attorneys of the country were 
in proportion to the unremitting efforts made by as many 
major manufacturers of harvesting machinery to secure their 
services. It was a quiet year when the McCormicks, the Deer- 
ings, or Walter A. Wood were not parties to three or four 
lawsuits of the first importance. 

Even though good fortune secured the aid of redoubtable 
Peter H. Watson, 3 George Harding, Edward N. Dickerson, 
or Moses Keller, the factor of chance in litigation was still a 
very considerable one. 4 Politics, the patent-maze, the peculiar 

3 Peter H. Watson s clerk in 1860 was Henry Baldwin, Jr., who with 
his brother, William D., soon became McCormick s chief attorneys. 

* C. H. McCormick to H. Day, Dec. 31, 1874. C. H. McCormick to C A. 
Spring, Jr., Nov. 30, 1868: "Now is the time to do all at Washington, 
The present Commr. of Patents is I think honest used to be friendly with 
me, and I may have to go to Washington. Judge Foot[e\. Well that these 
extensions are before him. He will be removed after Mch. next, I look for ! 
So hurry up!" #G H. McCormick to Hon. Mr. Goode, March 24, 1876: 
"Since I have never had a patent extended, I do not think it is just that 
a competitor should be granted an extension of a patent covering an im- 


temper of a judge, and the meager knowledge possessed by 
Patent Office officials who too often owed their positions to 
party preference, made this branch of the business even more 
speculative than the sale of machines, so dependent upon "Acts 
of God" as manifested in the weather and the ravages of 

One who seeks to trace the rise of the harvesting-machinery 
industry in the United States must discuss at some length the 
never-ending patent war of the years following 1855. The 
complexity of the subject warns the student to avoid it or to 
dismiss it with a few words, but by doing so, one of the 
prime reasons why a few manufacturers dominated the field 
before the close of the century would be unduly subordinated. 
From the standpoints of money involved, energy and time ex 
pended, interests at stake, and results for the future, this phase 
of the history of the business is second in importance to none. 
Although to simplify the story is to distort it, to follow all of 
its ramifications renders it unintelligible. 

By 1858, the three basic patents of Cyrus McCormick either 
had expired or were about to do so. He was then engaged in a 
long and fruitless endeavor to secure their extensions from 
the Patent Office or from Congress. Suits brought by him at 
this time- against his several chief rivals for infringement were, 
in the main, unsuccessful. As late as 1865, he was still trying 
to collect royalties for infringement of his reissued patent of 
1847, which had lapsed four years before. His stand on the 
war issues, his active share in the councils of the discredited 
Democratic Party, and his absence in Europe between 1862 
and 1864, made it unlikely that he could gain either favorable 
judgments in actions before the courts, or a revival of his 

provement of my own invention." Occasionally, a firm paid an able lawyer 
"a shelving retainer." Although it might not wish to use his services, it 
could by this means prevent his employment in any case in which it was 
the defendant. Coburn & Thatcher, Chicago, to the Co., Jan. 5, 1878. 


patents by acts of Congress. 5 For these reasons, among others, 
the first chapter in the history of harvesting-machinery patents 
properly closes with the opening of the Civil War. The ex 
piration of McCormick s monopolies, the emergence of the 
country from a period of economic hard times, and the stimu 
lus given to sales by the war, brought many new firms into 
the field, and shifted the patent battle-front from the hand- 
rake reaper to the self-rake machine. 

During the next twenty-five years, rivalry in the harvest 
field, patent office, and court-room chiefly revolved about four 
implements : the mower, the self-rake reaper, and its two suc 
cessors, the harvester and harvester-binder. Certain patents 
covered devices common to all of these machines, but for the 
sake of clarity, the main lines of the controversy involving 
each, will be separately treated. 

For thirty years prior to 1860, inventors and manufacturers 
endeavored to develop a machine which would cut both grain 
and grass with equal ease. In spite of the extravagant claims 
made in the advertisements of the time, it had been impossible 
to fashion a blade which would perform this dual task to per 
fection. One knife-bar for mowing and another for reaping 
became the rule, although it was inconvenient to make the 
substitution during the rush of harvest. The sickle needed to 
vibrate more rapidly in cutting grass than in reaping grain, but 
this acceleration could not be obtained when a single machine 
was used for both services. During the 1 850*5 the demand 
for a separate grass-cutter became more and more insistent, 
particularly in the many districts which were turning from 

5 H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 7, Oct. 14 and Dec. 23, 
1865. L.P.C.B. No. 48, p. 304, C H. McCormick to H. Baldwin, May 2, 
1862. His patent of 1847 was reissued as ten separate patents in 1859. The 
"Press and Tribune," Sept 23, 1859. For the close relationship between 
politics and C H. McCormick s unsuccessful efforts to have his patents 
of 1845 and 1847 extended, see, "Chicago Daily Tribune," Feb. 4, 7, n, 12, 
14, 1861. 


grain to hay and stock-raising. A fortune awaited the manu 
facturer who could develop an inexpensive, light, and efficient 

mower. 6 

It is not without significance that the first single mowers 
to satisfy a large demand were the inventions of men of New 
York State, where so much emphasis was placed upon the 
hay crop. Here, in the 1850% the machines made under the 
patents of Rufus Button, 7 Eliakim B. Forbush, 8 S. S. and 
R. L. Allen, 9 W. A. Kirby, 10 William F. Ketchum, 11 or Moses 

6 L.P.C.B. No. 84, p. 137, McCormick Co. to S. Burpee, Malta, 111., Sept. 
n, 1865. By the 1870*8, however, through the use of "Interchangeable pin 
ions," the knife could be vibrated with either a fast or a slow motion. See, 
"Catalog" of the McCormick Harvesting Manufacturing Co. for 1880. 

7 Button manufactured his Clipper Mower at Yonkers from 1854 to at 
least 1874. Two of his licensees were Horton & Mabie of Peekskill, N. Y., 
and R. L. Allen of Brooklyn. Button was sued by the Hinged-Bar Pool 
and forced to take a license from it in 1872. See, Before the Commissioner 
of Patents, In the matter of the Application for an Extension of Robert 7\ 
Osgood s Patents, dated February i? f 1852, as reissued December 24, 
iS6i f Opponents Brief and Points (Philadelphia, 1866), pp. 4 ff. Cyrenus 
Wheeler,, Jr. vs. The Clipper Mower and Reaper Company, Circ. Ct. of 
U. S. in and for the Southern District of New York. In Equity, (N. Y., 
1869), passim. 

8 After receiving his patent of July 20, 1852 (reissued in 1859), Forbush 
formed E. B. Forbush & Co. at Buffalo. Several misadventures, including a 
costly infringement suit won by R. L. Howard & Co., maker of Ketchum s 
mower in Buffalo, forced the Forbush firm to reorganize as the American 
Mowing and Reaping Machine Co. of Buffalo in early 1854. It failed after 
two harvests. Eventually the Forbush patents came into the possession of 
J. P. Adriance and C. Wheeler, Jr., and were placed in the Hinged-Bar 
Pool. Love of Beloit made 50 Forbush machines in 1854 and J. P. Adriance 
also manufactured a few between 1855 and 1857. 

& Allen s patent mower was chiefly made in New York City. 

10 The chief manufacturers of the Kirby mower were the Buffalo Agri 
cultural Machine Works (G. L. Squier), and B. M, Osborne & Co. of 
Auburn, N. Y. Kirby s patent was dated 1856, and Squier made 2,000 of 
his mowers between 1857 and 1860 (inc.). Apparently Osborne was manu 
facturing Kirby mowers as late as 1872 for in that year he settled with 
the Hinged-Bar Pool for infringing certain of its patents in making these 

11 Ketchum, due to financial troubles, was forced to sell his patent to 
R. L. Howard & Co. in 1849. This firm for a time was the chief manu- 


G. Hubbard enjoyed a large sale until the inventions of Cy- 
renus Wheeler, Jr., of Poplar Ridge, New York, and Lewis F. 
Miller of Canton, Ohio, swept all before them. These two- 
wheeled implements, brought forward by men who for long 
were to speak with authority in the world of harvesting ma 
chinery, not only worked well, but offered the great additional 
advantage of a hinged, "floating/ 1 and "rocking" cutter-bar. 
This jointed beam, when combined with a mechanism whereby 
the points of the fingers could be raised or lowered by the 
operator, was one of the most significant developments in the 
evolution of the modern mowing machine. With it, the driver 
could ungear the knife at will, and either raise the mowing 
arm by a lever to a position perpendicular to the ground, or 
"fold it up" entirely in front of the wheels. Much less space 
was needed to store it under cover, and stones on the highway 
could not break off its knife sections as it was drawn to or 
from the field. If the horses became frightened, the operator 
had little fear of being thrown in the path of the moving 
knife. 12 This danger was also greatly reduced by the develop 
ment of a front-cut machine with its mowing-bar extending 

facturer of his machine, and was said to have made 20,000 through 1861. 
The Patent Office refused to extend his patent in 1861, C H. McCormick 
being one of those who opposed its extension. Besides Howard & Co., other 
important manufacturers of Ketctmm mowers in the 1850*5 were Ruggles, 
Nourse & Mason of Boston, Seymour & Morgan of Brockport, N. Y., 
Warder & Brokaw of Springfield, O., J. M. Champlin of Cleveland, and 
Hall of Poughkeepsie, Letters of McCormick agents to their employer are 
filled with references to Ketchum s competition. Ebenezer Danford s mower, 
made by the inventor at Geneva, 111., Beard & Sinex at Richmond, Ind., F. 
S. Boas, Reading, Pa., and in the Genesee Valley, N. Y., also enjoyed a 
considerable sale until the failure of the home company in 1857. 

12 J. M. Thacher to Elisha Foote, Commr. of Patents, Nov. 28, 1868. 
In Circuit Court of the United States, in and for the Northern, District of 
Illinois, Cyrenus Wheeler, Jr., vs. Cyrus H. McCormick and Leander J. 
McCormick. In Equity (No date or place of publication shown), pp. 783- 
786, evidence was offered to prove that Wheeler had made his first hinged- 
bar machine in 1853. L. F. Miller, the father-in-law of T. A. Edison, was 
one of the originators of the Chautauqua movement. 


to the side on a line ahead of the position of the wheel and 
the driver s seat. But "front-cut," when compared with "rear- 
cut" mowers, had certain disadvantages which prevented their 
extensive use for some years. 13 

During his early business career Cyrenus Wheeler, an astute 
Yankee who in his youth had moved to Poplar Ridge, was an 
inventor and a promoter rather than a manufacturer. In 1854 
lie was granted the first of seventeen patents for devices of 
his own invention, and when to these are added the sixty-seven 
others which he purchased during the next dozen years, it is 
small wonder that he was soon known as the "patent king." 14 
In late 1859 he formed the Wheeler Association, comprising 
himself, one Henry Morgan, a firm of machinists, and two 
mower concerns Ross, Dodge & Pomeroy and Sheldon & 
Company of Auburn, New York. To these he allotted a four- 
fifths interest in his several monopolies. Through this organ 
ization he proposed to prosecute infringers and to make and 
sell "Cayuga Chief" machines. 15 

13 Of the 21 mowers exhibited at the 1876 Centennial, 15 were front-cut 
and six were rear-cut. U. S. Circ. Ct. N. Dist. of N. Y. In Equity, W. 
Sprague 6- J. R. Parsons vs. J. P. Adriatic? 6- S. R. mid L $. Plait, De 
fendants Record (N. Y., 1874), pp. 605-614. One alleged advantage of a 
rear-cut machine was that it required less power, since the point of cut 
ting and the point of delivery were brought closer together. 

i* On Wheeler s patents see, United States Patent Office. In the Matter 
of the Application of Cyrenus Wheeler f Jr. For the Extension of the Reis 
sues of his Harvester Patents of December 5, 1854, and February 6, 
1855. Opponents Brief and Points (Washington, 1868), pp. 15-16; "Farm 
Implement News" (Chicago), May, 1888, pp. 16 ff. and July, 1888, pt. 2, 

P- IS- 

15 The firm of Sheldon & Co. (or Barber, Sheldon & Co.) was known 
as Burtis & Beardsley between 1864 and 1866 and thereafter as the Cayuga 
Chief Manufacturing Co., with Wheeler as its president In 1874 it con 
solidated with D. M. Osborne & Co., also of Auburn. Eight years later, 
Wheeler sold out his Interest and retired On July 8, 1868, he had re- 
secured complete control of his patents from the defunct Association. 
Opponents Brief, Wheeler Ex-tension Case, pp. 21, 36, ff. Sprague & 
Parsons vs. Adriance & Plait, pp. 371, 600. For a time, Ross, Dodge & 


The identification of Canton, Ohio, with the manufacture of 
agricultural machinery, dates from 1849, At that time Cor 
nelius Aultman, only twenty-two years of age, began to build 
threshers and Hussey reapers there. 16 His annual output was 
at first very small, but it was the beginning of a notable enter 
prise. Ephraim Ball, a reaper-maker of Greentown, Ohio, his 
helper, Lewis F. Miller, James A. Saxton and others, joined 
Aultman in 1852 to form Ball, Aultman & Co. In 1854 Ball 
perfected an excellent rear-cut mower, and the firm marketed 
this machine with success during the next two harvests. 17 
Undiscouraged by a costly fire in 1855 and a judgment by a 
court against it in favor of Jonathan Haines, who for long 
manufactured headers at Pekin, Illinois, the company rebuilt 
its factory and bought a shop right from Haines in the patent 
which it had infringed. 18 In 1856, Miller made the first of the 
famous two- wheeled, front-cut, "Buckeye" mowers, and the 
firm decided to concentrate upon their production. 19 Shortly 
thereafter, Ephraim Ball, who together with Saxton and sev 
eral "others controlled a number of valuable mower patents, 
withdrew from the enterprise, and until his death about fifteen 

Pomeroy made Ball s Mower. See, "The Cultivator" (Albany, N. Y.), 
Sept., 1861. Although Obed Hussey is scarcely mentioned in this discus 
sion, it should be remembered that his work was basic. As long as his 
patents on the knife and finger-guard were in force, virtually every manu 
facturer of reapers and mowers was obliged to pay a royalty to his heirs. 
"Hutchinson," I, pp. 163-164, 449-542. 

16 Record in Hussey vs. Whiteley, et als., U. S. Circuit Court, Southern 
District of Ohio, (1860-1861). 

17 "Ohio Cultivator" (Columbus, O.), Apr. 15, 1856, p. 128; July 15, 
1856, p. 216; Aug. i, 1856, p. 232, Oct. 15, 1856, p. 307; Nov. 15, 1856, 
p. 344. E. Laizure, Cadiz, O., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 25, 1856; G. 
Young, Hamilton, O., to C. H. McCormick, July 8, 1857. 

1S Sprague & Parsons vs. Adriance & Plait, pp. 380-391, 421 ff, testi 
mony of C. Aultman. Haines, either alone or in partnership with I. A. 
Hawley, manufactured at Pekin until his death in 1868. 

19 "The Cultivator," May, 1859, p. 164; "American Farmer" (Baltimore), 
Feb., 1858, p. 269; J. T. Griffin from Massillon and Orrville, O., to C. H. 
McCormick, July 21 and Aug. 6, 1858. 


years later manufactured his own "Ohio Mower" and "New 
American Harvester" in a separate plant at Canton. 20 

Aultman and Miller enjoyed instant success with their 
"Buckeye" mower. They shrewdly began to buy up patents 
and to license or sell shop rights to other manufacturers who 
anticipated large profits from making this machine. 21 One 
of their earliest and most important licensees was John P. 
Adriance (Adriance, Platt & Co.) of Poughkeepsie, New 
York, who heretofore had been building J. H. Manny reaper- 
mowers and Forbush mowers for the New England trade at 
his Worcester factory. For almost fifty years Adriance was a 
prominent figure in harvesting-machinery circles. Fortunately 
for his future, he purchased several valuable mower patents 
in the late 1850*8, and was thus enabled to bargain with those 
who insisted that he was infringing their monopolies. 22 

Thus, by 1860, Wheeler and Adriance in New York, and 
Ball, Aultman, Miller and their associates in Ohio, controlled 

20 "Michigan Farmer" (Detroit), June 23, 1860, p. 193; L.P.C.B. NO. 31, 
p. 211, the Co. to W. C Leyburn, Galesburg, 111., Apr. (?), 1860; "The 
Cultivator," Dec,, 1862, p. 377. SAultman Steel Co. to C. H. McCormick 
& Co., from Canton, (X, Oct. 20, 1871. 

21 U. S. Senate, 45th Congress, 2nd Sess., Misc. Doc. No. 50 (Washing 
ton, 1878). Between 1857 and 1865 (both inclusive) the "Buckeye" works, 
or its licensees, built 24,000 machines. By 1861, C. Aultman & Co. owned 
34 patents, embracing over 50 claims. Perhaps the most important of these, 
besides those covering their own inventions, was the hinged-bar patent of 
Sylla and Adams, 1853, purchased in Apr. 1858. This was extended in 1867. 

22 Adriance took a "Buckeye" license in Oct. 1857. He began to manu 
facture at Worcester, Mass., in 1855. Sprague & Parsons vs. Adriance & 
Platt, pp. 350-351, 660-667; "Ohio Cultivator," July i, 1855, p. 198; 
"Genesee Farmer" (Rochester, N. Y.), June, 1860, p. 194; Adriance, Platt 
& Co. "Catalogs" for 1896 and 1900. At the close of the century this com 
pany bought out D. S. Morgan & Co. of Brockport, N. Y. It is interesting 
to note that for over forty years, Advance s factory superintendent was 
Thomas S. Brown, whose father, Thomas, a smith and founder of Alnwick, 
England, invented with Henry Ogle, a reaper of significant construction 
about 1820. See, an unsigned pamphlet, "Light from the Past" (Pough 
keepsie, 1901) ; T. S. Brown to McCormick Harvesting Machine Co., Oct. 
3, 1905; "Hutchinson," I, pp. 63-64. 


a score or more of mower patents. In short, the "Buckeye* * 
and "Cayuga Chief" interests dominated the mower trade of 
the country, but because their patent claims overlapped, the 
stage was set for a series of expensive suits for infringe 
ment which in all probability would dwarf any heretofore 
known in the history of the industry. Under these circum 
stances, on January 27, 1860, many of the Aultman-Miller, 
Wheeler and Adriance patents were pooled, and a definite sales 
territory for each firm was designated. More patents were to 
be purchased and the types of machines to be manufactured by 
each associate were standardized. Ball and his colleague, J. A. 
Saxton, forced their way into the "Ring" two years later. 

