The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - Eli Whitney
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin was a simple but highly effective invention. Eli Whitney was born in Westborough, Massachusetts on December 8th, 1765. He was raised in New England, graduated from Yale University and had every intention of starting a career as a lawyer. However, all of this changed because he first had to earn some money to clear the debts that had accumulated whilst he was studying. Eli Whitney therefore assumed the position of private tutor to the children of General Greene and his wife Mrs. Catherine Greene on their farm in Georgia. He had never even seen a cotton ball until point.
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - The Problem
Eli Whitney was keen to impress General Greene and learnt about the way the Southern Plantations worked. He learnt that there were two types of cotton. The Long-staple variety was easy to separate from its seeds but it could be grown only along the coastal areas. The only variety that grew inland had sticky green seeds and it was extremely time consuming to pick the seeds out of the fluffy white cotton bolls. The shrubby plants produced white flowers, followed by small green seedpods (called cotton bolls), which contained the seeds. Cotton is harvested when the bolls open and the arduous task of cleaning the cotton began.
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - The Invention
General Greene suggested to Eli that he might be able to develop a machine that would clean the bolls more quickly and efficiently. Eli Whitney wanted to help the Greene family and the Southern planters but he also realized that if he was able to invent such a machine, he could apply to the federal government for a patent and make a handsome profit in the process. He put his mind to the task, whilst carrying out his duties as a tutor, and produced working model within six months. The invention of the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin allowed the sticky seeds to be removed mechanically from the fibers. De-seeded cotton is cleaned, carded (fibers aligned), spun, and woven into a fabric leaving a smooth piece of cotton fabric.
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids
Cotton was easy to grow but because it was so difficult to clean, the new machine made the process quicker and easier.
How does the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin work?
The cotton bolls was put into the top of the machine across the roller
The handle turned the cotton through the wire teeth that combed out the seeds
The cotton was then pulled out of the wire teeth and out of the cotton gin
The Eli Whitney Cotton Gin separated the fibers from the seed ten times faster that the slaves could do by hand. One slave could clean 100 pounds of cotton in a day.
Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids - The Patent
Eli Whitney made the final finishing touches to his machine and applied for a patent it on March 14th, 1794. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 , the Constitution empowers Congress "To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." The Patent Bill of 1790 enabled the new government to patent "any useful art, manufacture, engine, machine, or device, or any instrument thereon not before known or used." and the Patent Act of 1793 was the law that enabled the secretary of state to issue a patent to anyone who presented working drawings, a written description, a model, and paid an application fee. Eli Whitney applied for the patent for his machine and the long wait from March 14th, 1794 began. He would not receive the patent until 1807.
Eli Whitney Cotton Gin for kids
The info about the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin provides interesting facts and important information about this important event that occured during the presidency of the 1st President of the United States of America. Read these articles to learn about Samuel Slater & the Cotton Mills and the Cyrus McCormick Mechanical Reaper.