The Cotton Gin’s Impact on American Industry and Slavery

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A graduate from Yale University had thoughts of becoming a lawyer, but he needed a job urgently. After a tutoring job fell through, he accepted a position on a plantation in Georgia. His employer, Catherine Green, saw much talent in him and encouraged him to find a way to make cotton profitable. He promptly began working on a solution to the problem of separating the seeds from the cotton. On March 14, 1794, Eli Whitney was granted a patent for the cotton gin.1 The cotton gin impacted American industry and slavery changing the course of American history. The cotton gin was the answer to the 19th Century farmer’s woes. Before the invention of the cotton gin, not only was raising of cotton very labor intensive, but separating the fiber from the cotton seed itself was even more labor intensive. 2 Prior to the cotton gin, a laborer could only pick the seeds out of approximately one pound of cotton a day. The cotton gin made it possible to clean up to 50 pounds per day. The farmers could now plant as much cotton as they wanted and not have the worry about the difficulties of seed removal. Eli’s invention spurred the growth of the cotton industry, and the South took up the slogan “Cotton is King.” The invention of the cotton gin made growing cotton practical, and cotton began dominating the growing fields. Cotton was a crop that could be grown almost anywhere because it seemed to need only the land to grow in. Land that was once left empty because of poor growth capabilities was planted in the lucrative crop of cotton. Growing cotton allowed farmers to grow crops in fields that previously had to rest for a season. The southern farmers were able to realize a profit thanks to Eli’s labor and time saving machine. Whitne... ... middle of paper ... ...e to the invention of the cotton gin that made it possible to clean 50 times the amount of cotton then previously. The once dwindling practice of slave trade gained new wind and brought many more into slavery. Works Cited Gordon, John Steele. "King Cotton." American Heritage 43.5 (1992): 18. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 5 Jan. 2010. Martin, Kelly. "Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin." Guide to American History. Available from Internet; accessed 5 January 2010. Scheeren, William, O. "Invention of Cotton Gin." Available from Internet; accessed 5January 2010. Smith, J. 2009. Making Cotton King. World Trade, July 1, 82. (accessed January 6, 2010).

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