This combination assumed that their patents covered all 
essential features of every two-wheeled, flexible-bar mower 
made in the United States, as well as many devices commonly 
employed in one-wheel machines. Therefore, any manufacturer 
who had the temerity to make these implements would be com 
pelled by suit, or by a threat of suit, to pay tribute to the 
pool, varying from $7.50 to $10 a machine. 23 Although the 
licensees of Wheeler were then producing only one-eighth as 
many machines annually as were the "Buckeye" manufac 
turers, his patents were so numerous and so important that 
his association was allotted one-third of the profits of the 
pool. Up to 1868, the members of the pool built over 120,000 
machines and received more than $530,0x30 in license fees from 
twenty-five or more manufacturers. 24 William Allen, the at- 

23 Osgood Extension Case. Here will be found listed the various patents 
merged in the pool. Opponents? Brief, Wheeler Extension Case, pp. 6, 27 
ff., 44, 56-57; Wheeler vs. McCormicks, pp. 832-838. For the pool agree 
ment itself, see, Aultman vs. Hottey and Fittz, op. cit., pp. 83-90, 94-96. 

24 United States Patent Office. Sylla and Adams Extensions. Patent, 
Dated September 2O> 1853. Part II, Opponents Proof (Philadelphia, 1867), 
p. 80. Some of the licensees of the Hinged-Bar Pool were F. W. Parmenter, 
Troy; M. Hallenbeck, Albany; R. Button, Yonkers, F. Kishwitz, Brooklyn, 
Kniffen Mowing Machine Co. (made about 4,000 mowers 1861-65), Wor 
cester, Mass., Chapman, Donnelly & Co., Lima, O., Reynolds & Co., Aurora, 


torney for the pool, was ever on the alert to sue unsubmissive 
firms. 25 The "Ring," however, insisted that it worked to the 
benefit of both the manufacturer and the farmer, since the 
one was guaranteed against prosecution if he took a license, 
and the other was told that by this interlocking of patents, 
better mowers than ever before were being made for his use. 26 
Probably a more realistic view would emphasize that protec 
tion for themselves and the plunder of all others were the 
chief objectives. 

Although the combination was profitable, its ten years of 
life were filled with discord. All of the patents owned by the 
several members of the pool had not been merged, and for 
this reason each associate continue to grant licenses under his 
reserved monopolies. Since some of these apparently covered 
features which were also embraced by the pool patents, there 
was a deal of bickering among the confederates and uncer 
tainty on the part of the licensees. To add to the confusion, 
there were many "outsiders" who believed that Miller and 
Wheeler were not the first to invent a hinged-bar machine. 
As early as the late 1830*5, in their opinion, Abram Randall 
of Oneida, New York, and Hazard Knowles of Washington, 
D. C, had employed this device in their unsuccessful reapers. 
Although Knowles had been prevented from securing a patent 
because he was an employee of the Patent Office, his imple 
ment in altered form, and Randall s also, were still in exist- 

N. Y., Nixon & Co., Alliance, O., Woodman & Burnham, Biddeford, Me., 
C. J. Shuttieworth, Springville, N. Y., Walter A. Wood & Co., and Barber, 
Sheldon & Co., of Auburn, N. Y. See, Osgood Extension Case, pp. 4 ff., 
and C Wheeler, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 31, Dec. 2 and 12, 1864. 
For the sums collected annually by this pool between 1862 and 1868 (both 
inc.) see Opponents" Brief, Wheeler Extension Case, pp. 36 ff. These range 
from $6463 in 1862 to $138,517.02 in 1865. 

* 5 Avltman vs. Holley and Fitts, pp. 614-615, 835 ff. lists some of the 
suits launched by the pool against infringers. 

26 Printed Circular of the Hinged-Bar Pool, 1866. 


ence. 27 The Randall patent came into the possession of Walter 
A. Wood of Hoosick Falls, New York, and thanks largely 
to it, he was able to make a mutual licensing agreement with 
the pool in i862. 2S 

Perhaps Moses G. Hubbard of Syracuse, New York, was 
the most untiring in his efforts to break the strangle hold of 
the pool. With a dozen sub-manufacturers in 1862 paying 
him royalties under his several valuable mower patents, he 
seemed destined eventually to wield as much power in harvest 
ing-machine circles as Wheeler. He bought what purported to 
be the old Knowles machine and borrowed the use of the 
Randall reaper, and they were seen in many court rooms dur 
ing the early years of the Civil War. 29 Hubbard, with too 

27 Sylla and Adams Extension Case, Opponents Proofs, Part II, pp. 4, 
13. United States Patent Office. In the Matter of the Application for the 
Extension of the Reissues of the Patents of J. E, Brown and $. S. Bartlett, 
for Grain and Grass Harvesters of January 2 } 1855. Testimony (Washing 
ton, 1868), pp. 86-87, IO7- Among the early inventors challenging the pool s 
right to claim the hinged-har, was S. S. Bartlett (d. 1868) of Woonsocket, 
Rhode Island, who was financed by J. E. Brown (d. 1865), a tailor. They 
began experimenting with hinged-bar machines in 1849. Their patents, how 
ever, were eventually sold to the Saxton-Ball interest, and merged in the 
Hinged-Bar Pool. See, M. S. Stetson, Salem, Ohio, to C. H. & L. J. 
McCormick, Dec. 15, 1864. Note also, the Sylla and Adams hinged-bar 
patent of 1853, already mentioned (supra, ftn. 21). At a later date, W. 
Gage of Buffalo claimed that he invented in 1850 the first "Buckeye" for 
J. P. Adriance. 5C. Colahan to C. H. McCormick, July 2 and Nov. 27, 
1874; Mch. 10, 1875. 

28 Sylla and Adams Extension, Opponents Proofs, Part II, pp. 44 46, 
53, 60, 91-97- 

^Aultman vs. Holley and Fitts, pp. 513 #-, 7^9- Sylla and Adams Exten 
sion Case, Opponents 3 Proofs, Part II, pp. 4, 13, 40-41, 74-75- Wheeler vs. 
McCormicks, pp. 401-402; 683-86, 700-01, 716. Hubbard was interested in 
mowers as early as 1853. Some of his sub-manufacturers were Silliman 
Bros. & Co. of Brockport, N. Y., Hallenbeck & Cunningham, Albany, 
N. Y., and Bradley Bradley of Syracuse, N. Y. On the early history of 
the Randall and Knowles machines, see, "Hutchinson," I, pp. 155, 157. 
Although Hubbard had bought the Knowles machine, Knowles in 1867 
assigned all of his rights in his unpatented invention to Frederick Nishwitz 


much self-confidence, failed to follow the prudent example 
of the pool, of paying royalty to the Hussey heirs for the use 
of their open-back guard-finger. Consequently they brought 
him to heel in 1863. Early in the same year, however, he made 
a very favorable arrangement with the Hinged-Bar Pool, 
whereby he was permitted to sub-license others under its pat 
ents. 30 Thereupon, the Knowles and Randall reapers, which 
might well prove embarrassing to the "Ring," were oppor 
tunely "lost." 31 

When Cyras McCormick returned from Europe in 1864, 
he at once learned that the mower question was among the 
chief business problems demanding his immediate attention. 
For six years his agents had complained of their inability to 
make headway against the "Buckeye" competition in the Mid 
dle West, and obviously the time was ripe for the Chicago 
partners to build a two- wheeled, hinged-bar mower of their 
own. The old style, one-wheeled, rigid, wooden-beam machine 
was outmoded, and unless they were willing to abandon the 
mower trade to their rivals, some change was imperative. By 
1864, however, patents on mowers embraced such a wide 

who manufactured the Monitor mower in Brooklyn, 1862 ff. Nishwitz had 
made several valuable improvements on single mowers, but had been obliged 
to take license from the Hinged-Bar Pool in 1864. By 1871, aided by the 
Sprague Mowing Machine Co., of Providence, R. I., he was using his 
lifting-lever patent of 1858 to bring J. P. Adriance to book. Sprague & 
Parsons vs. Adriance 6- Plait, p. 667; JJ. Pine, Troy, N. Y., to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Nov. 21, 1872. 

30 C Wheeler, Jr., to C H. McCormick, Oct. 31, 1864. The pool mem 
bers paid the Hussey heirs $2.50 per machine. Record in Hussey vs. Bradley 
et als. U. S. Circuit Court, Northern District of New York (1861-1863). 
Hubbard was also sued for infringing the Sylla and Adams patent owned 
by Aultman. Sylla and Adams Extension Case, Opponents Proofs Part 

n, pp. 63-71. 

31 Aultman vs. Holley & Fitts, pp. 515-518; Wheeler vs. McCormicks 
PP- 213, 721 ff. In the early 1870% Hubbard s rear-cut "Meadow Lark" 
mower was widely sold. It was manufactured by James Brayley, proprietor 
of Rochester Agricultural Works of Rochester, N. Y. See "Brenton. Terrv 
& Belden s Monthly" (Chicago), Mch. i, 1873. ^ ^ 


range of devices that it was hardly possible for them to mod 
ernize their machines without infringing the monopolies of 
their rivals. Little mercy could be expected from the pool, 
because several years before Cyrus McCormick had compelled 
the Aultman-Miller Company to pay him royalties under his 
reissued patent of I847. 32 

In the early autumn of 1864, the McCormicks made a care 
ful examination of the several types of two-wheeled, hinged- 
bar mowers then on the market, 33 and by December resolved 
to choose either the Hubbard or the "Cayuga Chief" machines 
of Wheeler. Month after month into 1865 the negotiations 
continued with Wheeler and the Hinged-Bar Pool. In the 
meantime, an agreement was closed with Hubbard to make one 
thousand of his mowers for the harvest of that year, paying 
him $5.00 royalty per machine. Although the McCormicks 
expected to clear $100,000 on this contract, it was not wholly 
satisfactory, since the field of sale was limited to Iowa, Kan 
sas, Nebraska Territory, and Missouri. 34 Long before harvest 
came, it was well understood at the factory that the arrange- 
as L.P.C.B. No. 47, P- 159, C. H. McCormick to G. Harding, Mch. 20, 
1862; No. 48, p. 390, to T. H. Dodge, May 5, 1862; No. 52, p. 2, C A. 
Spring, Jr., to E. P. Grant, Canton, O., Sept. i, 1862. $C. H. McCormick 
to C. Aultman & Co., Canton, O., July 14, 1862. This Co. paid McCormick 
about $8,800, or $7.50 per machine. $C. Copeland to C. H. McCormick, 
Apr. 8, 1864. 
33 Letters of W. S. McCormick in L.P.C.B. No. 74, pp. 846, to W. H. 

B. Warren, Indianapolis, Sept. 26, 1864; No. 76, p. 309, to Kniffen & Har 
rington, Worcester, Mass., Nov. 24, 1864; No. 75, p. 192, to E. Ball, 
Canton, O., Oct. 5, 1864. No. 76, p. 613, W. J. Hanna to (?) Woodhuil, 
Dayton, O., Dec. 12, 1864. 

** Ibid., No. 75 and No. 76 (Oct-Dec., 1864), passim., letters too nu 
merous to list from C. H. McCormick & Bros, to Burtis & Beardsley and 

C. Wheeler, Jr. W. S. McCormick to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 31, 1864, 
Feb. 22 and Mch. 9, 1865. Letters of C. Wheeler, Jr., to C. H. and L. J. 
McCormick, Oct. 31, Nov. 21, Dec. 2, 3, 12, 13, 15 and 23, 1864 and Jan. 
10, 1865. Wheeler vs. McCormicks , pp. 637-643, 649. MS. agreement of 
C. H. McConnick & Bros, with Ebenezer E. Lewis (for M. G. Hubbard) 
on Oct. 4, 1865. 


ment would not be renewed for another year, although ad 
vantage might be taken of their option to buy an exclusive 
and permanent shop right of Hubbard for $9,000, in order 
to be free forever from the competition of his mowers in the 
region mentioned above. This was done in the following 
autumn. 35 

Late in 1864 Leander McCormick, in charge of machine 
building, and Lambert Erpelding, his chief assistant, turned 
their attention to the construction of a mower incorporating, 
in so far as possible, all of the best features of the Hinged-Bar 
Pool machines, without infringing its patents. A study of 
these patents had convinced them that the idea was a prac 
ticable one. 36 Fortified with a machine of their own, and 
exerting all pressure possible at Washington to prevent the 
extension of several key patents of the pool which were about 
to expire, 37 the McCormicks believed that they might compel 
it, in exchange for a withdrawal of their opposition, to give 
them a free license to make whatever type of mower they 
desired. 38 To help toward this end, as well as to have a de- 

35 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 16, 1865. *C H. McCormick & Bros, 
to C. Wheeler, Jr., Mch. 15, 1865. $C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Aug. 22 and Oct. 16, 1865. L.P.C.B. No. 77, pp. 97, 330, W. S. McCor 
mick to C. Wheeler, Jr., Feb. 3 and 16, 1865 ; No. 83, pp. 588, 824, C. A. 
Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 23, and 30, 1865. 

ZG Ibid., No. 75, pp. 574, 642, C. A. Spring, Jr., to Burtis & Beardsley, 
Auburn, N. Y., and to C. Wheeler, Jr., Poplar Ridge, N. Y., Oct. 21, 
1864. W. S. to C. H. McCormick, March 28 and Apr. 6, 1865. Neverthe 
less, Andrew Whiteley, of Springfield, O., believed that the McCormick 
hinged-bar mower infringed several of his patents, and threatened to sue. 
Threats, but no suit, seemed to be an almost yearly custom of the Whiteleys. 

37 Opponents Brief, Wheeler Extension Case, p. 59. 

88 W. S. to C H. McCormick, March 14, 1865: Nearly all that is 
valuable in the two-wheeled mower should belong to the public. "It may 
be for our interest however that the public should not have all. The joint 
& some other patents run out this year & I have seen Aultman & Wheeler 
... & they admit I think that when they apply for an extension it will be 
their interest to arrange with us. I talked the point up to them." #H. Bald 
win, Jr., to C H. McCormick, May 17, 1866. 


fense in case of failure, an exhaustive and measurably success 
ful search was made to discover patents of an early date which 
appeared to anticipate the devices claimed by the combination. 
These were purchased. 39 If, by these tactics, the McCormicks 
could force their way into the pool, they would be more than 
willing that any or all of its patents should be renewed for 
another seven years. 40 

This plan could not be carried out. The L. J. McCormick- 
Erpelding mower ran well in the factory, but was not imme 
diately successful in the field. For this reason it seemed best 
to make an agreement with the pool. William Allen was in 
vited to come to Chicago, and in late April, 1865, a contract 
was drawn whereby the partners were licensed to build mow 
ers to sell in all of the Middle West except Ohio. They were 
to pay $5.00 royalty on each machine, and to abandon all 
opposition to the extension of the Wheeler patents. 41 Since the 
usual fee charged by the combination was between $7.50 and 
$10 a mower, the McCormicks gained a marked advantage 
over some of their competitors. Nevertheless, they had no 
intention of abiding by the terms of this treaty unless a further 
search in the Patent Office made clear that they could not 
defend themselves successfully if an action for infringement 
were brought against them by the pool. 42 

39 E.g., the patent of Feb. 23, 1858, of Hamilton A. Parkhurst of Fair- 
field, N. Y. IH. Baldwin to the Co., Aug. 24, 1867. H. Baldwin, Jr., to 
the Co., Nov. 29, 1857. "Farm Implement News," May, 1888, pp. 16 ff. 
This patent expired in Feb., 1872, and was not renewed. H. Baldwin, Jr., 
to C H. McCormick, June n, 1872. 

4Q W. S. to C. H. McCormick, March 14 and 29, 1865. 

41 Idem to idem, Apr. 6, 8 and 10, 1865. Letters of W. S. McCormick to 
W. Allen, Auburn, N. Y., in L.P.C.B. No. 79, p. 765, on Apr. 10, 1865, 
and in 178, p. 216, on Apr. 22, 1865, No. 78, p. 443, W. J. Hanna to G. W. 
Russell, Woodstock, 111., May 3, 1865. The contract was signed Apr. 26, 
1865. Osgood Extension Case, p. 30 ; L.P.C.B. No. 82, p. 200, C. A. Spring, 
Jr., to Baldwin & Son, Washington, D. C, July 8, 1865; W. S. to C. H. 
McCormick, Apr. 28, 1865. 

