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Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin

Beginning the cotton boom
This model was used to demonstrate Eli Whitney's cotton gin. The hand crank moved the cotton to the sawtooth wheels, which pulled the fiber through wire slots, separating it from the seeds that fell into the bottom of the gin. Brushes moved the cotton and cleaned it off the sawteeth. There had been gins before Whitney's, but, unlike his, none could handle the short staple cotton that many of the southern states raised most easily. Whitney's offered major labor savings over the costs of separating the seeds from the cotton fiber by hand. Indeed, his device has been credited with turning cotton production into a prosperous business and with fastening slavery upon the South.

Patented March 14, 1797
Eli Whitney, born December 8, 1765, Westboro, MA.; died January 8, 1825, New Haven, CT.
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Learn more!
· Eli Whitney's Patent Failure
· American Cotton Culture
· "Pick a Bale of Cotton"

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