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Whitney Eli 1765-1825 American inventor best known for his invention of the cotton gin Whitney was born in Westboro Massachusetts on December 8 1765 and educated at Yale College now Yale University In 1792 he visited the plantation near Savannah Georgia of Catharine Greene widow of the American Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene There he designed and built a model for a machine that would separate the seeds from the fibers of the short-staple cotton plant work that until that time had been done by hand He completed the machine-the first cotton gin-in 1793 This invention had a great impact on the development of the southern United States With the gin cotton could be cleaned so efficiently that it became the most important crop in the South and the basis of the regions profitable agricultural economy Whitney entered into partnership with the plantation manager Phineas Miller to manufacture cotton gins at New Haven Connecticut A disastrous factory fire prevented the partners from making enough gins to meet the demand and manufacturers throughout the South began to copy the invention Although Whitney and Miller received a patent on the gin in 1794 a decision protecting their patent was not rendered until 1807 In 1812 the Congress of the United States denied Whitneys petition for renewal of the patent In all he profited very little from his invention In 1798 Whitney turned to the large-scale manufacture of firearms After signing a contract to supply the federal government with 10000 military muskets he built a factory near New Haven at present-day Hamden in which he experimented with a system of manufacturing standardized interchangeable parts He died in New Haven on January 8 1825 Bibliographywwwgeocitescom Encatra Encyclopedia2000 The Inventions of Eli Whitney
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