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afraid of the cotton. Not a purchaser in Savannah will pay a full price for it. Even the merchants with whom I have made a contract for purchasing begin to part with their money reluctantly." Not only policy, but the very existence of their enterprize, dictated to Whitney to repair immediately to England for the purpose of disabusing the minds of the manufacturers on this prejudice against ginned cotton. Yet so straitened were their finances at this period, that neither Whitney nor his partner appear to have retained sufficient credit to borrow the sum of money necessary to defray the expenses of the journey. His anxiety to visit England was so great, that he was five or six times on the point of departure during the year 1796, but was as frequently deterred by disappointments in obtaining the requisite means, and was finally obliged to abandon the journey altogether. As the hopes of accomplishing this undertaking diminished, his partner writes to him from Georgia : “In the event of this failure, I can only take to myself the one half the blame which may attach itself to our misplaced confidence in the public opinion. I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in supposing that an egregious error, and a general deception, with regard to the quality of our cotton, could not long continue to influence the whole of the manufacturing, the mercantile, and the planting interests, against us. But the reverse of this fact, allowing the staple of our cotton to be uninjured, has, to our sorrow, proved true, and I have long apprehended that our ruin would be the inevitable consequence.” [Silliman's Journal.]
The letter from which this extract is made, bears date in the spring of 1797, at which period they appear to have had no less than twenty-eight gins, calculated for horse and water power, lying idle for want of employment, in the State of Georgia. The only hope of restoring the value of this property, upon which had been expended many thousand dollars more than either Whitney or his partner was worth, was in reviving the lost confidence in the cotton ginned by them. So long as the article continued unmarketable the planters hesitated to make use of the machine, and the merchants to purchase it. The hope indulged in Mr. Miller's letter, that this error would not long influence the whole of the manufacturing interest against them, at last began to be realized. A reaction, as gratifying as it was sudden, now set decidedly in favor of the cotton cleaned by the gin, and the merchants, who had but a short time previous looked with suspiciou upon the article, eagerly sought it out as most desirable for the manufacturers' purposes. Their gins were again restored to partial employment, and fortune, which had so long withheld its favors, seemed at last about to dawn upon their hopes in cloudless brilliancy.
But here, too, as at every previous step of their progress, they were doomed to encounter bitter disappointments. The difficulties in procuring the gins in the first instance, and the tide of opposition which had set in against them in the second, encouraged a large number of unprincipled persons to attempt a violation of their patent, on the most flimsy pretences. They tlierefore found the employment of their gins interfered with by those who had set up the trade without legal authority, and were compelled to institute a series of harrassing and interminable lawsuits against the infringers of the patent, to protect themselves. The
first of these trials, to the surprise not only of the plaintiff, but the defendant, was given against Whitney's patent. The popular opinion seemed to be with them, and the judge charged the jury to bring in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, yet after an hour's consultation they rendered a verdict against the instructions of the court, on the ground that the violation of the law consisted in the several items of " making, de vising, and using, or selling,” while their charge consisted in 6 using” alone. The failure of this suit increased the encouragement to disregard the patent, and in a short time the whole cotton-growing portions of Georgia and South Carolina, became flooded with surreptitious gins to such an extent as not only to preclude the use, but even to prevent the sale of the original gin.
The next step taken by Whitney was, to appeal to the legislature of South Carolina to purchase his patent for the state, to which measure he had been urged by a number of influential citizens, for one hundred thousand dollars. The result of this appeal may be learned from a letter addressed by him to a friend on the subject, immediately after the adjournment of the session of the legislature which acted on the subject:
“ COLUMBIA, South CAROLINA, Dec. 20, 1801. " Dear Stebbins,
“I have been at this place a little more than two weeks, attending the legislatoro. They closed their session at 10 o'clock last evening. A few hours previous to their adjournment, they voted to purchase, for the State of South Carolina, my patent right to the machine for cleaning cotton, at fifty thousand dollars, of which sum, twenty thousand is to be paid in hand, and the remainder in three annual payments, of ten thousand dollars each.
“ This is selling the right at a great sacrifice. If a regular course of law had been pursned, froin iwo to three hundred thousand dollars would undoubtedly have been recovered. The nse of the machine here is amazingly extensive, and the value of it beyond all calculation. It may, without exigyeration, be said to have raised the value of seven-eighths of all the three Southern States from fifty to one hun. dred per cent. We get but a song for it in comparison with the worth of the thing; but it is securing something. It will enable Miller & Whitney to pay all their debis, and divide something between them. It establishes a precedent which will be valuable as it respects our collections in other States, and I think there is now a fair prospect that I shall in the event realize property enough to render mo comfortable, and in some measure independent.
