The effect of Whitney's Cotton-Gin

on the Cotton Husbandry of the United States
The effect of Whitney's Cotton-Gin on the Cotton Husbandry of the United States
In 1793, the year of the invention, the whole cotton crop of the United States was 5,000,000 lbs., and the total exportation 487,600 lbs. In 1795, when the cotton-gin was first extensively introduced into Georgia and South Carolina—then the principal region of that production—the whole crop increased to 8,000,000 lbs., and the exportation to 1,601,760 lbs. In 1800, when the machine had been thrown open to the people, without limitation, from regard to the legal rights of the patentee, the total production of cotton in the United States during the year amounted to 35,000,000 lbs. of which 17,789,803 lbs. were exported. In 1805, the whole production was 70,000,000 lbs., and the amount of upland cotton exported 29,602,428 lbs. (value, $9,445,000.) In 1810, the crop was increased to 85,000,000 lbs., and the exportation of upland cotton to 84,657,334 lbs. In 1815, the whole of the United States crop was 100,000,000 lbs., and the exportation of upland cotton 74,548,796 lbs. in 1820, the whole United States crop was 160,000,000 lbs.; the exportation of upland 116,291,137 lbs., valued at $22,308,667. In 1825, crop 255,000,000 lbs., exportation of upland 166,784,629 lbs. In 1830, crop 350,000,000, exportation 290,311,937. In 1835, crop 475,000,000, exportation 379,000,000. In 1840, crop 880,000,000, exportation valued at $63,870,307. In 1845, the United States cotton crop was 1,029,850,000 lbs., and the exportation of cotton 862,580,000 lbs.; the domestic consumption being 167,270,000 lbs.

The recent annexation of the immense cotton lands of Texas, the abolition of the import duty on American cotton in Great Britain, and the vast and rapid increase of the manufacture of cotton fabrics in all parts of the United States, are evidences of the certainty of a further increase in the production of cotton in this country. Enormous as has been the progress of this staple, from 1791 to 1845, it is destined to a yet greater extension in amount and value.

The exclusion of East India cotton from its previous monopoly of the markets of the civilized world, from the beginning of the present century, was mainly due to the introduction of the cotton-gin in the Southern States of the American Union, which substituted the rapid operations of machinery for the tedious and costly labour of human hands in the preparation of the crop for the use of the manufacturer. The recent attempts of the British Government and the East India Company to restore the successful production of cotton in Hindostan, have consisted largely in the introduction of American improvements, especially of "THE AMERICAN COTTON-GIN," into those provinces which are adapted to the culture. The greater cheapness of labour, and eves the superior quality of the product—in the province of Dharwar, — were found to avail nothing, without the advantages of American machinery.

The pecuniary advantage of this invention to the United States is by no means fully presented by an exhibition of the value of the exports of cotton—amounting to more than $1,400,000,000 in the last forty-three years, — nor by the immense proportion of the means which it has furnished this country to meet the enormous debts continually incurred for imports from Britain and the European continent,—COTTON having for many years constituted one-half, three-fifths, or seven-tenths of the value of the exports of the Union. But it was the introduction of the cotton-gin which first gave a high value and permanent market to the public lands in the South-West. The rapid settlement and improvement of almost the entire States of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, is mainly due to the enlarged production of cotton consequent upon the invention of Whitney. The States of Georgia and Tennessee have also been largely benefited by the same means in the disposal of their domain, a vast portion of which must have remained unoccupied and valueless, but for the immense increase of facilities for the preparation of cotton for the market. In the three States of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, the sales of the public lands of the General Government amounted to 18,099,505 acres, during the eleven years ending on the 30th of June, 1844—yielding to the national treasury more than $30,000,000. The sales of upland cotton lands by the United States land offices have amounted to many tens of millions of acres; and none have been sold at a lower rate than $1.25 an acre--a large proportion at a higher rate.

It is to be remarked, finally, that the cotton-gins now in use throughout the whole South are truly the original invention of Whitney—that no improvement or successful variation of the essential parts has yet been effected. The actual characteristics of the machine—the cylinder and brush—the sole real instruments by which the seed is removed and the cotton cleaned, remain, in cotton-gins of even the most recent manufacture, precisely as Whitney left them. The principle has not been altered since the first cotton-gin V71113 put in motion by the inventor, though great improvements have been made in the application and direction of the moving forces, in the employment of stealth-power, in the running-gear, and other incidentals. Every one of the various cotton-gins in use, under the names of different makers, contains the essentials of Whitney's patent, without material change or addition. The brush and the cylinder remain, like Fulton's paddle-wheel, unchanged in form and necessity, however vast the improvements in the machinery that causes the motion. A more imposing result of mechanical ingenuity directed to the benefit of a whole nation, and, through it, of mankind, has not been, recorded in the history of the human mind. Certainly there is no patriotic American who will not rejoice to accord to this eminently useful, though basely wronged inventor, the judgment so well expressed by Mr. Lanman—that "Whitney earned the credit of giving a. spring to the agriculture of the South, which has been continued, unimpaired, to this day—a credit that will endure while the cotton-plant whitens the plantations of the South with its snowy harvests, or the machinery of the cotton-factory clatters upon the waterfall!"—Skinner's Farmers' Library.

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