QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2004-08 > 1091886283
Subject: Excerpt Of History
Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2004 09:44:43 EDT
"After the Revolutionary War, the outlook for agriculture in the South was
pretty grim. The only thing farmers could grow easily was green seed cotton, an
unprofitable crop because it took an entire day for one person to separate a
single pound of cotton from the seeds.
In 1793, a young inventor named Eli Whitney overheard several South Carolina
planters discussing the possibility of a machine that could clean cotton
easily. If someone could invent one, they said, it would save the south and make
its inventor a fortune.
Whitney was intrigued by the challenge. After only a few days of
experimenting, he came up with a working model of a cotton gin. He received a patent in
Unfortunately, Whitney couldn't cash in on his own creation. The machine was
so efficient and amazingly simple that any country handy man could copy it,
and they did. He sued companies that printed his design, but the courts kept
ruling against him. In fact, it took 13 years for Whitney to get even one
favourable judgment, and by then the patent had already expired.
The cotton gin revolutionized Southern agriculture. In 1792 the US exported
about 140,000 lbs. of cotton, by 1800, with the help of Whitney's machine,
almost 18 million lbs. were being exported annually. However, Whitney never
benefited by it."