The Reaper Trial

I mentioned the Reaper Trial briefly yesterday, and this paper (from the small town where the trial took place) featured a summary on it. It featured Lincoln’s first (deeply unpleasant) meeting with Edwin Stanton, and Stanton developing a (deeply unpleasant) opinion of Lincoln which he would, happily, change once he was in the cabinet.

Abraham Lincoln came to Rockford in July of 1855 to prepare for what has come to be called the Great Reaper Trial — perhaps the most significant commercial lawsuit in the city’s history.

It was a David and Goliath battle that pitted a nearly penniless Rockford inventor, John H. Manny, and his local partners, against the industrialist, Cyrus H. McCormick, Chicago’s largest employer. Both men manufactured agricultural reapers, and both held several federal patents, although the basic patent on the McCormick Reaper had expired.

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