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
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...