Eli Whitney who was an American inventor, manufacturer, mechanical engineer and most importantly the inventor of the cotton gin and he was also the one to establish the concept of interchangeable parts and mass production. He was born in the year 1765 on the 8th of December and died in the year 1825 on the 8th of January. His father had been a man of respect and served at the justice of peace. Whitney was also an educated individual who went to the Yale College where he was introduced to a number of new experiments and concepts in the field of science and even applied arts which was an alternate name for technology back in those days.
Even before entering his college Whitney had worked as a labourer at the farm and a school teacher while continuing his studies at the Leicester Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was also considered to be a mechanic by birth who had lost his mother at a very young age. By the time he was fourteen years old, Whitney was already operating a very successful business of nail forge out from his father’s workshop during the Revolutionary War. However, the gin cotton turned out to be one of the most eminent and significant invention during the American Industrial Revolution and slowly yet steadily the cotton gin which was turned into cotton became the crop which made the highest amount of profit. This invention had successfully breathed life into the economy of Antebellum South and it was also successful in sustaining the idea of enslavement as one of the most important and social institutions within the Southern parts of the state both of which had contributed greatly to creating a condition which ultimately led to the American Civil War.
Whitney had graduated from the Yale College in the year 1792 after which he had hoped to start practicing as a teacher and lawyer but even after trying extremely hard, he was unable to get a job for himself. He then moved out of his hometown and moved to Mulberry Grover which was a Georgian plantation that was owned by Catherine Littlefield Greene. Soon Whitney became a good friend of Greene and the manager at the plantation Phineas Miller who eventually became his partner a well in the business. At the Mulberry Grove, Whitney had been able to learn about southern inland growers that needed a way desperately in order to make cotton a crop that yield profit. The long-staple cotton was easily separable from the seeds but it could only be grown along the coast of the Atlantic and the short-staple cotton which were the ones that could be gown successfully inland had a number of stick and small seeds that were green in colour and took huge amount of time as well as labour to be plucked out and then created into balls of cotton. The profit that the farmers used to make from tobacco had been going down every passing day and the reason for the same was the over supplying of this product and in addition to that soil exhaustion was also serving as a major problem. Amidst all of these the growing and selling of cotton became extremely important to bring the economy of the South back on track.
Whitney had realized that the machines which were capable of segregating the seeds from cotton would serve as a very profitable tool especially with respect to short-staple cotton at the Southern parts and it could actually help in making South prosperous and their inventor extremely wealthy. With the support that Catherine Greene brought both morally and financially Whitney went forward and worked on his most reputed and well-known invention, which is, the cotton gin. In the timespan of a couple of weeks, Whitney had developed a model with respect to cotton gin. The cotton gin happens to be a machine which is responsible for removing from the raw cotton fibre their seeds which initially used to take great amount of labour and it was a very difficult and intense process. The cotton gin that was created by Whitney was able to produce roughly sixty pounds of cotton which was ready to be woven into cotton. In contrary to that, hand-cleaning could only possibly produce a small number of pounds of cotton in a day. While talking about the demand of cotton today the cotton gin invented by Whitney makes use of a rotating drum that is made out of wood and is studded with a number of hooks which grabs the raw fibre made out of cotton and then pulled each one of them with the help of a mesh screen. The seeds being larger in size cannot pass through the mesh and thus falls outside the gin. Whitney had once said that this idea had come to him when he saw a cat that was trying to pull out a chicken through a fence ensuring that only the chicken’s feather had come through.
On the 14th of March in the year 1794, the government of Unite States had granted Whitney the patent for the cotton gin and the patent number for the same was- Patent No. 72-X. Instead of selling the new invention or the gins the two partners had decided to make profit out of their new invention where large number of people were invited to clean their cotton with them. Despite the patent there were a number of infringements and the reason for the same was low law enforcements, the mechanical simplicity of the device and the ability to dupe the same. The inability of the two partners to cope up with the increasing demands allowed others to make similar tools and then sell them at the market which eventually took the company out of business by the year of 1797. While the government later refused to renew the patent and the invention did not benefit Whitney much, it did change the Southern agriculture to a great extent.
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