The Cotton Gin's Effects on Slavery
Though Eli Whitney’s invention gave birth to mass production in America and did so much good for our country, it also had its negative effects. Before the gin, slavery’s profitability was slowly dying off, leading Abolitionists to believe Congress would eventually be able to abolish slavery completely (PBS). Slaves cost so much to maintain that the plantation owners were suffering loss of profit since tobacco was being greatly overproduced. With the cotton gin, cotton could be refined with ease, yet plantation owners still needed laborers to pick the cotton, causing the need for slavery. Numbers of slaves skyrocketed in America after the cotton gin’s invention, going from a little under 700,000 in 1790 to almost 1,200,000 in 1810 in just 20 years (U.S. 18).
A photograph of slaves working in a cotton field
The large amounts of slaves to maintain led plantation owners to treat their slaves more poorly, causing a much harsher reaction from Abolitionists in America. One may argue that, since the cotton gin caused such an increase in slavery, the invention of the gin was a huge cause of the Civil War. Southerners were getting so wealthy off of the cotton industry that they were very adamant about keeping their slaves, leading to the slave states seceding when Abolitionists wanted to banish slavery (PBS). An invention that caused so much growth and good for our country sadly lead to so much bloodshed, yet helped to eventually end the horrid practice of slavery in America.
Drawing depicting a "Scene on a Cotton Plantation"