Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin

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Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry in the United States. Prior to his invention, farming cotton required hundreds of man-hours to separate the cottonseed from the raw cotton fibers. Working by hand, a slave was only able to clean about a pound of cotton a day. Simple seed-removing devices had been around for centuries, however, Eli Whitney's invention automated and industrialized the seed separation process. A single slave using this machine could generate up to three hundred to one thousand pounds of cleaned cotton daily; making cotton production profitable and extremely efficient for the southern states. (Video) The cotton industry became known as “King Cotton”, generating three fifths of the the whole nation’s economic output. This would unwittingly bear profound effects on nearly every facet of American history to come, more specifically, the abolitionist movement..

With cotton demand and production on the rise, more- instead of less- slaves were needed to work cotton plantations. Small domestic farmers with possibly a handful of slaves and a modestly sized plantation grew into powerhouses that used hundreds of slaves and acres of land for the sole purpose of growing cotton. The demand for this cotton came from large mills in New England and Great Britain using the material to mass produce cloth. (Video) These changes transformed the South. Southern states now played large a role in the industrial boom. Slave population grew from around seven hundred thousand around the year 1790 to nearly four million by 1860. Plantations grew, and with them, so did anti-slavery/abolitionist movement groups. By 1840, there were more than fifteen hundred local southern antislavery societies campaigning against the sudden increase in slave labor. (Enduring Vision; pg. 302)

In the mid-1800s, American Anti- Slavery Societies circulated abolitionist literature and propaganda heavily. This came in the form of tracts, newspapers, and...
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