Eli Whitney was born 8 December 1765 in Westborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States to Eli Whitney (1740-1807) and Elizabeth Fay (1740-1777) and died 8 January 1825 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States of prostate cancer. He married Henrietta Frances Edwards (1786-1870) 1817 . William I of England (1027-1087), Henry II of England (1133-1189), Alfred the Great (849-899)/s, Charlemagne (747-814)/s, Henry II of England (1133-1189)/s, Hugh Capet (c940-996)/s, William I of England (1027-1087)/s, Rollo of Normandy (860-932)/s.


Eli Whitney was an American inventor best known for inventing 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 upland short cotton into a profitable crop, which strengthened the economic foundation of slavery in the United States. Despite the social and economic impact of his invention, Whitney lost many profits in legal battles over patent infringement for the cotton gin. Thereafter, he turned his attention into securing contracts with the government in the manufacture of muskets for the newly formed United States Army. He continued making arms and inventing until his death in 1825.

Early Family Life

Whitney was born in Westborough, Massachusetts, on December 8, 1765, the eldest child of Eli Whitney Sr., a prosperous farmer, and his wife Elizabeth Fay, also of Westborough.

Although the younger Eli, born in 1765, could technically be called a "Junior", history has never known him as such. He was famous during his lifetime and afterward by the name "Eli Whitney". His son, born in 1820, also named Eli, was well known during his lifetime and afterward by the name "Eli Whitney, Jr."

Whitney's mother, Elizabeth Fay, died in 1777, when he was 11.

Marriage & Later Life

His 1817 marriage to Henrietta Edwards, granddaughter of the famed evangelist Jonathan Edwards, daughter of Pierpont Edwards, head of the Democratic Party in Connecticut, and first cousin of Yale's president, Timothy Dwight, the state's leading Federalist, further tied him to Connecticut's ruling elite. In a business dependent on government contracts, such connections were essential to success.

Whitney died of prostate cancer on January 8, 1825, in New Haven, Connecticut, just a month after his 59th birthday. He left a widow and his four children behind. During the course of his illness, he invented and constructed several devices to mechanically ease his pain.


Offspring of Eli Whitney and Henrietta Frances Edwards (1786-1870)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Elizabeth Fay Whitney (1819-1852) 14 March 1817 Massachusetts, usa 7 February 1854 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut
Frances Edwards Whitney (1817-1859)
Eli Whitney (1820-1895)
Susan Edwards Whitney (1821-1823)


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
  • wikipedia:en:Eli Whitney
  • AWT:db: brendablack, id: I13091 — no longer available
  • AWT:db: susanrubel, id: I33390 — no longer available
  • AWT:db: wabarron, id: I10175 — no longer available