Does Technology Emancipate

Topics: Cotton, Slavery in the United States, Slavery Pages: 3 (910 words) Published: April 22, 2013
Kelly Matthews
Discovery Canyon Elementary
Title of Digital Story: Does Technology Emancipate?
How does one measure progress? When looking at how technology has changed society it’s always been for the better… right? The industrial revolution was a major turning point in history. Social, economic and cultural conditions were profoundly impacted by changes in many industries. One invention, the cotton gin, played a major role in these changes, but it also came with a number of unintended consequences. After the American Revolution, many hoped the ideals of freedom and equality would extend to the slave population. It was generally thought that slavery was an outdated institution; planters feared slave revolts and farmers realized it was more expensive to maintain slaves, compared to the value of what they could produce. At that time, cotton was a difficult crop for planters because removing the seeds was a grueling and exhausting process involving many slaves. It took slaves 10 hours to remove the seeds from one pound of cotton lint. In 1793, Eli Whitney created an invention which he believed would make cleaning cotton easier and would lessen the need for slaves. The Cotton Gin was a mechanical device that separated cotton fibers from cotton seeds and dramatically lowered the cost of producing cotton fiber. However, what actually happened as a result of this invention could not have been predicted. In England, the Industrial Revolution sparked a number of inventions in the textile industry which enabled textiles to be mass produced and made Britain’s need for cotton so insatiable that cotton became vital to the American Economy. The gin’s effect on the economy and on the lives of the slaves who made up a significant part of that economy was complex. While it was true that the cotton gin freed slaves from the arduous labor of separating seeds from the lint by hand. This increased demand for cotton also increased the demand for slaves needed to...
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