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The World's Debt to Our Pioneer Inventor

Condensed from Popular Science Monthly (July '26)

Robert E. Martin

the year 1792, at Mulberry Grove

lived the widow of Gen. Nathanael Greene of Revolutionary fame. Into her home she had welcomed a young man of 27 years who, having just graduated from Yale, found himself penniless in a strange city. The young man's ambition was to study law, but he was also a mechanic of uncommon skill. While he accepted the widow's kindnesses, and while he continued his studies, he repaired farm implements and devised ingenious playthings for the children of the house.

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To Mulberry Grove one day came three distinguished visitors, officers who had served under General Greene and who owned plantations. The conversation turned to the sorry plight of southern farmers. 66 'Tis a shame,' remarked one of the officers, "that we cannot make cotton growing pay. For one man to clean a single pound of cotton is a good day's work. A pity there is no mechanical device to do the task."

"Gentlemen," said Mrs. Greene, with sudden inspiration, "tell your needs to my young friend, Mr. Eli Whitney. He can make anything!" The studentmechanic was at his bench in a small workshop in the basement, The gen. tlemen explained the need for a machine to separate the seeds from cotton. Whitney stared in amazement. "Why," he exclaimed, "never have I seen cotton nor cotton seed in my life!"

But far into the night he pondered over the unusual request. From boyhood his delight had been to contrive new things with his hands. Perhaps here was his chance to finance his study of law. The next morning he set to work, examining the cotton fibers and pulling them away from the seeds with his fingers. As he did so

the idea of the machine grew in his mind.

A First of all, he needed wire. search of Savannah proved that not a scrap of it could be bought. WhitOn ney, however, was resourceful. the plantation he found a package of wire that had been intended for a bird cage. This he drew to the right thickness. Next, he needed tools. Those in his workshop were inadequate for his needs, so he fashioned new ones.

For eight months he labored, day after day, sharing his secret only with Mrs. Greene and with Phineas Miller, the plantation superintendent. Then, one afternoon, he called excitedly for "See!" them to come into his shop. he cried. "It does the work!" Before them was a small wooden box, about two feet high, fitted with a hand crank. Into an opening at the front Whitney began feeding a quantity of raw cotton, at the same time turning the crank. They saw the cotton pass between two parallel cylinders, one fitted with rows of sharp teeth made of wire, the other with a series of brushes. As the cylinders revolved, the teeth caught the cotton fibers and dragged them through a narrow grating, or grid, which exclud. ed the seeds.

Such was the world's first cotton gin-a machine destined to do the work of a thousand men, to open millions of acres of land to profitable cultivation, to revolutionize the dress of men and women everywhere, and to add millions of dollars in wealth to American industry and commerce.

Mrs. Greene was jubilant. Phineas Miller saw visions of speedy riches. Immediately he offered to Eli financial backing, and proposed a partnership. Quickly Mrs. Greene ordered the erection of a small building in which the

new wonder might be displayed. Then she invited influential friends to inspect the machine. They came-and they marveled. Here was a mechani. cal box that could clean more cotton in one day than a slave could clean by hand in many months. They saw, too, that this magic box would treble the value of their lands.


The news spread like Everywhere it aroused a desire to possess the secret of the strange machine. Men began to whisper, and to scheme. One midnight in June a band of black figures crept stealthily upon the plantation. A sudden wrenching of splintered boards broke the night stillness. A dog barked. The shadowy forms slunk away.

The next morning Eli hurried out to his work in high spirits. That day he was to add the finishing touches, and then he would apply for his patent. What he saw made his heart stand still. The cotton gin was gone! The secret was out. And he must begin again.

In the end, the audacious theft served as a challenge to Whitney's fighting spirit. With funds advanced by Phineas Miller, he hurried to New Haven, Conn., to get his patent and begin the manufacture of cotton gins, while Miller remained in Georgia to distribute them. From the outset the battle turned against him. Even be fore he could complete a new model and apply for a patent, a number of cotton gins, copied from his invention, were in profitable operation.

"The people here are running mad for cotton gins, and they care not who supplies them," wrote Miller from the South.

A year passed, and then, with the first machines from the shop he had established in New Haven, Whitney journeyed back to Georgia. To his utter amazement, he found that those who had robbed him were being accepted by a money-mad public as the legitimate operators of cotton gins, while he, the rightful inventor and owner, was regarded as an intruder. Everywhere juries turned against him. Intimidated witnesses refused to tes

tify in his behalf. The public laughed in his face. Weary, discouraged, he returned to the North. On the way he was shaken by fever. At New Haven, he was met with news of fresh disaster.

"Only yesterday your shop was destroyed by fire, and all your machines with it!"

"I have had enough," Whitney said. "I have sacrificed everything, and for my pains I have been treated as a swindler and a villain. I am bank. rupt; there is nothing left to me but debts."

It chanced, at this time, that Whitney heard of a project of the American government to manufacture its own firearms. imHeretofore muskets, ported from abroad, had been made one at a time by skilled experts. "It may require uncommon skill to make a complete musket," thought Whitney, "but certainly any mechanic of ordinary ability should be able to turn out part of a musket."

From that thought Whitney's active brain conceived the idea which not only carried him to financial independence, but which revolutionized manųfacturing processes throughout the world. Instead of making muskets one by one, he would turn them out in lots of hundreds, or thousands. He would design each part to a precise, standard pattern. Each of the several parts would pass through a succession of processes, and at each stage a workman would perform just one simple mechanical operation.

Presenting this plan, with the financial backing of friends in New Haven, Whitney obtained a contract from the government for 10,000 muskets. He built his factory near New Haven, and trained his workmen.

So, because of the genius who went bankrupt making "cotton king," we who are living today can afford the many common necessities and luxuries which are vital to modern life. For it was Whitney who conceived and apte plied for the first time the idea of No standardized interchangeable parts in manufacture, thereby revolutionizing the whole course of industrial enter prise.

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Dying Embers of Bigotry in America

Condensed from Current History (March '26)

George Barton

NTOLERANCE has always existed in one form or another in various parts of the United States. For the most part it has slumbered, but when it has broken out many persons have viewed it as the "beginning of bigotry." They are mistaken. Bigotry has manifested itself under various forms at various times. It has been said, not without some truth, that the Puritans came to this country in order that they might worship God in their own way, and to compel everybody else to do it in their way. Of the 13 original Colonies, Maryland was the only one that gave complete liberty of conscience. Bigotry was shown in the Know Nothing agitation, in the riots of 1844, when Catholic churches were burned down in Philadelphia, in the A. P. A. uprising and finally in the Ku Klux Klan of the present day. To each succeeding generation each of these movements has in turn seemed worse than anything which preceded it. Yet in truth they are becoming the burnt powder of intolerance.

This is not to say that the bigotry existing in the nation is not harmful, but it does mean that once it is brought out in the open it has little chance of lasting success. Chief Justice Taft in speaking of this once compared it with the heavy stone which, when lifted after many years, reveals a mass of wriggling worms and crawling insects. The moment the light strikes this mass of creeping things it may be seen scattering in every direction. So it is with bigotry in this country. It cannot stand the light of reason.

Everybody knows what happened to the Klan when it came into the open of its own accord in Detroit. Mayor Smith was marked for slaughter by the hooded organization. If they had wen there the Klansmen proposed to

extend their activities to the other large cities of the country. But they failed utterly. Mayor Smith declared that it was "a victory for tolerance led by Protestants." There was rejoicing among Catholics, Jews and Protestants over the fact that it was Protestants who made the victory possible. A leading member of the Masonic order said: "It was best that we Protestants should clean up our own mess. This means that it should stay cleaned. Cleaned by pressure of Catholic, Jewish and Negro votes it might not have stayed cleaned. Out of it all should come a greater feeling of tolerance than we have ever known before. We have the Klan to thank for that."

A striking illustration of the new tolerance in this country occurred only a few weeks ago at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in New York City. All creeds were represented at the big dinner given at the Hotel Astor. Bishop Manning of the Protestant Episcopal Church hailed the gathering as a sign of the passing of intolerance. Mgr. T. G. Carroll, the personal representative of Cardinal Hayes, said that the meeting emphasized the passing away of old religious prejudices. Other prominent men gave similar testimony. Not one of these men minimized his own faith. They all concurred in the necessity of religion while joining in the cry for the necessity of breaking down the spirit of narrow prejudice.

Only a month before this event prominent Jews and Protestants joined with Catholics in dedicating the new $200,000 club house of the Thomas Dongan Council of the Knights of Columbus in Brooklyn. Members of the Bay Ridge Masonic Club presented the Knights with a handsome silk

American flag for the use of their hours of the funeral the bells of the new home. Catholic Church were tolled.

The spirit was shown again in a notable gathering in Washington in December, 1925, when delegates from 26 different communions met for the purpose of considering how the churches might cooperate in bringing about world peace. The mere fact that men of so many different churches rubbed shoulders did much for the cause of toleration. It was not the first time that such a thing had happened, of course, but the prominence of the participants and the fact that it occurred at the Capital gave it unusual signifi


Sometimes very humble persons are the means of creating this spirit of good will and tolerance in communities. A case that comes to mind concerns a negro named John W. Underhill of May's Landing, N. J. He ran a general store there during his lifetime and when he died the people were amazed to learn that he had left a fortune of almost $100,000. Their amazement was increased when they discovered that his fortune had been left to the city for the purpose of providing a public playground and gymnasium for the children. He had set an example of service which was to shine like a beacon light before men. Little wonder that all denominations should have been represented at his public funeral and that addresses should have been made by the pastor of the Methodist Church, the rector of the Episcopal Church and the priest of the Catholic Church.

