Eli Whitney's contribution to the United States will be remembered forever. He was the inventor of the cotton gin, a machine that eliminated manual labor for separating the seeds from cotton balls. The body of the machine looked exactly like a wooden cylinder which contained a uniform arrangement of spikes and grids, having comb shaped teeth.
The grids were highly compact which skimmed the seeds from the cotton balls. This indigenous machine effectively picked up 50 pounds of cotton in a day. Introduction of the cotton gin had a global effect, in which some countries were benefited while the rest were setback. We shall discuss the details in the next content.
Effects of the Cotton Gin: An Overview
This 'cleaning cotton machine' was invented in the year 1793, which boosted cotton industries in the United States. The Southern economy of the U.S. became the largest agricultural sector with increase in production at a humongous rate.
Data revealed that cotton production expanded from 750,000 bales in 1830 to 2.85 million bales in 1850. Increase in sales brought huge amounts of revenue and the country made a large-scale profit.
Manual labor involved in cleaning cotton was considerably reduced. This is because, workers had to put the cotton balls on the machine, move the handle, and the seeds got separated automatically from the balls. The process was highly tedious and time-consuming when laborers had to separate the seeds from the raw cotton.
The teeth like structures also produced cotton of finer quality than those generated manually. Due to these positive effects, the demand of cotton also increased. Core textile centers like Massachusetts and Lowell flourished massively. Thus, cultivation of cotton trees required more and more farmers, and their fortune started spinning the wheel in reverse.
Gradually cotton gins were established in Europe where they also practiced the same process. Since cotton was a cash crop, it generated huge revenue. Plantation holders and industrialists set up large farms and some of them resorted to illegal means of land usurpation. Rise in slavery brought many negative impacts in society.
Laborers where imported mainly from African countries and were subjected to rigorous toil for propagation of cotton trees. Since the machine was introduced in the Southern United States, this region became dependent on cotton industry for its growth. Other agricultural sectors like tobacco and rice suffered a loss as they were paid least attention to.
Initially places like Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Carolina and The Tidewater region bloomed with staple cotton, and cotton growers set up numerous farms. But the Southern zone lacked proper infrastructure and so transportation of cotton became difficult. Northern United States slowly took over the business as it had all the advantages over the South.
Rail routes, shipping and transportation facilities were highly developed in the North and the cotton industry received superb leverage there. Thus, you can well understand the fact that an industrial turmoil was created in the United States after introduction of the cotton gin.
Only industrialists and land owners profited while the lower class comprising laborers and farmers suffered a huge loss. They were exploited in all parts of the world where cotton gin was successfully established. They were tortured and subjected to an utterly stressful livelihood.
A sudden rise in demand of raw cotton was the main reason behind the sustenance of slavery. Tremendous inequities and differences inculcated a revolutionary vibe throughout the nation. The socioeconomic disturbance caused due to Eli Whitney's cotton gin became one of the prime causes of the Civil War.
This event is significant in the history of America as the invention took place during the era of the Industrial Revolution.