A mechanical device to separate cotton fibers from cotton seed, it dramatically lowered the cost of producing cotton fiber. Formerly, workers usually slaves had separated the seeds from the lint by hand, painstaking work that required hours of work to produce a pound of lint. By mechanizing the process, the gin could produce more than 50 pounds of lint per day. Cotton fabric, formerly quite expensive due to the high cost of production, became dramatically cheaper, and cotton clothing became commonplace. In the early decades of the 19th century, Southern farmers shifted more and more of their acreage into highly profitable cotton production, and large-scale plantation agriculture became common in the Deep South states of Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
Given that situation, the advantage was all with the North. He grew up on a rid, yet had an affinity for machine work and technology. Whitney could and did. The separated seeds may be used to grow more cotton or to produce cottonseed oil. Before the s, slave labor was primarily employed in growing rice, tobacco, and indigonone of which were especially profitable anymore. The importance of what Eli Whitney was doing did not Vintage tool cleaning penetrate the official mind. During the course of his illness, he reportedly invented and constructed several devices to mechanically ease his pain. New York: Macmillan Co. The guidelines he presented would later be ignored as industrialization took on How did eli whitney influence slavery harsher regard for worker well-being. Attempts at interchangeability of parts can be traced back as far as the Punic Wars through both archaeological remains of boats now in Museo Archeologico Baglio Slaveery and contemporary written accounts.
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Department of the Treasury. Her plantation manager and husband-to-be was Phineas Miller, another Connecticut migrant and Yale graduate class wliwho would become Whitney's business partner. The invention of Eli Whitney's "Cotton Gin" expanded the plantation system and slavery. Yes, Dating who whos Whitney had four children. Leading American Inventors. This contributed to the economic development of the Southern United StatesHow did eli whitney influence slavery prime cotton growing area; some historians believe that this invention allowed for the African slavery system in the Whihney United States to become more sustainable at a critical point in its development. By the middle of the s, the United States produced over 75 percent of the world's cotton, and 60 percent of the nation's total exports came from the South. Whitney occasionally told a story wherein he was pondering an improved method of seeding the cotton when he was inspired by observing a cat attempting to pull a chicken through a fence, and able to only pull through some of the feathers. Most of those exports were cotton. This domestic slave trade devastated black families.
Having given slavery a new lease on life, he then made Northern triumph inevitable.
- Eli Whitney was an American inventor, mechanical engineer, and manufacturer who lived in New England from the late s to the early s.
- In , U.
- When Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, it greatly increased the production of cotton.
- After this invention, people saw this as a great opportunity to make money, so everybody started buying land.
- One of the major effects of the cotton gin on slavery was the increased need for slaves to keep up with the profitability that came with its invention.
- Part 1:
Having given slavery a new lease on life, he then made Northern triumph inevitable. Any American who ruminates about the origins of the Civil War—and that should mean not only professional historians but everyone in the United States, north and south, who has ever been spellbound by the story of his country—will find himself confronted sooner or later by an ingenious contraption for removing seeds from the cotton boll, known as the cotton gin.
This device, invented by Eli Whitney, a totally unknown young man just out of Yale College, changed the whole pattern of cotton production. No invention ever answered a more pressing need. Immediately after graduating from Yale, in , Whitney had been engaged as a private tutor for a family in Georgia. On his way to take up his post he made the acquaintance of Mrs.
Nathaniel Greene, widow of the Revolutionary general, who was returning to Savannah after spending the summer in the North. An invitation to stay at Mrs. He was born in Westboro, Massachusetts in , the year of the Stamp Act. By the time he was grown the exciting days of the Revolution were over, and the farmers of Massachusetts were learning to their amazement that independence and prosperity did not necessarily go hand in hand.
When the demand for nails slacked off, he turned to making hat pins and walking canes. Neighbors got into the habit of looking up Eli Whitney whenever they needed anything repaired.
At the age of eighteen it came home to him that he needed a college degree if he was ever to be anything more than a clever mechanic. The family was not sympathetic: by the time he had prepared himself for college he would be too old, and besides the family could not afford it.
Eli listened to all their complaints and then disregarded them. He was not a brilliant student, but when the Reverend Ezra Stiles, the president of Yale, was asked to recommend a suitable person for a private tutor out of the graduating class of , Eli Whitney was the man he chose. Though he was not planning to become either a minister or a lawyer, like most of his classmates, there was something about him that inspired confidence.
