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Eli Whitney Cotton Gin

George Washington

Eli Whitney Cotton Gin: George Washington was the 1st American President who served in office from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797. One of the Important events during his presidency was the invention of the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin.

Definition and Summary of the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin
Summary and definition:
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin was invented in 1793 and Eli Whitney patented the gin in 1794. This important invention led to the mass production of cotton. The Cotton Gin was the name given to the machine that separated the fibers of cotton from the seeds.

Importance of the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin
The Importance of the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin was that it revolutionized the cotton industry in the South
by automating the seed separation process. The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin made cotton production more profitable, increased trade and the economy of the South.

The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - Eli Whitney
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin was a simple but highly effective invention. Eli Whitney was born in Westborough, Massachusetts on December 8th, 1765. He was raised in New England, graduated from Yale University and had every intention of starting a career as a lawyer. However, all of this changed because he first had to earn some money to clear the debts that had accumulated whilst he was studying. Eli Whitney therefore assumed the position of private tutor to the children of General Greene and his wife Mrs. Catherine Greene on their farm in Georgia. He had never even seen a cotton ball until point.

The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - The Problem
Eli Whitney was keen to impress General Greene and learnt about the way the Southern Plantations worked. He learnt that there were two types of cotton. The Long-staple variety was easy to separate from its seeds but it could be grown only along the coastal areas. The only variety that grew inland had sticky green seeds and it was extremely time consuming to pick the seeds out of the fluffy white cotton bolls. The shrubby plants produced white flowers, followed by small green seedpods (called cotton bolls), which contained the seeds. Cotton is harvested when the bolls open and the arduous task of cleaning the cotton began.

The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - The Invention
General Greene suggested to Eli that he might be able to develop a machine that would clean the bolls more quickly and efficiently. Eli Whitney wanted to help the Greene family and the Southern planters but he also realized that if he was able to invent such a machine, he could apply to the federal government for a patent and make a handsome profit in the process. He put his mind to the task, whilst carrying out his duties as a tutor, and produced working model within six months. The invention of the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin allowed the sticky seeds to be removed mechanically from the fibers. De-seeded cotton is cleaned, carded (fibers aligned), spun, and woven into a fabric leaving a smooth piece of cotton fabric.

The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids
Cotton was easy to grow but because it was so difficult to clean, the new machine made the process quicker and easier.

How does the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin work?

  • The cotton bolls was put into the top of the machine across the roller

  • The handle turned the cotton through the wire teeth that combed out the seeds

  • The cotton was then pulled out of the wire teeth and out of the cotton gin

The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin separated the fibers from the seed ten times faster that the slaves could do by hand. One slave could clean 100 pounds of cotton in a day.

Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - The Patent
Eli Whitney made the final finishing touches to his machine and applied for a patent it on March 14th, 1794. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 , the Constitution empowers Congress "To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." The Patent Bill of 1790 enabled the new government to patent "any useful art, manufacture, engine, machine, or device, or any instrument thereon not before known or used." and the Patent Act of 1793 was the law that enabled the secretary of state to issue a patent to anyone who presented working drawings, a written description, a model, and paid an application fee. Eli Whitney applied for the patent for his machine and the long wait from March 14th, 1794 began. He would not receive the patent until 1807.

Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids
The info about the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin provides interesting facts and important information about this important event that occured during the presidency of the 1st President of the United States of America. Read these articles to learn about Samuel Slater & the Cotton Mills and
the Cyrus McCormick Mechanical Reaper.

The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin - Phineas Miller
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin
was an amazing invention and vast profits could be made by farmers by using the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin that automated the seed separation process. Eli Whitney went into business with Phineas Miller. Cotton had been made easier to clean and as it grew so easily it became the number one cash crop in the South. Farms in the South turned the plantation system of farming in the early 1800's. The term 'cash crops' related to surplus products that were sold for profit in distant markets. Eli Whitney and Phineas Miller began to manufacture many Eli Whitney Cotton Gins and installed them throughout Georgia and the southern states. They charged farmers an unusually high fee, two-fifths of the profit paid, for doing the 'ginning'.

The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin - The Copies
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin was amazing but the farmers were
highly resentful of the exorbitant rates that were charged to use the machines. The invention was not difficult to copy. The patent had not yet been granted so inevitably copies of the invention were made. The partners eventually agreed to license gins at a reasonable price.

The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - Impact on Slavery
The invention of the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin had a huge impact on slavery in the Southern states. It meant that another highly profitable cash crop could be introduced, using the slave plantation system of farming. One of the main reasons for the re-invigoration of slavery was the invention and rapid widespread adoption of the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin.

US American History
1790-1800: The New Nation
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