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Eli Whitney, the cotton gin, sectional specialization and interchangeable parts


Each of our four terms relate to the agricultural development of the South after the War of 1812 in the Era of Good feelings.  Eli Whitney was an American inventor, best known for inventing the cotton gin and pioneering the use of interchangeable parts. The cotton gin highly streamlined the process of extracting fiber from cotton seeds, making cotton an even more attractive crop to grow. Whitney later patented the system of interchangeable parts, which were components of machinery that were identical so that they could fit into any assembly of the same time. Interchangeable parts allowed for mass production of agricultural machinery. The widespread use of the cotton gin caused sectional specialization by making the South the primary source of agriculture, while the North developed an industrial economy through manufacturing.  

Primary Sources

Writing from Whitney to his father

"One man and a horse will do more than fifty men with the old machines ... Tis generally said by those who know anything about it, that I shall make a Fortune by it."

Eli Whitney's obituary

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