• Though my stay here has been short, I have become acquainted with a considerable part of the members of the legislature, and of the most distinguished characters in the State. My old classmate, H. D. W., is one of the Senate. He ranks among the first of his age in point of talents and respectability. He has shown me much polite attention, as have also many others of the citizens." Truly your friend,
Eli Whitner. J. Stebbins, Esq.
The States of North Carolina and Tennessee, each of which had now directed their attention to the culture of cotton, seemed to be willing to award him a meed of justice, and after numerous public meetings in both of these States, at one of which the late president, Andrew Jackson, presided, the subject was formally brought before both legislatures. The legislature of North Carolina laid a tax of two shillings and six pence on every saw used in ginning cotton, for five years to be collected by the State and to be paid to Whitney. The tax levied by the State of Tennessee was thirty-seven and a half cents on every saw used in the State,
to be continued for four years, and collected as in the State of North Carolina.
Thus after so many years of toil and disappointment, in which thousands of individuals had become enriched through the medium of his invention, the projector seemed on the eve of realizing some substantial compensation for his labors, and reward for his genius. But here too, the sparkling cup of prosperity was presented to his parched lips, to be snatched away erehe could quaffits vivifying draught. The State of South Carolina not only suspended the payment of the sums yet due under its former law, but directed that a suit should be instituted against Whitney and his partner, for the recovery of the money already paid to them. The grounds of this second law, were first, that it was a matter of doubt whether the gin of Whitney was an original invention, and second his failure to comply with the law furnishing within a specified time two model machines to the State. This second law was subsequently repealed, and full justice was awarded to him by the State, but the blow which this act of the legislature inflicted upon him was severely felt. The States of North Carolina and Tennessee, on witnessing the action of South Carolina, wavered in their course, and failed to collect with regularity the tax imposed by their legislatures. In addition to this, the suits, of which some hundred were instituted, were seriously affected, and required greater exertions and a more than reasonable amount of proof to sustain them.
We do not intend to follow Mr. Whitney through his numerous and never ending law suits, but will content ourselves with giving the opinion of Judge Johnson, which has been frequently quoted, as setting forth clearly and concisely the facts of the case, and which with equal force apply to all the others. The case in which this opinion was delivered was that of Whitney vs. Fort, tried in Savannal', in December, 1807, asking for an injunction.
“ The complainants, in this case, are proprietors of the machine called the saw gin. The use of which, is to detach the short staple cotton from its seed.
“ The defendant, in violation of their patent right, has constructed, and continues to use this machine; and the object of this suit is to obtain a perpetual injunction to prevent a continuance of this infraction of complainant's right.
" Detendant admits most of the facts in the bill set forth, but contends that the compla wants are not entitled to the benefits of the act of Congress on this subject, becaus
Ist. The invention is not original. 2d. Is not useful.
3d. That the machine which he uses is materially different from their invention, in the application of an improvement, the invention of another person.
“The court will proceed to make a few remarks upon the several points as they have been presented to their view: whether the defendant was now at liberty to set up this delence whilst the patent right of complainants remains unrepealed, has not been made a question, and they will therefore not consider it.
“To support the originality of the invention, the complainants have produced a variety of depositions of' witnesses, examined under commission, whose examination expressly proves the origin, progress and completion of the machine by Whitney, one of the copartners. Persons who were made privy to his first discovery, lestily to the several experiments which he made in their presence before he ventured to expose bis invention to the scrutiny of the public eye. But it is not necessary to resort lo such testimony to maintain this point. The jealousy of the artist to maintain that reputation which his ingenuity has justly acquired, bas urged him to unnecessary
pains on this subject. There are circumstances in the knowledge of all mankird which provo the originality of this invention more satisfactorily to the mind, than ile direct testiinony of a host of witnessess. The cotton plant furnished clothing to mankind before the age of Herodotus. The green seed is a species much more productive than the black, and by nature adapted to a much greater variety of climate. But by reason of the strong adherence of the fibre to the seed, without the aid of soine more powerful machine for separating it, than any formerly known among 108, the cultivation of it would never have been made an object. The machine of which Mr. Whitney clains the invention, so facilitates the preparation of this species for use, that the cultivation of it has suddenly become an onject of infinitely greater national importance than that of the other species ever can be. Is it then to be imagined that if this machine had been before discovered, the use of it would ever have been lost, or could have been contines to any tract or country left unexplored by commercial enterprize? but it is no necessary to remark further upon this subject. A number of years have elapsed since Mr Whitney took out his patent, and no one has produced or pretended to prove the existence of a machine of similar construction
“ 2d. With regard to the utility of this discovery, the court would deem it a waste of time to dwell long upon this topic. Is there a man who hears us, who has not experienced its utility? the whole interior of the Southern States was languisling, and its inhabitants emigrating for want of some object to engage their attention, and employ their industry, when the invention of this machine at once opened views to the n which set the whole country in active motion. From childhood to age it has presented to us a lucrative employınent. Individuals who were depressed with poverty and sunk in idleness, have suddenly risen to wealth and respectability. Our debts have been paid off. Our capitals have increased, and our lands trebled themselves in value. We can not express the weight of the obligation which the country owes to this invention. The extent of it cannot now be seen. Some faint presentinient may be formed from the reflection that cotton is rapidly supplanting wool, fax, silk, and even furs in manufactures, and may one day profitably supply the use of specie in our East ludia trade. Our sister States, also, participate in the benefits of this invention; fur, besides affording the raw material for their manufacturers, the bulkıness and quantity of the article afford a valuable employment for their shipping.
