I am a graduate student creating a webpage lesson for an imaginary fourth grade class.
The title of this lesson is "COTTON." This lesson is part of a unit on the Civil War.

BRIEF HISTORY OF
COTTON IN THE U.S.

Do you know what most of our clothes, sheets, and even salad dressings are made from? It’s cotton!

Cotton is the most important and widely used fiber in the world.
It is a plant that can grow in the wild or in fields.
People have been using cotton to make their clothes for several thousand years.
It is believed that India was the first to cultivate cotton as early as 1500 B.C.
People in the Nile Valley of Egypt and Peru also used cotton many years ago.            

So when was cotton first discovered in the Americas?

It was seen being used by the American Indians in the early 1500s by the explorers of the Coronado expedition.
Despite this, the cotton industry came to America in 1607 when the colonists planted the first cotton seed along the James River in Virginia.
In 1790, an English mill worker named Samuel Slater came to America and built the first cotton mill completely from memory of what he had worked with in England.
Eli Whitney created the first cotton gin which changed the cotton industry forever.
Until this invention, all the cotton seeds had to be removed by hand.
Thanks to Whitney’s cotton gin, workers could go from producing 1 lb. to 50 lb. per day.

Another limitation on the cotton industry was that it originally had to be harvested by hand.
A skilled worker could pick 450 lbs. of cotton seed (cotton removed from the plant with seeds still in it) by hand in one day.
In 1871, a stripper was invented that could strip the cotton from the plant.
In the 1930s, the Rust Brothers from Mississippi created a cotton picker
(which used revolving spindles or barbed points to grab and pull the cotton from the open boll).
Their machine could pick 8,000 lbs of seed cotton per day which greatly improved the cotton industry!

SO WHAT DOES COTTON HAVE TO DO WITH SLAVERY IN THE U.S.?

Go to page 2 to find out...

Title page

Related links


http://rpsec.usca.edu/Classwork/731sp2008/Lesson/Duren/DurenLessonP1.html (March, 2008)


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