Cotton Gin’s Contribution Eli Whitney was born in Westboro, Massachusetts on December 8, 1765. As a young boy he enjoyed taking things apart and then putting them back together. When he was young, he worked in a plantation in Georgia, tutoring children. He noticed slaves had trouble taking the seeds out of the cotton boll. He then had an idea for a device that could help out both slaves and plantation owners. The invention of the cotton gin, by Eli, had many big impacts in the south, on slavery, and on capital for countries.
Cotton and tobacco were very popular goods sold for very good money. Cotton was used to make clothing and was considered a high class material. People at the time would show off clothing like a person in modern day would show off a car. The cotton gin was a motor operated device that would remove the seeds from the cotton, faster than a slave could, by running the cotton through a wooden drum with hooks, which caught fibers and dragged them through a mesh. The seeds could not pass through the meth due to how fine it was, making it easier for cotton to be collected.
Although the cotton gin was successful it resulted in little money for Eli. It sounded like a great idea at first, but then it was ealized his invention resulted in many problems for farmers who grew and cultivated cotton. Problems such as the machine being too small which lead to others building bigger models and making a better profit with the same device. Another problem was that farmers already had slaves, and purchasing this device would lower the purpose of owning a slave although later it became apparent that maintaining a slave would cost more.
After years of patent litigation, Eli was cheated out of money and only received a small amount of the wealth which he was rightfully entitled to. Later in his career, Eli created nterchangeable parts and showed how to apply them on rifles. This was a huge success for him. Most of the world’s cotton at the time came from Egypt, India, and the East Indies. In 1786, cotton was being grown in, humid areas and offshore islands, along Georgia’s and South’s Carolina’s coasts. Frost became a problem that limited where cotton could be grown and cultivated.
Cotton would only grow where it was frost-free for 200 days and at least 24 inches of rain. Massachusetts sent its lower class citizens to the new world that was discovered by Christopher Columbus to grow crops and start a colony to benefit the mother country, which one England. When they arrived to the new world, they started building homes, growing food and try to adapt but found it difficult from a variety of problems. The new colony built, Jamestown, had no silver or gold, meaning there was no currency for people to live off of. Jamestown was a disaster because they lacked leadership, and skilled people.
Land owners saw the growth of cotton as a quick way to make money after suffering hard times as a result of the Revolution. Colonists that came to the new world from Virginia had a somewhat better life there. The people that were sent there were indentured servants that would work to grow crops and ell to benefit the mother country. Indentured servants were given100 acres of land and promised 50 acres to keep for themselves after they finished payed their debt by working, which was usually 7 years. Although they were allowed to grow food for themselves, after the debt, the mother county placed a restriction on what they could grow.
Virginia did not want any competition in capital gain, therefore, they restricted colonists from growing cotton and tobacco. This made the people very upset because they felt they were used and now they could not make a better living for themselves. Both colonies from Virginia nd Massachusetts did not have a good life or any success in the cotton and tobacco trade. One of the biggest profiteers of the cotton gin was England. The demand for cotton in England doubled each decade after 1800. This has a lot to do with other inventions such as the machines to spin, weave it, and the steamboat to transport the cotton.
At this time America was growing three-quarters of the world’s supply of cotton, which was being sent to England, Britain and other states, where it was being made into finished goods such as clothing. Tax laws were being passed which placed a tax on pretty much everything such as tea, tobacco and sugar. This produced tobacco falling in profit, rice remaining the same, and sugar raised, but only in Louisiana. The south provided three-fifths of America’s exports, most of it being cotton. That is how the term “King Cotton” came in place. In 1807, Jefferson puts the Embargo Act in order, which made all exports from the United States illegal.
This was a response to impressment. This Act placed a strict limitation on what could be traded and to where. The Embargo act not only ended all trades to foreign countries, it lead to a major loss in capital for America, and the downfall of some farmers. The cotton trade had a huge impact on slavery. Slaves would pick the cotton from plants that contained sharp thorns, which would be a very time-consuming process. Many slaves would be injured this way because of the thorns. The cotton gin would produce more than 50 pounds of cotton per day, picking much more than a slave could.
Cotton fabric became cheaper at the time due to the mass production of the product in many plantations. There was much competition in the cotton trade. In the early 19th century, farmers in the Southern states were utilizing most of their land to grow cotton. Cotton was demanded by textile mills, which eventually lead to plantations eeding more slaves for labor. Plantations that became successful in states like Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. The slave population in the south grew from grew cotton 700,000 to more than 3 million slaves in 1850.
With the invention of the cotton gin, came more demand in slaves. Not only did the cotton gin affect slavery, it also affected plantations and its owners immensely. Land owners were growing large amounts of cotton, tobacco, and indigo at a time. Since many other states and farmers were growing this as well, the faster the product is grown, shipped, and made into profit, he better for land owners. Tobacco wears out the land and must be given a rest every 7 years as opposed to cotton which can grow anywhere, including land that was drained of its nutrients which is another reason why everyone was starting to grow cotton.
This meant that farmers would need more land to grow tobacco and win the gin, they would be able to grow product before the temperature changes. Due to the simplicity in growing cotton and the demand sky-rocketing, cotton became “the number one cash crop”, surpassing tobacco in capital gain and sales. This made it clear to land owners that wning a cotton gin would clear the fields easier and faster, leading to more growth in product. In November 6th 1860, Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States.
Lincoln was alleged to be anti-slavery, which made many people upset, especially farmers. Talk about ending slavery brought great disputes between all countries. Some countries believed it should remain legal, while others believe it should have been abolished a long time ago. With cotton being taxed in the north, the Deep South withdrew from growing and exporting cotton. Cotton, tobacco and indigo were the cash crops at the time and slaves were needed everywhere.