42 W. S. to C H. McCormick, Apr. 6, 1865. 


Almost no royalties were paid, and in the autumn of 1865, 
when the "Ring" threatened suit, Henry Baldwin, a leading 
patent attorney of Washington, assured Cyrus McCormick 
that any action it might bring against him was certain to 
result in his favor, although most probably his mower in 
fringed certain "tin-merged 1 " patents owned by individual 
members of the combination. 43 Unfortunately, at this time 
William S. McCormick was critically ill, and Cyrus and 
Leander J., were in disagreement. The latter, fearing the out 
come of a suit, believed that the contract with the pool should 
be carried out, and possibly in violation of the articles of 
partnership with his brother, he refused to assign to the firm 
the patents issued in his name as the inventor of certain de 
vices included in the new McCormick mower. 44 Soon Cyrus 
and Leander suspected that their attorneys, Henry and 
William D. Baldwin, were "running with the hounds and play 
ing with the hares." The Baldwins on their part, were irri 
tated by this distrust, by the slowness with which the McCor- 
micks met their requests for funds, and by Cyrus s insistence 
upon a rigid accounting of all sums advanced. These lawyers, 
however, were too much "on the inside" to be dropped, since 
in that case they might accept a retainer from the opposition. 45 

43 In L.P.C.B. No. 96, p. 42 is a memo, headed "Fees Paid Sundry- 
Parties for Use of Patents," which shows that on Sept. II, 1865, W. Allen 
was paid $1,175 on 235 of "L. J. McCormick s mowers." #C. A. Spring, 
Jr., to C H. McCormick, Mch. 5 and 8, 1866. H. Baldwin, Jr., to C H. 
McCormick, Feb. 28, Mch. 5, 14 and 24, June 25, Sept. 18 and 25, 1866. 

44 L.P.C.B. No. 81, pp. 792-3, L. J. McCormick to Baldwin & Son, Wash 
ington, D. C, July I, 1865; No. 83, p. 374, C. A. Spring, Jr., to L. J. 
McCormick, Aug. 8, 1865; No. 113, p. 186, C. A. Spring, Jr., to H. Baldwin, 
Jr. y May 24, 1869; No. 105, p. 186, the Co. to W. D. Baldwin & Son, 
June 4, 1868. C A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 9, Feb. 16 
and $17, tjune 18, 29 and #July 6, 1866. L. J. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 
24 and Apr. 17, 1866. 

45 C. H. to L. J. McCormick, Dec. 9, 1868. L. J. to C. H. McCormick, 
Nov. n, 1870, and June 30, 1871. H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Jan. 18, 21 and 27, 1871. L.P.C.B. No. 147, pp. 680-82, C. H. McCormick 


With harmony lacking, no certain course could be pursued, 
although the Baldwins worked diligently to undermine the 
validity of the pool patents and to defeat every attempt made 
to secure an extension or reissue of any of them. 46 

The pool manifested a strange hesitation to hale the McCor- 
mick Company before a court, probably preferring if possible 
to get its mower under license, and thus escape its competi 
tion. 47 Finally, it was Wheeler alone, and not the "Ring," 
who sought redress at law for alleged infringements by the 
partners. His bill of complaint was filed in the federal court of 
the Chicago district in May, 1869, and shortly thereafter he 
launched a second attack against them in New York, where 
the inventor was then a resident. Although the Chicago suit 
was for infringement by the mower of the McCormicks, while 
the other focused upon their combined machine (reaper- 
mower), the same points were at issue in both. 48 Wheeler was 
in fine fettle because of his recent successes in securing exten 
sions of some of his chief patents, as well as the reissue of 
others in more inclusive terms than had been used in the 

to H. Baldwin, Jr., Jan. 16, 1874. $H. Baldwin s telegram to C. H. McCor- 
mick, Dec. 13, 1870. Memo. of C. H. McCormick, Feb. 21, 1874, $H. Bald 
win, Jr., to C H. McCormick, Feb. 21, 1871. In this letter Baldwin returned 
C. H. s frankness in full measure: "You are all wrong and you behave 
so that no man with proper self respect can deal with you. . . . You are 
making your case difficult in every way. I cannot do more than I have done 
and will not again do so much. . . . Stop this wretched system of busi 
ness. Be a man and a man of business." 

46 Most of these efforts were unsuccessful. $Idem to idem, Apr. 18, May 
17 and Sept. 18, 1866, #W. D. Baldwin to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 7 and 
12, 1868; Oct. i, 19, 23 and 26, 1868; Feb. 18 and 20, 1869. F, Nishwitz 
promised to help C. H. McCormick defeat the efforts of the pool to extend 
some of its patents. 1C A. Spring, Jr., to C, H. McCormick, Oct i, 1868, 
fThe Co. to W. D. Baldwin, Oct. 19, 1868. 

7 C. A. Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 6, 12 and 19, 1869. 

*&%Idem to idem, May n, 1869; IW. D. Baldwin to C H. McCormick, 
May 12, 1869; L.P.CB. No. 113, P- 17, C. A. Spring, Jr., to Goodwin & 
Larned, Chicago, May 15, 1869; $H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Sept. i, 1870. 


original grants. Doubtless this last was not in accord with 
either the letter or the spirit of the law, but it was commonly 
done, and the McCormicks but a few months before had been 
congratulated by their attorneys upon a similar stroke of good 
luck. 49 

The case moved ahead very slowly. For some months in 
1870, Cyrus McCormick annoyed by the expense involved and 
possibly influenced by his brother with whom he had a tem 
porary reconciliation, 50 wished to seek a compromise with 
Wheeler. 51 Quite apart from the merits of Wheeler s claims, 
there was no doubt that his attorney, George Harding, was 
almost invincible In hearings before the Patent Office officials 
and even in actions before the courts in the latter years of the 
Johnson, and during the entire Grant, administration. 52 The 
Baldwins, however, were confident of victory, although their 
judgment may have been colored by their vision of the fat 
fees in prospect. 53 

In the autumn of 1870, the Sprague Mowing Machine Com 
pany of Providence, Rhode Island, which was the defendant 
in a suit brought against it by members of the pool, arranged 
with the McCormicks for a mutual interchange of testimony 
favorable to the cause of each. 54 A few weeks earlier William 

49 W. D. Baldwin to C H. McCormick, Feb. 18, 20, Mch. 8 and May 3, 
1869. This was the Parkhurst patent. 

5 L. J. to C. H. McCormick, May 27, 1869. SH. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. 
McCormick, July 8, 1870. 

51 H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 5, 24, Sept. i, 1870. 
8L.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd sen, p. 284, C H. McCormick to H. and W. D. 
Baldwin, Sept, 6, 1870. 

52 fW. D. Baldwin to C H. McCormick, Dec. 7, and 12, 1868; #C 
Colahan to C. H. McCormick, June 10 and 13, 1874; #H. Baldwin, Jr., 
to the Co., Sept 24, 1867. He said the "Patent Office Ring" included 
Harding, I. I. Combs, and Addison M. Smith. 

53 H. Baldwin, Jr., to the Co., Sept. 24, 1867, to 1C. H. McCormick, 
Mch. 6, 1871, and to the Co., June 10, 1871. 

54 The principal in this company was Senator William Sprague, who 
had married the daughter of Salmon P. Chase. The company made many 


Wallace, who held a large interest in the Hubbard patents and 
was a stock-holder in Hubbard s Syracuse Mower & Reaper 
Improvement Company, offered for a price to tell why the 
Hinged-Bar Pool had been glad to give Hubbard a license 
seven years before. Wallace had in mind the "lost" reapers 
of Randall and Knowles. McCormick agreed to pay Wallace 
$2,500 if these machines could be found. With the aid of 
Pinkerton detectives, Wallace early in December ran these 
"relics" to earth in Chicago, whither they had been shipped 
for some undetermined reason four years before. 55 But the 
outcome was disappointing to the McCormicks. Wheeler s 
counsel was able to show that the Knowles machine had been 
significantly altered in construction since its invention almost 
thirty-five years before, 56 while the Randall reaper, although 
more useful in casting doubt upon the originality of Wheeler s 
hinged-bar claim, was destroyed in the Chicago fire of Octo- 

mowers in the early 1870*3 for resale by Gammon & Deering of Piano, 
111. By 1878, after it had manufactured in all about 10,000 machines, it 
was bankrupt Nevertheless it continued to do business under its old name 
at least as late as 1883. See, Supreme Court of the United States. October 
Term, 1887, No. 379. Cyrus H. McCormick and Nettie Fowler McCormick, 
Executor a?id Executrix of Cyrus H. McCormick, Deceased, Leander /. Mc 
Cormick, and Robert H. McCormick, Appellants, vs. Peter Whitmer, 
Administrator of Hugh Graham, Deceased, Appeal from the CirciMt Court 
of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois (Washington, 
1888), pp. 517-520, 532. $H. Baldwin, Jr., to C H. McCormick, Nov. 15, 
1870 and July 18, 1871. 

55 fL.P.C.B. No. i, 2nd ser., p. 330, C H. McCormick to H. Baldwin, 
Dec. 23, 1870 and Jan. 12, 1871. Aultman vs. Holley and Fitts, pp. 524-535. 
testimony of W. Wallace. See also, pp. 888-890. These machines were found 
in an old shed at 595 State Street. Wheeler -us. McCormicks, pp. 683-686, 
704. SW. Wallace to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 3, Oct 21, and Dec. 6, 
1870, and his telegram of Dec. 8, 1870. 

56 Aultman vs. Holley and Fitts, pp. 972-973. Here M. G. Hubbard 
admitted that after he had bought the Knowles machine he had altered its 
cutter-bar so as to make it a "floating" one. Wheeler vs. McCormicks, 
pp. 700-01, 716, 721. &H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Jan. 9, 1867 
and Feb. 21, 1871. L. J. to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 18, 1871. 


ber, 1871, before it could serve its full purpose in the suit. 57 
As a matter of fact, the subsequent decision made clear that 
its construction had failed to impress the bench. 

From the outset of the lawsuit, Harding had been anxious 
to complete the testimony in the New York case and gain a 
decree from his friend, Judge Woodruff, before a decision 
could be reached in the Chicago court, where Judge Drum- 
mond was believed to be partial to the McCormicks. 58 Henry 
Baldwin was stricken with pneumonia in the winter of 1871- 
1872, and before the hearing of the McCortnick cases could 
be resumed, Wheeler was successful before Woodruff s court 
in his suit against the Clipper Mower & Reaper Company of 
Yonkers, New York, for infringement. Since this action had 
involved a number of points also at issue in the McCormick 
case, the decision naturally worked to the disadvantage of the 
partners. Cheered by this good augury, but fearing an un 
favorable outcome in the West, Wheeler in early October, 59 
1872, had his suit dismissed there and concentrated his efforts 
upon the New York case. 60 

Cyrus McCormick, who was not sanguine of the outcome, 
disregarded his attorneys advice and entered into fruitless 
negotiations with Hubbard to secure a withdrawal of the suit 
in the East. The rough draft of a letter from the inventor to 
him, dated November 21, 1872, and marked "Sacredly Confi- 

57 Aultman vs. Holley and Filtz, pp. 895, 906, 977. $S. A. Goodwin to 
C H. McCormick, Nov. 3, 1871. The taking of testimony in the Wheeler 
suit was completed in Apr. 1871, and the case was argued in October. 
IL.P.C.B. No. i, p. 466, C. H. McCormick to W. Whitney, Apr. 5, 1871. 

58 *H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, May 8, 13 and July 18, 1871; 
Jan. 27, 1872. 

59 3J. S. Bell to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 23, 1872. L.P.C.B. No. 132, p. 
580, C. H. McCormick to S. A. Goodwin, Mch. 8, 1872, and p. 705 to W. 
Whitney, Mch. 16, 1872. H. Baldwin, Jr., to S. A. Goodwin, Oct. 3, 1872. 
Wheeler vs. Clipper Mower & Reaper Co. 

60 Wheeler had contemplated doing this as early as Oct., 1870. STelegram 
of H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 31, 1870. 


dential," affords a fleeting glimpse of the heart of the matter, 
and suggests how unsatisfying must be the court records and 
lawyers briefs to one who wishes to penetrate beneath the 

In the Wheeler suit brot. by Harding vs. us, we believe we are 
right & shall therefore defend it to fullest extent. Our immed. 
success would of course ruin the Patent [i.e. Wheeler s Patent] 
& the time required to obtain a final decree would in any event be 
nearly as injurious. It is our interest that the Patent should be sus 
tained w. those legally infringing it. We would favor that result 
by a fair cooperation & we also understand that you favor sus 
taining the Patent by some judicious arrangement. So we propose 
that if you will obtain the withdrawal of said suit, or some equiv. 
arrangement, & obtain for us Harding s written agreement that 
he will not hereafter act for any Party in commencing or con 
ducting Suits against us, we will upon receipt of such agreement, 
pay you the sum of fifty thousand dollars in our negotiable notes 
on interest, or ten thousand per year for five years. 61 

It is perhaps significant that on this same day the McCor- 
micks agreed to pay Hubbard $1.00 per machine for the use 
of his changeable speed gearing. Hints in later correspondence 
indicate that he attempted to carry out McCormick s wishes, 
but accomplished nothing. In October, 1873, Judge Woodruff 
in his decision, declared in favor of the Wheeler claim and 
held that the McCormicks were liable to the plaintiff for the 
profits (to be fixed by a Master) they had made from the 
sale of their flexible-bar machines between July 8, 1868, when 

61 There were two ways in which McCormick might win the suit: (a) 
by demonstrating that he did not infringe the patent in question, or (b) by 
showing that this patent was invalid because its claims had been anticipated 
by earlier inventors. McCormick hoped that (a) and not (b) could be 
shown, for if he could establish his immunity against a most important valid 
patent, he would have a decided advantage in the selling field over others 
who were not so fortunate. See also, M. G, Hubbard to C H. McCormick, 
Feb. 25, 1873. This shows that Baldwin had strongly advised C. H. Mc 
Cormick not to have anything to do with Hubbard, for he believed that 
Hubbard was probably trying to "double cross" him* 


Wheeler recovered control of his patents from the Wheeler 
Association, and July 3, 1872, when he sold all of them, to 
g-ether with his interest in lawsuits then in progress, to Ault 
man. 62 Of course, the latter now demanded the profits for the 
period after July 3, 1872. The McCormicks threatened to 
appeal the decision in the Wheeler case to the United States 
Supreme Court. 63 

For some time .before the Hinged-Bar Pool dissolved in 
1871, Wheeler, because of the value of his patents, had been 
pushing his associates into the background, while Harding 
usurped the influential role hitherto played by William Allen. 64 
When Wheeler, however, sold his patents to Aultman, the 
center of interest once more shifted from Auburn, New York, 
to Canton, Ohio. By 1872, evidences of Aultman s increasing 
prosperity were on every hand. For nine years at Akron he 
had been treasurer, and Lewis F. Miller, president, of Ault 
man, Miller & Company, which manufactured several thou 
sand "Buckeye" mowers and reapers each season. At Canton 
were the Aultman Steel Company and C. Aultman & Com 
pany, while at Mansfield, Ohio, the Aultman & Taylor Manu- 

62 This would affect about 25,000 machines made by the McCormicks. 
In the Circuit Court of the United States, Southern District of New York. 
In Equity, Cyrenus Wheeler, Jr. vs. Cyrus H. McCormick. Opinion of the 
Court (Philadelphia, 1873). See also, L.P.CB. No. 150, p. 455, Hanna 
to H. Baldwin, Jr., May 26, 1874, The Judge did not file the decree until 
mid-Feb., 1874, S. A. Goodwin to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 19 and Nov. 
14, 1872. 

63 The patent in question would not expire until Dec. 5, 1875. Eventually, 
Aultman was the plaintiff in three suits against the McCormicks the one 
inaugurated- in New York by Wheeler and two others in Illinois of his own 

64 IH. Baldwin, Jr., to the Co., Mch. 8, 1869: "Wheeler has gradually 
absorbed the blood and muscle of the combination and only waits the 
expiration of his contract to claim against them [i.e. the other members 
of the pool]. He will then put his fee down so low that we can afford to 
pay it. They will not pull together in the meantime and so when rogues fall 
out, honest men may come by their own." 


facturing Company gratified its senior partner s ambition to 
supply farmers with threshing machines. 65 

In the autumn of 1872, Aultman and Saxton were deep in 
a pamphlet war over the question of title to certain patents, 
including those originally issued to Ephraim Ball. 66 Some 
months later, Aultman agreed to pay Saxton $170,000 for 
almost all of his monopolies, as well as for his prospective 
share of damages from a number of "Pool" infringement 
suits still before the courts. The terms of this contract were 
by no means clear, but Saxton chose to believe that his retained 
patents were sufficiently broad in their scope to permit him 
by license to protect mower manufacturers from most of 
Aultman s claims. Following the adverse decision in the 
Wheeler case, Saxton approached Cyrus McCormick and in 
duced him to pay a royalty of $2.50 a machine for the privi 
leges of making the Ohio or Ball single-frame mower for 
the harvest of 1874. This was continued from year to year 
until 1878, when Saxton s chief patent expired. By then he 
had received royalties from the McCormicks totaling more 
than $57,ooo. 67 Henry Baldwin had opposed McCormick s 
determination to enter this contract -because he believed that 
a Saxton license gave no immunity from Aultman s 6S patents, 
unless his client intended to build simply the obsolete Ball 

65 Circular Letter of C. Aultman & Co., Canton, O., June 10, 1870. The 
"Scientific American," June 10, 1882, pp. 359 fL 

66 The E. Ball & Company, Reaper, Mower & Threshing Machine 
Works, went out of existence in the spring of 1871. Circular Letter of 
J. A. Saxton, Canton, O., Nov., 1872. Pamphlet of J. A. Saxton, Nov., 
1872, addressed to "Manufacturers of Reapers and Mowers." 

