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Slaves using cotton gin machine. Historical artwork of slaves in the USA using the first cotton gin. The cotton gin was invented in 1793 by the US inventor Eli Whitney (1765-1825). It was a device that stripped cotton fibre from the plant's seeds. The gin was a huge success, increasing a worker's output by fifty times. This is a wood engraving, created by William Ludwell Sheppard, a US artist who became famous for his Civil War portraits. Slavery was one of the issues over which the American Civil War (1861-1865) was fought.
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