- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Eli Whitney

Essay by   •  March 6, 2011  •  Essay  •  449 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,026 Views

Essay Preview: Eli Whitney

Report this essay
Page 1 of 2

Eli Whitney

Born: Westboro, Massachusetts; December 8, 1765

Died: New Haven; January 8, 1825

Entry by Albert E. Van Dusen

As a youth Whitney showed marked mechanical aptitude. Entering Yale College belatedly, he was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1792. He went South to serve as a private tutor, but instead lived as a guest of Mrs. Nathanael Greene, widow of the Revolutionary general, who proposed that he devise a machine to clean seeds from green-seed upland cotton.

Ten days of work produced a model, but it took six months of intensive work to perfect the cotton gin. He formed a partnership with Phineas Miller to produce and sell the gin and in 1794 obtained a patent for it. Unfortunately others had already pirated his ideas and even spread the rumor that his gins damaged the cotton. He was thus forced to bring many suits, including sixty unsuccessful ones, for infringement on his patent. Meanwhile, he set up a factory at New Haven to manufacture cotton gins. When fire destroyed his factory in 1795, he quickly rebuilt it, but financial problems plagued him incessantly. Rivals continued to slander him and to use their own copies of his machine, causing sales of his gin to cease. While he finally won some suits and collected damages, he netted very little profit despite the enormous increase in cotton production. He did, however, learn some important lessons which helped his future endeavors.

Embittered and disillusioned by his experience, he turned to a very different field--making muskets for the United States government, a more dependable source of capital. At Mill Rock, present-day Whitneyville, a site of ample water power, he built a factory. In 1798 he obtained a Federal contract for 10,000 stand of arms, all to be delivered before September 30, 1800. For a variety of reasons he did not deliver any muskets until September 1801 and then only 500. What he had accomplished was the design of new machine tools which produced identical interchangeable parts.

In January 1801 he went to Washington where he made an unforgettable demonstration before government officials. He spread out on a table many parts of gunlocks, then randomly picked up pieces to assemble a lock. He then disassembled it and invited his astonished observers to emulate him. In



Download as:   txt (2.7 Kb)   pdf (61.8 Kb)   docx (9.9 Kb)  
Continue for 1 more page »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 03). Eli Whitney. Retrieved 03, 2011, from

"Eli Whitney" 03 2011. 2011. 03 2011 <>.

"Eli Whitney.", 03 2011. Web. 03 2011. <>.

"Eli Whitney." 03, 2011. Accessed 03, 2011.