7 L.P.C.B. No. 188, pp. 50, 142, the Co. to J. A. Saxton, Canton, O., 
Feb. ii and 14, 1879. 

68 J. A. Saxton s telegram to C. H, McCormick, Dec. 31, 1873; #H- Bald 
win, Jr., to H. Day, Feb. 13, 1874; C H. McCormick to H. Baldwin, Jr., 
Feb. 12, 1874 and IFeb. 21, 1874; H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, 
Feb. 25, 1874; SH. Day to R. H. McCormick, Mch. 6, 1874 and to C. H. 
& L. J. McCormick, Mch. 7, 1874; J. A. Saxton to McCormick Co., Jan. 
24, and May 24, 1878. 


mower which had been popular twenty years before. Almost 
immediately, as Baldwin had foretold, Aultman threatened to 
start a new suit if the McCormicks presumed to rely upon 
Saxton for protection. 69 

At this critical juncture in McCormick s affairs in the spring 
of i874, 70 the inventor accepted the services of a man who 
for the next ten years was to figure prominently in the patent 
history of the harvesting-machine industry. Charles Colahan 
of Cleveland, Ohio, describing himself as one of the new pro 
fession of "patent specialists/ laid his claim to attention be 
fore McCormick in the following words : "If you are of 
opinion I can aid you, it would be desirable to say as little as 
possible in regard to my work, as it is really a sort of detective 
prying out service & it may at times be necessary to invade 
the enemy s camp & find information. ... I believe you are 
a victim of a conspiracy & humbug, & one of the enormous 
kind altho the courts sustain the delusion. Do you want my 
help?" 71 

to ibid., Mch. 26, 1874; L.P.C.B. No. 149, p. 70, W. J. Hanna 
to J. A. Saxton, Canton, Mch. 30, 1874. C. H. McCormick to J. A. Saxton, 
IMch. n, Apr. 9, $24, 1874. 

At about this time, also, another of the McCormicks chief rivals, 
Whiteky, Fassler & Kelly of Springfield, Ohio, made an advantageous 
agreement with Wheeler, f C. Colahan to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 27, 1874. 
To paraphrase : There is much mystery about the Wheeler- Whiteley settle 
ment but I believe it was a "straw compromise" and that Whiteley paid 
Wheeler no money for the use of his patents. Soon Whiteley, who was 
virtually an ally of the Wheeler-Aultman group, entered an "interference** 
at the Patent Office to prevent an issue to the McCormicks of a patent 
upon certain improvements of the drag-bar and lifting-lever of their mower. 
Eventually, after appeal, priority was awarded to the McCormicks. 

71 C Colahan to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 7, n, $20 and $25, 1874. By 
McCbrmick s one-year contract with Colahan, made on May 6, 1874, Colahan 
was to receive $1,000 a year and traveling expenses. If, however, he dis 
covered evidence in connection with the Wheeler suit, worth $10,000 in 
Baldwin s opinion, he would be paid $3,000 for the year s work. See also, 
C. Colahan to C. H. ^McCormick, #May 9 and 19, 1874. It is very probable 
that C. H. McCormick was the more willing to employ Colahan because 
he might serve at Chicago as a check to Leander s son, Robert Hall, who 


McCormick was most dissatisfied with his attorneys, and 
now found himself becoming enmeshed ever more tightly in a 
patent snarl involving self-rakes, harvesters, wire-binders, and 
mowers. He decided that perhaps this secretive and self-con 
fident man from Cleveland, who had been "schooled in the 
best merchantile [sic] houses in New York/ could render 
assistance by ascertaining the intention of his opponents and 
by locating patents which might anticipate those that were 
being used against him. The value of his work for the McCor- 
micks was variously appraised by those who knew him. In 
Colahan s opinion, frankly expressed as always to his em 
ployer, Henry Baldwin was not a "good business man" and 
only an "ordinary lawyer." 72 Baldwin returned Colahan s dis 
like in full measure and warned McCormick, to no avail, that 
his agent was "simply fooling away your [his] money." 73 
Leander McCormick, and his son Robert Hall, agreed with 
Baldwin s estimate, and when Cyrus McCormick, Jr., entered 
the office of the company in 1879, he found it difficult either 
to endure Colahan s officious manner or to dispense with his 
aid. Apparently all who had to work at close quarters with 
him were repelled by his proneness to criticise, his assumption 
of infallibility, and his willingness to let the end justify the 
means. Cyrus McCormick, Sr., whose contacts with his scout 
were chiefly by letter, judged him solely from the standpoint 
of services rendered, and there is little reason to doubt that 
he amply earned his pay. 74 

was, in C. H. McCormick s opinion, taking too much interest in patent 
matters. L.P.CJB. No. 149, p. 232, the Co. to W. D. Baldwin, Apr. 8, 


72 JC Colahan to C. H. McCormick, May 16, July 30, Sept 15, 17, Oct. 
23, and Nov. 3, 1874. 

7 3 H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. & L, J. McCormick, Sept. 28, 1874; *C 
Colahan to C H. McCormick, Feb. (?), 1875; #H. Baldwin to C. H. 
McCormick, July 28, 1874; W. D. Baldwin to the Co., Apr. 19, 1879, 

74 C. H. McCormick to C. Colahan, June 13, 1874. At this time C. H. 
McCormick customarily signed his letters to Colahan merely with an "X" 


Between 1874 and 1878 there were many conferences be 
tween the McCormicks and Aultman on the subject of the 
amount that the Chicago partners should pay. When Ault 
man blustered that he would not be satisfied with less than 
$500,000, or some other almost equally extravagant sum, the 
McCormicks countered with a threat to appeal the case to the 
United States Supreme Court. 75 Neither Aultman nor McCor- 
mick wished to be saddled with the heavy expenses which this 
further action would entail. Little by little Aultman moderated 
his demands, and finally in 1881 agreed to have his suit dis 
missed upon the payment by the McCormicks of $25,000. 

But the court history of the McCormick mower was not 
yet ended. Hugh Graham of Bloomington, Illinois, encouraged 
by his success in an action against Gammon & Deering of 

and cautioned him that they "should be carefully dealt with." In his corre 
spondence with the Baldwins, Colahan was disguised under the title "the 
man from Cleveland." By the autumn of 1874, however, Colahan s role 
was no longer unknown to Aultman. $C. Colahan to C. H. McCormick, 
June 10, 27, July 2, Aug. 18, 20, Sept. 15, 17, 26, Oct. 6, 31 and Nov. 27, 
1874; Jan, 16, Feb. 22 and Mch. 10, 1875. 

75 J?C. H. McCormick to H. Baldwin, Ap-r. 29, 1874, and Jan. 9, 1875. 
Baldwin believed the McCormicks could gain a reversal of the decision 
in the Supreme Court Even L. J. McCormick, hitherto so pessimistic of 
the outcome, now was encouraged by the "errors" of the opinion to hope 
for victory on appeal. L.P.C.B. No. 147, pp. 439-445, L. J. McCormick 
to H. Baldwin, Jan. 5, 1874; No. 146, p. 639, C. H. & L. J. McCormick to 
C. Aultman, Dec. 2, 1873. C. Aultman to C. H. & L. J. McCormick, Nov. 
28, Dec. 10 and $31, 1873. C. H. McCormick to C. Aultman, Jan. 2, 1874; 
G. Harding to H. Baldwin, Jan. 19, 1875. E. N. Dickerson to Co., Apr. 
6, 1877. C. H. McCormick to E. N. Dickerson, Mch. 31, 1877, and to H. 
Baldwin, Jr., Apr, 29 and July 4, 1874. H. Baldwin, Jr., to C H. Mc 
Cormick, Apr. 16, 1875. SDickerson & Beaman, N. Y., to C. H. & L. J. 
McCormick, July 16, 1875. 

76 MS. Diary of C H. McCormick, Jr., entry of Feb. 5, 1881. *C H. & 
L. J. McCormick to Aultman, Miller & Co., Apr. 5, 1876; #C. H. Mc 
Cormick to E. N. Dickerson, Dec. 14, 1876; Mch. 31, 1877, Nov. 19, 27, 
1880, and Jan. 8 r 1881 ; $C. H. McCormick to E. C. Lamed, Feb. 7, 1881. 
L.P.C.B. No. 195, pp. 728-29, the Co. to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 13, 1879. 
1C. Colahan to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 23, and Dec. 30, 1879. $C. A. 
Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Nov. 13, 1879. 


Piano for infringing his 1868 patent covering certain features 
of the finger-beam of single-frame mowers, brought the Mc- 
Cormicks before a federal tribunal in 1877 to defend them 
selves against a similar charge. 77 The partners believed that 
their license from Saxton covered the feature at issue, but 
to make doubly certain that they were protected, they bought 
a shop right from Cyrus A. and William B. Werden of 
Berkshire County, Massachusetts, in 1878, who were supposed 
to own an interest in the Graham patent. To the partners 
chagrin, it was adjudged that the Saxton license afforded no 
security and that the Werdens were unable to grant a valid 
shop right. In 1880 the United States Circuit Court in Chicago 
issued a decree in Graham s favor and a second hearing of 
the case led only to a reaffirmance two years later. 78 In the 
summer of 1884 a Master appointed by the court recom 
mended a decree requiring the McCormicks to pay the plain 
tiff nearly $103,000 on over twenty-seven thousand infringing 
mowers sold between 1874 and 1879, when a change in the 
construction of these machines avoided the device in ques 
tion. 79 When the McCormick Company objected to the Mas 
ter s findings, they were reviewed by the chancellor, Judge 
Walter Q. Gresham, and the damages were scaled down to 
approximately $85,550 and costs. 80 This satisfied neither party 
to the case, and McCormick appealed to the Supreme Court. 

77 McCormicks vs. Graham, op. cit., pp. I, 11-12, 50-51, 200, 208 and 519- 
520. L.P.C.B. No. 172, p. 636, the Co. to W. D. Baldwin, June 11, 1877. 
*C H. & L. J. McCormick to E. N. Dickerson, Mch. 26, 1878. $C. A. 
Spring, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 10, 1879. "Chicago Daily Tribune," 
Sept. 9, 1879. F. H. Matthews to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 23, 1879. Baldwin, 
Hopkins & Peyton to the Co., Dec. 31, 1879. The rocking finger-beam con 
trolled by a lever was chiefly at issue. 

78 McCormicks vs. Graham, pp. 25, 48-56, 164. M. D. Leggett, Cleveland, 
to the Co., Mch. 18 and 19, 1880. C. H. McCormick, Jr/s, telegram to C. H. 
McCormick, Mch. 29, 1880. "Chicago Times," Jan. 15 and Mch. 15, 1880. 

McCormicks vs. Graham, pp. 56-65. J. R. Bennett to C H. McCormick, 
Jr., Oct. 19, 1883. 
* McCormicks vs. Graham, pp. 65-69. 


Here, in 1889, he won a complete victory, since the cause was 
remanded with a direction to dismiss the bill of complaint 
with costs. 81 

During most of the thirty-year period just surveyed, when 
every leading manufacturer of harvesting machinery was en 
deavoring to out-maneuver his rivals in the mower war, a 
similar conflict was in progress for control of the key patents 
covering the self-rake reaper. This struggle ended by the mid- 
1870*8, not because a decisive victory had been gained by any 
contestant, but because by that time the growing popularity 
of the harvester and binder minimized the importance of the 
self -rakes. 

If the abortive efforts of several English inventors early in 
the nineteenth century to discharge the cut grain automatically 
either by means of a tilt-platform or by a revolving or re 
ciprocating rake, are omitted, the history of the self-rake 
reaper should probably begin with a brief mention of Andrew 
J. Cook of Richmond, Indiana. Under his patent of 1846, 
Love & Otis of Beloit, Wisconsin, and Hatch & Whiteley of 
Springfield, Ohio, in 1851 and 1852 made a few machines 
with a rake revolving about a vertical axis. 82 They did not 
work well, but Cook, and perhaps Homer Adkins 83 of Round 
Prairie, Illinois, with his reciprocating rake invention of 1850, 
deserve credit for being the first of the many inventors who 
demonstrated that automatic delivery was practicable. Ob- 

81 U. $. Supreme Court Records, CXXIX (Oct. Term, 1888), pp. i, 19. 

82 "Hutchinson," I, pp. 58-59; "Southern Planter" (Richmond), Jan. 1847, 
p. 32; "Prairie Farmer," Oct., 1848; Dorsey Extension, Henry Baldwin, 
Jr., Attorney for William D. Baldwin, a Contestant (Philadelphia, 1870), p! 
271, testimony of J, Fassler. Henry F. Mann vs. the Slifcr, Walls and 
Shriner Manufacturing Company. The Circuit Court of the United States. 
In and for the Western District of Pennsylvania, $29 of the November 
Term, 1871 (Pittsburgh, 1873), P- 215. 

83 "Prairie Farmer," Jan. 1850, pp. 30-38. "Scientific American," June 5, 
1915. Here Adkins is given credit for beginning the era of the self-rake, 


viously it was desirable to discharge the grain at the side 
rather than at the rear of the machine, but should this be done 
by attaching a rake to the revolving reel, or by giving the rake 
its own separate gears and independent motion? If the latter, 
should the rake teeth push up through a slotted platform and 
move across it at regular intervals, 84 or would more efficient 
operation be secured if the rake were suspended on a vertical 
or horizontal axis and reciprocated across a solid platform 
from above? These were the chief questions which inventors 
were trying to answer during the decade of experiment ending 
in 1860. By then, the slotted platform principle had been 
abandoned as impracticable, but whether the rake should be 
separate from the reel, or revolve with it, was still a matter 
of doubt. 85 The old hand-rake reapers were preferred by most 
farmers as late as 1860, although by that date probably twenty 
thousand machines with automatic delivery were already in 

By the close of that harvest the McCormick Company real 
ized that its attempt during the preceding four or five years to 
drive these "new- f angled inventions from the field by ridi 
cule, had been unavailing. It was now time to secure the right 
to build the best of the self -rakes and keep step with progress. 
Which of the several types already on the market was the 
most efficient, was by no means clear. Certainly, the ingenious 

84 The best-known self-rake on this principle was D. C. Henderson s 
Grain and Grass Harvester of Sandusky, O. Henderson had purchased the 
mower patent of John E. Heath, of Warren, O., and with this mower he 
combined the self-rake device of A. H. Caryl of Sandusky. It was frequently 
mentioned with respect in the letters of McCormick s agents in 1856 and 
1857. It aroused considerable attention in 1856 when it was said that 2,000 
were made, but it did not work well and was soon forgotten. See, "Ohio 
Cultivator," Mch. i, 1856, p. 67, Apr. I, 1856, p. in, Apr. 15, 1856, p. 117. 
"Michigan Farmer," Sept., 1856, p. 267. 

^Dorsey Extension Case, p. 195, The Wright- Atkins "Automaton,! the 
self-rake of Byron Densmore, made by B. Warder at Springfield, O., and 
the Palmer and Williams self-rake, were the chief ones on the market prior 
to 1860. 


Atkins " Automat on" need not be considered, although it had 
been one of the wonders of the farmers world in the mid- 
1 850*3. The mechanism of the several thousand sold by its two 
principal manufacturers, John S. Wright of Chicago and 
W. C. Dutton S6 of Dayton, Ohio, was too delicate and com 
plicated to resist hard usage in the harvest field. Its day was 
over by 1860 and its influence upon reaper history was not an 
enduring one. Much less sensational, but far more important 
for the future, was the Palmer and Williams Self-Rake, manu 
factured after 1853 by Ganson, Huntley & Company and 
Seymour & Morgan of Brockport, New York, and still later 
in the decade by several firms in the Middle West. 87 This 
rake swept over a quadrant-shaped platform invented by 
William H. Seymour, and his patent of 1851 covering this 
platform became one of the most valuable monopolies asso 
ciated with self -rake history during the next twenty years. 
The McCormicks alone paid Seymour & Morgan over $60,000 
between 1862 and 1872 for the privilege of using it in their 
machines. 88 

86 Wright brought out the first Atkins in 1852, but was forced to suspend 
manufacture in 1858. Dutton made his first "Automaton" in 1854 and was 
still producing a few in 1860. 

87 Warder, Mitchell & Co., and Whiteley, Fassler & Kelly of Springfield, 
0., Long, Black & Allstatfcer of Hamilton, O., Newton & Co. of Batavia, 
111., and Adriance, Platt & Co., also made the Seymour & Morgan rake in 
1860. Dorsey Extension Case, pp. 168, 181. "Michigan Farmer," Jan., 1855, 
p. 23; Apr., 1855, p. 123; June, 1855, pp. 166-167, "Genesee Farmer, * July, 
1860, p. 228. In 1861 Williams, in bad health, and Palmer, in dire need of 
money, sold their patent rights to Seymour & Morgan. By 1860, Morgan 
had moved his residence to Springfield, O. 

88 The five patents controlled by Seymour & Morgan covered a quadrant- 
shaped platform in combination with an overhanging reel (i.e. beyond the 
cutter and over the grain), and an automatic sweep-rake. By the license of 
June 4, 1862, from Seymour & Morgan (Seymour, Morgan, & Allen), Cyrus 
McCormick agreed to pay $10.00 per machine "less a certain discount" 
until $30,000 had been paid He would not oppose any effort Seymour & 
Morgan might make to extend their self-rake patents, and if extension were 
gained, he would pay an additional $32,000 at the rate of $2.50 per machine. 


But when the Chicago partners placed their first self -rake 
reapers upon the market in the harvest of 1862, they were 
chiefly protected by the patents of four inventors living in 
Maryland. By a strange chance, several men of that state, 
working independently, had turned their attention to the prob 
lem of the self -rake in the late 1850 $. The earliest of these in 
point of time was Owen Dorsey of Triadelphia, who with 
the financial aid of Hussey s good friend, Edward Stabler, 
constructed the first reel-rake in history in 1853. Having 
secured his patent three years later, Dorsey sold manufactur 
ing rights to a number of small firms in Maryland, New Jer 
sey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Not over a few hundred of 
these reel-rakes had been sold by 1862, when Dorsey because 
of his stanch Unionism, deemed it unwise to remain longer 
in his Maryland home. He moved to Newark, Ohio, and 
shortly thereafter three new licensees, Pritz & Kuhn of Day 
ton, James S. Marsh & Co,, of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and 
Reese, Staats & Mellick of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, began to 
make and sell a considerable number of his rakes. 89 

By 1866 he had sent Morgan over $36,000 under this contract; $10,000 more 
was paid in 1867; $8,805 in 1868, etc. U. S. Supreme Court, December 
Term, 1870, No. 65, William H. Seymour and Dayton S. Morgan, Appel 
lants,, vs. David M. Osborne and John H. Osborne. Decision of the Supreme 
Court of the United States in favor of the Five Harvester Patents of Sey 
mour & Morgan (New York, 1871), passim. Before the Honorable Com 
mission of Patents. In the Matter of the Application of Aaron Palmer and 
Stephen G. Williams for an Extension of their Re-issued Letters Patent for 
Inventions on Reaping Machines, dated the 1st day of January, 1861 . . . the 
Original of which Patent was issued to them, dated July I, 1831 . . . and 
the patent , . . dated $ist day of May, 1864 . . . the original of which 
. . . was . , . dated July ist f 1831, passim. H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. Mc- 
Cormick, Apr. 3, 1865. 

