otton is one of the most important crops grown worldwide. What was once the land rich but dollar poor southern US and cotton are synonymous with each other, the crop itself originally imported from India. Despite the ease of growing cotton and the world demand for it, the labor intensive activity of separating the seed from the lint made it an expensive proposition until the creation of the cotton gin by inventor Eli Whitney in the late eighteenth century. Whitney was an unassuming schoolmaster when he created his deceptively simple but time and labor saving device, which revolutionized the cotton industry and led to great increases in the planting of cotton crops and production in the southern US. This increase had the unforeseen consequence of insufficient laborers to pick the cotton, which in turn led to an increase in the slave trade from West Africa, and the growing economic disparity between the rich cotton plantation owners and the poor slaves. The moral question of slavery became the issue surrounding the American Civil War, generally between the north and the south, the latter whose stance was that slaves were required to maintain the cotton industry. In the aftermath of the war, the cotton industry reinvented itself to remain a thriving industry for the area for which it is now so synonymous.

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