Evidently Mrs. Greene in Savannah had faith in him too, and when a party of her friends, officers who had served under the general in the Revolutionary War, were discussing the deplorable state of agriculture in their neighborhood, she referred them to the young Yale graduate who was staying with her.
They were bemoaning the fact that there was no quick, practical way of separating short staple cotton from its seed. It took a slave ten hours to separate one pound of lint from three pounds of the small tough seeds. Under those conditions no one in the South could afford to grow cotton, and yet in other parts of the world cotton was becoming a semiprecious commodity.
Whitney, he can make anything. Whitney could and did. Within two weeks he had produced a model of the cotton gin, an ingenious device which was destined to have an ultimately disastrous effect upon the people it enriched. By the process he devised, the cotton was dragged through a wire screen by means of toothed cylinders revolving towards each other. A revolving brush cleaned the cylinders, and the seed fell into another compartment. A later model, run by water power, could produce to 1, pounds a day.
The marauders discovered that the gin was easy enough to copy, and on the strength of what they saw they planted cotton on a scale never dreamed of before. In the United States was exporting only , pounds of cotton. Two years later that figure had risen to 1,, pounds. Never had any invention made such an immediate impression upon society, abroad as well as at home. In England the invention of spinning frames and power looms had created a demand which could be filled only from the southern states.
The supplies from the Levant, from Guiana and from the West Indies, which had met nearly all needs down to , fell into the background as the export of American slave-grown and mechanically ginned cotton suddenly began to climb. By the end of the first quarter of the Nineteenth Century, America was shipping to Liverpool more than three-quarters of all the cotton consumed in the United Kingdom. Eli Whitney had conjured up an army of , cotton workers in England. Ten thousand power looms and , hand looms secured the cotton planters against the danger of a glutted market.
The existence of this market and the possibility of supplying it with ease and profit made cotton plant ing the one absorbing industry of the South. The Louisiana Purchase had opened to slave-holding settlement and culture a vast domain of the richest soil on earth in a region peculiarly adapted to the expanding production of cotton.
As the production grew, so did the value of the Negro. The phenomenal success of the cotton industry, for which Eli Whitney was directly responsible, gave birth in the South to an entirely new conception of slavery. In the early days of the Republic the most thoughtful southerners, including Washington and Jefferson, had deprecated slavery as an evil which must eventually be swept away. No one denied that slavery was a moral evil and a menace to the country.
Such ideas gradually came to be regarded as old-fashioned. I suppose this is owing to the rapid growth and sudden extension of the cotton plantations of the South. It was the cotton interest that gave a new desire to promote slavery, to spread it, and to use its labor.
The doctrine that Cotton was King, and that all other interests in the nation would bow before it, had permeated the whole South by the middle of the century. Few of the northerners who scoffed at this doctrine remembered that it was a northern inventor who gave slavery its new lease on life.
It was hard to protest against a system upon which the whole prosperity of one section of the country seemed to hinge. Unwittingly, Eli Whitney had set in motion an under-current against the notions of equality and freedom. He himself made nothing out of his cotton gin, but he was none the less the founder of the cotton empire, an empire which everybody believed would inevitably collapse if the underpinning of slavery were removed.
The cotton gin, like many other inventions, turned out to be so valuable to the world as to be worthless to its inventor. The government could offer him no protection against the infringement of patent rights. The suits he brought were tried before juries composed of the very men who were breaking the patents.
Unable to make a living out of the cotton gin, he turned his back on the South. He settled in New Haven and determined to devote himself to the production of something profitable, something which could not easily be copied and appropriated by others. It was only later that its wisdom came to be generally recognized, but Eli Whitney was one of those who did not have to be converted.
After some haggling the offer was accepted. He proposed to manufacture these muskets on a new principle, the principle of interchangeable parts. This milling machine, as it was called, was in itself a major innovation.
What Whitney did was to substitute for the skill of the craftsman the uniformity of the machine. Foreigners have often observed as one of the characteristics of American industry that we build from the top down rather than from the ground up. Eli Whitney did not start with a few workmen and then gradually expand. Before a single workman walked into his factory lie designed and built all the machinery he would need for his method of production.
At the same time he proved himself a practical businessman as well as an inventor. He understood how to obtain contracts, finance their execution and provide funds for future expansion. The importance of what Eli Whitney was doing did not readily penetrate the official mind.