89 Dorsey Extension Case, pp. 148 ff., 196, 200, 271. One of the distinctive 
features of the Dorsey rake was the overhanging reel which permitted the 
rake to operate without interfering with the driver. Slifer, Walls & Shriner 
Mfg. Co., of Lewisburg, Pa., made a few Dorsey rakes, 1867 ff. In 1870, 
Dorsey believed that about 20,000 of his rakes had been sold. Marsh of 
Lewisburg was the first to devise a method of placing a revolving reel-rake 


Probably the McCormicks should have purchased a shop 
right under this important patent, but they chose to deal 
with Benjamin G. Fitzhugh and McClintock Young, Jr., 
of Frederick, Maryland. The three patents on reel-rakes 
granted to these men between 1858 and 1860 were sold for 
$10,000 to Cyrus McCormick on July 12, 1861. One year 
later he purchased for about $9,500 the 1859 patent on reel- 
rakes of Isaac S. and Henry R. Russell of New Market, Mary- 
land. &0 Thus, by the harvest in which McCormick sold his 
first automatic delivery reapers, he was safe-guarded by a 
license from Seymour & Morgan, and by the ownership of the 
Fitzhugh, Young, and Russells patents. 

The Civil War accentuated the shortage of harvest labor 
both by drawing men to the armies of the North and by 
stimulating small-grain production. With good reason, there 
fore, the self -rake reaper came into its own during the four 
years of conflict. Hundreds of patents covering details of 
machines of this type were granted, 91 and the Hinged-Bar 
Pool soon had its counterpart in the domain of the self-rake. 

with a vertical axis on a rear-cut machine. Decisions of the Commissioner 
of Patents for the Year 1871 (Washington, 1872), pp. 253-55. The reel-rake, 
proper, was uncontrollable since it operated as long as the reel was in 
motion. It revolved on either a horizontal or vertical axis. Those, like the 
Dorsey, which were on a vertical axis, were often called "pigeon wing" 
rakes. The Young reel-rake revolved on the horizontal shaft of the reel. 
On the other hand, the reciprocating rake of the Palmer and Williams type 
revolved about two axes one vertical and the other horizontal. See, "The 
Iron Age" (N. Y.), Sept. 27, 1877. 

00 The agreement with the Russells was on July 5, 1862. Two years before 
this time they had exhibited their machine in Chicago. The McCormicks 
were sufficiently impressed to use several in the 1861 harvest, after the 
gearing had been improved by Lambert Erpelding. They, however, did not 
work well, and the partners were better pleased with a Young self-rake 
which they had tried out near Lodi, Wisconsin. Further experiments with 
this machine, led them to make 200 for the 1862 harvest and to purchase the 
three patents. 

91 By 1877, over six hundred patents had been granted for improvements 
of the reel-rake, alone. Ibid., Sept, 27, 1877. 


Thus, in late 1865 Hubbard purchased the Dorsey monopoly 
for $15,000, and with several other owners of patents formed 
a Harvester Rake Pool on March 17, 1866. Hubbard was 
guaranteed one-third of the profits expected from the sale of 
licenses and from damages to be won by suits for infringe 
ments. 92 Immediately it was rumored that the McCormick 
Company would be one of the first to be humbled, but for the 
moment the pool organization was unstable. Not until the 
close of 1867, when Hubbard yielded control to Harding 
and to Samuel Johnston of Syracuse, was the league ready to 
take the offensive. 93 

For almost fifteen years, Johnston had been slowly climbing 
toward a place of eminence in the world of harvesting machin 
ery. 94 His dominance of the rake pool made clear that he had 
finally arrived. As an inventor, he was early interested in dis 
covering a method whereby the self-rake could be "controlled/* 
The Dorsey rake swept a gavel from the platform with each 
revolution of the reel. Johnston s improvement consisted of 

92 Dorsey Extension Case, pp. 68-70, 252. Robert W. Brown of Newark, 
Ohio, son-in-law of Dorsey, took out three patents on reel-rakes between 
1 86 1 and 1866. These were placed in the pool. Others therein were those of 
Jearum Atkins of Chicago and of Reuben Hoffheins of York, Pa. The 
latter had been granted three patents between 1862 and 1865, covering par 
ticularly a method of mounting the reel-post on the finger-beam of the 
machines employing the pigeon-wing rake. The owners of Atkins s patent 
were guaranteed 1/6 of the profits; the Brown patents-holders 1/6, and all 
the rest save Hubbard, 1/3. 

93 IH. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 31, Apr. 6, 13 and 19, 
1866 ; Jan. 9, 1867. Dorsey Extension Case, pp. 75, 88, 94, 293, Johnston and 
Aultman entered the Hubbard Pool on Sept 20, 1866. The pool bought the 
Dorsey patent of Hubbard for $37,386, and other rake patents for over 

94 Johnston had been experimenting with, and manufacturing, self-rakes 
since the early 1850*5 at Buffalo and Syracuse. On Feb. 7, 1865, he patented 
an excellent automatic delivery of the revolving type. Johnston, Huntley & 
Co. was established at Syracuse in 1868 but was superseded by the Johnston 
Harvester Co. of Brockport, in 1871. Johnston retire4 in 1879 and died in 
1911. McCormicks vs. Graham, p. 501, 


a mechanism operated by the foot of the driver, whereby the 
speed of the rake could be proportioned to the heaviness of the 
crop. Thus the driver of the machine could size the gavels to 
suit himself. Since each of the four fans of the reel was also 
a rake, he was able to make all of them in turn, or only one 
or two of them, discharge a bundle of grain at each revolution. 
Johnston s success in this field of invention spelled the doom 
of vibrating rakes of the Palmer and Williams style, and by 
1867, firms such as Adriance, Platt & Co., Warder, Mitchell 
& Co., and Whiteley, Fassler & Kelly abandoned this type and 
began to manufacture the "Johnston Rake." 95 

With the formation of the pool, it was for the first time 
possible to differentiate clearly between friend and foe in the 
contest for preeminence in self -rake manufacturing. The pool 
was a checkmate to the McCormicks, who after 1864 were dis 
cussing the possibility of gaining a whip hand in this field by 
buying a share in the Dorsey patent, securing control of early 
patents on quadrant-shaped platforms so as to be freed from 
their irksome annual tribute to Seymour & Morgan, and by 
having their Young monopolies reissued in order to broaden 
the field of their incidence. 96 The Whiteleys (Abner, Amos, 
Andrew, William and William N.) of Springfield, Ohio, who 
until 1886 were in the forefront of reaper and mower manu 
facturing, were also injured by the pool, because they had for 
long been making self -rakes and owned some patents which 

95 Benjamin Warder of Springfield, Ohio (Warder, Brokaw & Child), 
began to manufacture reapers and mowers in 1850. He at first made Ketchum 
mowers and Seymour & Morgan reapers, but his Co. is usually remembered 
as one o the "Champion system" of firms. In fact Seymour & Morgan was 
soon paying a license fee to Johnston, while the "Buckeye" folk (at least 
Aultman) became members of the rake pool. Dorsey Extension Case, p. 101. 

&6 It is rather significant that at this time Tench Tilghman, of Oxford, 
Maryland early patron of Obed Hussey and now a railroad president 
offered for $10,000 to prove to C. H. McCormick that a quadrant-shaped 
platform had been used long before the Seymour patent of 1851. #T. Tilgh 
man to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 24, 1865. 


they believed both McCormick and the Dorsey-Johnston folk 
infringed. But, as we have seen, they took a license from John 
ston in 1867, and were soon the largest manufacturers of 
his style of self-rake. 97 In the harvest of that year, for the 
first time, McCormick s agents had much to say about the stiff 
competition furnished by this machine. 98 

As its first important move on the offensive, the rake pool 
secured an extension and reissue of the Dorsey patent of 1856, 
despite all that the McCormicks could do to prevent. 99 Hard 
ing, who had handled the matter before the Patent Office, 
hoped that the broad claims of the reissue would subordinate 
every rotating rake made in the United States. If this could be 
done, the $27,500 which the "Ring" paid to Dorsey for his aid 
and consent in applying for an extension would be a most 
profitable investment. 

To strengthen his defense against the threatened onslaught, 
Cyrus McCormick endeavored to secure extensions and re 
issues of the Young and Fitzhugh patents. To his surprise 

97 The Whlteleys came to Springfield in the early iSso s. The firm o 
Hatch & (William) Whiteley was succeeded about 1857 by Whiteley (Wil 
liam N., nephew of William) , Fassler & Kelly. The company was aggressive 
from the outset. In 1860 it endeavored to unite manufacturers to resist 
paying license fees to the heirs of Obed Hussey. In this it was unsuccessful. 
Warder, Mitchell & Co., the Champion Machine Co., and Whiteley, Fassler 
& Kelly, all at Springfield, made nearly 40,000 machines in 1867. By 1880, 
Whiteley, Fassler & Kelly had one of the largest agricultural machinery 
factories in the world. It, with its licensees, made "Champion" Reapers and 
Mowers. "Circular" of Whiteley, Fassler & Kelly, May, 1858; S. S. Fisher, 
"Patent Cases" (Cincinnati, 1808), II, 120, 362; Patent Office Records, 
Hussey Extension Case, Patent of 1847 (Washington, 1861), p. 7* Hussey 
vs. Whiteley, pp. 29, 31, 33, 48. "Frank Leslie s Illustrated Newspaper" 
(N. Y.), July 22, 1876. 

9S H. G. Grattan, Cresco, Iowa, to the Co., Aug. 6, 1867; E. W. Brooks, 
Red Wing, Minn., Oct. 3, and Dec. 25, 1867, 

99 C. H. to L. J. McCormick, Dec. 24, 1869. McCormick hoped that by 
putting up a stiff fight against the Dorsey extension, the rake pool might 
grant him a free license under the patent, in order to induce him to drop his 
opposition. This was a usual ruse. 


and alarm, he learned for the first time that these inventors 
had so construed their contract with him as to justify the sale 
of their self -rake improvements to Aultman (of the rake pool) 
and Walter A. Wood. 100 In McCormick s opinion and he 
finally convinced his attorney, Henry Baldwin, that he was 
correct they had obligated themselves to give him the ex 
clusive benefit of all their inventions relating to self-rakes. 101 
McCormick, however, was unable to make good his position 
with Young, and his effort to do so left the latter in ill humor. 
Knowing that his patents could not be extended or reissued 
without his consent, and that they were essential to Cyrus 
McCormick in his fight against the pool, he compelled the 
inventor to pay him liberally and to loan him funds to relieve 
his chronic need. 102 At the same time, McCormick had to buy 
the continued support of the Russells, since his contract with 
them did not give him an exclusive control of their patent, 
and they were hobnobbing with the Whiteleys and the rake 
pool. 103 

By these measures the McCormicks mustered their forces 

100 SH. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 18, 19 and May 8, 1866; 
C H, McCormick to Baldwin & Collier, Oct. 2, 1868 ; C H. McCormick to 
W. D. Baldwin, Feb. 3 and Mch. 25, 1869; *W. D. Baldwin to C. H. Mc- 
Cormick, Mch. 28, 1870 ; A. C. Rogers to C. A. Spring, Jr., Mch. 30, 1870. 

101 MS. Opinion of W. D. Baldwin, Feb. 16, 1869 ; B. R. Curtis to C. H. 
McCormick, May 29, 1869. 

i 2 $M. Young, Frederick, Md., to C. H. McCormick, May 5, 1870, and 
Jan. 1 6, 1874. C. H. McCormick to M. Young, Apr. 7, 1870, H. Baldwin, 
Jr., to C. H. McCormick, May 7, 1870, Dec. 17 and 27, 1872, Apr. 18 and 
22, 1874. C. H. McCormick to H. Baldwin, Jr., Aug. 2, 1872: "If necessary, 
pay Young $20,000 to have his patent of 1858 extended." However, finally he 
paid $15,000 for the extended patent of 1858 and $5,000 for 1859. $H. 
Baldwin, Jr., to C H. & L. J. McCormick, Apr. 21 and Sept. 28, 1874: 
You are to pay $10,000 for the extended patent of 1860. 

i 8 H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, May 7 and #8, 1870, #Dec. 27, 
1872, fMch. 18, 1873, and to the Co., #Mch. 31, 1873. MS. Agreement of 
Dec. 27, 1872, between Henry R. and Isaac S. Russell and C. H. Mc 
Cormick: C. H. McCormick will pay $5,000 to the Russells if their patent 
is extended. 


for war. The court contest began in 1870, when the pool 
brought suit against them for infringement of the Dorsey 
patent. 104 The ardor of Harding was considerably cooled when 
he discovered that his witnesses were unable to prove some of 
Dorsey s mechanical devices back to a time antedating their 
first use by Young or the Russells. 105 As early as March, 1871, 
Harding was ready to talk about compromise, and although 
several conferences failed to bring an agreement, the case was 
not pressed. 106 Between 1872 and 1874 McCormick gained 
extensions of the four Young and Russell patents, 107 as well 
as a reissue of several of them. 

For a number of months in the latter year he listened with 
favor to a proposal of alliance with Walter A. Wood & Co., 
whereby it would cooperate with him in suing rivals for in 
fringement and securing the Young reissues in a more effective 
form. The patents were the McCormicks , the costs of prose 
cuting infringers would be Wood s, and the profits, if any, 

104 As early as May, 1867, the McCormicks were told that Johnston, 
through Harding, would begin suit. $ Goodwin & Larned to C. H. and L. J. 
McCormick, May 8, 1867. W. D. Baldwin to C. H. McCormick and Co., 
Apr. 2, 1870. H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 20, and #Apr. 30, 
1870. L. J. to C H. McCormick, Jan. 7 and 24, 1870. L. J. McCormick 
feared a suit by the rake pool, because he believed that the Dorsey patent 
anticipated Young s. 

105 Since the extension of the Dorsey patent had been granted by a sub 
ordinate in the Patent Office and not by the Commissioner, doubt was raised 
concerning its validity. This fact also apparently operated to McCormick s 
advantage in the suit SH. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 8, 1871. 

106 C H. McCormick to H. Day, Dec. 21, 1874. 

107 A paraphrase of the fmemo. written by C. H. McCormick on Feb. 21, 
1874, will show the basis of his hopes: The Young patents were reissued 
to secure to us the exclusive right to every rake device which entered the 
grain in front of the cutting apparatus, and after pushing the grain back 
upon the platform, swept it off, and then rose to a perpendicular position 
and passed over the reel. The rake was made so to enter the grain as not 
to interfere with the driver seated on the machine. The original Dorsey 
rake could not be used if the driver remained upon the machine he had to 
ride on the back of one of the horses. For this reason we have a whip hand 
over the Dorsey. 


would be divided equally between them. This plan to unite two 
of the biggest firms in the country for the purpose of fighting 
Whiteley and the rake pool with their own weapons was never 
carried out. Cyrus McCormick conferred many times on this 
subject with J. Russell Parsons, the son-in-law of Walter A. 
Wood and the vice-president of his company. 108 Parson s 
health failed in the autumn of 1874 and he felt obliged to go 
to California to recuperate. 109 During his absence, McCormick 
lost his first enthusiasm for the entente, and although Parsons 
was eager for the fray when he returned at the beginning 
of the new year, the moment for action had passed. McCor 
mick had discovered that to reissue one of the Young patents 
in such a form as to make it effective against his competitors 
it must include claims to certain combinations of mechanical 
elements which he had held to be unpatentable in his Dorsey 
suit defense. Surely, if this were done, the rake pool would 
revive their case and stand an excellent chance of gaining a 
favorable verdict. Far better to let sleeping dogs lie, even at 
the cost of sacrificing the Wood alliance. The extended Dorsey 
patent would lapse for good and all in 1877, and until then it 
was wise to go slowly. 110 

108 J. R. Parsons had been associated with D. C Ball In making- Manny 
machines at Hoosick Falls, at least as early as 1852 or 1853. See, "Pennsyl 
vania Farm Journal" (West Chester, Pa.), July, 1855, p. 208. Letters to 
C. H. McCormick from A. D. Hager, Proctorsville, Vt, June i, 1857, $H. 
Day, Mch. 3, 1874, $H. Baldwin, Jr., May 16, July 28 and Aug. 4, 1874, and 
#J. R. Parsons, #June 23, and July 25, 1874. SH. Day to C. H. & L. J. 
McCormick, Mch. 7, 1874; J. R. Parsons to C. H. & L. J. McCormick, 
Sept. 19, 1874- *C. H. McCormick to H. Baldwin, Jr., Feb. 21, Sept. 8 and 
28, 1874. 

105 #H. Baldwin, Jr. s telegram to C. H. McCormick, Oct 28, 1874; C H. 
McCormick to H. Day, Dec, 21, 1874. 

