Eli Whitney

On September 17th 1798, Eli Whitney purchased the land around the museum. He sought its water rights. East Rock and Mill Rock form the first practical site north of New Haven to harness waterpower. There had been grain mills here for the first 150 years since New Haven’s founding. Whitney came here to build a factory.

Inventing Change

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Out of necessity, Whitney had a bold plan. New ways of producing things had taken root in Europe. Whitney would install new ways of producing things on this site.

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The Inventor

Engraving of Eli Whitney, by Samuel F.B. Morse, c. 1822 New Haven Colony Historical Society

More than any other one man, Eli Whitney shaped the opposing faces of both the North and South during the half-century following the Revolution.

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Arms Production

Eli Whitney's Armory C. 1825

Over the ninety years of the Whitney Armory's existence, much technological change took place both in metal and wood-working machinery and in metallurgical capabilities.

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The Factory

Engraving of the Eli Whitney Armory Site by Van Slyke, c. 1879

In 1798 Eli Whitney built a firearms factory near New Haven. The muskets his workmen made were the first to have standardized, interchangeable parts.

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The Family

Eli Whitney, Jr.

Eli Whitney, Jr. was the only son of Eli and Henrietta Edwards Whitney. Although his father died when he was only four years old, the younger Whitney grew up in an atmosphere pervaded with entrepreneurial energy.

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The Cotton Gin

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As Eli Whitney left New England and headed South in 1792, he had no idea that within the next seven months he would invent a machine that would profoundly alter the course of American history.

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Time Machine 1798

Eli Whitney's Factory was established in 1798.

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Memoir

Memoir

Read the full text of Memoir of Eli Whitney, Esq by Denison Olmstead, or download for your e-reader. First published in the American Journal of Science, 1832.

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Visit the Grave

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See a picture of Eli Whitney's tomb or get directions to see it in person. Read his obituary.

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