His friend Oliver Wolcott had been replaced in the Treasury by Samuel Dexter, a Massachusetts lawyer, who instinctively distrusted theories not sanctioned by experience. As if to justify his suspicions, Whitney was soon running behind on his schedule of deliveries. In the first year only guns were produced instead of the stipulated 4, Fortunately the new President, Thomas Jefferson, was blessed with the receptive, ranging mind of his generation.
The idea of interchangeable parts was already familiar to him. In , while minister to France, he had visited the workshop of a certain Monsieur LeBlanc who was engaged in manufacturing muskets on exactly that principle.
Nor indeed was the French government, which probably distrusted any invention that might possibly lead to unemployment. Nothing more is heard of Monsieur LeBlanc. He had flashed across the screen of history and disappeared.
In England, too, other men had anticipated Whitney in the application of mass production to an article with interchangeable parts. Joseph Bramah, the great machine designer, and Marc Brunei, a young French Royalist officer who had been driven out of his country during the Revolution, had manufactured pulley blocks on this system for the British Navy, but it was left to an American to develop the process and put it to the service of mankind.
Whitney himself probably never realized how far his system would reach. The new technique which had been adopted as a defense measure for the manufacture of firearms was soon found to be no less applicable to other industries. The Connecticut clockmakers began making brass clocks instead of wooden clocks, as soon as the advantages of interchangeable manufacture were recognized. Elias Howe and Isaac Singer followed with the sewing machine, and before the outbreak of the Civil War Cyrus McCormick and his rivals were producing the harvesters and reapers that rolled back the frontier and revolutionized farming the world over.
For these inventions and a hundred others Eli Whitney paved the way. The successful application of his theory of interchangeable parts proved a landmark in the over-all growth of American mass production. In Europe, where there was no shortage of skilled labor, the idea of mass production made slow progress.
It caught on only in the gun-making industry where the advantages were too obvious to be ignored. In the southern states the rich planters who had profited so enormously from the cotton gin paid no attention to the increasing tempo of industrial activity in the North. The fact was that conditions of labor, soil, and climate had produced a static society in the South which refused to accept the implications of the Nineteenth Century.
It is one of the ironies of history that the man who inadvertently contributed to the downfall of the South by his invention of the cotton gin should also have blazed the trail leading to the technological supremacy of the North.
The loss of the will to fight in the closing days of the Confederacy can be traced in large part to the feeling that the South had reached the limit of its resources, whereas in the North every deficiency in equipment could always be made good.
As to inherent fighting ability no distinction can be made between the Union and Confederate soldier, but in the quantity as well as the quality of their equipment the advantage was all with the northerner. While it is true that the extraordinarily resourceful General Gorgas, the Confederate chief of ordnance, managed to keep the gray armies supplied with the necessary weapons and munitions up to the very end of the war, even General Gorgas could not keep pace with the inventiveness and the productivity of northern arsenals and northern factories.
On more than one occasion a single northern regiment, armed with breech-loading rifles, held in check a whole brigade armed with the ordinary musket. The disparity in clothing and equipment was even more marked than the disparity in weapons.
The southern soldier had to find most of his own equipment, whereas the northerner was supplied by the government. If the northern soldier faced privation, as he often did, it was the fault ol shady contractors and incompetent quartermasters.
The New England factories were turning out all the uniforms, the boots, and the varied accoutrements he could possibly need. Given that situation, the advantage was all with the North. Before the war even began, William Tecumseh Sherman warned a southern friend that a purely agricultural nation, like the South, could not hope to fight against a nation of mechanics.
Such governmental…. After graduating from Yale College in , Eli moved to Georgia, after accepting an invitation to live on the plantation of Catherine Greene, the widow of an American Revolutionary War general. Her plantation manager and husband-to-be was Phineas Miller, another Connecticut migrant and Yale graduate class of , who would become Whitney's business partner. No he invented it to make money. Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. Related Questions Asked in Slavery, Colonial America What contributed to the spread of slavery in the southern colonies? Main article: Cotton gin.
How did eli whitney influence slavery. Related Questions
Asked in Inventions, Slavery, Eli Whitney. Eli Whitney. How did Eli Whitney's invention impact slavery? Because of this, factory owners were producing more cotton and therefore needed more slaves -P. Related Questions Asked in Slavery, Colonial America What contributed to the spread of slavery in the southern colonies? Read More. His dads name was Eli Whitney. Elizabeth Fay was Eli Whitney's mother. Asked in Slavery How did Eli whitneys invention influence the growth of slavery in the south?
