Eli Whitney Essay

1968 words - 8 pages

By 1790 slavery was on the decline in America. Apart from tobacco, rice, and a special strain of cotton that could be grown only in very few places, the South really had no money crop to export. Tobacco was a land waster, depleting the soil within very few years. Land was so cheap that tobacco planters never bothered to reclaim the soil by crop rotation -- they simply found new land farther west. The other crops -- rice, indigo, corn, and some wheat -- made for no great wealth. Slaves cost something, not only to buy but to maintain, and some Southern planters thought that conditions had reached a point where a slave's labor no longer paid for his care. Eli Whitney came to the south in 1793, conveniently enough, during the time when Southern planters were in their most desperate days. In a little over a week, he started the biggest avalanche of production that any economy had ever experienced. The South would never be the same again.

Eli Whitney was born on December 8, 1765 in Westboro, Massachusetts. The tall, heavy-shouldered boy worked as a blacksmith. He had an almost natural understanding of mechanisms. On a machine made at home, he made nails, and at one time he was the only maker of ladies' hatpins in the country.

In his early twenties, Whitney became determined to attend Yale College. Since Yale was mostly a school for law or theology, his parents objected. How could Yale College help enhance his mechanical talents? Finally, at the age of twenty-three, Whitney became a student at Yale. By this time, he seemed almost middle-aged to his classmates. After he graduated with his degree in 1792, he found that no jobs were available to a man with his talents. He eventually settled for teaching, and accepted a job as a tutor in South Carolina, his salary was promised to be one hundred guineas a year.

He sailed on a small coasting packet with only a few passengers, among whom was the widow of the Revolutionary general, Nathanael Greene. The Greenes had settled in Savannah after the war. When Whitney arrived in South Carolina, he found that the promised salary was going to be halved. He not only refused to take the position, but decided to give up teaching all together. Coming to his aid, Mrs. Greene invited him to her plantation where he could read law, and also help out the plantation manager, Phineas Miller. Miller, a few years older than Whitney, was a Yale alumnus and the fiancee of Mrs. Greene. Whitney accepted the offer.

Over time Whitney got settled in, and one day while neighbors were visiting the plantation, their conversation fell to discussing the bad times. There was no money crop whatsoever; the only variety of cotton that would grow in that region was the practically useless green seed variety. Ten hours of manual work was needed to separate one point of lint from three pounds of the small tough seeds. Until some kind of machine could be built to do the work, the green seed cotton was little better than a weed.


Find Another Essay On Eli Whitney

The Effect of the Industrial Revolution on Slavery

1161 words - 5 pages cotton gin, the spinning jenny, and the power loom. Since cotton was one of the major cash crops exported by the colonies to England, it is important to understand these inventions in order to grasp the changes brought about by this trio of machines on the cotton industry. The cotton gin, invented by Eli Whitney, was a mechanized way to remove to sticky green seeds from the fluffy white cotton balls. (Eli Whitney Museum) The hand powered

Tecnology and Economics Essay

907 words - 4 pages like Thomas Alva Edison greatly increased the quality of life for all Americans with inventions of the light bulb, phonograph, motion picture, electric power plant, any many more. Samuel Morse proved that signals could be transmitted by wire. He used pulses of current to deflect an electromagnet, which moved a marker to produce written codes on a strip of paper - the invention of Morse Code. Eli Whitney was the inventor of the cotton gin and a

Cotton Gin

2048 words - 8 pages , making southern cotton a profitable crop for the first time, but Whitney failed to profit from his invention, imitations of his machine appeared, and his 1794 patent was not upheld until 1807.Eli Whitney and his business partner, Phineas Miller, opted to produce as many cotton gins as possible, install them throughout Georgia and the South, and charge farmers a fee for doing the ginning for them. Their charge was two-fifths of the profit, paid to

Political and Economic Changes After the War of 1812

730 words - 3 pages of 1812. Eli Whitney introduced the cotton gin, which enabled mass production of cotton, and led to an increased dependence by the South on a slave based Cotton society. The South's economic system became so dependant on slavery, that by the 1850's one out of every three persons in the South was a slave. The North also went through an economic change. When the British blockaded the US during the War of 1812, wealthy Northern men invested in new

Describe the changes occuring in America in the 1810-1830's thru the eyes of a foreign visitor, like Alexis De Tpcqueville.