* 10 H. Baldwin, Jr., to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 25, 1874 and Dec. $21 and 
831, 1874; C. H. McCormick to H. Day, Dec. 21, 1874; H. Baldwin, Jr., to 
C. H. & L. J. McCormick, June 21, 1875 J H. Day to C H. & L. J. Mc 
Cormick, Jan. 20, 1875. Day was anxious for C. H. McCormick to close 
with Wood. Baldwin advised against it 


Although the McCormicks had so well fortified their ma 
chine with patents that the members of the pool concluded that 
it would be unprofitable to push their suit against them for 
infringement, there was no doubt that the Johnston-Dorsey 
type of rake gave excellent service. The McCormick self-rake 
was non-controllable, and its center of gravity was so high 
that it could not be used on hillsides. This handicap barred it 
from sale in many parts of the country. 111 Wishing to sound 
out Johnston on the subject of a license, but unwilling to 
furnish him with good advertising copy unless an agreement 
could be reached, the McCormicks commissioned Saxton late 
in 1877 to broach the matter to him without mentioning their 
name. 112 Thus began the dickering which led to the contract 
of the summer of 1879 whereby the McCormicks were licensed 
by Johnston to build his self -rake for a royalty fee of about 
$3.25 per machine. 113 In the same year the Harvester Rake 
Pool dissolved when Johnston s key patent of 1865 expired. 114 

"i McCormick Co. to C H. McCormick, Oct 8, 1877. L.P.C.B. No. 174, 
pp. 720, 808, F, H. Matthews to C. H. McCormick, Oct I and 8, 1877. 
The Johnston reel-rake had a worthy competitor after 1870 in the "table- 
rake," invented by Jacob and Lewis Miller, and soon manufactured in large 
numbers by all the "Buckeye" firms, and by W. A. Wood. It was pivoted 
close to the platform and was entirely distinct from the reel. Compared with 
the reel-rake, it was said to be more durable, more easily controlled, less 
complicated, and to deliver more compact gavels. The reel-rake, however, 
rendered better service in tangled grain. As early as 1863 there was demand 
for a controllable rake but the McCormicks thought it would be too com 
plicated. Ibid., No. 64, p. 465, the Co. to L. Wisler, Townsend, O., Sept 21, 

112 Ibid., No. 175, P- 358, the Co. to J. A. Saxton, Canton, Nov. 6, 1877, 
and p. 735, to W. D. Baldwin, Nov. 26, 1877. 

113 %C. Colahan to C. H. McCormick, July 8 and Nov. 10, 1879, and Oct 
1 6, 1882; $C. Colahan s telegram to C. H. & L. J. McCormick, July 14, 1879. 
"The Farmers* Advance" (Chicago), May I, 1880, p. 4. C. H. McCormick, 
Jr., to S. Johnston, Brockport, N. Y., Mch. 24, 1881. This shows that the 
McCormicks sold 1456 Johnston rakes in 1880. S. Johnston to C. Colahan, 
Feb. 27 and Apr. 7, 1882. 

114 S. Johnston, Brockport, N. Y., to McCormick Harvesting Machine 
Co., Jan. 26, 1884. Here Johnston states that the rake pool "died" when his 


Thereupon, the McCormicks purchased at least one of the im 
portant self -rake patents which had heretofore been locked in 
the combine, 115 As we have seen earlier in this chapter, 1879 
also marked the close of the long contest with the "Buckeye" 
folk over mower patents. Probably there was more than chance 
in this coincidence of dates. The big manufacturers were 
anxious to clear their desks of old issues in order to devote 
their entire attention and resources to the harvester-binder 
war already in progress. 

1865 patent expired, but in a telegram of G. Harding to C. H, McCormick, 
Apr. 12, 1882, he speaks of the "Self-Rake Association" being in session in 
Philadelphia. In. like manner, C. Colahan in a letter to C. H. McCormick, 
Oct. 2, 1882, refers to the "Johnston-Harding Rake Pool" as still in exist 
ence. Up to Jan. I, 1870, the pool had collected about $120,000 in license 
fees. See, Dorsey Extension Cose, p. 293. 

115 This was the reel-rake patent, dated Mch. 10, 1868, of Thomas Hard 
ing of Springfield, O-, which was assigned to the McCormick Harv. Mach. 
Co. on Jan, 10, 1880. T. Harding to C. H. McCormick, Jr., Dec. 7, 1883. 
Hardly had the McCormicks started to manufacture the Johnston self-rake 
than W. N. Whiteley charged that its mechanism invaded some of his 
patent-rights. The McCormicks at once sought from Johnston a guarantee 
of protection against suit by the Whiteleys. Johnston finally gave it in late 
1882 after the McCormicks had withheld the royalties due him on the rakes 
they had manufactured. Doubtless Whiteley tried by his threat to gain from 
the McCormicks the use of some of their patents on binders. L.P.C.B. No. 
201, p. 384, the Co. to W. R. B. Smyth, Freeport, 111., May 7, 1880. C. 
Colahan to C. H. McCormick, #Nov. 9, 1880 and Oct. 28, 1882. S. Johnston, 
Brockport, to C Colahan, Feb. 27 and Apr. 4, 1882. S. Johnston s telegram 
to the Co., Apr. 8, 1882. 


MARKET, 1856-1876 

WTH the close of the Crimean War in 1856, and the 
opening of a period of agricultural depression in the 
United States lasting until 1862, the principal American manu 
facturers of harvesting machinery sought to offset hard times 
at home by extending their markets overseas. Cyrus McCor- 
mick and Obed Hussey had first opened the way for foreign 
sales by the display of their reapers at the Exhibition of the 
Industry of All Nations in the Crystal Palace at London in 
1851. There and at the Paris World s Fair four years later, 
McCormick won the highest awards, but his rival also attained 
a gratifying measure of success and the machine of each in 
ventor was championed by an increasing number of English 

By 1860, however, they were not the only American reaper 
manufacturers in the foreign field. John H. Manny and John 
S. Wright of Illinois, Eliakim Forbush and Seymour & Mor 
gan of New York early entered the lists. 1 From the Empire 
State soon came Walter A. Wood, who was destined for long 
to be one of the chief American competitors of McCormick 
for the favor of English and European farmers. To these 
should be added Patrick Bell and his Scottish reaper which 
was at work again after a long sleep of twenty years. When, 

ijohn Palmer of Stockton-on-Tees manufactured the Forbush Reaper, 
while the Manny, Wright, and Seymour & Morgan machines were supplied 
from the United States. 



in 1854, its principal manufacturer, William & Alfred Cross- 
kill of Beverley in Yorkshire, adopted the knife of McCormick 
without his authorization and further improved the machine 
in detail, it won the patronage of those who believed that 
home talent should be encouraged. 2 Lord Kinnaird, one of the 
first advocates of mechanical reaping in Scotland, associated 
with, John Burry, a skilled mechanic, and for about seven 
years sold a few machines which were said to combine the 
best features of the inventions of McCormick and Bell. 3 

At the outset, the leading reaper-makers of the United 
States assumed that they could not profitably supply the over 
seas market from their home factories. Freight rates were too 
high, and a farmer for patriotic reasons was supposed to pre 
fer a machine that bore the stamp of a firm in his own country. 
Harvest conditions in America were unlike those abroad, and 
reapers had to be adapted to the new environment. This could 
best be done by craftsmen of the land in which the machines 
were to be sold. Using England as an example, fields there 
averaged smaller in size than those in the United States ; they 
were often ridged, and as a rule the grain was tall, tangled, 
and tough of stalk. In southern Russia and the lower Danube 
Valley alone, field and crop conditions were quite similar to 
those of the prairie belt. For these reasons American inventors 
applied for foreign patents and engaged manufacturers in 
England and on the Continent who would pay them 4 and 
5 royalty for each of their reapers, made and sold. 

The United States encouraged the ingenuity of its citizens 
by the enactment of patent laws which at a small cost insured 

2 The efforts to compel the Crosskills and other English firms to pay C. 
H. McCormick a royalty can be traced in #C. H. Collette to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jan. 8, 1856, and in the ^correspondence between Prichard & 
Collette and Robinson & Atkinson, both of London, Aug. 26, 1857, to Apr. 
29, 1858. "Gardeners* Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette" (London), July 
29, 1856, p. 508. Hereafter cited as "Gardeners Chronicle." 

3 "Farmer s Magazine" (London), Oct., 1855, p. 314. 


a maximum of protection for a long term of years to an 
inventor. 4 European countries in 1860 required an inventor to 
pay heavy fees for a patent. 5 These were not usually collected 
in a lump sum at the time the patent was granted, but came due 
year after year during the life of the monopoly. If they were 
not paid, the patent lapsed and the protection was lost. For this 
reason an American manufacturer was wise to retain a solici 
tor in each foreign country in which he sold reapers, to keep 
him reminded of his recurring obligations. Unlike the United 
States, European countries permitted only important discover 
ies or basic changes in the construction of a machine to be 
patented. An extension of patent beyond its original term was 
rarely granted. Many improvements deemed valuable by an 
American were, therefore, freely open to use by a foreign firm. 
For these reasons litigation over patents was less commonly 
resorted to than in the United States. In any event, an 
American hesitated to carry a complaint of infringement be 
fore a foreign court unless he were confident that he had a 
strong case. Before the unification of 1871, the cost of secur 
ing patents in all of the German states was almost prohibitive, 
while in Italy and Spain too few reaper sales could be expected 
to warrant the expense. According to McCormick s English 

4 "Engineering" (London), XVI (1873), pp. 88-89, American implements 
reveal "a tendency to excess of ingenuity, which often appears to be exer 
cised rather for the purpose of evading an existing patent than for the sake 
of efficiency." In so far as harvesting machinery was concerned, this was 
doubtless true. The intricacy of patent claims in the United States was 
always a source of amazement to English lawyers. Robertson, Brooman & 
Co., London, to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 25, 1877: "Fancy sixty-two claims 
in four patents on Binder mechanism, from two men I It s like registration 
of shapes and configurations," 

5 C. H. McCormick to Baldwin & Son, June 30, 1860. European countries 
represented at the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876, were 
forcibly reminded that their patent laws discouraged invention. See, U. S. 
Senate, 45th Cong., 2nd Sess., Misc. Doc. No. 50, pp. 97, 271, 446-448. 
England charged an inventor 175 in stamp duties for a patent, while in the 
U. S. the fee was $35. 


solicitors, German manufacturers were the most notorious 
"pirates" of inventions in Europe, although probably they 
were most often merely appropriating as their own, discoveries 
which had not been patented in their homeland. 6 

Charges for patents were but one of the many items which 
made the introduction of reapers abroad a most expensive 
business. Much more important was the conservatism of the 
European landowners and in some areas the hostility of farm 
laborers to the use of machines. 7 An American manufacturer 
who, like McCormick, blazed the way, faced a loss year after 
year. With the aid of agricultural journals and societies, he 
slowly taught English, German, and Russian landowners that 
on a farm of moderate size a reaper would almost pay for 
itself In a single harvest by its saving of grain, time, and labor 
cost. But to do this, hedge-rows must be sacrificed for the sake 
of larger fields, deep furrows erased, and the operator of the 
implement must acquire enough mechanical sense to oil its 
moving parts, and to repair it in case of a minor mishap. 
The agricultural press of Great Britain in the late 1 850*8 em 
phasized that harvesting machinery demanded intelligent farm 
labor, and that the day of the stupid husbandman had closed. 
At this time improvements were added to the reaper in almost 
every harvest and the European grain-grower, accustomed 

6 ^Robertson, Brooman & Co., London, to C H. McCormick, Mch. 28, 
1872. JJ. T. Griffin, Berlin, to C. H. McCormick, Feb. 28 and May 30, 
1863. The life of a Prussian patent was only five years (compared with 
fourteen years in the U. S.), and could be renewed only with great diffi 
culty. The sole benefit derived from a patent granted by any one of the 
many German states was to prevent manufacture there by an interloper. 
Since there were no custom s barriers between the German states, a manu 
facturer in a state where McCormick had no patent, could freely make his 
reapers without royalty and ship them at little cost to states where Mc 
Cormick was protected. A Russian patent was good for ten years but cost 

7 The "Scientific American," Apr. 12, 1856, p. 242. "Gardeners Chronicle," 
May 24, 1856, p. 364; Nov. i, 1856, p. 730; Nov. 8, 1856, p. 745. "Chicago 
Daily Press," Aug. 31, 1858. 


to low-priced tools which would last a lifetime or more, hesi 
tated to invest 30 or 40 in a machine that would be worn out 
and obsolete within eight or ten years* 

There were, however, several favoring factors tending to 
counterbalance these handicaps. When the reaper crossed the 
sea, it was already a success in America, and European farm 
ers unlike those in the United States, were not obliged to 
suffer with it through a long period of experiment. Thanks 
to the great fairs at London and Paris, it had been introduced 
with much eclat, and foreign visitors interested in agricul 
tural reform carried the good news to their homes. In each 
country of Europe there were a few influential men who im 
mediately made its cause their own, bought machines for their 
farms, arranged for trials in their harvests, and urged their 
friends to buy them. Notable among these were Squire J. 
Mechi of England, Lord Kinnaird of Scotland, Michel Cheva 
lier of France, Baron Bettino Ricasoli of Sardinia, and C. S. 
Schneitler, the editor of an important farm journal of Berlin. 
Agricultural periodicals without exception were on the side of 
the reaper, 8 and members of the ruling houses of Europe ex 
tended it their patronage in order to set a good example for 
their subjects to follow. 9 

In the decade before the Civil War, the British Isles, of all 
the territory of Europe, appeared to promise the largest imme- 

s "Gardeners Chronicle," Aug. 23, 1856, p. 569; Sept i& 1857, PP- 651- 
652. "Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung fur Nord und Mittel Deutschland" 
(Berlin), Mch. 28, 1856, pp. 100, 102; Aug. 15, 1856, pp. 257 #.; Aug. 28, 
1856, pp. 275-276; Sept 12, 1856, pp. 292-293; Oct 31, 1856, pp. 349-351; 
May 22, 1857, p. 168; July 10, 1857, p. 224; Aug. i, 1857, p. 254. "Mechanics 
Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal, and Gazette," of London (hereafter 
cited as "Mechanics Magazine"), May 22, 1858, pp. 482-485. Ricasoli bought 
two reapers of Burgess & Key in 1857. R. A. Brooman, London, to C. H. 
McCormick, Aug. 26, 1859. 

"Gardeners* Chronicle," June 7, 1856, p. 395- Napoleon III took great 
interest in the Agricultural Exposition at Paris in 1856. When the Empress 
Eugenie visited it, she "was wheeled about in a perambulator." 


diate profits to American reaper manufacturers. Although 
McCormick s agents there often complained about the seem 
ing inability of an English farmer to observe the simplest 
rules for the care of a machine, and marveled at the force 
of the inertia which led him to defend the slowest methods 
of harvesting, at least they could argue with him in his own 
language. Many forward-looking men were trying to promote 
the culture of grain in England in order to lessen her de 
pendence for that staple upon imports. There were more 
societies and journals in Great Britain devoted to agricultural 
progress than in the other countries in Europe. Several Amer 
ican bankers and exporting firms of great respectability 
George Peabody & Co., 10 Brown, Shipley & Co., and Naylor 
& Benson n were ready in Liverpool and London to place 
their services at the disposal of United States manufacturers. 
No people in the world were more skilled in the use of iron 
and steel than the English, and although they lacked an ade 
quate supply of wood, their factories could build reapers as 
efficiently as those in America. In fact, England led the United 
States by at least twenty years in the use of reapers made 
largely of steel. 12 Harvest in the British Isles began at about 
the time the prairie belt was cutting its last grain, and for 
this reason an American manufacturer could be on hand to 
supervise during the busiest season in both countries. The 
small and compact grain area of Great Britain, when com 
pared with Germany, Austria Hungary, or Russia, was also 
attractive to reaper-makers who wished to try out their wings 

" SGeprge Peabody & Co. to C. H. McCormick, Oct. i, 1864. Herein, 
McCormick was informed that the firm had "expired by the effluxion of 
time" on Sept. 30, and was succeeded by Junius S. Morgan & Co. 

11 1 Nettie F. McCormick, London, to E. L. Benson, July 29, 1864. 

12 Bamletfs steel reaper, made by Samuelson of Banbury, was in the field 
at least as early as the 1860 harvest See, "Gardeners Chronicle," Sept. 22, 
1860, p. 859; June 22, 1861, p, 582. This was probably the invention of Adam 
Carlisle Bamlett of Thirsk, Yorkshire. 


cautiously in a foreign field, although they could not have 
selected a region in Europe where the harvest season was more 
likely to be rainy, or where the grain would put their machines 
to a severer test. Nor were the hills of Scotland and northern 
England a welcome sight to a reaper which had won its laurels 
on the level fields of Iowa and Illinois. 

When Cyrus McCormick first explored the possibilities of 
a European market in the years 1851 to 1853, ^ e hoped to 
find several manufacturers in each of the principal grain- 
growing countries who would extend their sales under the 
spur of healthy competition. Obed Hussey had the same idea 
in so far as the British Isles were concerned, and before 1860 
three or four factories were making a modified form of his 
machine. Several English firms were selected by McCormick 
to build his reaper, but by 1857, as a result of disagreements 
over royalties, Burgess & Key of Brentwood, Essex, was its 
only manufacturer in England. 13 

Sir Kingsmill Grove Key, Baronet, handled the financial 
affairs of this partnership, while William Burgess, and within 
a few years his son Charles, furnished the mechanical skill. 
Because English wheat and rye were often too heavy to rake 
hour after hour by hand from the platform of a reaper, 
Burgess as early as 1854 invented and patented an ingenious 

13 This does not include Kinnaird & Burry of Scotland, who added an 
endless web delivery to the McCormick reaper, but sold too few to deserve 
much emphasis. See, "Gardeners Chronicle," June 29, 1861, p. 611 and 
Sthe contracts of 1853 between McCormick and Ransome & Sims of Ipswich, 
and Richard Garrett & Son of Saxmundham. These were probably never 
carried into effect, although "Gardeners Chronicle," Sept. i, 1855, p. 589, 
announced that these two firms "will make" Burgess & Key s McCormick 
machines. This was probably the outcome of the letter from #C H. Mc 
Cormick to Burgess & Key, Mch. 26, 1855, in which he asked the partners 
if they could draw Garrett and Ransome into a "mutual arrangement." 
"The object ... of course is to consolidate and monopolize the trade by 
such a combination of machinery, means, men & influence, as will accomplish 
the object to the fullest extent." #R. A. Brooman to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 
i, 1858; 1C. H. Collette to C, H, McCormick, Dec. 23, 1858. 


