WCSA - On This Day - June 20, 2018 - Eli Whitney patents his cotton gin in 1783

20-06-2018

(Wcsa.world) In 1794, U.S.-born inventor Eli Whitney (1765-1825) patented the cotton gin, a machine that revolutionized the production of cotton by greatly speeding up the process of removing seeds from cotton fiber.

Eli Whitney was born on December 8, 1765, in Westborough, Massachusetts. Growing up, Whitney, whose father was a farmer, proved to be a talented mechanic and inventor. Among the objects he designed and built as a youth were a nail forge and a violin. In 1792, after graduating from Yale College (now Yale University), Whitney headed to the South. He originally planned to work as a private tutor but instead accepted an invitation to stay with Catherine Greene (1755–1814), the widow of an American Revolutionary War (1775-83) general, on her plantation, known as Mulberry Grove, near Savannah, Georgia. While there, Whitney learned about cotton production–in particular, the difficulty cotton farmers faced making a living.

By the mid-19th century, cotton had become America’s leading export. In many ways, cotton was an ideal crop; it was easily grown, and unlike food crops its fibers could be stored for long periods of time. But cotton plants contained seeds that were difficult to separate from the soft fibers. A type of cotton known as long staple was easy to clean, but grew well only along coastal areas. The vast majority of cotton farmers were forced to grow the more labor-intensive short-staple cotton, which had to be cleaned painstakingly by hand, one plant at a time. The average cotton picker could remove the seeds from only about one pound of short-staple cotton per day.

Greene and her plantation manager, Phineas Miller (1764-1803), explained the problem with short-staple cotton to Whitney, and soon thereafter he built a machine that could effectively and efficiently remove the seeds from cotton plants. The invention, called the cotton gin (“gin” was derived from “engine”), worked something like a strainer or sieve: Cotton was run through a wooden drum embedded with a series of hooks that caught the fibers and dragged them through a mesh. The mesh was too fine to let the seeds through but the hooks pulled the cotton fibers through with ease. Smaller gins could be cranked by hand; larger ones could be powered by a horse and, later, by a steam engine. Whitney’s hand-cranked machine could remove the seeds from 50 pounds of cotton in a single day.

According to wikipedia


Deluna Nguyen (Collect) - WCSA - World Almanac Events Academy ( Source of photo : Internet)