The article Eli Whitney: Nemesis of the South explains the story of a young boy Eli Whitney. The article details how Whitney made inventions that helped shape the history of America. From cotton gin to the manufacture of firearms, the article articulates how the young boy used his genius in mechanics to come up with inventions that have helped to shape America’s production history. The story points out how Whitney had failed to join his fellow statesmen in discouragement following the failure of independence to give them the prosperity they were anticipating. The article brings out to the fore the power of determination and patience. It shows us why we should not be discouraged when things go wrong but rather remain focused.
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The author identifies awakening as the first important thing to do if we are to achieve anything meaningful. This is brought out by how Eli Whitney fought against all odds to win admission into Yale. Having come from a poor family, the boy did not stand a chance of making it big in life. However, when the realization that he needed a college education set in, good things began coming his way. Even though he did not go to college immediately, at the age of 23 years a chance came up for him to attend Yale. Though he was not an exceptional child, his determination and confidence saw him get the recommendation of the university president to become a private tutor for a rich family.
Mrs. Nathaniel Green an acquaintance whom Eli Whitney had met upon leaving Yale had also recommended him to farmers who had problems with cotton farming. The farmers were concerned with the amount of time they were taking to separate staple cotton from its seeds. When they came to Whitney, he only took two weeks to come up with an invention that transformed the process of cotton harvesting in the whole of America forever.
Following his invention of the cotton gin, people who had been dissuaded from growing cotton by the hard process it took to harvest now grew it in large quantities. This new technology saw the export of cotton increase from 138,000 pounds to about two million pounds in a span of two years. This made the invention of the cotton gin the most effective in history. However, this promoted the slave trade since the slaves were needed to work in the cotton fields. Since cotton planting was prevalent in the Southern part, there arose enmity between the South and the North over the slave trade that had become prevalent. While the North detested slavery, the south promoted it due to the cheap labor they got from the slaves.
Since Eli Whitney was not recognized as the inventor of the cotton gin, he finally left the North and devoted his time to doing something more profitable. Always a visionary, Eli Whitney foresaw a war breaking up over Congress’s insistence to make America’s military independent of foreign nations. With this oversight, he approached the secretary of the treasury proposing to manufacture weapons for soldiers who would be going to war. The weapons he proposed to manufacture were not just any other weapons. Whitney wanted to make sure that they had parts that could not be interchanged. This led to the invention of firearms that people have not been able to duplicate up to date. The invention further led to the technology being used in almost every sector of production.
The writer has brought out clearly the theme being discussed. In the case of the cotton gin, Eli Whitney had to deal with goons stealing his plan to not being recognized as the inventor. There were many other things that would have deterred him from making further inventions. However, he always vowed to do better on the next project. Thanks to Eli Whitney, America has become a world leader in mass-produced goods. Wherever one feels like giving up, it is always prudent to pause and think of the odds that Eli Whitney had to beat. This will always push us into a new project that if accomplished will make America a greater nation.