The Invention of the Barbed Wire in Comparison to the Invention of the Cotton Gin.

Topics: Barbed wire, Slavery in the United States, Industrial Revolution Pages: 1 (325 words) Published: September 28, 2008
After the invention of the cotton gin, the surrender of raw cotton doubled each decade after 1800. Demand for cotton was fueled by other inventions of the Industrial Revolution, such as the machines to spin and weave it and the steamboat to transport it. At mid century the South provided three-fifths of America's exports, most of it in cotton. The cotton gin gave birth to the American mass-production concept and brought the South prosperity, but still contributed to the growth of slavery. While the cotton gin reduced the labor of removing seeds, it did not reduce the need for slaves to grow and pick the cotton. Cotton growing became so profitable for the planters that it greatly increased their demand for both land and slave labor. Because of the cotton gin, slaves now labored on even larger plantations where work was more regimented and relentless. Like the invention of the cotton gin, barbed wire also experienced negative effects after its invention. Although barbed wire revolutionized the cattle business and sounded the death knell for the open rage, there were people known as “fence cutters” who resented the end of the open rage. Barbed wire fencing forced small-time ranchers who owned land but could not afford to buy barbed wire to sell out for the best price they could receive. The ranchers, many of them Mexicans, ended up as wageworkers and basically had to start their lives all over. Another negative effect that barbed wire had was the restriction of movement that cattle experienced. Because the cattle were restricted to smaller spaces due to barbed wire fencing, many of them died during the cold winters. By 1886, cattle overcrowded the range. Severe blizzards during the winters of 1886-1888 destroyed the herds of cattle. During these blizzards, cattle usually stayed alive by keeping on the move. But when they happen to run up against barbed wire fences, they froze to death.
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