He influenced the growth of slaves in the south because it caused people to see cotton as a very profitable crop and people bought land which in term increased slavery due to the owner needing to harvest this great thing called cotton. Yes, I do believe that they were his nephews. Henrietta Edwards was married to Eli Whitney in January, The Cotton Gin. Asked in Eli Whitney What was Eli whitneys goals? To make the removal of seeds from cotton easier.
His wife's name was Nancy Whitmore. Asked in Eli Whitney What did Eli whitneys parents do for work? You would think that since there aren't as many hands needed to separate cotton, there would be a decrease in slavery.
However, plantation owners only grew more cotton which needed more slaves to pick, then needed even more slaves to operate the cotton gin. In fact, after the invention of the cotton gin, slavery soon quadrupled. At the time of eli whitney not having a middle name was not uncommon. So he did not have a middle name. Cotton exports from the U. It became the U. Paradoxically, the cotton gin, a labor-saving device, helped preserve and prolong slavery in the United States for another 70 years.
Before the s, slave labor was primarily employed in growing rice, tobacco, and indigo , none of which were especially profitable anymore.
Neither was cotton, due to the difficulty of seed removal. But with the invention of the gin, growing cotton with slave labor became highly profitable — the chief source of wealth in the American South, and the basis of frontier settlement from Georgia to Texas.
Eli Whitney has often been incorrectly credited with inventing the idea of interchangeable parts, which he championed for years as a maker of muskets ; however, the idea predated Whitney, and Whitney's role in it was one of promotion and popularizing, not invention.
Attempts at interchangeability of parts can be traced back as far as the Punic Wars through both archaeological remains of boats now in Museo Archeologico Baglio Anselmi and contemporary written accounts. An early leader was Jean-Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval , an 18th-century French artillerist who created a fair amount of standardization of artillery pieces, although not true interchangeability of parts.
In the 19th century these efforts produced the "armory system," or American system of manufacturing. Hall and Simeon North , arrived at successful interchangeability before Whitney's armory did. The Whitney armory finally succeeded not long after his death in The motives behind Whitney's acceptance of a contract to manufacture muskets in were mostly monetary.
By the late s, Whitney was on the verge of bankruptcy and the cotton gin litigation had left him deeply in debt. His New Haven cotton gin factory had burned to the ground, and litigation sapped his remaining resources. The new American government, realizing the need to prepare for war, began to rearm. The War Department issued contracts for the manufacture of 10, muskets. Whitney, who had never made a gun in his life, obtained a contract in January to deliver 10, to 15, muskets in He had not mentioned interchangeable parts at that time.
In May , Congress voted for legislation that would use eight hundred thousand dollars in order to pay for small arms and cannons in case war with France erupted. It offered a 5, dollar incentive with an additional 5, dollars once that money was exhausted for the person that was able to accurately produce arms for the government.
Because the cotton gin had not brought Whitney the rewards he believed it promised, he accepted the offer. Although the contract was for one year, Whitney did not deliver the arms until , using multiple excuses for the delay.
Recently, historians have found that during —, Whitney took the money and headed into South Carolina in order to profit from the cotton gin. Although Whitney's demonstration of appeared to show the feasibility of creating interchangeable parts, Merritt Roe Smith concludes that it was "staged" and "duped government authorities" into believing that he had been successful.
The charade gained him time and resources toward achieving that goal. When the government complained that Whitney's price per musket compared unfavorably with those produced in government armories, he was able to calculate an actual price per musket by including fixed costs such as insurance and machinery , which the government had not accounted for. He thus made early contributions to both the concepts of cost accounting , and economic efficiency in manufacturing.
Machine tool historian Joseph W. Roe credited Whitney with inventing the first milling machine circa Subsequent work by other historians Woodbury; Smith; Muir; Battison [cited by Baida  ] suggests that Whitney was among a group of contemporaries all developing milling machines at about the same time to , and that the others were more important to the innovation than Whitney was.
The machine that excited Roe may not have been built until , after Whitney's death. Therefore, no one person can properly be described as the inventor of the milling machine. Despite his humble origins, Whitney was keenly aware of the value of social and political connections. In building his arms business, he took full advantage of the access that his status as a Yale alumnus gave him to other well-placed graduates, such as Oliver Wolcott, Jr.
