Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793 and received a patent for it on March 14, 1794. The cotton gin was invented to make the process of removing cotton fibers from their seeds. While there were numerous hand held types of gins used in other countries, Whitney's invention was the first mechanical gin.
The cotton gin that Whitney invented was able to clean 50 pounds of material per day. The device turned cotton, which had been a labor intensive crop, into a high profit crop with much less effort. It is argued that this invention was a driving factor in the increase in the number of slaves and plantations in the South, which eventually was one of the many contributing factors of the Civil War.