Archimedian screw device which automatically laid the cut 
grain in swath on the stubble at the side of the moving 
machine. 14 Prairie farmers much preferred delivery in gavels 
ready for the bandster, even though the grain had to be cleared 
from the platform by manual labor. For this reason, McCor- 
mick was unwilling to place the screw on his Chicago-made 
reapers, although Burgess urged its adoption, hoping thereby 
to be released from paying so heavy a royalty to McCormick 
for the use of his English patents. 15 This difference of opin 
ion was the first of many which arose to trouble his relations 
with Burgess & Key during the next fifteen years. 

The Burgesses were forever tinkering with the machine and 
McCormick was displeased by their apparent effort to change 
the construction of each patented element sufficiently to avoid 
paying him a royalty. If this were their objective, they were 
unsuccessful prior to 1859, for in that year they agreed to 
give him 4,000 in lieu of any further fees under his three 
English patents. By this time Burgess & Key led the field in 
England and had made and sold about two thousand ma 
chines. 16 The several British factories manufacturing Hussey 
and Bell reapers were disposed to use the knife and divider 

14 "Mechanics Magazine/ Mch. 17, 1855, PP- 241-242. As late as 1867, 
Burgess & Key reapers still used this type of self-delivery. See, #J. T. 
Griffin, London, to C. H. McCormick, Aug. n and Oct. 6, 1866; Aug. 17, 

/ 5 #C. H. McCormick to Burgess & Key, Mch. 26, 1855: "I have no 
disposition too heavily to burthen the general introduction of the Reaper 
into use by heavy Royalties." $ Burgess & Key to C. H. McCormick, May 5 

15 McCormick was not pleased with Burgess & Key s work. He wrote to 
W. S. McCormick, on Apr. 20, 1857: "If I could have had a good and 
efficient man in England, I am satisfied that by this time a large business 
might have been doing there." #R. A. Brooman to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 
I and 15, 1858; Aug. 26, 1859; C. H. Collette to C. H. McCormick, Dec. 
23, 1858. C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Apr. 15 and May 3, 1858. SMS. Un 
dated Agreement between C. H. McCormick and Sir Kingsmill Grove Key, 
but apparently signed by McCormick on June 16, 1859. 


of McCormick without his permission. Time and again, 
through his solicitors, Prichard & Collette of London, he 
threatened to sue for infringement. In so far as the available 
records show, however, his grievances were never brought be 
fore the courts. 17 

Although more Burgess & Key McCormick reapers were 
sold in the British Isles during the years 1851-1861 than those 
of any other manufacturer, expert opinion was by no means 
unanimous in their support. Hussey, Bell, and Wood had their 
ardent champions, and the first two of these and McCormick 
each won the highest prize three times during this decade in 
the annual field trials of the Royal Agricultural Society of 
England. This association included within its membership the 
leading agriculturalists of the kingdom, and its inconclusive 
verdict merely reflected the divided opinion of the many other 
organizations of farmers which furnished reaper-makers a 
yearly opportunity to compete for premiums. The victors in 
these contests widely advertised their prowess both at home 
and abroad, but as in the United States, the amount and 
superior quality of the roast beef and champagne furnished 
to the jury of award by an aspirant for the first prize, often 
went far toward determining the result, 18 

With the exception of the Bell reapers as made by William 
& Alfred Crosskill (CrosskilFs Trustees), the McCormick 
commanded the highest price on the English market. By 1860, 

17 ^Correspondence between Prichard & Collette and Robinson & Atkinson 
of London, Aug. 26, 1857 to Apr. 29, 1858. Account of C. H. McCormick 
with Prichard & Collette, Easter Term, 1855. SC H. Collette to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jan. 8, 18565 1C. H. McCormick to R. A. Brooman, Mch. 20, 
1859; fR. A. Brooman to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 7, 1859. "Mechanics 
Magazine," Dec. 21, 1860, p. 433. 

18 S. Sidney in a paper read before the Society of Arts, blamed the slow 
progress of the reaper in England upon the "contradictory decisions of the 
Royal Agricultural Society." "Gardeners 1 Chronicle," Dec. 12, 1857, p. 844. 
For a summary list of the prizes granted by the Royal Agricultural Society 
during the decade beginning in 1851, see, ibid,, Aug. 31, 1861, p. 795. 


most landlords who could afford to give 42 had made their 
purchases, and there was an insistent demand for a lighter 
and less expensive machine. Because of this pressure, the 
Hussey reaper priced at about 30 by its British makers, 
William Dray & Co., Spencer, Wray & Son, Robert Cuthbert 
& Co., Gardner & Lindsay, and others, gained increasing 
favor, especially in Scotland where self -rakes carried little 
appeal. 19 Walter A. Wood was rapidly winning fame and 
fortune in America by demonstrating that it was possible to 
unite cheapness, light draught, and fair durability in a single 
implement, and his English manufacturer, W. H. Cranston of 
London, sold over two thousand reapers in four years (1858- 
i862). 20 As a reaper, the Wood combined-machine was in 
ferior to the McCormick, but in grass it was surpassed by 
none. To meet this competition, Burgess & Key about 1858 
arranged to build the excellent mower of A. B. Allen of New 
York. 21 At this time, also, Bernard Samuelson of Banbury 
contracted to make the Owen Dorsey reel-rakes (a self-rake 
reaper-mower - 2 ) and Ball mowers. Within a few years, Wood 

19 "Farmer s Magazine," Sept. 1859, p. 211; Dec. 1859, p. 503. "Transac 
tion of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland," Vol. XI (3rd 
ser.), pp. 123-147. The trend toward the use of cheaper and lighter machines 
than the McCormick is noticeable as early as 1860. See, "Gardeners Chron 
icle," Sept. 15, 1860, p. 837; Sept. 29, 1860, p. 880; Oct. 27, 1860, p. 959; 
Nov. 10, 1860, p. 1008, SE. Alexander, Stirling, Scotland, to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Sept 20, 1865. This writer claimed that Scottish farmers still 
preferred manual delivery because of the wet harvests. In other words, grain 
had to be spread on the stubble to dry, before it could be safely tied into 
sheaves. Letter to C H. McCormick in "North British Agriculturist" 
(Edinburgh), Sept. 30, 1863. 

20 Peltier in France was also manufacturing the Wood machine. Dorsey 
Extension Case, p. 289. Here Wm. N. Cranston testified that he went to 
England in 1858, and from 1863 to May, 1869, remained there as a partner 
of Walter A. Wood. He probably began to manufacture Wood machines in 

21 "Scientific American," Oct I, 1859, p. 219. 

22 "Gardeners Chronicle," Sept. 25, 1858, p. 722. "Mechanics Magazine " 
Jan. 17, 1862, p. 32. 


alone was able to hold his own against the popularity of these 
light machines both in England and on the continent. 

Shortly after McCormick made his initial arrangement with 
Burgess & Key, these partners sub-leased manufacturing rights 
to several firms in Europe. France was always an excellent 
place in which to win prizes, but few countries offered less 
encouragement as a market. D. L. Laurent of Paris and 
Francois Bella of Grignon made a few McCormick machines 
for sale in France and Algeria, but during the entire period 
covered in this chapter, by far the most of the thrifty French 
peasants on their small holdings continued complacently to 
swing their hooks and sickles. Neither McCormick nor any 
other reaper manufacturer could make headway against Gallic 
conservatism. 23 

Even less encouragement was found in the Low Countries, 
although Burgess & Key received the first premium for two 
successive years in trials held under the auspices of the Royal 
Agricultural Society of The Netherlands, and other awards 
were gained in Belgium from an association formed there to 
promote the introduction of farm machinery. 24 There is no 
record of sales in Portugal or Spain prior to 1864. At least 

23 "Journal de 1* Agriculture Pratique et du Jardinage" (Paris), VI, 4th 
ser. (1856), pp. 125, 228; VII (1857), p. no; II, 5th ser. (1859), pp. 52, 
156-159, 196; II T 6th ser. (1864), pp. 195, 255. $D. C. McKenzie from 
London to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 10, 1857. "Prairie Farmer," Sept. i, 
1859, p. 137. "Frank Leslie s Illustrated Newspaper," Sept. 10, 1859, p. 
234; "Farmer s Magazine," Feb. 1860, pp. 132-135; Sept. 1860, p. 193. 
"The Cultivator," Sept 1860, p. 293. "Scientific American," Oct. 20, 1860, 
p. 265. The Prince Imperial visited the McCormick factory in Chicago in 
Sept., 1861. L.P.CB. No. 45, pp. 327, 334, W. S. McCormick to H. O. 
Goodrich, Jerseyville, 111., Sept. 3, 1861. SAlbaret et Cie, to J. T. GrifEn, 
July 20, 1865. 

24 H. Van Houten, Pella, la., to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 30, 1857, 
"Journal de 1 Agriculture Pratique," Vol. II (1859), pp. 181-182, 259-260; 
"Scientific American," Sept. 17, 1859. $ Programme du Concours Interna 
tional de Machines a Moissonner, Ouvert Par La Societe Centrale d Agri 
culture de Belgique, Bruxelles, le 15 Janvier, 1859. "The Cultivator," Sept. 
1861, p. 292. "Gardeners Chronicle," Sept. i, 1860, p. 798. 


eight reapers had been sent by Burgess & Key to prominent 
landowners of north Italy before the American Civil War, 
and a first prize was won at Grosseto in Tuscany in i857. 25 
Whether Anton Burg of Vienna, Schneitler & Andree of 
Berlin, Dr. Hamm of Leipsig, Talbot & Herbrand of Aachen, 
and Evans & Lilpop of Warsaw paid either Burgess & Key 
or Cyrus McCormick any fees for the machines which they 
made may well be doubted. Taking them at their word, they 
manufactured and sold several hundred McCormick reapers 
in Austria-Hungary, the German states, and Russia before 
1 86 1. 26 To these must be added a few marketed there by 
Burgess & Key, and several more sent direct from Chicago. 
Of these three regions, Austria-Hungary appeared to be the 
most promising because of the scarcity of harvest labor in the 
Danube Valley. In 1857, m a ^ e ^ tr ^ * n heavy rye near 
Budapest, a Burgess & Key McCormick defeated a Hussey 
reaper made by Baron Ward of Vienna. Archduke Albrecht 
and several high state officials who had witnessed the contest, 
expressed the hope that the English firm would endeavor to 

25 "Farmer s Magazine," July, 1860, p. i. t Royalty Account of Burgess & 
Key with C. H. McCormick for 1864 shows that eight of its reapers were 
shipped to Spain, and five more were sent there from Chicago. W, A. Wood 
already had an office in Madrid. In 1865, Burgess & Key sent twenty Mc 
Cormick reapers to Spain but very few were sold. $J. T. Griffin, London, to 
C. H. McCormick, Mch. 17, 1866: "Italy is a dead field and Spain, due to 
political troubles and lack of money, not much better. Wood sells for 36 
in Spain, but we have to charge 40." Another first prize was won at 
Grosseto by C. H. McCormick in 1883, but the sales in Italy were always 
very few. A Cosimmi e Figli, Grosseto, to C. H. McCormick, July i, 1883. 
"Chicago Times," Sept i, 1883. 

26 "LandwirtschaftHche Zeitung," May 22, 1857, p. 168; July 10, 1857, P- 
224; Aug. 7, 1857, PP. 254-255; Sept. i, 1859, pp. 278-9, Sept 8, 1859, pp. 
282-5, Sept 15, 1859, pp. 293-96; and Dec. 29, 1859, pp. 411-412. "Agronom- 
ische Zeitung" (Leipsig), Mch. 19, 1857, p. 184, and July 30, 1857, pp. 488- 
89. "Landwirtschaftlicher Anzeiger fur Kurhessen" (Cassel), Oct. 19, 
1859, pp. 149-152. Butenose Bros., Moscow, to C. H. McCormick, May 16, 
1859. L.P.CB. No. 35, p. 461, C. H. McCormick & Bros, to Butenose Bros., 
Sept 29, 1860. 


increase its sales in their country. 27 Agricultural editors in 
Germany urged their subscribers to cease complaining of high 
labor costs and to buy reapers ; not those imported from Eng 
land, but the even more efficient ones made in their own coun 
try. By 1860 Wood claimed to have sold fifty machines in 
Russia, and he anticipated a profitable trade in the Volga 
Valley and Siberia. In the same year the office of the McCor- 
mick factory informed the Consul General of Russia at New 
York of its interest in extending the use of its machines in 
his country. In his reply he requested that the new Imperial 
Agricultural Museum at St. Petersburg should be favored 
with a model of the machine, 28 Erzerum, in Turkey, was soon 
the farthest outpost of the McCormick reaper. 29 

By 1862 Cyrus McCormick was ready to introduce his new 
self-rake reaper to the grain-growers of the world. Thanks to 
his brothers, he could leave the country for an indefinite stay 
with the knowledge that his interests were in competent hands. 
The lawsuits and patent-extension cases which had prevented 

27 "Agronomische Zeitung," July 23, 1857, pp. 473-474- "Farmer s Maga 
zine," Aug. 1857, pp. 130-131. The "Scientific American/ 1 Aug. i, 1857, 

*28L.P.CB. No. 37, p. 311, McCormick Co. to J. de Nottbeck, N. Y. City, 
Dec. 7, 1860. SJ- de Nottbeck to McCormick Co., Dec. 11, 1860. *J. T. 
Griffin, London, to C H. McCormick, Dec. 10, 1864: Wood claims to 
have sold as many as two hundred in one season in Moscow, and to have 
sent fifty machines to Russia as early as 1860. See, L.P.C.B. No. 35, p. 
461, the Co. to Butenose Bros., Moscow, Sept 29, 1860. 

fT. C. Trowbridge, Constantinople, to C, H. McCormick, Mch. 5, 1864. 
Letters from the Co. in L.P.CB. No. 88, p. 395, to L. S. Durfee, Phila., 
Mch. 14, 1866; No. 220, p, 604, to E. Benedict, N. Y. City, Feb. i, 1882, 
m re shipping a machine to Mersine, Turkey; No. 249, PP- 215, 232, to D. 
Offiey, Smyrna, Jan. 13, 1882, and to Rev. T. D. Christie, Adana, Turkey, 
Jan. 30, 1882; No. 240, p. 148, to Mrs. J. O. Keller, Ft Wayne, Ind., Feb. 
5, 1884. In 1881, C. H. McCormick declined to send two harvester- 
binders to Thessaly on the grounds that field conditions there were too 
primitive to permit their success. See, IL.P.CB. of C H. McCormick, 
Nov. i88o-May, 1881, p. 364. C EL McCormick to R. C Ransome, 
Ipswich, Eng., Mch. 29, 1881. 


an extended wedding trip four years before, were settled. 
Europe was the more attractive to him because his emphatic 
stand for peace after Lincoln s election brought him its social 
penalty as soon as hostilities began. Perhaps Napoleon III 
could be persuaded to offer to mediate between the warring 
sections. 30 

Although these general considerations influenced McCor- 
mick to journey overseas in 1862, his immediate objective was 
the London International Exposition. To prepare for this, men 
at his factory in late 1861 built a self-rake reaper with special 
care. Its platform was covered with "planished copper . . . 
sometimes used in making bath tubs" and its iron pieces were 
highly polished. 31 John Skirving, who had been associated with 
Christian Schussele in the painting of a canvas entitled "Amer 
ican Men of Progress," showing McCormick conspicuously in 
the foreground, was employed to varnish and gold stripe in 
his best style the beautifully grained ash used for its wood 
work. The inventor was obliged to restrain him, however, 
when he proposed to emblazon "Our Whole Country, or 
None" on the platform of the machine. 32 Skirving, with the 
implement in his charge, sailed for the Crystal Palace early 
in April, i862. 33 Once in London, he joined the other "dis- 

30 H. Greeley to W. L. Dayton, Paris, July 14, 1862. 

31 L.P.C.B. No. 54, p. 140, C. H. McCormick & Bros, to T. B. Bunting 
& Co M N. Y. City, Dec. 25, 1861 ; No. 47, pp. 86, 166, to U. S. Express 
Co., Chicago, Mch. 18, 1862, and to H. S. Champlin & Co., Courtland, 111., 
Mch. 20, 1862. "Chicago Times," Mch. 21, 1862. "Prairie Farmer," Mch. 
29, 1862, p. 200. "Chicago Daily Tribune," Mch. 22, 1862. 

32 Schussele was a professor of Fine Arts at the Pennsylvania Academy 
of Fine Arts. L.P.C.B. No. 47, pp. 154-155, 351, C. H. McCormick to J. 
Skirving, Mch. 20 and 31, 1862. McCormick was a little fearful of 
Skirving s habits. "I proposed to you at dinner to have Scotch ale (which 
I like sometimes) which you declined, adding that you sometimes drank 
wine, whereupon I ordered a bottle. After this you seemed to have been 
drinking which I observed in my room before you left." 

33 Ibid., No. 47, p. 366, C. H. McCormick & Bros, to T. B. Bunting & 
Co., Apr, i, 1862. J. Skirving to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 19, 1862; $R. 
A. Brooman to C. H. McCormick, Mch. 27, 1862. 


gusted" representatives of the sixty American exhibitors who 
were at work on the five thousand square feet of floor space 
assigned to them in an out-of-the-way corner of the leaky 
building. 34 

The Virginia Reaper was soon in its place on a low plat 
form backed by a curtain of the "dark maroon stuff . . . 
authorized by the Commissioners." By then the Exposition 
had opened, and the inexperienced Skirving was reinforced 
by the arrival of Leander McCormick and James T. Griffin 
of the factory office. 35 While the display machine was receiv 
ing the flattering attention of the crowds, twelve other self- 
rake reapers were made ready for field use in the harvests of 
England and the Continent. 36 Thus was the way prepared for 
the coming of Cyrus McCormick. 

