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The Biography of Eli Whitney

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“One man, and a horse will do more than 50 men with the old machine’s” (“NATIONAL ARCHIVES”) Eli Whitney would of said. But his major accomplishment was the invention of the cotton gin. This is to show all the help and a little bit of hurt that this man created for this new America.

On a small farm near Westborough Massachusetts (Great Lives 222) on December 8,1765 a little boy was born right before the Revolutionary War. His name was Eli Whitney. He obtained as the oldest of four. But later after collage he would invent something that would help and hurt the lives in America. At the age of 23 he decided to go to Yale for collage. He was known to be a “Natural Philosopher.” (Great Lives 223) When he was in collage met a woman named Catherine Greene, (Great Lives 228) later she would become known as his manager, and would also introduce to him his partner. After collage he moved to Georgia to become a tutor, and thus his cotton curiosity.

Cotton was and still is a major crop in America. We use cotton for a lot of things like clothes, blankets, hats, and many more. One of the main reasons why cotton became a cash crop is that tobacco caused soil exhaustion. There are three types of cotton plants long staple, medium staple, and short staple. Long staple is the easiest to use, pick, and get the seeds out of. But long staple is only grown on the coast. Long staple has smooth seed, which are the best seeds to pick out, because it is the easiest, and also are less sticky then the other seeds. There is another variety that is grown inland, but it has the really sticky greens seeds. Green seeds are the most difficult to pick out. Even though cotton has been around for a while, the reason it became really begin England is that Arabian traders, traded cotton to the Englanders. But by Eli Whitney’s time England was importing nine million pounds of cotton.

After moving to the south, and seeing how cotton plantations are worked. Eli began to ponder, “how can I make a cotton plantation work smooth ,and more at ease?” He began creating a “first model” of the Cotton Gin. In 1793 he had created a fist model. This model took about 6 months. But this is how it works, you drop the cotton in then crank the crank, as you are cranking a toothed cylinder revolving against iron cage, (Great Lives 226) as the cotton goes thought the toothed cylinder the teeth hold back the cotton seeds as the cotton fiber glides on though. People then would have never thought that getting seeds form the cotton would be that easy.

Before getting a paten he would have to invent a final model. This final model was finalized in the 1820’s. With his final model there are two types of gins. One is a small hand crank for small farms, then they have a bigger water or horse powered gin that are for bigger farms or large plantation. The small hand crank is very similar to the first model. They had teeth that the fibers could go through but the seeds could not, but they didn’t have the iron cage like the first model. Before, one man could take the seeds out of 50 cotton balls in about fifty minutes to an hour, but with the gin it could do fifty balls in a minute. With his gin he exclusively controlled it for 14 years, but later established a workshop.

When you picture an inventor you imagine of a smart, wealthy man or woman. Well Whitney was smart, but with his invention he had to figure a way to make money. One way is to make a bunch of gins and sell them, or the second way is to do the ginning for the farmers or people. When they do the ginning for people they would charge 25 of the profit of a gin itself. But also with that way the person would have to pay an exorbitant tax. But South Carolinians wanted to but the paten for fifty thousand dollars. Even with those options’ they still wert making the money imagined

On March 14, 1794 he got the paten for the gin (Great Lives 228). People were clamming that Whitney was “stealing” the ideals of the gin. Some people decided to try to sue Whitney. But by the time that they would try to sue Eli was half way through getting the paten. That’s when they would dismiss the cases. Eli got the paten number x72. He would own this paten for another 14 years.

Known as the “Cotton King,” and forgotten as the “Father of mass production,” Eli Whitney died January 8, 1825 of Prostate cancer. The only thing was he didn’t get to see what bad the Cotton gin did to America. It caused a growth in slavery. They bought more slaves to pick the cotton because they didn’t need so many picking the seeds out of the cotton. During the 1820’s there was the Cotton Boom. The demand of cotton was fueled by other invention from the Industrial Revolution. But the cotton yield doubled. Before 1830, 720 thousand bales of cotton were picked. After 1830’s, 2.585 million bales were picked. Even though a lot stayed in America most of the cotton was shipped to England. Eli Whitney help so much but also hurt a lot.

Even though Eli Whitney dies of a sad cause helped but hurt America. But in a way also hurt the America’s. This Cotton King is thanked as he help mass develop production. But young invented Eli Whitney is known for many things. His biggest accomplishment was the invention of the Cotton Gin.

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