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The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, Fourth Edition
Paul S. Boyer, Clifford E. Clark, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, Neal Salisbury, Harvard Sitkoff, Nancy Woloch
Primary Sources


Introduction | Questions to Consider | Source


Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin
(1794)
Houghton Mifflin Company

Introduction
Separating the cotton seeds from the cotton fiber was a labor-intensive proposition before the invention of the cotton gin. As you watch the operation of the gin, think both about the relatively simple construction of the machine and how the gin reduced the labor involved in this phase of cotton production.

Questions to Consider
  1. Play the animation several times. Write a paragraph describing how the cotton gin operates.

  2. According to legend, Eli Whitney conceived of the idea of the gin in two ways: by watching a cat reach through a fence, try for a chicken, and come away with nothing but feathers and by hearing Catherine Green say as she handed him a hearth brush, "Mr. Whitney, here's what you need," to remove the seeds from the cotton. How does the gin's operation illustrate these anecdotes?

  3. Evaluate the cotton gin's effect on Southern agriculture.



Source




Animation of a cotton gin


The Shockwave PlugIn from Macromedia is required to view the cotton gin animation. If the plugin is not already installed on your computer, you can download it now from Macromedia.



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