MonWe,Dream on Monday, Story from History — The Cotton Gin

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on June 7, 2014 0 Comments

“Eli! Eli, come on, there’s some guy out here that wants to look at your new invention.”

“Huh?” Eli rolled over and tried to wake up. He finally managed to mutter, “What guy? What invention?”

“Eli, come on, your cotton gin. There’s some guy from New York that wants to see it in operation. Come on, get up. I’ll stall him until you’re dressed.” With that Enoch walked out of the room, slamming the door.

“Oh,” Eli Whitney moaned, “I shouldn’t have worked so long on that thing.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed, slowly pulled on his shirt, and then grabbed his overalls.

He tried to stand up and found that the room was moving back and forth. “Oh, I’ve really got to stop drinking that stuff.” He pulled a chair over next to the bed and, using that, he pulled himself upright. He stood there a few seconds before swinging his overalls down onto the floor and aiming his left foot at them.

He shoved and missed, falling back onto the bed. “Oh, I’m not going to be able to do this,” he muttered. Lying on his back, he managed to force first one leg and then the other down into his overalls. With that much effort expended, he lay there for a while, dreaming about going back to sleep.

He heard some noise from the other side of the door and thought, Oh, yes, the cotton gin, I have to get someone interested in that. I have to get up. He pulled himself upright, fought with the room moving back and forth, and finally grabbed the chair and pulled himself onto his feet, once again. He stood there a moment and, with the room settling down to just an occasional shudder, he pushed his feet into his boots and, without lacing them up, he walked out into the living room.

A large, florid-faced man, walked forward, holding out his hand. “Ah, Mr. Whitney, I want to thank you for agreeing to see me.

Eli looked at Enoch who immediately started studying the cracks in the nearest wall. “Uh, thank you, sir, uh… Who are you?”

The man laughed, pulled out a large cigar, went through the process of clipping one end, and then lighting it. “Mr. Whitney, I own a distillery in New York. Enoch has shown me the basics of your process, but I can guarantee that, if the machine works as he says, we’ll have the best gin in the world by 1800.”

Eli shook his head and grabbed a stone crock from the table. Using a ladle, he scooped out a considerable amount of the clear fluid and gulped it down. “Look,” he finally said, “my machine is supposed to be used to separate the cotton from the seeds. I don’t know anything about this distilling thing.”

The man laughed, looked at Enoch, who laughed, and then said, “Oh, of course, you’re helping develop the cotton market.” He sucked on his cigar and looked around as if someone might be listening. “But, this process you developed makes the best gin anyone has ever tasted. Just think about it. Within two years we’ll be selling Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin around the world.” He sucked on his cigar again, blew a long stream of bluish smoke toward the ceiling and said, “What do you think?”

History tells us the answer. The entire cotton crop from the South was turned into gin. No clothes were ever made from cotton and the entire southern part of the U.S. was drunk for two hundred years.

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