Eli Whitney: A Revolutionary Inventor An interactive presentation by: Mike Busk ED 205_16
Eli Whitney <ul><li>Early Life </li></ul><ul><li>Invention of the Cotton Gin </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Later Life </li></ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul><ul><li>About the Author </li></ul><ul><li>Concept Map </li></ul>Quit
Early Life Eli Whitney was born December 8 th 1765 in Westborough Massachusetts. His mother died when he was only 11 years of age so he was under the care of his father for the better part of his childhood. Whitney's mechanical genius began to be displayed at the age of 14 when he ran a nail production operation out of his father’s barn during the American Revolution. Among working on his nail operation he worked as a blacksmith and was one of the leading maker’s of ladies’ hatpins in his county. “ He had an instinctive understanding of mechanisms. It was a medium in which he could improvise and create in exactly the same way that a poet handles words or a painter uses color.”
Early life (continued) Quit Whitney's wished to attend college but was unable to due to the objection of his parents. A wish to attend a school such as Yale, when not studying law or theology, was absurd. He instead worked as a school teacher and a farmer. Whitney studied at Leicester Academy while working and saving money. Eventually he saved enough money and entered the class of 1789 at Yale. After receiving his degree, Whitney took a job as a teacher in South Carolina because he could not find a job that appropriated his talents. He ended up living with Mrs. Greene, a Revolutionary war widow of general Nathanael Greene, after turning down his teaching job. The pay that Whitney committed to was not going to be met, so he lived with Mrs. Greene while reading law. Nathanael Greene
Invention of the Cotton Gin Whilst listening to conversations among Mrs. Greene and neighbors, Whitney learned of the lack of a cash crops in the south. The amount of labor required to harvest green seed variety cotton was preposterous. It was at this point that Mrs. Greene spoke up and nominated Whitney to find a solution to one of the biggest problems of the South. "Gentlemen," said Mrs. Greene, "apply to my young friend, Mr. Whitney. He can make anything."
Invention of the Cotton Gin (continued) Click here to view a movie on the Cotton Gin Quit Whitney began to watch closely at the harvesting and cleaning of cotton seeds. He noticed that typically one hand held the seed and the other hand teased out the strands of lint. Whitney took the initiative to design a machine that merely duplicated the motion of the hands. Whitney made essentially a sift of wires that stretched lengthwise across the machine. This was to replace the hand that held the seed. There was a drum that rotated very closely to the wires. This drum had very fine wires on the end so the lint would catch as it passed through. This was to replace the figures. Then a rotating brush would spin and wipe the drum clean of lint. This brush spun four times as fast as the drum to make sure to gather all the lint.
Benefits Quit Whitney’s invention had sparked the morale of the South. They now had a cash crop that would have dramatic effects on their economy. The United States no longer had to have an enormous dependency on foreign cotton. Whitney’s Cotton Gin design has been one that has changed little in the past two hundred years, showing his mechanical genius and understanding. Present day Cotton Gin’s have become larger to account for an increase in demand of cotton since the early 19 th century. A Cotton Gin near Moscow, Kansas
Consequences Quit Whitney and his partner, Phineaus Miller, did not have a great start with their new invention. Although President Thomas Jefferson awarded the duo their patent in 1794, and wished to purchase one, this simply would not be so easy. Whitney and Miller had promised too many farmers too many gins and the price was outrageous. Farmers soon realized, that due to the simplicity of Whitney’s design, they could create homemade gins and save money and time. The patent that Whitney had sought after had become essentially useless. Whitney’s revolutionary idea would also become one of the leading contributors and factors of the beginning of the American Civil War. Slavery in the United States was on a decline due to the intense amount of labor required. The Cotton Gin solved this issue, allowing more cotton to picked by more hands.
Later Life In 1798 Whitney signed a contract with President Adams agreeing to produce 10,000 muskets in just two years time. This was a courageous agreement for a couple of reasons: Whitney did not own a factory nor have gunsmiths and he had never even produced a musket before. Whitney’s plan was to replicate ideas circulating in Europe at the time. Ideas of interchangeable parts, which would speed production greatly. Whitney created a self-sustaining community where he provided housing, food, and training for his employees. Whitney was unable to meet the goals of his agreement. It took him nearly 8 years to fill the order that he thought could be done in two. Until Whitney’s idea of interchangeable parts, all rifle parts made were made individually
Later Life (continued) Quit Whitney became engulfed in his work and became very lonely. His partner, Miller, married Mrs. Greene. Whitney had his nephews, Philos and Eli Whitney Blake, come to New Haven, CT and had them trained and educated. At the age of 51, Whitney married Henrietta Edwards, who was 31 at the time. Whitney began to fall ill. He was having issues with an enlarged prostate. He started studying anatomy with his physicians and helped devise a catheter to ease the pain. In 1825, Whitney died on January 8 th . When his last notes were examined, they showed not signs of suffering but of thought on his work. They were sketches of advanced tools for making lock parts. Eli Whitney’s contribution revolutionized agriculture as well as factories in the United States.
About the Author Quit Hi! My name is Mike Busk and I am currently a student at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. I am a History and German major. My intent is teach at the secondary level, high school preferably. I was born and raised in Michigan. I grew up for the first four years of my life in Royal Oak and then moved to Troy where my parents (and I when I am not at school) currently live. I enjoy playing soccer, running, and snowboarding. I appreciate you taking time to view my presentation and hope that you enjoyed it. I can be contacted at the following email address: [email_address]