Cotton Gin Essay

2048 words - 8 pages

BIRTH OF THE COTTON GINNot long after listening to the growers speak of their troubles, Whitney began to experiment and arrived at his basic design of the cotton gin. This machine was created to ease the tremendous burdens of those who labored to pick the seeds from the cotton. Many labored under difficult conditions, and even under good conditions, one could manage to clean only one pound of the crop a day.With his invention, Whitney made it possible to clean fifty pounds per day.Whitney had arrived at a basic design: a cylinder, through which the cotton was fed, with wire teeth. The raw cotton from the field could be fed through the cylinder and as it spun round, the teeth would pass through small slits in a piece of wood, pulling the fibers of the cotton all the way through but leaving the unwanted seeds behind.This crudely made box, with a cylinder, a crank, and a row of saw-like teeth had made it possible to clean fifty times more cotton than could be cleaned by hand.It is said to have begun the Industrial Revolution, and made an immediate impact upon American industry.IMPACT OF THE COTTON GIN ON AMERICAN INDUSTRYWhitney's cotton gin, with the help of a few men, or mules, cleaned more cotton in a matter of minutes than a team of men could do in an entire day. With the adaptation of James Watt's steam engine to drive the gin, the process became entirely mechanized, leading to a whole new industrial frontier in America.The largest result of this mechanization was the tumultuous increase in cotton production, which helped to revive a badly lagging economy in the Deep South. Once again farmers and growers were finding profits, thanks to this labor and time saving device.The industry of farming, however, was about to be changed forever.Before the invention that changed the way cotton was cleaned and readied for processing, there were only two cash crops, or non-food crops, that were grown in America: tobacco and indigo, which was used in the dye-making process. Although it was abundant, cotton did not prove, before the invention of the gin, anywhere close to being a profitable crop. But with the gin, cotton very quickly began to rival in profit the industry of growing tobacco.With the advent of the cotton gin, the boundaries of agriculture soon became almost limitless. Cotton, requiring very little more than air to flourish, was soon found growing and thriving in places previously unheard of, such as Texas. Acres of land that had been dormant because of poor growing capabilities were found to be filled with cotton; this land that had been barren for so long now held a very profitable crop that could enhance a grower's finances.The rules of crop rotation, a farming technique used to give rest to much-abused soil, quickly changed with the coming of the cotton gin, too. Suddenly farmers who had been willing to let sit idle certain sections of their land began growing cotton in the acres set aside for a season of rest.NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF THE COTTON...

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