When he, with his wife and two children, occupied the 
"choice accommodations . . . not against the wheels or smoke 
chimney" of the SS. Scotia bound for Liverpool in July, 
i862, 37 he little dreamed that two years would pass before his 

34 "Gardeners Chronicle," May 10, 1862, p. 434. 

35 L.P.C.B. No. 47, P- 595, telegram of C. H. McCormick & Bros, to 
Naylor & Co., Boston, Mass., Apr, 12, 1862; ibid., pp. 648, 691, 761, C. H. 
McCormick to Naylor & Co., Apr. 15, 1862. This shows that Griffin 
carried letters from C. H. McCormick to Prince Napoleon, Charles Francis 
Adams, George Peabody, Joshua Bates, etc. L.P.C.B. No. 48, pp. 16, 128, 
279, 289, 389, 487, C. H. McCormick to J. T. Griffin, May I, 1862. 
Leander was accompanied by his wife, three children, and a nurse, f Letters 
to C H. McCormick from J. Skirving, Apr. 28, 1862; J. T. Griffin, 
May 9, 1862, and L. J. McCormick, May 14, and 24, 1862. 

ssLJP.C.B. No. 48, p. 511, C. H. McCormick & Bros, to J. T. Griffin, 
May 9, 1862. The comment of Eugene Tisserand, called forth by the 
Vienna Exposition of 1873, was equally in point at London. "The inventors 
love their machines, and their wits are continually at work to improve 
them; hence the unequalled finish, elegance, and exquisite work employed 
in their construction. The machines exhibited in their hall, especially their 
models, are perfect gems, wrought and polished with true artistic taste." 
R. H. Thurston, ed., "Reports of the Commissioners of the U. S. to the 
International Exhibition Held at Vienna, 1873" (Washington, 1876), I, 
p. 304. Hereafter cited as "R. H. Thurston." 

S7 L.P,C.B. No. 48, pp. 434-435. C. H. McCormick to Naylor & Co., 
Boston, May 6, 1862, and No. 50, pp. 156, 725, C. H. McCormick & Bros. 


return to the United States. Nor could his brothers under 
stand why he stayed away so long. 38 Leander, very seasick on 
his Atlantic crossing and homesick almost as soon as he 
reached London, was outraged by the prices asked of Ameri 
cans in European hotels and shops. At the close of the year he 
was more than glad to return to his native land and take his 
chance with the draft. 39 In his judgment, his trip was one of 
the blunders of his life and he desired no further connection 
with the foreign trade of the firm. 40 William S. McCormick, 
holding the Chicago fort alone for five months and daily 
confronted with perplexing problems, wondered why Cyrus 
wished "to be involved in business in Europe, unless to flee 
away from this land of blood & death, where we are down 
trodden by abolitionism in the North without liberty of 
speech & with utter ruin in the South, as I suppose/ 41 

For Cyrus McCormick and his wife, however, the days 
abroad were all too short. Comfortably settled at Edward s 
Hotel in Hanover Square in their "front grand drawing room 
with its two fireplaces opposite to each other/ they followed 
the course of the struggle at home in the "London Times," 
and enjoyed the society of Baron James Rothschild, Junius 

to Naylor & Co., June 28, 1862: "C. H. McCormick wishes to sail July 
1 6th from Boston. He is to be accompanied by his wife, two children, 
niece, and servant." The niece was Miss Mary Adams. 

38 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, n.d., but probably the autumn of 1862: 
"Can say not returning this year (though I may still see about it). ... 
Don t see that it can be important for me to be with you, but may be able 
to go over if still thought so." 

*9 W. S. McCormick to "Dear Brother," Sept. 24, 1862: "I think the 
draft should not delay you as substitutes can be hired & at no very great 
price no doubt," L. J. to C. H. McCormick, May 24 and 29, 1862, and to 
Nettie F, McCormick, Dec. 4, 1862. Henrietta to Nettie F. McCormick, 
Dec. ?, 1862. 

*L. J. to C. H. McCormick, Apr. 7, 1863, and Jan. 5, 1870; C. H. to 
L. J. McCormick, Dec, 31, 1869. 

41 W. S. to C. H. McCormick, Sept. 27, 1862. 


Morgan, and George Peabody. 42 Frequent letters from Wil 
liam S. told of large cash balances and profitable investments 
in gold and real estate. Nearer at hand the self -rake reapers 
were winning Cyrus McCormick "trophies like the row of 
scalps worn by a successful Choctaw warrior." 4S During his 
long absences from London in the interests of his machine, his 
wife took their children to Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, or to 
one of the fashionable spas on the Continent. 44 

The reception accorded the McCormick reaper left little to 
be desired. Medals from the London Exposition and the Im 
perial Society of Agriculture in France were only the two 
most notable awards of the 1862 season. Exhibitions and 
field trials in England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Italy, Aus 
tria-Hungary, the German States, and Russia, brought Cyrus 
McCormick a most gratifying harvest of prizes and com- 

*2 C. H. to W. S. McCormick, Dec. 2, 1862 ; J. T. Griffin to C. H. Mc 
Cormick, Jan. 13, 1865. C. H. McCormick, Jr. MSS., Nettie F. to C H. 
McCormick, Jr., July 29, 1907. 

43 1864 Pamphlet of C H. McCormick & Bros., p. 7. 

44 In Mch., 1864, C. H. McCormick was living at 7 Montague Place, 
London. When he returned to the U. S. three months later, he probably 
planned to go back to England after a short visit. This is indicated by 
his letter of Mch. 23, 1864, to his London pastor, Rev. L. Cumming, D.D. 
In this he writes that Mrs. McCormick would not go to America with him 
and that she "would be pleased to become acquainted with some English 
society, while our niece, who has been at school at Geneva about a year, 
may return and accompany her." Mrs. McCormick came back to the U. S. 
in Nov. 1864. Receipted hotel bills in the files of the N. F. McCormick 
Biog. Asso. reveal the itinerary of the McCormicks while they were in 
Europe. In August, 1862, for example, they were registered at Fenton s 
Hotel in London. In both the autumn of 1862 and 1863, C. H. Mc 
Cormick was with his reaper in the harvest fields of northern England 
and Scotland. Their address in the winter of 1862-1863, was Edward s 
Hotel, London, and Brighton in the following spring. Part of the late 
summer and autumn of 1863 was spent at the Palace Hotel, London, and 
at Tunbridge Wells, but in November they opened a residence in Upper 
Norwood. Apparently they stayed there until C H. McCormick sailed for 
home in June, 1864. From that time until Mrs. McCormick left England 
five months later, she lived at 17 Marlborough Rd,, St. John s Wood 


mendatory press notices. 45 The "St. Petersburg Agricultural 
Gazette" pronounced his reaper "the best thing of the kind 
known as yet," and the "Hungarian News" of Budapest com 
mented that "never before has a machine met with such gen 
eral approval from our people." 46 The Duke of Athol of 
Scotland, Prince Alexander Baschmakoff of Russia, and the 
Marquis de Sambuy of Italy, were among the high-born who 
bought McCormick reapers for use on their estates. 47 Little 
wonder that the inventor was content to linger in Europe ! 

The climax of this round of victories came in July, 1863, 
when the Hamburg International Agricultural Exhibition 
awarded McCormick its highest prize "for the practical intro 
duction and improvement of the Reaping Machine." 4S Ex- 

45 Pamphlet of 1863 entitled "McCormick s Reaping and Mowing Ma 
chine." "Gardeners Chronicle," Aug. 16, 1862, p. 769; Aug. 30, 1862, p. 
823; Oct 18, 1862, p. 900. "Farmer s Magazine," Oct. 1862, pp. 308, 321, 
330. "Genesee Farmer," Sept., 1862, p. 306. L.P.C.B. No. 50, p. 258, C. H. 
McCormick & Bros, to J. T. Griffin, London, June 18, 1862; No. 49, p. 
858, C. A. Spring, Jr., to W. S. McCormick, Aug. 12, 1862. #J. T. Griffin 
to C H. McCormick, June 19, 1862. One A. Vattemare "was the lever that 
we used to move the body of state* (Imperial Society of Agriculture in 
France) and to him we owe much." "Journal de V Agriculture Pratique," 
Vol. II (5th ser.), pp. no, 169, 540. "Mark Lane Express" (London), 
Aug. n, 1862. "Le Siecle" (Paris), July 28, 1862. "Bell s Weekly Mes 
senger" (London), Aug. 18 and Sept 8, 1862. "London Times," Aug. 15 
and Sept. 13, 1862. "The Daily Review" (Edinburgh), Sept. 15, 1862. 
"The Scotsman" (Edinburgh), Oct 10, 1862. "North British Agricultur 
ist," Oct. i, 1862. "Allegemeine Land- und Forstwirtschaftliche Zeitung" 
(Vienna), XII, July 28, 1862, pp. 662-664. 

46 "Hungarian News" (Pesth), July n, 1862; "St. Petersburg Agricul 
tural Gazette," Sept 27, 1862; #J. T. Griffin, St. Petersburg, Aug. 18, 
1862 to C. H, McCormick, and from Moscow to C. H. McCormick, Aug. 
22, 1862. 

47 A. Baschmakoff to C H. McCormick, Aug. 10 and Oct. 22, 1862; 
C. H. McCormick to A. Baschmakoff, Dec. 17, 1862. The Marquis de 
Sambuy was President of the Italian Agricultural Association. $J. T. 
Griffin, Berlin, to C. H. McCormick, May 29 and 30, 1863, and from 
London, Apr. 21, 1866. 

48 "Gardeners* Chronicle," July 25, 1863, p. 706. "Prairie Farmer," Aug. 
8 and 22, 1863, pp. 88, 114: "McCormick thrashed all the nations and 


hibitors from thirty-four nations were there and over three 
thousand implements were on display. The Commissioner of 
the United States reported to President Lincoln that McCor- 
rnick s reaper "surpassed in elegance of workmanship any 
agricultural machine on the ground, while his working ma 
chine at the trial only more fully demonstrated ... the 
superiority which he had so long maintained in Europe and in 
America." Leading German merchants and bankers of New 
York donated a large assortment of American-made machines 
for permanent display in an agricultural museum to be opened 
at Hamburg. 49 McCormick added his prize reaper to this col 
lection, and the United States Commissioner was of the opin 
ion that these evidences of international good-will had helped 
to gain favor for the northern cause in Germany. 50 

McCormick attended this Exposition and enjoyed his tri 
umph. He spent several weeks that summer in Germany over 
seeing the work of his machine In the harvest, and arranging 
with James R. McDonald, the acting United States consul 
at Hamburg, to be his agent. Gustave Koerner met the inven 
tor in Berlin and later referred to him in his "Memoirs" as an 
excellent example of the American with a "business mania" 
who could talk only about his work or local politics and had 
no time to visit the cathedrals and picture-galleries of the Old 

walks off with the golden medal. . . . May our glorious army be as suc 
cessful in thrashing the rebels as Campbell [exhibitor of sheep from Ver 
mont], McCormick and other Americans are, in competition, with the 
nations here assembled." Wiegandt und Hempel, "Annalen der Landwirt- 
schaft in den Preussischen Staaten" (Berlin, 1869), pp. 35*-352. "North 
British Agriculturist," Sept 16, 1863. 

49 The Executive Committee of the Hamburg International Agricultural 
Exhibition of 1863 to C. H. McCormick, July 31, 1863. tj. R. McDonald, 
Hamburg, to C. H, McCormick, Aug. 19, 1865. 

"Daily Morning Chronicle" (Wash., D. C), Jan. 21, 1864, Kept, of 
the Hon. Jos. A. Wright, Commr. of U. S., on the Internatl. Agr l. Exhib. 
at Hamburg. Twenty-three U. S. exhibitors received awards. Five steam 
ploughs from Great Britain attracted particular attention. 


World. 51 McCormick would probably have replied that his 
wife was his very willing and appreciative envoy to the art 
museums, while his absorption in his task was amply justified 
by the value of his machine to the farmers of Europe. 

But the grain-growers of the Continent were slow to take 
advantage of the opportunity afforded them. For reasons 
suggested earlier in this chapter, medals and newspaper 
"puffs" in Europe did not sell many reapers there, nor did 
the rather imposing number of agents whom Griffin appointed 
in 1862 and 1863 in a score of cities between Madrid and 
Moscow. Labor was said to be too cheap in Prussia, farms 
too small in France, ridges too high in the fields of Italy, and 
money too scarce in Russia where the big landowners were 
going through a difficult transition from serf to free labor. 52 
Albaret et Cie. of Liancourt-Rantigny (Oise), licensed after 
1862 to manufacture McCormick reapers for France, were 
able to sell less than five a year. 

51 Thomas J. McCormack, ed, "Memoirs of Gustave Koerner" (2 vols., 
Cedar Rapids, la., 1909), II, pp. 352-353- SJ- R- McDonald & Co., Ham 
burg, to C. H. McCormick, Oct. 26, 1864. In the 1864 harvest this firm 
sold four reapers, but having- distributed 13,000 circulars, the expenses 
were 50 more than it received from the sales. 

52 C. H. McCormick to L. Wyrzakowski (no address given), Dec. 18, 
1862. J. T. Griffin, Turin, to C. H. McCormick, June 17, 1863, Nov. 26 
and Dec. 10, 1864. In 1864 the McCormick "trade in Russia was zero," 
but a $J. T. Grimn-McCormick account- sheet for that year shows that 
sixteen reapers were sent to Bellino Tendinck, of Odessa; $J. T. Griffin, 
Budapest, to C. H. McCormick, May 30, 1865: "The situation in Russia 
looks even more hopeless than last season." $Idem to C. H. McCormick, 
from Dresden, June 29, 1865, and from London, June 23, 1866. "The Culti 
vator," July 1863, pp. 201-202. Judging from the report of J. C. Morton, 
Chairman of the Jury on Agr l. Machs. at the Internatl. Exhib. in London, 
1862, England was using many reapers and mowers. "There is now no 
large arable district in the country where the reaping machine is not em 
ployed, nor any extensive district of pasture land where the mower is not 
at work. In some counties most of the reaping is now done by machinery." 
This was particularly true in the north of England. "Mechanics* Maga 
zine," Jan. 8, 1864, p. 17: Since 1851, 10,000 reapers have been made in 


McCormick s entire stay in Europe up to March, 1864, was 
punctuated by controversy with Burgess & Key over royalties 
past and future, and the amount of emphasis they should give 
to his name and his machine at their factory and in their ad 
vertisements. 53 Because of this dispute, he was obliged between 
1862 and 1865 to bring most of the machines needed for the 
Continental market (except France) from Chicago. 54 The 
costly transportation charges made their price too high to 
compete advantageously with the reapers of Cranston-Wood 
or Samuelson. The McCormick machines were heavy of draft, 
unattractive in appearance, and often damaged as a result of 
their several transshipments between Chicago and their Euro 
pean destinations. 55 Except in the Low Countries and Central 

J. T. Griffin to C H. McCormick, May 9 and June 19, 1862. L. J. 
to C. H. McCormick, May 29, 1862. ^Account of C. H. McCormick with 
Prichard & Collette, Nov. 21, 1861, to May 6, 1863. "Bell s Weekly Mes 
senger," Aug. 18, 1862. Here Burgess & Key states that it has made 
arrangement to build McCormick s self-rake machine. This was a contract 
made for two years on Aug. 4, 1862, but it was ambiguous and question at 
once arose as to what royalty B. & K, should pay. A fee of 2 per machine 
was finally agreed upon, to be increased to 4 after 1864. &E. Alexander, 
Sterling, Scotland, to C. H. McCormick, May 30, 1863. fR. A. Brooman to 
C H. McCormick, Mck 4, 1864. To paraphrase: I view the amicable settle 
ment of all matters between you and Burgess & Key as a great occasion. So 
will you celebrate with these partners as my guest at my club at 15 George 
St, Hanover Square, next Monday evening? Fearing that the lawyers might 
quarrel, I haven t invited them. See also, the elaborate parchment license 
granted to Burgess & Key on Mch, 4, 1864. 

54 C. H. McCormick to A. Baschmakoff, Dec. 17, 1862, and to W. S. Mc 
Cormick, Dec. 19, 1862. C. H. McCormick feared that captures by Confed 
erate cruisers might raise freight rates on reapers from New York, t C. H. 
McCormick to J. T. Griffin, Nov. 22, 1864: "If the business is well worked, 
I am not anxious to manufacture here [in Chicago] for Europe." 

55 IJ. T. Griffin, Berlin, Budapest, Dresden and Frankfort-am-Main, to 
C H. McCormick, Feb. 28, May 28, 30, June 4, 5, 7, 9, 12 and 13, 1863. 
R. Nestle, Frankfort-am-Main to E. Baxter, Mch. 10, 1863. In 1862 the 
freight on a reaper via Lakes and rail from Chicago to New York was about 
$9,50; from N. Y. to Liverpool about $40, and from Liverpool to Berlin 
about $35. Directions written in German for setting up and operating the 
machines sent to Central Europe were prepared at the Chicago factory. 


Europe, work horses were smaller in size than in the United 
States, and farmers complained that the McCormick reapers 
were too heavy for their use. 56 Not infrequently they arrived 
late for the harvest, to the disgust of the agents who had man 
aged with difficulty to persuade a few farmers to place orders. 
Their tardy coming could sometimes be justly blamed upon 
the Chicago factory which viewed with disfavor the interrup 
tion of its routine by the necessity of making a hundred or 
so reapers of a special pattern, boxing them for shipment, 
and dickering with the overcrowded wartime railroad and 
steamship companies for their carriage overseas. 57 If there had 
been immediate profits in the venture, the trouble would have 
seemed worth while, but to Leander McCorm