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 needed a more profitable product to sell than tobacco. America was looking to make itself

known in the global market. The problem that the cotton gin brought was that it did greatly boost

America's economy and their global market presence. America was now a country that could mass

produce cotton. This new market needed a labor force to drive it to it's full potential. The creation of

the cotton gin started from small beginnings but ended up changing everyday life at that time for many

years to come.

The modern cotton gin was created by Eli Whitney in 1793, and patented a year later in 1794.

The invention came exactly 10 years after the United States was for the first time seen as an

independent country. The American revolution was now over, but the country was essentially broke.

The war had broken many trade routes that America had because of the war with Britain, and the newly

reopened trade couldn't fix the hole in the economy. After the war, France was America's closest ally

but was also now in an economic rut and going through their own revolution. To top it all off,

America's largest production was that of tobacco. Tobacco would only grow in the northern part of the

country, was now lower in demand, and the market was over saturated. But this was the time that Eli

George 2

Whitney came around with the idea for the cotton gin.

Eli Whitney was born of mostly humble beginnings. He worked mostly manual labor while was

young, and didn't attend college until he was 23. When he finally went to attend college he graduated

from Yale university. After his graduation he traveled along the United States coast and that is when he

was first introduced to the production of cotton. Cotton naturally has seeds in it that are very labor

intensive to remove. The cotton that grew on the coast had seeds that were quite easy to remove so

there was a good amount of cotton farms there already. The issue was, there wasn't that much land for

growing cotton available on the coast, and the cotton that grew inland had seeds that were much harder

to remove. It made the work much more demanding and less efficient. Whitney’s plan was to study

law, but necessity being the mother of invention, he saw the opportunity for a lucrative market and he

seized it. His initial invention was small and had a hand crank to operate it. His later designs were

bigger and could be powered by a horse to make the machine be able to produce cleaned...

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