When fire destroyed the Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Shenandoah, Pa., the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church in that town donated $1000 toward a fund for the rebuilding of the edifice. When Father Francis FitzMaurice, rector of St. Joachim's Church in Frankford, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, was buried, his funeral was attended by all the ministers of the other denominations in that place. Again, when a Methodist minister was buried in Renova, Pa., the Mayor, who was a Catholic, ordered the flag on the City Hall to be placed at half mast, and during the

Bigotry in this country is constantly growing weaker. Thoughtful persons who carefully study the history of these manifestations of race and religious hatreds cannot but be impressed with the fact that though each succeeding fire starts fiercely it does not last as long as the preceding one.

During the candidacy of William Howard Taft for the Presidency there was a whispering campaign against him on the ground that he was a Unitarian and that his sister-in-law was a member of the Catholic Church. The people, nevertheless, having a sense of humor as well as a sense of decency, elected him. But after the election President Roosevelt, who had been his sponsor, poured the vials of his wrath upon those who sought to divide the American people upon religious grounds. He called attention

to the fact that in his Cabinet at that time there sat men who were of the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths, each one chosen because he was peculiarly fitted for the task that had been entrusted to him. He said: "I do not for one moment believe that the mass of our fellow-citizens, or any consider. able number of them, can be influenced by any such narrow bigotry as to refuse to vote for any upright and fit man because he happens to have a particular religious creed."

President Coolidge made a plea for tolerance in one of his recent speeches which caused a favorable reaction throughout the country. "Bigotry," he said, "is only another name for slavery. It reduces to serfdom not only those against whom it is directed, but also those who seek to apply it."

Viewed in a wide way we must conclude that the power of bigotry is waning in this country. There may be individual and sectional instances to the contrary, but generally speaking the candle of intolerance is spluttering in its socket, so far as the United States is concerned. I venture to predict that in a generation from now it will be practically unknown in the public life of the nation.


I Could Make This Country Bone-Dry

Condensed from the Cosmopolitan (August '26)
Pussyfoot Johnson

MERICA can be made bone-dryand in six months' time. With the power and the money, I would undertake to enforce the Volstead Act in 99 per cent of the country. And any man with ability, determination and "guts" could accomplish the same thing.

Twenty years ago I made the Indian Territory dry with only the shadow of a law to back me. I did the same throughout the whole Indian country. With a force of a couple of dozen men, I convicted in the courts more than 4400 offenders. I secured convictions, under wild frontier conditions, of 97 per cent of the cases that came to an issue.

I repeat that America can be made adequately dry. How would I do it?

First, I would deal drastically with judges addicted to the practise of "punishing" offenders against the dry laws with a $10 fine, even after repeated convictions. It is not infrequent that a judge will turn a prisoner loose with a suspended sentence A after the third or fourth offense. judge who will do that sort of thing ought to be in jail himself. There is no possible opening for the injection of "mitigating circumstances" in the case of a bootlegger. There is no reason why a deliberate offender should not receive the limit that the law allows. And when a judge turns such a man loose upon society with a trivial fine, he is simply inviting the offender to do it again. judge simply euts the heart out of the prohibition agent who tries to do his duty. The disposition of such judges is a matter of administration, wholly within the power of the President and the Department of Justice. If I were on the Prohibition Enforcement job I would raise such a fuss

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over this whole judicial scandal-over the judges who are making a laughing stock out of the law-that they would be forced to do their duty.

Second, I'd try to stop some of this silly and disheartening parole business. The only possible justification for inflicting a penalty upon an offender is the protection of society. Laws cannot make men moral. Punishment can only be justified as a deterrent. What society can do and must do is to regulate the behavior of individuals for the protection of society itself. When society lays down rules for its own protection, it must either enforce those rules or abdicate. The maudlin, feeble-minded sentiment that turns loose, by pardon or parole, tens of thousands of criminals every year to continue their depredations is as silly as it is ineffective. One need go no further in his studies of "crime waves" to find their cause.

Third, I would stop the criminal distribution of alcohol, denatured or otherwise, which can be done by purely administrative measures. The legitimate use of alcohol for industrial purposes can be safeguarded. It has been done and it can be done again.

Fourth, if necessary I would make full use of the army and navy. What are the army and navy for except to defend the institutions of this country? The government has always been ready to use its army for any federal emergency. In 1791, Congress passed an excise law on domestic spirits. Many small stills still existed in Western Pennsylvania. Virginia and North Carolina. The Pennsylvanians refused to pay the excise and attacked federal revenue officers. President Washington dispatched a large force of militia against the rebellious Pennsylvanians. The leaders

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