Eli Whitney: Is He To Blame For The American Civil War?

1017 words - 5 pages

The south, which was mostly agricultural, depended on the production of cotton. It was very important to their economy. Before Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin was used throughout the south, the United States produced about 750,000 bales of hay in 1830 (How the Cotton Gin). By 1850 it had increased to 2.85 billion bales of hay (How the Cotton Gin). Most of this was in the south because it had the weather conditions needed for cotton to grow. In 1793 Whitney saw the difficulty of taking out cotton seeds by hand (Cefrey 10-11). He decided to create a machine that could clean cotton faster than a human could. The Cotton Gin made the processing of cotton much faster and quicker. As a result of this, land owners were now able to have large cotton plantations across the south (How the Cotton Gin). Southerners were becoming wealthy very fast because of the cotton gin. Eli Whitney’s invention of the Cotton Gin made cotton the South’s main crop making more slave labor needed and political tensions rise.
Harvesting cotton needed a lot of hard labor. When the cotton farms got bigger, the need for slaves increased. During the first half of the 1800’s the slave population in the United States increased by about five times the number (How the Cotton Gin). By the middle of the 19th century the south provided about two-thirds of the cotton used by the world (How the Cotton Gin). The south became dependent on just this one crop and they needed the slave labor. The Cotton Gin made cotton very profitable and more plantations moved from producing other crops to producing cotton. This meant they needed more cheap labor so the need for slaves increased. The north was more dependent on industry for their economy. The north would buy the raw cotton and turn it into goods. This led to very different attitudes about what was important to the economy. The North felt that people of different classes and cultures should work together in factories and the south believed that slavery was the way to grow and harvest crops (Kelly). The south started to bring more African American to America and bring them into slavery. After the Louisiana Purchase America had expanded and there were a lot of slave states (Kelly).
The North and South wanted to keep the amount of free states and slave states equal. More states wanted to be free from slavery. When Henry Clay adopted the Missouri Compromise the free states and slave states were not equal any more (Kelly). This made the north and the south start arguing about slavery. Free African Americans in the north would work in factories and gain very little money. They had to supply themselves with their own food, clothes, and shelter. If they did not show up to work they would get fired. The South believed that working on a plantation was better than a factory because the slave owners supplied them with clothes, food, and shelter. Also they could never lose their jobs. Slavery made...

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