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Eli Whitney

Eli Whitney

Engineer Eli Whitney died 35 years before the Civil War, but his most famous invention, the cotton gin, set the economic stage for war. Whitney's gin made cotton production far more efficient, fueling the need for more Southern slaves and enriching powerful planters. Another Whitney invention--muskets with interchangeable components--inaugurated manufacturing systems for producing uniform parts, without which the U.S. economy might never have produced enough weapons to fight such a lengthy war.

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