The Cotton Gin

What Happened?

Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin in April of 1793. His invention was meant to minimize the use of slaves but instead it made it worse. The Cotton Gin works when the raw cotton goes into the machine, then the cotton and the seeds are separated. The seeds are kept away from the cotton and the seedless cotton is complete. This is better then the old way because they had slaves hand pick the cotton and separate the cotton from the seeds.The Cotton Gin revolutionized the cotton industry in America but in order to gather all the cotton from the fields they needed cheap labor (slaves). When slavery increased, so did the controversy of the North and South.

This diagram shows how the cotton gin works.

How did this connect to the Civil War?

The Cotton Gin was created by Eli Whitney, to end any talk that an economy based on slavery was not economically feasible, but instead it did the opposite. The invention of the cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry in America, which might have had an affect because the price of cotton may have gone up, so therefore cotton farmers may have needed more slaves to do work so they can make more money. Also the south became dependent on cotton, which drew more slaves to the south to harvest the cotton. The war could have started because of the cotton gin because if the south is making all the money then the north can not make any so they rebeled. Also the north was trying to build itself on industry and companies, when the south based itself on slavery.

Other Topics Our Topic Relates To:

  • Dred Scott Decision - because it involved a slave fighting for his right, and Eli Whitney want them free.
  • Emancipation in Mass. and Other Northern States - all free slaves were not aloud to vote, Whitney tried to free them but instead he made them have to work more.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act - this relates to the Cotton Gin because in Eli's mind creating it was supposed to free slaves, and in this Act they were undecided weather to free slaves or use them


  • Use of slaves began to decline in the 1790's because Europeans were unwilling to pay the high prices for tobacco and rice.
  • The cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney
  • Planters moved west for better soil
  • By 1850, cotton Plantations stretched from the Atlantic coast to Texas
  • Eli Whitney wanted his invention to decrease slavery, but instead it did the opposite and increased it.
  • He invention of the cotton gin related to the Civil War because of many reasons. One of the biggest ones is the need for slaves. Most of the North was againsts slavery while the South was completely for slavery. When the Cotton Gin came around, there was a huge need for cheap labor (Slaves).
  • Slaves in their 20's were valued at $700 or $800.
  • The Cotton gin crated a new cash crop in the south.
  • Cotton became the dominant southern crop
  • The Cotton Gin was created because Eli Whitney wanted to end "any talk that an economy based on slavery was not
    economically feasible (or helping the economy)." but that didn't happen...
  • Cotton Gin created economic and social differences between the north and south.
  • The south became a one crop economy, depending on cotton and therefore on slavery.
  • The cotton gin was not supposed to make the slavery rate go up, instead it rose because the cotton gin just made their more jobs for slaves to do.
  • The cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry in America.