Massachusetts inventor Eli Whitney can be rightly said to have perpetuated African slavery in North America with his cotton gin in the mid-1790s. With the opening of the Louisiana lands less than a decade later, New England industrialists building cotton mills near Boston, and Manhattan bankers offering loans for new land purchases, the stage was set for Southern (and Northern) planters to expand slave-produced cotton operations westward. Had Whitney kept this invention to himself . . .
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Eli Whitney Allures the South
“In 1829 the total value of exports from the United States was $55,700,193. Of this the Southern States contributed no less than $34,072,655 in cotton, tobacco and rice. At this time the total value of agricultural exports was a little under $44,000,000.
In short, three-fourths of the agricultural exports and three-fifths of our total exports came from the South. The value of the exports of manufactured article reached only about $6,000,000, of which $1,258,000 was manufactured cotton goods. Those who contributed most to the support of the country were restricted to home markets for the benefit of those who contributed very little.
After the invention of the cotton gin by Mr. [Eli] Whitney the dream of great wealth filled the mind of every Southern planter and farmer. There was a rush for rich bottom lands and every energy was expended in growing cotton. The South as late as the War of 1812 was the leading manufacturing as well as agricultural part of the country, but the profits to be derived from cotton culture allured our people into that direction and manufacturing was left to our brethren of the bleak and barren hills of New England.
Their factories made them the richest people in the world. They were guaranteed by the Government against competition from Europe and they were given a bounty in the amount of tariff on competing wares.”
(Annual Agricultural Resources and Opportunities of the South, J. Bryan Grimes, Farmers’ National Congress speech, 1901, pp. 5-6)