Lesson details


Social Studies


The American Civil War


Social, Economic, and Political Effects of the War

Recommended Technology: 

None needed, but may assist with the lesson progression.

Other instructional materials or notes: 

Lesson 1
• Projection device
• Copies of Eli Whitney’s Obituary
• Copies of a student-friendly version of Eli Whitney’s Obituary
• Document Analysis Sheets and Transparency/Projection
• “How Did Eli Whitney Change the South?”  Chart

Lesson 2
• Cotton
• Cotton Gin
• Charts of Cotton Sales and Slave Populations
• Cause and Effect Chart

The Impact of the Cotton Gin

2-3 hours
Lesson type: 
Traditional Lesson
Lesson overview: 

Around the world, people wear cotton clothing, and they have done so for thousands of years. However, cotton did not gain popularity in England until the 15th century, due to the prominence of wool in England.  However, by the late 1700’s, cotton imports to England began to steadily increase.  In 1783, England imported 9,000,000 pounds of cotton.  In 1790, English cotton imports rose to 28,000,000 pounds.  In 1812, English imported 63,000,000 pounds of cotton.  In 1825, England imported 228,000,000 pounds of cotton! (Mirsky and Nevins 1952, 91). Students will examine charts of cotton sales and discover how the cotton production changed and cotton production increased. Finally they will examine if improvements in technology are always good for everyone and discuss what positive and negative results may have resulted from the invention of the cotton gin.


Essential Question: 

Are improvements in technology good for everyone?

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