Cotton Gin Essay

3175 WordsNov 21, 201413 Pages
A tool is but the extension of a man's hand, and a machine is but a complex tool. He that invents a machine augments the power of a man and the well being of mankind. * Henry Ward Beecher Eli Whitney was born on December eighth, 1765, in Westborough, Massachusetts. Whitney was born the oldest son of a farmer, and had two younger brothers and a sister. At an early age, he developed a passion for taking a part, and reconstructing different objects. After graduating from Yale University in 1792, he headed south to stay with Catherine Greene on her plantation where she provided motivation for Whitney to create a cotton-cleaning machine. During his time there, he learned everything about Cotton from production to the difficulties cotton farmers faced (History). Cotton was the ideal crop to grow in the South. It was easy to grow, and the fibers could be stored for long periods of time. A major problem is that it only grew well along coastal areas. On top of this, cotton contained seeds that were nearly impossible to separate from the soft fibers. Most of the cotton processed in the South involved very labor intensive, and time consuming work. The average cotton picker could remove the seeds from one pound of cotton per day, which made cotton an unprofitable crop. Towards the end of the eighteenth century the tobacco industry began to decline. Many people anticipated a future without slavery, as Oliver Ellsworth, a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention said, “slavery in time will not be a speck in our country”. But this was about to change. As Eli grew older, he decided to apply his passion of inventing, to his knowledge of cotton. In 1783, Eli Whitney created one of the most revolutionary inventions ever, known today as the cotton gin. It has the ability to speed up cotton processing by nearly fifty times. Unfortunately for Whitney, his patent

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