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Introduction | Questions to Consider | Source

Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin
Houghton Mifflin Company

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.


Animation of a cotton gin

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