Eli Whitney, Jr. (1765 - 1825) MP

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Nicknames: "cotton gin"
Place of Burial: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Birthplace: Westborough, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in New Haven, CT, United States
Occupation: American Inventor; died of prostate cancer, Inventor, Inventor of the Cotton Gin, Invented Cotton Gin, Inventor of the Cotton Gin and mass production, inventor, farm laborer and schoolteacher, Invented cotton gin
Managed by: Susan 'Sue' Marie Fitzgerald
Last Updated:

About Eli Whitney, Jr.

Eli Whitney (December 8, 1765 – January 8, 1825) was an American inventor best known as the reputed inventor of the cotton gin (see notes below). This was one of the key inventions of the industrial revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South. Whitney's invention made short staple cotton into a profitable crop, which strengthened the economic foundation of slavery. Despite the social and economic impact of his invention, Whitney lost his profits in legal battles over patent infringement, closed his business, and nearly filed bankruptcy.

He was born on a farm in Westboro, Massachusetts, Dec. 8, 1765. After graduating from Yale College in 1792, he went to Savannah Georgia where through the friendship of Mrs. Nathaniel Greene, widow of the Revolutionary War General, he was introduced to some men who were discussing the desirability of a machine that would separate the short staple upland cotton from its seeds.

In a few weeks, Whitney produced a hand operated model and by April 1793, had produced a machine that could clean 50 pounds of cotton fibres a day. It consisted of a wooden cylinder encircled by rows of slender spikes, set half an inch apart, which extended between the bars of a grid set so closely together the the seeds could not pass, although the lint was pulled through by a revolving spikes, a revolving brush cleaned the spikes and the seeds fell into another compartment.

A patent was granted on March 14, 1793. In partnership with Phineas Miller, Whitney began manufacture of cotton gins at New Haven, Conn. When they became unable to supply the demand for gins, country blacksmiths helped fill the orders. A Patent, later annulled, was granted May 12, 1793, for spikes. Whitney spent much time and money prosecuting infringements of his patent, and in 1807 its validity was settled. Disgusted with the struggle, Whitney began to manufacture fire arms near New Haven in 1709 and secured profitable government contracts. His application of the concept of interchangeable parts and utilization of the principle of division of labour in his musket factory were perhaps his most significant contribution. He died Jan 8, 1825.

Eli Whitney married Henrietta Edwards, the Grandaughter of Jonathan Edwards, Great Early American minister. Eli (Eli, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Benjamin, John, John & Elinor), Whitney's 4th Great Grandfather was John Whitney, who married Elinor before 1619. John & Elinor (Eleanor) were also the parents of Deacon Joshua Whitney, who married Abigail Tarbell.

Deacon Joshua & Abigail are the parents of Alice Whitney who married Nathaniel Woods. She was his first wife. His 2nd wife was Sarah Brown, then after her death, his 3rd wife was Mary Blanchard Darby.

Mary Blanchard Darby was the 1st wife of John Darbyshire/Darby who had died before 1825 in Groton. Mary & John Darby were the parents of James Darby that married Eleanor Shepard. (Eleanor Shepard's mother was Eleanor Whitney, sister of Alice Whitney, 1st wife of Nathaniel Woods).

Eleanor Whitney married Samuel Shepard & became the mother of Eleanor Shepard, who married James Darby about 1822.

James Darby is the father of Eleazer who married Anna Doubledee or Doubleday. Eleazer Darby & Anna are the parents of Joseph Darby who married Anna Grow & moved to Homer, Cortland Co, New York in 1802.

Joseph & Anna Grow Darby are the Grandparents of Thomas Darby Jr. who married Frances Bement & moved to Clarksville, Iowa in 1868. Thomas & Frances are the Parents of Lucius Darby & Grandparents of Clarence Darby, --------------------

American inventor best known as the reputed inventor of the cotton gin. This was one of the key inventions of the industrial revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South.[1] Whitney's invention made short staple cotton into a profitable crop, which strengthened the economic foundation of slavery. Despite the social and economic impact of his invention, Whitney lost his profits in legal battles over patent infringement, closed his business, and nearly filed bankruptcy.

