American Threshing Machine Beats British, 1853

| March/April 1993

The story of a competition between an American threshing machine and one from Britain, which took place in 1853, is recounted in an article in Harper's Monthly Magazine for December 1874.

Edward H. Knight, of Washington, D. C, author of the article, was one of two men who took the American machine to Britain for the test. The article is a general survey of the advances in invention and machinery in the U. S. in its first 100 years.

Knight says that the threshing machine was invented by Andre Meikle, a Scotsman, in 1786 which would have been during the time when the United States was beginning to pull itself together after the rigors of the Revolutionary War.

Earlier attempts had been made to invent a threshing machine, Knight records, and these dated back to 1732, but it was Miekle who came up with the idea of 'the drum with beaters acting upon the grain in the sheaf, which was fed between rollers.' The U.S. machine was better, he said, because it relied on spikes on the drum.

The Harper's article is important in the recounting of farm history, for it was written when threshing with use of steam was very new, and the machinery depicted in drawings with the article were in use at the time.

Reporting on the contest in England, Knight wrote that the trial proved conclusively that the American threshing machine was superior.