I’m David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance.
Last time I offered some thoughts on the craft age. Today, I want to start talking about how we ended up mastering mass manufacturing.
As I mentioned last time, shifting population patterns, from rural setting to urban settings increased demand for manufactured goods. Textiles were in high demand since everyone still needed clothing, so the first industrial revolution really begins with inventions to increase the productivity of spinning yarn and weaving material.
In England, the Spinning Jenny was invented in 1764 followed in 1769 by the Water Frame, the first fully automatic and continuously operating spinning machine. The water frame was large and required a water wheel driven by a running stream. These were the first factories, since before now, most spinning wheels were in individual homes.
All this automation boosted the demand for cotton, creating a market for cotton grown in the US. There are a couple of strains of cotton that grew in the south. There was a black-seeded long-staple variety that grew well in coastal areas and a green-seeded short-staple that grew well in the interior areas of the south.
The long-staple variety was relatively easy to brush out, but the short-staple was very labor intensive. The economics of cotton made owning slaves not only morally repugnant, but also unaffordable, so in the mid 1700s, slavery was actually declining in the US.
That changed in 1793. That’s when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. This was a machine that was so simple to make and to operate that it changed the economics of the south and perpetuated slavery for another 70 years.
While Whitney patented the cotton gin in 1794, he was unable to profit from it because planters would just copy the design and build their own rather than pay the license fees he was asking. When he was unable to successfully sue the planters, he sued the states and was able to win and receive payments from South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about what happened next for Eli Whitney.
I have partnered with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky and Hiitide and we’re doing a book review online of his book “The Blind Spots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Bias & Build Better Relationships”. It begins on February 1st.
Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow