June 20, 1793:
Eli Whitney designed the cotton gin shortly after graduating from Yale College and immediately applied for a patent. The cotton gin automated the labor intensive removal of the sticky seeds from cotton. As a result, more and more cotton could be produced. By the early nineteenth century, it had become the most important U.S. export and the basis of the economy in the American South. Due to a loophole in the law, many imitations of the cotton gin were patented with the result that Whitney and his partner, Phineas Miller, never succeeded in making much money from manfacturing the cotton gin.