One of the greatest improvements was brought about by the McCormick reaper, which was patented about ten years before it came into much use. Until then, the broad acres of the West had not paid well, for farmers could not get hands enough to cultivate the fields where wheat grew so well. Of course, they could do their plowing and sowing little by little; but when harvest time came, the grain had to be cut quickly if they did not wish to lose most of their crop. With the reaper, one man could do the work of many; and farmers soon found that they could send their grain by canal, river, or train to the principal ports, and thence to Europe, where breadstuffs were scarcer than in America.
People in our country, wishing to follow an example set by England, held their first world’s fair, or exhibition, in the Crystal Palace in New York. At first, people in Europe made fun of the idea of having a world’s fair in America, but it soon proved a great success. Not only were there exhibits from every foreign country, but our own was well represented. Indeed, when foreigners saw the McCormick reaper, and heard of the changes it had brought about, one of them declared the inventor had “done more for the cause of agriculture than any man living.”