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Posts Tagged ‘patents’

On March 14, 1794, Eli Whitney was granted a patent for a modern mechanical cotton gin that he had created the year before.  Short for cotton engine, this machine pulls cotton fibers from their seeds in a fraction of the time it would take to do manually.  The growth of the cotton industry in the southern United States is attributed to this invention.  Despite the fact that it was intended as a labor-saving device, the mechanized production of cotton also increased the dependency on plantation agriculture and slavery to harvest the supply.  In the 19th century, cotton became a dominant economic force, and the cotton gin is often listed as one of the factors in the changing social, economic, and political atmosphere that eventually led to the American Civil War.

Engraving of a thread mill and cotton gin from the latter half of the 19th century. Image courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection.

You can find out more about patents, inventions, and their social effects through Opening History.

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On April 27, the telegraph inventor Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872) was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

The item featured below is a full-text digitized version of Amos Kendall’s “Morse’s patent” (1852) book, courtesy of Making of America collection (find out more about this digital collection from Opening History aggregation).

Morse's patent / Kendall, Amos.

Morse's patent / Kendall, Amos.

Also, please see yesterday’s Indicommons blog posting about Samuel Morse .

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