His marriage to Henrietta Edwards, granddaughter of the famed evangelist Jonathan Edwards , daughter of Pierpont Edwards , head of the Democratic Party in Connecticut, and first cousin of Yale's president, Timothy Dwight , the state's leading Federalist , further tied him to Connecticut's ruling elite. In a business dependent on government contracts, such connections were essential to success. Whitney died of prostate cancer on January 8, , in New Haven, Connecticut, just a month after his 59th birthday.
He left a widow and his four children behind. During the course of his illness, he reportedly invented and constructed several devices to mechanically ease his pain.
The Eli Whitney Students Program , Yale University's admissions program for non-traditional students, is named in honor of Whitney, who only began his studies there when he was 23,  but went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa in just three years. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
For other uses, see Eli Whitney disambiguation. American inventor of the cotton gin. Eli Whitney, painted by Samuel F. Morse , Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven , Connecticut , U. Main article: Cotton gin. Main article: Interchangeable parts. Main article: Milling machine. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. August 16, Retrieved March 19, Massachusetts Vital Records to New England Historic Genealogical Society.
Archived from the original on April 15, Retrieved April 17, Accessed March 18, Accessed March 19, Retrieved October 30, Retrieved May 17, History Reference Center. Retrieved October 20,
Eli Whitney's Patent for the Cotton Gin | National Archives
The cotton gin, patented by American-born born inventor Eli Whitney in , revolutionized the cotton industry by greatly speeding up the tedious process of removing seeds and husks from cotton fiber. As one of the many inventions created during the American Industrial Revolution, the cotton gin had an enormous impact on the cotton industry, and the American economy, especially in the South.
Unfortunately, it also changed the face of the slave trade — for the worse. Born on December 8, , in Westborough, Massachusetts, Eli Whitney was raised by a farming father, a talented mechanic, and inventor himself. After graduating from Yale College in , Eli moved to Georgia, after accepting an invitation to live on the plantation of Catherine Greene, the widow of an American Revolutionary War general.
On her plantation named Mulberry Grove, near Savannah, Whitney learned of the difficulties cotton growers faced trying to make a living. Forced to do the job by hand, each worker could pick the seeds from no more than about one pound of cotton per day.
Shortly after learning about the process and the problem, Whitney had built his first working cotton gin. Early versions of his gin, although small and hand-cranked, were easily reproduced and could remove the seeds from 50 pounds of cotton in a single day. The cotton gin made the cotton industry of the south explode. However, the invention also had the by-product of increasing the number of slaves needed to pick the cotton and thereby strengthening the arguments for continuing slavery.
Cotton as a cash crop became so important that it was known as King Cotton and affected politics up until the Civil War. Eli Whitney's cotton gin revolutionized an essential step of cotton processing. These and other advancements, not to mention the increased profits generated by the higher production rates, sent the cotton industry on an astronomical trajectory.
By the middle of the s, the United States produced over 75 percent of the world's cotton, and 60 percent of the nation's total exports came from the South. Most of those exports were cotton. When he died in , Whitney had never realized that the invention for which he is best known today had actually contributed to the growth of slavery and, to a degree, the Civil War.
While his cotton gin had reduced the number of workers needed to remove the seeds from the fiber, it actually increased the number of slaves the plantation owners needed to plant, cultivate, and harvest the cotton. Thanks largely to the cotton gin, growing cotton became so profitable that plantation owners constantly needed more land and slave labor to meet the increasing demand for the fiber. From to , the number of U. From , until Congress banned the importation of slaves from Africa in , the slave states imported over 80, Africans.
By , the year before the outbreak of the Civil War, approximately one in three residents of the Southern states was a slave. Though patent law disputes kept Whitney from significantly profiting from his cotton gin, he was awarded a U. At the time, guns were built one-at-a-time by skilled craftsmen, thus resulting in weapons each made of unique parts and difficult, if not impossible to repair.
Whitney, however, developed a manufacturing process using standardized identical and interchangeable parts that both sped production and simplified repair. Share Flipboard Email. Martin H. Kelly is a former history and social studies teacher, and the author of two history books, one on Colonial life and the other on American Presidents.
He is an online course developer for the UK-based Pamoja Education company. He lives in Tampa, Florida. Continue Reading.