The cotton gin was invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney. This invention is considered one of the major turning points in the economy for United States and more importantly the South. Before the Cotton Gin was a thing, the only major goods produced and exported by the South were rice and tobacco. Only with the ability to quickly separate short-staple cotton fiber from its seed was the future of the Southern economy, and its use of slave labor, tied to cotton production.
After the invention of the cotton gin, the production of cotton doubled each decade after 1800. The demand for it was increased by other inventions of the Industrial Revolution which was happening at the time. An example of this includes machines to spin and weave the cotton and the steamboat to transport it to where ever it needed to go. By the 1850s America was growing around three fourths of cotton produced on the Earth, most of this cotton was shipped to England or New England where it would be turned into cloth.
During this boom of the production of cotton, tobacco lost some of its value, rice pretty much stayed the same. However, like many inventors, Whitney could not have predicted the ways in which his invention intended for good made things a lot worst. The biggest impact that of these was the exponential growth of slavery. While it was true that the cotton gin reduced the labor of removing seeds, it did not reduce the need for slaves to grow and pick the cotton.
In fact, the opposite occurred. Cotton growing became so profitable for the planters that it greatly increased their demand for both land and slave labor. The cotton gin, slaves now labored on ever-larger plantations where work was more regimented and relentless. As large plantations spread into the west, the price of slaves and land inhibited the growth of cities and industries. In the 1850s seven-eighths of all immigrants settled in the North, where they found 72% of the nation’s manufacturing capacity. The growth of the peculiar institution was affecting many aspects of Southern life.