Why Whitney's gin completely energized cotton growing and revitalized slaverycotton growing, its difficulties and history and why Whitney's gin completely energized cotton growing and revitalized...
cotton growing, its difficulties and history and why Whitney's gin completely energized cotton growing and revitalized slavery.
There was an old southern saying... The cotton gin made slavery pay. This is one of the great ironies of U.S. history. When Eli Whitney invented and patented the cotton gin (1793) the idea was that the new technology would ultimately decrease slavery in America. In addition, the Constitution's prohibition of the importation of slaves in 1808 would send slavery into its final decline...Wrong... The cotton gin was new technology but it was also a money maker for the large plantation owner. Prior to the gin, seeds had to be picked from the raw cotton by hand, a time consuming effort. Now that it was done by a machine and faster than human labor the desire to increase planting production prevailed. After 1808 slaves were no longer imported to the U.S., however the number of slaves in the nation grew. This occurred by keeping female slaves pregnant, another horrific side effect of slavery in America.
By "making slavery pay," it stimulated the internal slave trade by encouraging westward expansion. Those in Virginia, for instance, now profited by selling slaves southward to new lands opened for cultivation. It also spelled the end of Indian claims on lands in the Southeast, especially the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. It also led to changes in the nature of slavery itself, further commodifying slaves as the process of production became more "industrial."
It's because short-staple cotton was the only kind that could grow in the South (outside of the Sea Islands), but that kind of cotton took too long to separate from the seed by hand. So growing cotton wasn't economically feasible. But then the cotton gin changed that by allowing the to clean the cotton much faster. So the price of producing cotton went down. Cotton now became "king" in the South. It needed lots of labor and so many slaves were needed.