Eli Whitney Fact File: Lifespan: 1765 - 1825 *** Full Name: Eli Whitney *** Occupation: American Inventor *** Date of Birth: He was born on December 8th 1765 *** Place of Birth: He was born in Westborough, Massachusetts, British America *** Family background: His father was Eli Whitney, Sr and a prosperous farmer and his wife was Elizabeth Fay *** Early life and childhood: He grew up in Westborough, Massachusetts and at the age of eleven years his mother died and his father would remarry *** Education: He began his education at probably being tutored at home ***
Eli Whitney Fact 1: He was born during the 18th century when there were huge strides in science and innovations generally as well as in industry.
Eli Whitney Fact 2: When he was fourteen years of age he began manufacturing nails in his father’s workshop, it was during the Revolutionary War and was a profitable venture.
Eli Whitney Fact 3: When his stepmother refused permission for him to attend college, he would be not be dissuaded so embarked on earning money by teaching in school and farm laboring.
Eli Whitney Fact 4: He enrolled in 1789 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in the year 1792. With the intention of continuing on to law school he found he had insufficient funds and instead accepted an offer tutor privately in South Carolina.
Eli Whitney Fact 5: Before reaching journeys end he was persuaded to visit Georgia instead on the journey there he encountered the family and widow of Revolutionary hero General Nathanael Greene.
Eli Whitney Fact 6: Having struck up a friendship with Mrs Greene he was again persuaded to visit her home, Mulberry Grove, where he made the acquaintance of Phineas Miller, the plantation manager and fiancé of Mrs Greene.
Eli Whitney Fact 7: Having spent time around cotton plantations and mills he soon saw that there was a problem with the separation of cotton from the seed.
Eli Whitney Fact 8: The black seed long staple variety was easily separated from its seed but could only be grown coastally.
Eli Whitney Fact 9: The Green seed short staple variety could be grown in much greater quantities but the cotton was far more difficult to remove from the seed.
Eli Whitney Fact 10: Having witnessed what the problem was he invented a machine, the cotton gin that was able to pick the cotton away from the seed.
Eli Whitney Fact 11: He secured his patent for his cotton gin in 1794 but his plans for utilizing the machine did not go as he wished.
Eli Whitney Fact 12: Together with his partner, Phineas Miller, the idea was to manufacture the gins and charge the planters to separate out their cotton but they would not happy paying the costs and the gins became easily copied.
Eli Whitney Fact 13: Although he prosecuted any number of planters’ he soon found he lost more money that he could afford to.
Eli Whitney Fact 14: By 1797, with the potential for war with France, the government were contracting for the manufacturing of muskets.
Eli Whitney Fact 15: He created machine tools that were made to produce one part of a musket which meant that an unskilled worker could produce a particular part and then all the parts could be fitted together and thus mass production was possible and not one skilled man making one musket at a time.
Eli Whitney Fact 16: Although the idea was sound he was given two years to complete 10,000 muskets. In fact it took him eight years to produce his quota but on demonstrating his idea in Washington D.C. in front of Thomas Jefferson and other dignitaries the birth of mass production was witnessed and applauded.
Eli Whitney Fact 17: He would soon become one of the leading arms manufacturers of his time.
Eli Whitney Fact 18: He died on January 8th 1825 of prostate cancer in New Haven, Connecticut, United States.
Influence & Legacy: He would unfortunately be responsible for a surge in the slave trade as a result of his cotton gin. In the South the use of slaves was slowly dying out and some owners had even given the slaves away but with the introduction of the cotton gin the slave trade thrived.
Important Events of the 18th century and during the life of Eli Whitney include:
The invention of the flushing toilet by Alexander Cummings, the invention of the Steamship by Jacques Perrier, Gas Lighting was invented by William Murdoch and the first Ambulance was put to work.