DAILY BRIEFINGTakin' a Cotton to Gin
Oct. 28 - It's a little darker and a little colder than it was yesterday. I only left the apartment to go to the gym and to dry my laundry. Neither episode was interesting enough to warrant consideration here. So let's call it day four of the Moron's Monotony Watch and leave it at that.
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On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated at Liberty Island, New York, by President Grover Cleveland. Lady Liberty, as she came to be called, quickly become a symbol of America, partly because she was such a striking visual symbol of our national reverence for liberty, partly because of the five-dollar hot dogs and ten-dollar plastic replicas sold at her feet.
The statue's inscription was written by poet Emma Lazarus, and attributes the following exhortation to Lady Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
(Cynics like to point out that construction of the golden door was never completed.)
Exactly thirty-three years later, in 1919, Congress passed a law prohibiting alcohol.
With alcohol outlawed, only outlaws had drinks. Fortunately there were an awful goddam lot of them and they overturned the law as soon as they were sober enough to vote.
Meanwhile, on this date in 1793, Eli Whitney had applied for a patent on the cotton gin.
A few years ago I stumbled across the following student report online. I couldn't improve on it, so I present it in its entirety—as written by a Mr Jeffrey P. of Lowell, Massachusetts.
Eli Whitney was born on December 8, 1765. When Eli was a child, the American Revolutionary War had started. America was at war with England. Eli worked very well with tools when he was growing up.
Eli's family would not support the idea of Eli going to college because they did not have enough money, but he went to college anyway. While he was in college, Eli wanted to be a lawyer after he graduated. He wanted to be a lawyer because he thought America had no use for a handyman.
After completing college, Eli went down south to Phineas Miller's plantation in Mulberry Grove to teach his children but he never did. Instead of teaching the children, he was asked to invent a cotton gin. Phineas and Eli became partners, and Phineas paid for all expenses. Eli gave up studying law so he could build a cotton gin.
After six months he finally completed making a cotton gin. The cotton gin separated the seeds from the cotton. Then he left the plantation to go to Philadelphia to get a patent so he could privately make cotton gin in New Haven, but he couldn't.
There was an outbreak of yellow fever in both Philadelphia and New Haven, therefore he couldn't get the patent or make the cotton gins. To make matters even worse, his cotton gin was stolen, but things did get better.
Years later, Eli became rich and famous throughout the world. It turns out there was a future in America for a handyman.
October 25 is National Retrospection Day in Taiwan, the most looked-forward-to holiday in that nation.
© 2003, The Moron's Almanac