Chapter 6: Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin

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1. How did the cotton gin help to enhance the United States cotton industry?
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Before the cotton gin was invented, cotton seeds had to be picked out by hand, which was time consuming and very costly. The main cotton producers at the time were Asia and the West Indies, where they used a crude roller gin that would pick out the large black seeds from their cotton. But this roller gin would not work well on the small green cotton seeds from the uplands of Georgia. Hand removal of these seeds made cloth very expensive. With the invention of the cotton gin, the processing of cotton became faster and cheaper. More people could now afford to buy cotton, which increased its demand.
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2. Where and when was Eli Whitney born? What virtues did his parents teach him?
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Eli Whitney was born in Westboro, Massachusetts, in 1765. His parents taught him the virtues of being industrious, saving, honest, and honorable.
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3. How did Eli Whitney earn a living during and after the American War for Independence?
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During and after the American War for Independence, Eli earned a living by making nails, putting new blades into knives, and other odd jobs.
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4. After graduating from Yale, what did Whitney plan to do? How did Mrs. Nathanael Greene help him?
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After graduating from Yale, Whitney planned to teach for a time, so he secured a job to tutor the children of a wealthy gentleman in Savannah, Georgia. This man, however, went back on his promise to pay Eli $100 a year to teach his children; so Eli refused to work for him. Mrs. Nathaneal Greene, however, helped him by giving him a position on her plantation near Savannah.
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5. How did Whitney create his first cotton gin? What did Phineas Miller do to help Whitney?
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Whitney created his first cotton gin with a hopper to hold the cotton. On one side of the devise, iron bars were placed close together, and a wooden cylinder covered with rows of wire teeth would grab the cotton in the hopper and push it through the bars; brushes removed the excess cotton from the wire teeth, and the small seeds dropped into a trough. Mr. Miller became Eli’s partner by supplying the money to patent, build, and sell the new machine.
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6. Why was it difficult for Miller and Whitney to succeed in their new business?
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It was hard for Miller and Whitney to succeed in their new business because they wanted to make a lot of money quickly. They decided they would be the only ones to makes the gins; plus they wanted to charge one pound for every three pounds of cotton that the farmers cleaned.
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7. For what did Mr. Holmes take out a patent? Why did Whitney bring suit against Mr. Holmes?
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Hodgen Holmes took out a patent on the “saw gin,” which used a type of circular saw instead of wire teeth to clean the cotton. Eli brought suit against Homes because the “saw gin” was a copy of Whitney’s cotton gin.
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8. How did Whitney improve the manufacture of rifles? What system of manufacturing did he introduce to the United States?
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Eli Whitney devised a way for rifle parts to be made by machines. The parts made by the machines could replace damaged rifle parts more efficiently. Before Mr. Whitney created this method, all the work was done by the skillful hands of various craftsmen. Even so, replacement parts did not always fit properly. Mr. Whitney invented powerful machines to cut, file, drill, and bore; he divided the making of a rifle into a hundred different parts, and broke this down into simple steps. All was done according to a set pattern so each part was exactly alike and could be replaced at a slight cost. The system of manufacturing that Whitney brought to the United States was dividing the manufacturing of parts into single steps so that workmen needed little skill to do any of the steps. Each part was made after a pattern; and machines were used to make replacement parts that were exactly alike.
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What kind of teeth did the saw gin have?
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dull teeth
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What brought great wealth to the South?
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cotton
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How did Eli Whitney become wealthy?
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manufacturing rifles
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How did Eli Whitney make a living during the American War for Independence?
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making nails
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Where was Eli Whitneys factor for rifle making located?
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Connecticut
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Where was muslin normally made prior to the invention of the mule?
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India
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The primary sources of cotton, in the mid 1700s were where?
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India
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Where did Eli Whitney attend college?
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Yale
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Eli Whitney became wealthy from
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manufacturing rifles

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