The Cotton Textile Industry | History of SC Slide Collection

The cotton textile industry became one of South Carolina's leading sources of income by the end of the 19th century, but it had its origins in two sets of related technological advances in the late 18th century. The first of those was the 1793 invention by Eli Whitney of a cotton gin, whose simple principles were widely copied and made it profitable to grow and process short-staple cotton. Those cotton fibers then had to be carded to straighten and clean them, twisted into thread, and woven into cloth. The invention of a power-driven carding machine is the purpose of this application for a patent, submitted to the Secretary of State of South Carolina by Hugh Templeton in 1789. He claimed that it could card eighty pounds of cotton in a day. The power source was a steam engine that pumped water to turn the wheels that carded the cotton.

Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.