Whitney also invented the musket Whitney died at age 59 of prostate cancer on January 8, 1825, in New Haven, CT, leaving a widow and four children. During the course of his illness, he invented and constructed several devices to ease his pain mechanically. These devices, drawings of which are in his collected papers, were effective but were never manufactured for use of others due to his heirs' reluctance to trade in "indelicate" items.

- Cotton gin The cotton gin is a mechanical device which removes the seeds from cotton, a process which had been extremely labor intensive. The word 'gin' is short for engine. The cotton gin was a wooden drum stuck with hooks which pulled the cotton fibers through a mesh. The cotton seeds would not fit through the mesh and fell outside. Whitney occasionally told a story where he was pondering an improved method of seeding the cotton and he was inspired by observing a cat attempting to pull a chicken through a fence, and could only pull through some of the feathers.

A single cotton gin could generate up to 55 pounds of cleaned cotton daily. This contributed to the economic development of the Southern states of the United States, a prime cotton growing area; some historians believe that this invention allowed for the African slavery system in the Southern United States to become more sustainable at a critical point in its development.

Whitney received a patent (later numbered as X72) for his cotton gin on March 14, 1794; however, it was not validated until 1807. Whitney and his partner Miller did not intend to sell the gins. Rather, like the proprietors of grist and sawmills, they expected to charge farmers for cleaning their cotton - two-fifths of the value, paid in cotton. Resentment at this scheme, the mechanical simplicity of the device and the primitive state of patent law, made infringement inevitable. Whitney and Miller could not build enough gins to meet demand, so gins from other makers found ready sale. Ultimately, patent infringement lawsuits consumed the profits and their cotton gin company went out of business in 1797.[3] One oft-overlooked point is that there were drawbacks to Whitney's first design. There is significant evidence that the design flaws were solved by a woman named Katherine Green; Whitney gave her no public credit or recognition.[8]

While the cotton gin did not earn Whitney the fortune he had hoped for, it did give him fame.

And the cotton gin transformed Southern agriculture and the national economy.[9] Southern cotton found ready markets in Europe and in the burgeoning textile mills of New England. Cotton exports from the U.S. boomed after the cotton gin's appearance - from less than 500,000 pounds in 1793 to 93 million pounds by 1810. [10] Cotton was a staple that could be stored for long periods and shipped long distances, unlike most agricultural products. It became the U.S.'s chief export, representing over half the value of U.S. exports from 1820 to 1860.

Paradoxically, the cotton gin, a labor-saving device, helped preserve slavery in the U.S. Before the 1790s, slave labor was primarily employed in growing rice, tobacco, and indigo, none of which were especially profitable any more. Neither was cotton, due to the difficulty of seed removal. But with the gin, growing cotton with slave labor became highly profitable - the chief source of wealth in the American South, and the basis of frontier settlement from Georgia to Texas. "King Cotton" became a dominant economic force, and slavery was sustained as a key institution of Southern society.

Milling machine Machine tool historian Joseph W. Roe credited Whitney with inventing the first milling machine. Subsequent work by other historians (Woodbury, Smith, Muir) suggests that Whitney was among a group of contemporaries all developing milling machines at about the same time (1814 to 1818). Therefore, no one person can properly be described as the inventor of the milling machine.

Later life and legacy Despite his humble origins, Whitney was keenly aware of the value of social and political connections. In building his arms business, he took full advantage of the access that his status as a Yale alumnus gave him to other well-placed graduates, such as Secretary of War Oliver Wolcott (Class of 1778) and New Haven developer and political leader James Hillhouse.

His 1817 marriage to Henrietta Edwards, granddaughter of the famed evangelist Jonathan Edwards, daughter of Pierpont Edwards, head of the Democratic Party in Connecticut, and first cousin of Yale's president, Timothy Dwight, the state's leading Federalist, further tied him to Connecticut's ruling elite. In a business dependent on government contracts, such connections were essential to success.

Whitney died at age 59 of prostate cancer on January 8, 1825, in New Haven, Connecticut, leaving a widow and four children. During the course of his illness, he invented and constructed several devices to mechanically ease his pain. These devices, drawings of which are in his collected papers, were effective but were never manufactured for use of others due to his heirs' reluctance to trade in "indelicate" items.

