The Cotton Gin: Eli Whitney's Impact On Slavery

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The cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793. Versions of a cotton gin have existed since the first century in which single rollers were used to try to separate the seed from the cotton. Over time, a double roller system was invented. Finally, in 1793, the version invented by Whitney actually used teeth-like projections to remove the seed from the cotton. A belt and pulley system then separated the lint from the seeds. It revolutionized the cotton industry by making it more profitable. A machine was now used to remove seeds from cotton rather than having to remove them by hand. This allowed more cotton to be processed quicker which made production of cotton more efficient for farmers. Prior to the invention of the cotton gin, slavery was actually dying out in the southern United States due to how labor intensive the removal of seeds from cotton had become. Due to increased productivity, cotton became a cash crop in the South …show more content…

One of the most controversial of these is the impact its’ invention had on slavery in America. Instead of slavery becoming obsolete which was the inspiration behind this invention, the cotton gin actually contributed to a massive explosion in the growth of slavery. Whitney thought his invention would decrease the labor involved in production of cotton which in turn would decrease the need for slaves. However, the cotton gin just changed how slaves were used in the production of cotton and did not decrease their need. The cotton gin increased cotton productivity which increased profits for farmers. The increase in profits led to the demand for more slaves to help plant and harvest the cotton. The slaves were no longer needed in the removal of seeds from cotton but were needed in increase numbers for planting and harvesting. There was a direct correlation between the increase in cotton production and the increase in slave populations

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