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On this day in 1765, Eli Whitney, Jr. (Wikipedia) was born in Westborough, Massachusetts. Whitney would go on, most famously, to invent the cotton gin, which revolutionized cotton production in the antebellum South. He eventually became the most famous early American proponent of interchangeable parts, and also invented one of the world’s first milling machines. Whitney died January 8, 1825, and is buried with many of his famous descendants in an historic cemetery in New Haven.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. dZed says:

    Come on, guys and gals! Did he REALLY invent the cotton gin?

    Or was it Tesla like everything else?

    Honestly, it’s very possible he didn’t.

    1. Simon says:

      Whitney or not, it was the invention of the cotton gin at just the right point in history that allowed slavery (which was dieing off) pick back and thus led to untold suffering and a bloody war. Actions have consequences…