At his death, his armory was left in the charge of his talented nephews, Eli Whitney Blake and Philos Blake, notable inventors and manufacturers in their own right (they invented the mortise lock and the stone-crushing machine).

Eli Whitney III (1820-1894) assumed control of the armory in 1841. Working under contract to inventor Samuel Colt, the younger Whitney manufactured the famous "Whitneyville Walker Colts" for the Texas Rangers. The success of this contract rescued Colt from financial ruin and enabled him to establish his own famous arms company. Whitney's marriage to Sarah Dalliba, daughter of the U.S. Army's chief of ordinance, helped to assure the continuing success of his business.

The younger Whitney organized the New Haven Water Company, which began operations in 1862. While this enterprise addressed the city's need for water, it also enabled Whitney to increase the amount of power available for his manufacturing operations at the expense of the water company's stockholders. A new dam made it possible to consolidate his operations—originally located in three sites along the Mill River—in a single plant. This dam still exists.

Whitney's grandson, Eli Whitney IV (1847-1924), sold the Whitney Armory to Winchester Repeating Arms, another notable New Haven gun company, in 1888. He served as president of the water company until his death and was a major New Haven business and civic leader. He played an important role in the development of New Haven's Ronan-Edgehill Neighborhood.

Following the closure of the armory, the factory site continued to be used for a variety of industrial purposes, including the water company. Many of the original armory buildings remained intact until the 1960s. In the 1970s, as part of the Bicentennial celebration, interested citizens organized the Eli Whitney Museum, which opened to the public in 1984. The site today includes the boarding house and barn that served Eli Whitney's original workers and a stone storage building from the original armory. Museum exhibits and programs are housed in a factory building constructed c. 1910. A water company office building constructed in the 1880s now houses educational programs operated by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (which succeeded the New Haven Water Company).

Eli Whitney and his descendants are buried in New Haven's historic Grove Street Cemetery.[11] Yale College's Eli Whitney Students Program, which is one of the four doors into Yale College, is named after Whitney in recognition of his venerable age at the time of his entrance to Yale College in 1789; he was 23 years old. Eli Whitney is the great-great-grandfather of Eli Whitney Debevoise II, the current U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank Group.

Whitney was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1975.

-------------------- http://wiki.whitneygen.org/wrg/index.php/Family:Whitney%2C_Eli_%281765-1825%29

But, was he the first? Who really invented the cotton gin?

http://www.pratthistory.com/whitney_or_homes.htm When the Franklin Mint's research turned up information about ginning, they didn't research well enough. The coins they minted for a collectable coins are wrong. The coins shows a roller gin and states "Eli Whitney Invents the Cotton Gin". Eli had a patent on a spike gin not a roller gin as shown.

The illustration below on the left is a Whitney type gin. The illustration in the middle, from Harpers, is a roller gin. The caption states "The First Cotton Gin". The roller gin was the first cotton gin. The roller gin shown was a modification of the early "Churka" or Indian roller gin. The improved roller gin facilitated the ginning of Sea Island or Long Staple cotton. The coins should have stated Eli Whitney the first to Patent a Spiked Cotton Gin, because the roller gin as been around for many years.

Dr. Joseph Eve residing around Augusta, Georgia, introduced the first powered roller gin, in 1790. The Daily output of five Eve Type Roller Gins was 135 pounds per day, but one Whitney Type gin produced 600 to 900 pounds per day. English Textile mills wanted the slower roller ginned sea island cotton (Long Fiber Length) because of quality, but production won over the plantations. When the plantations planted short staple cotton the roller gin was not used.

http://www.madehow.com/inventorbios/72/Eli-Whitney.html#ixzz2AQHTASKd

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Eli Whitney, Jr.'s Timeline

1765
December 8, 1765
Westborough, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
1817
January 6, 1817
Age 51
United States
November 13, 1817
Age 51
New Haven, New Haven, CT
1819
March 1819
Age 53
New Haven, New Haven, CT, United States
1820
November 24, 1820
Age 54
New Haven, Connecticut, United States
1821
December 1821
Age 55
New Haven, New Haven, CT, United States
1825
January 8, 1825
Age 59
New Haven, CT, United States
1825
Age 59
Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, CT
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Inventor
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