By the mid nineteenth century, the south had developed into an aristocracy, with wealthy plantation owners at the top of the social ladder.
To that end, Whitney left his home in Massachusetts to take a tutoring position on a Georgia plantation.
Whitney found himself in the midst of an active agricultural economy.
The cotton gin brought Southerners unprecedented prosperity.
With the ability to process cotton at a faster rate, southern plantation owners needed to increase their labor force.
An excess of poor whites and slaves lived in the south, while a few wealthy plantation owners monopolized the industry.
At a time when democracy was being celebrated, the majority of the south was under the control of a minority of prosperous plantation owners.
Already prosperous southern plantation owners grew even wealthier with the bounties brought by Whitney’s cotton gin.
Ironically, Whitney had hoped his invention would reduce the need for slave labor, but its effect was just the opposite.
The slaves required to operate the cotton gins could get sick or injured in great numbers, rendering plantation owners unable to harvest the crops growing on their land.
The cotton-based economy also promoted a decidedly unequal socio-economic structure.