Eli Whitney Patent
As Eli Whitney left New England and headed South in 1792. Seven months later, Eli Whitney Patent for a machine made a profound contribution that would alter the course of American history. He left his native Massachusetts after graduation to assume the position of private tutor on a plantation in Georgia.
There Whitney learned that Southern planters desperately need a way to make the growing of cotton profitable. Long-staple cotton, which was easy to separate from its seeds, could be grown only along the coast. The one variety that grew inland had sticky green seeds that were time-consuming to pick out of the fluffy white cotton balls. Whitney was encouraged to find a solution to this problem by his employer, Catherine Greene. Whitney knew that if he could invent such a machine, he could apply to the federal government for Eli Whitney patent on his invention. If the Eli Whitney Patent is granted, he would have exclusive rights to his invention for 14 years (today it is 20 years), and he could earn profit from it.
Whitney tinkered throughout the winter and spring in a secret workshop provided by Catherine Greene. Within months he created the cotton gin. A small gin could be hand-cranked; larger versions could be harnessed to a horse or driven by water power.
When Eli Whitney patent was granted, Whitney and his business partner, Phineas Miller, opted to produce as many gins as possible, install them throughout Georgia and the South, and charge farmers a fee for doing the ginning for them. Their charge was two-fifths of the profit - paid to them in cotton itself.
Farmers throughout Georgia resented having to go to Whitney's gins where they had to pay what they regarded as an exorbitant tax. Instead planters began making their own versions of Whitney's gin and claiming they were "new" inventions. Miller brought costly suits against the owners of these pirated versions of Eli Whitney patent but because of a loophole in the wording of the 1793 patent act, they were unable to win any suits until 1800, when the law was changed.
Struggling to make a profit and full of legal battles, the partners finally agreed to license gins at a reasonable price. In 1802 South Carolina agreed to purchase Eli Whitney patent right for $50,000 but delayed in paying it. The partners also arranged to sell the Eli Whitney patent rights to North Carolina and Tennessee. By then, even the Georgia courts recognized the wrongs done to Whitney, only one year of his Eli Whitney patent remained. In 1808 and again in 1812 he humbly petitioned Congress for a renewal of Eli Whitney patent.