Presentation on theme: "Reading the Cotton Gin Princeton Teacher Preparation Program June 2005 Nicholas Kerr."— Presentation transcript:
Reading the Cotton Gin Princeton Teacher Preparation Program June 2005 Nicholas Kerr
My approach to reading the cotton gin For me a precise reading of the cotton gin only began when I challenged myself to re-construct a model of the machine. As I thought about constructing the cotton gin I began to take on the role of Eli Whitney and I began asking myself a range of questions that focused on the process of inventing.
What is a cotton gin? A machine that separates seeds, hulls,and other foreign material from the fibers cotton. “The word gin signifies ingenuity and skill, and it is appropriately applied to the first machine invented for fiber removal.” (Lakwete)
Component Parts A.Frame B.Cylinder CBreast work DClearer EHopper
Reading Whitney’s Cotton Gin When a power source is attached to the belts the wire teeth of the cylinder begin to revolve through the cotton placed in the hopper. The fiber and the seed are both pulled by the teeth until they reach to the breastwork at the back of the hopper. The teeth of the cylinder pull the fiber through the breastwork, while the seeds are left behind. The revolving clearer brushes the fiber from the teeth into the frame, allowing the teeth to repeat the ginning process.
The man behind the machine Eli Whitney (1765- 1820) Graduated Yale 1792 Constructed the cotton gin in 1793 Patented in 1794 “The introduction of a new gin in 1794 was as unexpected as it was unprecedented. “ (Lakwete)
The process of inventing In his patent description Whitney described his gin “as In his patent description Whitney described his gin “as entirely new and constructed in a different manner and upon different principles from any other Cotton Gin or Machine heretofore known or made for the purpose” What was the problem that Whitney set out to resolve? How was the invention shaped by machines of the past? What expertise did Whitney possess and how did they facilitate the creation of something “new out of the old”?
Types of cotton Long Staple “sea island” Grown only along the coast Easily ginned by roller machines Short Staple “upland” Grown in-land Shorter fibers Fibers tightly attached to the seed surface Removing of fiber was labor intensive and time consuming
Problem Roller gins could not be used to clean short staple cotton, and it took an entire day to clean two pounds of cotton manually. Southern cotton planters wanted a machine that could drastically increase the rate at which short staple cotton could be processed. In response Whitney with the assistance of Catherine Greene and Phineas Miller set out to construct the cotton gin.
History of Ginning: Roller Technology History of Ginning: Roller Technology All of these gins operated on the concept of utilizing rollers that pinched off the fiber from cotton seeds. Single-Roller Gin: used from the first century The Roller Gin: invented in China and India around the 14 th century. Fully Foot Powered Gin: 1750s Barrel Gin: 1770s Self Feeding Gin: Joseph Eves (1788) By 1790 the construction of the various forms of roller gins had become common knowledge among mechanics and machinists throughout the South
History of Ginning: Roller Technology Eve Gin
Whitney’s expertise Many accounts allude to Whitney's boyhood talent for repairing and inventing machines. The long patent description of the invention highlighted Whitney’s comprehensive understanding of: Textile Machinery Mechanical Principles Standard Shop Practice Extensive research on cotton and the cotton gin
The process of inventing Whitney is alleged to have developed a model of the gin in 10 days First unsuccessful design utilized two wooden teeth rollers separated by a wire screen. The second design incorporated the wire hooks and the clearing brush. The wire hooks were inspired by a cat swiping at chickens and only coming up with feathers Mrs. Green’s use of a small broom to clear the spikes inspired the use of the revolving brushes.
Invention to Production Whitney and his partner Miller planned to establish a cotton gin factory in New Haven. Install gins under their control throughout the South and charge a fee for the service of ginning.
The end result The cotton gin enabled the worker to clean 50 pounds of upland cotton in one day The principal draw back was that the wire teeth destroyed the quality of the fibers. In four years of the invention Whitney had over 30 gin factories operating in Georgia. Whitney was unable to reap large profits from the invention as the machine was reproduced by scores of Southern planters and machinists.
Ginning and textile production The ginning of cotton may be considered the second stage in textile production. After cotton has been picked in the fields, the seeds and other foreign material need to be removed before it can be spun into thread. In his patent description Whitney described his gin “as In his patent description Whitney described his gin “as entirely new and constructed in a different manner and upon different principles from any other Cotton Gin or Machine heretofore known or made for the purpose”