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Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin

By @ 03/14/98 in March

whitneyMarch 14, 1794

Though his impact on the Western world was great, Eli Whitney’s life was not particularly an easy one.  He was born and raised in the North, where he ended up dying rather poor despite his legacy.  Unable to afford college, he traveled south to work as a private tutor, and ended up in Georgia, where he met his business partner, Phineas Miller.  It was there that he developed the cotton gin.  Before his invention, the curing and preparing of cotton was a long and menial task, as farmhands had to pick out the seeds of the cotton manually.  The cotton gin used a wooden wheel with combs, which pulled cotton through a machine and eventually separated the seeds that could not fit through the spokes of the wheel.  Needless to say, the cotton gin was revolutionary: it bolstered the economy of the US and ignited the Industrial Revolution.  It also lifted the South from a place agrarian society to a booming region of industry and wealth.  For his part, Whitney had introduced Americans to the concept of factory working and interchangeable parts.

How do you think machines help farms?  Why is it more efficient to use a machine to do things we could do by hand?