Cyrus Hall McCormick had a fierce Scottish temper. He would fight at the drop of a hat if anyone dared venture into his space, especially if it dealt with his personal possessions. In 1862, when traveling from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, he found himself at odds with the Pennsylvania Railroad.
His entourage included his wife, two children, a cousin, two servants and nine trunks. In Philadelphia, the railroad sought to impose a charge of $8.70 for excess baggage. Mr. McCormick refused to pay and ordered his luggage off the train while he and his party made their way to a local hotel. The railroad for whatever reason, failed to remove the luggage from the baggage car and it come on to Chicago. Here it was unloaded and since it was unclaimed, was placed in a storage building. That night during an electrical storm the building was destroyed along with the luggage.
Mr. McCormick sued the railroad for damages. He lost, but appealed and lost again. He appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court where he won a judgment of $18,000 against the railroad. It took 23 years to resolve the case and when it was finally concluded Cyrus Hall McCormick had been dead a full year.
This ruling however, set the present day legal policy that a carrier of passengers also assumes liability for their luggage - thanks to the untiring effort of Cyrus Hall McCormick.