Eli Whitney Jr.
Eli Whitney (December 8, 1765 – January 8, 1825) was an American inventor best known as the inventor of the cotton gin. This was one of the key inventions of the industrial revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South. Whitney's invention made short staple cotton into a profitable crop, which strengthened the economic foundation of slavery. Despite the social and economic impact of his invention, Whitney lost his profits in legal battles over patent infringement, closed his business, and nearly filed bankruptcy.
Benson John Lossing, ed. Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (vol. 10) (New York, NY: Harper and Brothers, 1912)
Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman