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Enslaved By Eve Bale

Founded by the Dutch as New Amsterdam in 1625, what would become the City of New York first imported 11 African men in 1626. The Dutch West India Company owned these men and their families, directing their labors to common enterprises like land clearing and road construction. After the English Duke of York acquired authority over the colony and changed its name, slavery grew harsher and more comprehensive. As the historian Leslie Harris has written, 40 percent of New York households held enslaved people in the early 1700s.

Enslaved by Eve Bale

Katherine Franke makes a powerful case for reparations for Black Americans by amplifying the stories of formerly enslaved people and calling for repair of the damage caused by the legacy of American slavery.

Most New Yorkers did not care that the cotton was produced by enslaved people because for them it became sanitized once it left the plantation. New Yorkers even dominated a booming slave trade in the 1850s. Although the importation of enslaved Africans into the United States had been prohibited in 1808, the temptation of the astronomical profits of the international slave trade was too strong for many New Yorkers. New York investors financed New York-based slave ships that sailed to West Africa to pick up African captives that were then sold in Cuba and Brazil.

Whitney's gin used a combination of a wire screen and small wire hooks to pull the cotton through, while brushes continuously removed the loose cotton lint to prevent jams. It revolutionized the cotton industry in the United States, but also inadvertently led to the growth of slavery in the American South. Whitney's gin made cotton farming more profitable, so plantation owners expanded their plantations and used more enslaved people to pick cotton. Whitney never invented the machine to harvest cotton: it still had to be picked by hand. The invention has thus been identified as an inadvertent contributing factor to the outbreak of the American Civil War.[4] Modern automated cotton gins use multiple powered cleaning cylinders and saws, and offer far higher productivity than their hand-powered precursors.[5]

The seed is reused for planting or is sent to an oil mill to be further processed into cottonseed oil and cottonseed meal. The lint cleaners again use saws and grid bars, this time to separate immature seeds and any remaining foreign matter from the fibers. The bale press then compresses the cotton into bales for storage and shipping. Modern gins can process up to 15 tonnes (33,000 lb) of cotton per hour.

For a decade and a half after the end of the Civil War in 1865, a number of innovative features became widely used for ginning in the United States. They included steam power instead of animal power, an automatic feeder to assure that the gin stand ran smoothly, a condenser to make the clean cotton coming out of the gin easier to handle, and indoor presses so that cotton no longer had to be carried across the gin yard to be baled.[23] Then, in 1879, while he was running his father's gin in Rutersville, Texas, Robert S. Munger invented additional system ginning techniques. Robert and his wife, Mary Collett, later moved to Mexia, Texas, built a system gin, and obtained related patents.[24]

The invention of the cotton gin caused massive growth in the production of cotton in the United States, concentrated mostly in the South. Cotton production expanded from 750,000 bales in 1830 to 2.85 million bales in 1850. As a result, the region became even more dependent on plantations that used black enslaved labor, with plantation agriculture becoming the largest sector of its economy.[31] While it took a single laborer about ten hours to separate a single pound of fiber from the seeds, a team of two or three enslaved people using a cotton gin could produce around fifty pounds of cotton in just one day.[32] The number of enslaved people rose in concert with the increase in cotton production, increasing from around 700,000 in 1790 to around 3.2 million in 1850.[33] The invention of the cotton gin led to increased demands for enslaved labor in the American South, reversing the economic decline that had occurred in the region during the late 18th century.[34] The cotton gin thus "transformed cotton as a crop and the American South into the globe's first agricultural powerhouse".[35]

In modern cotton production, cotton arrives at industrial cotton gins either in trailers, in compressed rectangular "modules" weighing up to 10 metric tons each or in polyethylene wrapped round modules similar to a bale of hay produced during the picking process by the most recent generation of cotton pickers. Trailer cotton (i.e. cotton not compressed into modules) arriving at the gin is sucked in via a pipe, approximately 16 inches (41 cm) in diameter, that is swung over the cotton. This pipe is usually manually operated, but is increasingly automated in modern cotton plants. The need for trailers to haul the product to the gin has been drastically reduced since the introduction of modules. If the cotton is shipped in modules, the module feeder breaks the modules apart using spiked rollers and extracts the largest pieces of foreign material from the cotton. The module feeder's loose cotton is then sucked into the same starting point as the trailer cotton.

The gin stand uses the teeth of rotating saws to pull the cotton through a series of "ginning ribs", which pull the fibers from the seeds which are too large to pass through the ribs. The cleaned seed is then removed from the gin via an auger conveyor system. The seed is reused for planting or is sent to an oil mill to be further processed into cottonseed oil and cottonseed meal. The lint cleaners again use saws and grid bars, this time to separate immature seeds and any remaining foreign matter from the fibers. The bale press then compresses the cotton into bales for storage and shipping. Modern gins can process up to 15 tonnes (33,000 lb) of cotton per hour.[38]

During the majority of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, cotton was primarily imported to the Northern colonies from the plantations that dotted coastal Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo in South America. In 1750 most Africans and African Americans slaving in North America labored in the dirt of the tobacco and rice plantations of South Carolina and Virginia. Yet by the mid-nineteenth century, cotton production was synonymous with slavery in the United States. By 1865 cotton plantations dominated the landscape both geographically and socially from the lowlands east of the Appalachians, south of the Ohio River, and all the way west to Texas. The use of plantation slavery to cultivate the textile crop not only redefined what it meant to be enslaved in North America, but also dramatically altered what it meant to be an American in the nineteenth century.

Slaves new to cotton production survived by learning the new work regime from their fellow slaves. Owners of large plantations invested in technologies that improved harvesting and finishing of cotton. Masters and drivers allocated tasks based on experience, age, and gender. Unlike slaves on farms, blacks slaving on plantations were assigned specialized tasks that included masonry, blacksmithing, and woodworking. The social division between "domestic" and "field" slaves was greater on large plantations. On the smallest farms, slaves and masters sometimes ate in the same room. On plantations, domestic slaves were expected to remain hidden from public view, use separate entranceways, and sleep in quarters apart from their counterparts in the field. Domestic slaves, often women, raised their master's children, mended clothing, and fixed meals. Sexual exploitation was common. During harvest season, when the need for "field hands" was the greatest, masters did not hesitate to send their "house slaves" into the field. Slaves began to bale cotton toward the end of the harvest season. In the east, slaves might finish the process by December, but in the western states harvesting and baling often extended into March or April. Masters sometimes gave the slaves a few days off during Christmastime. However, even as the harvest season came to a close, slaves began working the fields and preparing for the next year of production. Like tobacco, slaves planted cotton in rows or in linear mounds. Yet masters assigned work according to the task method. Slaves used plows and hoes to turn the soil in the early months of the new year. They removed the old and dead stalks and fertilized the rows with ginned seed or guano, which was imported from South America. Other slaves were ordered to mend the fences or plant corn and wheat in March. In April, black laborers planted the seed by tilling it into the rows of soil. Within three weeks, as the young plants began to sprout, field hands thinned the plants and arranged the plants to grow at intervals of twelve to eighteen inches apart. By midsummer, the plants were left to bloom. Meanwhile, slaves began to harvest the corn and prepare the gin house and bale press for the harvest season.

Cotton plantations exhibited features of industrial production and agricultural labor. On the short-staple cotton plantations of the interior, slaves worked in the gin house and the bailing press. Gin houses were typically weatherboard structures, raised about eight feet from the ground. Slaves carted seed cotton from the field to the front of the gin house, where it was weighed and stacked until it could be fed into the gin. Gin rollers separated the seed from the cotton bolls. The seedless lint gathered at the other end of the gin house, where slaves packed into baskets or sacks. They then hauled the sacks to the press, which was used to pack the finished cotton into round or square bales. Slaves carried the ginned cotton to the top of a stepped structure and dumped it into the bale. Mules or horses attached to a long poll moved in a circular motion around the press, which wound the pinion and compacted the lint to the bottom of the bale. They were sealed and set aside until they were ready to be sent to nearest town or port. The average weight of a bale varied from 250 to 500 pounds, depending on the size and quality of the press. 041b061a72

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