The World’s Columbian Exposition, or the World’s Fair, held in Chicago, Illinois, in 1893, celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World. Held in Deere’s home state, the company was deeply involved in the planning and organization of this global event, which influenced the social and cultural makeup of the U.S., and had a profound effect on architecture, the arts, and business.
In addition to exhibiting and helping organize the event, Deere & Company also had a hand in creating a one of-a-kind plow displayed at the World’s Fair. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) had the idea for the plow after their public call for patriotic artifacts to create a replica of the American Liberty Bell was met with a flood of coins, swords, and other artifacts — far more than what was needed for the replica bell.
Peace Plow Built from Historic Relics and Wood
The group based the concept for the plow, which was to be made out of the collection of donated historic swords, on a Bible verse, “… and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
In April 1893, only a month before the World’s Fair in Chicago opened, the DAR contacted Deere & Company about the plow. Deere commissioned a local carpenter named Charles Borg (whom Deere later hired to work at Deere & Mansur Company as a patternmaker) to build the plow from over 22,000 metal relics and over 200 pieces of historical wood, some no bigger than the size of a dime.
Borg created an intricate design with 24 inlay patterns in the wood, including eagles, American flags, two leaping deer, and other decorative patterns. In addition, Borg fashioned two arrowheads from a piece of the window sill of Abraham Lincoln’s Springfield, Illinois, home, and two arrowheads from an apple tree brought to the United States by the settlers aboard the Mayflower.
Today, the Columbian Peace Plow is in the collection of the Grand Rapids Public Museum in Michigan. It was last on display at Deere & Company in 1986.