975 words - 4 pages United States began to flourish. It's rise and impact of the economy occurred between the end of the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Some significant economic developments were the invention of the cotton gin, the development of roads and canals, the success of new technology, new ways of transportation, and the growth of factories. Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, constructed a machine which was much more effective than picking

It started in the woods

1259 words - 5 pages economy in the Chesapeake region. When tobacco prices heavily dropped, the need for slaves dropped with it to a point where Virginia leaders even talked of abolishing slavery (ushistory.org). The talk of abolishing slavery ended when cotton first became a cash crop in the late eighteenth-century and sugar in the mid nineteenth-century and the need for slaves skyrocketed. This was all possible due to the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney

The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth: Life Application Essay

713 words - 3 pages over. The seven different people Robbins talks to include Blue (the gamer), Regan (the weird girl), Whitney (the popular bitch), Noah (the band geek), Eli (the nerd), Danielle (the loner) and Joy (the new girl). The stories she explains for each of these people, involve some part of the quirk theory. She gives each of them a challenge to remove them from their comfort zones, this helps each of them to learn a valuable lesson and be able to grow

Industrial Revolution

1767 words - 7 pages Advancements in agriculture, textile, transportation and economic growth became possible only because of the Industrial Revolution. Taking place in the United States between 18th and 19th century, times went from separating the cotton from its seed to using an automated cotton gin made by an American inventor Eli Whitney. This allowed for the lower class citizens to be able to have the important goods such as medication and clothing. Before the

Transportation In The First Half Of The 19th Century

513 words - 2 pages it. State legislatures and the national government all provided aid to the railroad companies by decreased the tax on rail iron. During this time period, manufacturing also boomed. New ideas and inventions made it faster to produce products. However, it is because of these new modes of transportation that this was ever able to occur. The cotton gin, invented by Eli Whitney, would never have been able to develop fully if the transportation

The Transformation of Slavery's Defense

640 words - 3 pages emancipate them. The purchase and release of the slaves would prove too costly, so the only other idea was to free them. At about this same time Eli Whitney had invented the cotton gin. Though his original intention was to ease the slave’s tasks, the cotton gin did exactly the opposite. Cotton was as profitable than ever, were as before it would take a slave a day to remove the seeds from a pound of cotton it now took maybe a couple minutes

Catalysts of the Industrial Revolution

571 words - 2 pages movement of fire-arms, supplies, and troops. The greatest catalyst for the Industrial Revolution was the entrepreneurial spirit that evolved during the Industrial Revolution. Three great American contributors to the technological advancement were Samuel Slater, Eli Whitney, and Oliver Evans who were mentioned in Document F. Although Great Britain did not allow the distribution of information of great advancements in technology to other countries

Similar Essays

Eli Whitney And The Cotton Gin.

1120 words - 4 pages ELI WHITNEY AND THE COTTON GINThe Industrial Revolution is mostly remembered for its replacement of manual labor with the textile industry. Machineries were one of the most important aspects of the Industrial Revolution ((Encarta Online Encyclopedia). During the Industrial Revolution there were many inventions. The cotton gin was probably one of the most important of them all.Eli Whitney was born in Westborough, Massachusetts on December 08

The Cotton Gin By Eli Whitney

1797 words - 7 pages The Cotton Gin Can few pieces of wood, and some thin metal teeth, a wooden wheel and a few brushes go on to change an entire country in a negative fashion? The cotton gin did exactly this. It was an invention that was so simple, so efficient, that came along at the exact right moment, that it managed to revolutionize the world. It was invented by Eli Whitney while America was still barely 10 years old. At that time America

Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin's Social And The Industrial Changes To The Us It Made.

1327 words - 5 pages crank turned thegin's cylinder covered with rows of wire teeth. The teeth drew the cotton through the slots so tightly theseeds couldn't enter. A roller with a brush removed the fibers from the teeth and deposited them in a bin(Cotton Gin 1). Later on, Eli Whitney improved the cotton gin by operating the crank with a steam enginedeveloped by James Watts. Before the engine, the gin was operated by a few men, or a few mules(McKinney).Eli Whitney

The Cause Of The Civil War: Eli Whitneys Cotton Gin

1757 words - 7 pages primarily with England. The major crop in the South was tobacco, and because of the decline in the price of tobacco the slave trade was dying, just as those in the North hoped it would. Then came a man, and an invention, which changed the course of history. In 1792, Eli Whitney visited the plantation of Catherine Greene, the wife of Revolutionary War general, Nathaniel Greene, near Savannah Georgia. He watched cotton being cleaned; a very long