The Effects of Eli Whitney on America

Topics: American Civil War, Cotton, Slavery Pages: 2 (869 words) Published: May 1, 2012
Eli Whitney’s Effects on America
Eli Whitney was one of the greatest inventors in American History. Eli Whitney’s invention of the Cotton Gin helped bring prosperity to the South, expand slavery, and lead to a civil war. Eli also is credited for popularizing the idea of mass production and interchangeable parts. All of Eli Whitney’s ideas changed the entire country and played a significant role in the history. Eli Whitney was born in Massachusetts in 1765. Eli worked in his father’s nail shop as a teenager. Eli Whitney attended Yale College and graduated in 1792. Eli after college ended up in Georgia on Mrs. Greene’s plantation. Mrs. Greene had offered Eli the opportunity to read law while helping on the plantation. While on the plantation Whitney soon realized the need for a faster way to pick cotton. Whitney came up with the cotton gin in 1793. The cotton “gin” (gin short for engine) was a simple automated machine that separated cotton seeds from cotton fiber. The cotton gin was made of wooden cylinders surrounded by spikes that pulled the cotton threw combing out the seeds. This giant mechanical comb-like machine was capable of collecting up to fifty pounds of cotton a day. The task for removing cotton prior to the Cotton Gin was a full day of hard work. Slaves would have to use their hand to remove and clean each individual seed from the cotton. This process used a considerable amount of labor and was a slow process. Whitney’s invention could do this task up to ten times faster than a slave. Whitney applied for the patent to his great product in late 1793 but was not granted it until early 1794. This delay would cause Eli Whitney to have trouble proving it was his original idea. The cotton gin was easily imitated by others due to its simplicity. Eli spent the money he earned from his cotton gin on legal fees and was not awarded the patent exclusively until years later. In the later 1700s the Southern States economy was agriculturally based. They used...
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