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Eli Whitney (1765-1825) was an American inventor. He is most famous for two innovations which later divided the United States in the mid-19th century: the cotton gin (1793) and his advocacy of interchangeable parts which he championed for years as a maker of muskets. In the South, the cotton gin revolutionized the way cotton was harvested and reinvigorated slavery. In the North the adoption of interchangeable parts revolutionized the manufacturing industry, and contributed greatly to their victory in the Civil War. Whitney lost many profits in legal battles over patent infringement for the cotton gin so he turned his attention into securing contracts with the government to manufacture muskets for the newly formed continental army.
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