Apparel and Textile Production I
3 February 2016
The Cotton Gin
Around the world, people wear cotton clothing, and they have done so for thousands
of years. Artifacts of cotton cloth have been found in Mexico, Egypt, China, Greece,
Rome, around the Indus River, and along the coast of Africa. Cotton was introduced to
Europe by Arab traders around the first century. However, cotton did not gain popularity
in England until the 15th century, due to the prominence of wool in England.
When you think of the cotton gin, do you really understand what it is? The
foundation behind it? The inventor? It's true purpose? If not, let me explain. The Cotton
Gin is a machine that separates cotton fibers from their seeds.
Even though there were simple handheld roller gins that were used in India and
other countries dating back to 500 AD, the first modern mechanical cotton gin was
created by U.S.born inventor Eli Whitney. Whitney applied for a patent on October 28,
1793. The patent was granted on March 14, 1794.
Whitney's cotton gin model was capable of cleaning 50 pounds of lint per day. The
model consisted of a wooden cylinder surrounded by rows of slender spikes, which
pulled the lint through the bars of a comblike grid. The grids were closely spaced,
preventing the seeds from passing through. Loose cotton was brushed off, preventing the
mechanism from jamming.
The invention of the cotton gin caused massive growth in the production of cotton in
the United States, concentrated mostly in the South. Cotton production expanded from
750,000 bales in 1830 to 2.85 million bales in 1850. As a result, the region became even
more dependent on plantations and slavery, with plantation agriculture becoming the
largest sector of its economy.
While it took a single slave about ten hours to separate a single pound of fiber from ...