Eli Whitney: The Inventor That Shook The Nation

Eli Whitney, one of the first great American inventors, who had a very interesting inventing period. It pretty much didn\'t happen. But I\'ll explain that later. I chose Eli for a very good reason: I knew absolutely nothing about him. Well, other than the given, he invented the cotton gin. I\'ve always enjoyed researching inventors, so it was either Mr. Whitney, or Robert Fulton. Happily I chose Eli. From studying Eli I hoped to learn about some of his other inventions, what inspired him to invent, in what conditions did he grow up and live in, and also what did his inventions lead to (as in other inventions or discoveries). Since I knew nothing about the E-ster when I began, I was eagerly soaking up information. So I knew nothing to be true or false when beginning. He proved to be a very interesting and almost tragic inventor. Now I\'ll get into the information part of it.

Well, I may as well begin in the beginning . . . you know what I mean. Mr. Whitney was born on December 8, 1769 in Westborough, Massachusetts. He was one of the first great American inventors. It probably began early on because he always enjoyed toying with objects. He loved to build and take apart items. When he was twelve, he made a violin. Shortly after, when he was in his teens, he established a prominent nail making business.

Later on, 1783-1789 to be exact, he taught grammar school in Westborough. When he\'d had enough of that, he entered Yale in 1789, then graduated in 1792. After Yale, he journeyed to Savannah, Georgia to teach and study law. There he met Catherine Littlefield Greene. She invited him as a guest to stay in her home while he studied law. Eli believed he should start fixing things to earn his keep around the house. After many of the visitors to Mrs. Greene\'s house, a certain couple began to discuss the south and their needs. Eventually, the talk fell upon cotton, and how useless the cotton that grew there was. It took ten hours of hand work to separate the cotton from the seeds. That was when Mrs. Greene suggested they ask Mr. Whitney. She said: quote "Gentlemen, apply to my young friend, Mr. Whitney. He can make anything." Unquote. He watched how people would go about doing this and in ten days, he had created a prototype of the cotton gin. That was in 1793. In 1794 he receives a patent and he was in business. Even before Eli applied for his patent, farmers and plantation owners ordered planters to plant a complete field of this cotton. When word got around, there were more crops of cotton than Eli could make cotton gins in a year. Then everything went to he . . . pot. People started to make their own gins, and that meant Whitney and his partner weren\'t making or receiving any money. So their costs of making all of the gins in the beginning were continuing to go unpaid. After other things happened, the E-ster: quote "Turned his back on cotton, the cotton gin, and the South forever." Unquote.

That was what people most remember him for, because he decided to leave all of that behind and move back to the north. After he left the South and the fiasco of the cotton gin, he returned to New Haven, and decided to begin again. He had changed the face of the South, and now it was the North\'s turn. He asked and persuaded the US government in 1798. to give him an order for 10,000 muskets in two years. From the very beginning, guns had always been made by hand, from butt to tip. And the parts would only fit the gun with which they were made for. So he created a system that made every piece exactly the same, or close to exactly, so that a machine could put them together without a skilled technician. So that lead to the system of interchangeable parts. I won\'t get into the detail of that because it is very complicated. He didn\'t fill the order on time, it ended up taking him eight years to completely fill the order.