" 3d. The third and last ground taken by defendant, appears to be that on which he mostly relies. In the specification, the teeth inade use of are of strong wire inserted into the cylinder. A Mr. Holines has cut teeth in plates of iron, and passed them over the cylinder. This is certainly a meritorious jinprovement in the mechanical process of constructing this inachine. But at last what does it amount to, except a more convenient inode of inuking the saine thiny. Every characteristic of Mr. Whitney's machine is preserved. The cylinder, the iron tooth, the rotary mo. tion of the touch, the breast work and brush, and all the insilthautilus discovery can assume, is that of a more expeditious mode of attaching the tooth to the cylinder. Af ter being attached, in operation and effect they are entirely the same. Mr. Whitney may not be at liberty to use Mr. Holines' iron plate. But certainly Mr. Holmes'impruve nent does not destroy Mr. Wmitney's patent right. Let the decree for a perpetual injunction be entered.”
One of the peculiar characteristics of Whitney's mind was a remarkable perseverance in his undertakings, and this characteristic was never more fully developed than in conducting the law suits necessary to șecure his patent from innovation. Those who were best acqnuainted with him at this period, had frequent occasion to remark, this indomitable perseverance under circumstances which seemed about to cruslı for ever
Ilaving thus given a history of the cotton gin, and the dificulties which beset the pathw.y of its inventor, during the time he was occupied in attempting to bring it into use, we will now proceed to examine some of the statistics of the cotton tra le in order to ascertain the real value which this machine bears to this most important branch of American industry.
The cotton crop grown in
production in the U. States. 1790. 490
$3.500.000 1800. 520 48
80,000.000 1810. 555 80
1731,000.000 From this table, which is based upon the statements of Mr. Woodbury and the Commissioner of Patents, it will be seen that up to the commencement of the present century the cul:ivation of cotton was far from an important business in the United States, and we have already shown that the value of its culture depended exclusively on the success of some means by which the seed could be easily separated from the filaments of cotton. No sooner, therefore, was it ascertained that Whitney's gin could accomplish this end, than the whole Southern States turned their atiention to its culture, and it has gone on steadily increasing until the United States at the present day furnish the larger proportion of cotton consumed in the manufactories of the entire world. Previous to 1790, the United States furnished no cotton to the English manufacturers. During the last year the exports to England amounted to 338 millions pounds, of which 333 millions pounds were the upland growth, whose culture was immediately connected with Whitney's gin.
In England the amount of capital employed in the manufacture of cotton, is estimated to exceed £34,000.000. From the census returns for 1810, we learn that the number of spindles in operation in the U. States are 2,281,631, employing immediately 72,119 persons, having a capital of $51,102.395, and annually producing fabrics valued at $46,350.453.
These statistics demonstrate the immense value of the cotton interest to this country, not only as furnishing a staple which will readily be taken in exchange for the products of the world, but likewise as a means of employing thousands of individuals piofitably in its manufacture. How much of the prosperity which has flowed in upon this country through the agency of its cotton trade, is due to the inventor of the cotton gin, can now hardly be estimated. No one will pretend to deny that without the exhibition of the mechanical genius of Arkwright, Hargreaves, Cartwright, and Watt, England would never have attained her present proud position as a manufacturing nation, and it may not be too much to say that if the genius which called forth the cotton gin had been permitted to slumber, our Southern States would at the present day have been engaged in the culture of rice and tobacio, and we should have still looked to Brazil and the East Indies for cotton, as we now do to China for tea.
“ Without a vastly increased supply of the raw material at a lower price than it had formerly bronght, the inventions of Hargreaves, Arkwright, and Watt, would have been of comparatively little value. Luckily however, what they did for the manufacturers, Mr. Eli Whitney did for the coilon growers. This astonishing person, a na