Red-Letter Saturday #6: “The Cotton Gin”
On this day, March 14, 1794 , Eli Whitney was granted a patent for the cotton gin. This was one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution and it helped to shape the economy of the Antebellum South. Whitney’s invention also made upland short cotton into a profitable crop. In the South, the cotton gin revolutionized the way cotton was harvested. Because the cotton gin was a labor-saving device, it transformed Southern agriculture and the national economy.
Cotton. When you think about it, old Eli really did us a favor, didn’t he? Because of his cotton gin, cotton could be harvested more rapidly, and therefore, more cotton could be picked.
Just think of all the uses for cotton. I’d be surprised if most of you are not wearing something that is made from cotton at this very moment. How can I be so sure of this? It’s because cotton is used to make a number of textile products, which include terry cloth for highly absorbent bathrobes and towels, denim for blue jeans; cambric, which is popularly used in the manufacture of blue work shirts (from which we get the term “blue-collar“), corduroy, seersucker, and cotton twill. Socks, underwear, and most T-shirts are made from cotton.
There are so many things that are made from cotton which we use every day. These include the bed sheets you sleep on. And what about you knitters and crocheters? Did you know that the yarn you use for your beloved hobbies of crocheting and knitting is made of cotton? And here are some more interesting uses for cotton: Cotton is used in fishing nets, coffee filters, tents, explosives manufacture such as nitrocellulose, cotton paper, and in bookbinding. At one time, fire hoses were made of cotton.
In addition, the cottonseed which remains after the cotton is ginned is used to produce cottonseed oil, which, after refining, can be consumed by humans like any other vegetable oil.
So I believe that we owe Eli Whitney a debt of gratitude because even though it may sound like a bit of a cliché, I think that cotton is “the fabric of our lives.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The touch, the feel of cotton . . . the fabric of our lives.” ~ Author Unknown
This post is presented as part of my special weekly feature, Red-Letter Saturday. If you’d like to to know more information about Red-Letter Saturday, click here: