The Cotton Gin's Effect on the Cotton IndustryThe cotton gin did not make Eli Whitney rich despite being an important invention in history that transformed the textile industry and created enormous wealth. Eight years before Eli Whitney's invention, eight bales of cotton exported to England, were seized on the ground that so large a quantity of cotton could not have been produced in the United States. The year before the cotton gin was invented the United States exported less than one hundred and forty thousand pounds of cotton; the year after it, nearly half a million pounds; the next year over a million and a half; a year later still, over six million; by 1800, nearly eighteen million pounds a year. And by 1845 the United States was producing producing seven-eighths of the world's cotton.
Patent InfringementThough Miller was dead, Eli Whitney carried on the fight for his rights in Georgia. His difficulties were increased by a patent which the Government at Philadelphia issued in May, 1796, to Hogden Holmes, a mechanic of Augusta, for an improvement in the cotton gin. The Holmes machines were soon in common use, and it was against the users of these that many of the suits for infringement were brought. Suit after suit ran its course in the Georgia courts, without a single decision in the inventor's favor. At length, however, in December, 1806, the validity of Whitney's patent was finally determined by decision of the United States Circuit Court in Georgia. Eli Whitney asked for a perpetual injunction against the Holmes machine, and the court, finding that his invention was basic, granted him all that he asked.
By this time, however, the life of the patent had nearly run its course. Eli Whitney applied to Congress for a renewal, but, in spite of all his arguments and a favorable committee report, the opposition from the cotton States proved too strong, and his application was denied. Eli Whitney now had other interests. He was a great manufacturer of firearms