From Agepedia

Jump to: navigation , search

COTTON is a soft, vegetable down, which is contained in the seedvessels, and envelopes the seeds, of the cotton plant (gossypium herbaceum), which is cultivated in the East and West Indies, North and South America, and Egypt; in fact, in most parts of the world which possess a sufficiently warm climate. It is an annual plant. It grows to a considerable height, and has leaves of a bright green color, marked with brownish veins, and each divided into five lobes. The flowers have only one petal in five segments, with a short tube, and are of a paleyellow color, with five red spots at the bottom. The cottonpods are of somewhat triangular shape, and have each three cells. These, when ripe, burst open, and disclose their snowwhite or yellowish contents, in the midst of which are contained the seeds, in shape somewhat resembling those of grapes. The fibres of cotton are extremely fine, delicate and flexile. When examined by the microscope, they are found to be somewhat flat, and twoedged or triangular. Their direction is not straight, but contorted, so that the locks can be extended or drawn out without doing violence to the fibres. These threads are finely toothed, which explains the cause of their adhering together with greater facility than those of bombax and several apocynece, which are destitute of teeth, and which cannot be spun into thread without an admixture of cotton. In the Southern States of the American Union, the cotton cultivated is distinguished into 3 kinds the nankeen cotton, so called from its color; the green seed cotton, producing white cotton with green seeds; and the black scea rotton. The two first kinds grow in the middle and upper country, and are called short staple cotton; the last is cultivated in the lower country, near the sea, and on the isles near the shore, and produces cotton of a fine, white, silky appearance, very strong, and of a long staple. Cotton was found indigenous in America. There are two machines for cleansing cotton from the seeds ; these are, the rollergin and the sawgin. The essential parts of the first are two small cylinders, revolving in contact, or nearly so. The COTTON is drawn between the rollers, while the size of the seeds prevents them from passing. The sawgin, invented by Mr. Whitney, is used for the blackseed cotton, the seeds of which adhere too strongly to be separated by the other method. It is a receiver, having one side covered with strong parallel wires, about an eighth of an inch apart. Between these wires pass a number of circular saws, revolving on a common axis. The cotton is entangled in the teeth of the saws, and drawn out through the grating, while the seeds are prevented, by their size, from passing. The cotton thus extricated is swept from the saws by a revolving cylindrical brush, and the seeds fall out at the bottom of the receiver. Mr. Whitney is an American. Arkwright,in England,is highly celebrated for the machinery which he has invented for the spinning of cotton. North and South America, Egypt and India, produce most of the cotton consumed, and the greater part is manufactured in England and the U. States. The export of cotton from the U. States, between October, 1828, and September, 1829, to Great Britain, amounted to 498,001 bales; the amount exported to France, was 184,821 bales; and to the other parts of Europe, 66,178 ; total, 749,000. The crop in 1824-5 was 569,259 bales; that of 1825-6 was 720,027 bales; of 1826-7, 957,281; of 1827-8, 720,593; of 1828-9,870,415. Of this last crop, 130,000 bales are estimated to have been manufactured in the U. States. The whole amount of cotton imported into Great Britain, in 1824, was 149,380,122 pounds; in 1825, was 228,005,291; in 1826, was 177,607,401; in 1827, was 272,448,909 pounds. The value of cotton manufactured goods exported in 1824, according to the official rates, was £27,171,555; in 1825, £26,597,574; in 1826, £21,445,742: of cotton twist and yarn, in 1824, according to the official rates, £2,984,344; in 1825, £2,897,706; in 1826, £3,748,526. Cotton Manufacture, The increase of the cotton manufacture, during the last half century, is one of the most interesting events in the history of commerce. The v/v/ x x v^ii xunii KJI: xx.\y x uxvju. vf#U earliest seat of the manufacture, known to us, was Hindostan, where it continues to be carried on, by hand labor, in all its original simplicity. Such, however, has been the power of improved machinery, in its recent application to it, that Europe and America are now pouring back upon Asia her original manufacture, and underselling her in her own markets. The first impulse in these improvements was derived from the inventions of Hargreaves and Arkwright, between 1768 and 1780. The improved machinery of which we speak consists of the cylindrical carding engine, by which the fibres of cotton are disentangled and separated from each other, and from all foreign substances, and delivered in a uniform, continuous roll; the drawing and roving frames, by which these rolls are repeatedly doubled and extended, until the fibres are drawn out into a regular and perfectly horizontal position; and the spinning frame, the most important quality of which is the causing the roving or preparatory yarn to pass through two or more sets of rollers, revolving with different velocities; by which the thread, at the moment of being twisted, is drawn out to any desired degree of tenuity; the rollers performing the delicate office of the thumb and finger. In addition to these, the powerloom was brought into general use about the year 1816, by which the laborious process of weaving is converted into the mere superintendence of two, and even three, of these machines; each one producing from 30 to 40 yards of cloth per day. In the printing of calicoes, equally important improvements have been made. Instead of the tedious process of impressing patterns from wooden blocks, the most delicate patterns are transferred from copper cylinders with astonishing rapidity ; two, and even three, colors are, in this way, imprinted at one operation. In the richer and more expensive patterns, however, blockprinting continues to be used, in addition to the impressions from the cylinders. The science of chemistry has contributed its share of improvement in the new process of bleaching by chlorine, and in innumerable new combinations of colors. In its present state, the entire manufacture, in its various departments, presents a greater combination of human skill than can be found in any other art or manufacture. In 1781, the quantity of cotton wool imported into Great Britain, was 5,000,000 pounds; in 1829, it cannot be estimated at less than 210,000,000; and, allowing 20,000,000 for export, 190,000,000 pounds will remain as the consumption of the kingdom. Of this, upwards of 40,000,000 pounds are exported in yarns, valued at £3,500,000 sterling. The value ofall other manufactures of cotton, exported in 1828, was £13,545,638. Some estimates of the annual value of the cotton manufactured in Great Britain have been as high as £36,000,000 sterling; but this would seem to be an exaggeration. In the early periods of this manufacture, the profits must have been enormous. It has built up the cities of Liverpool and Manchester in England, of Glasgow and Paisley in Scotland, and has been estimated to give employment to a million of persons. After a long period of success, interrupted only by occasional and temporary fluctuations, the production, both of the raw material and of the manufactured article, seems to have outrun the consumption of the world, in that eventful year of overtrade, 1825. A long stagnation succeeded in 1826 ; an unprecedented reduction in the prices of cotton manufactures, and in the value of property engaged in it, spread a wide and general distress, throughout the districts devoted to this manufacture, which continued, with greater or less intensity, through the years 1828 and 1829. Although there is no diminution in the quantity of cotton consumed in Great Britain, there is abundant evidence, that neither the capital nor labor employed in it is now receiving (1830) a fair remuneration. The fall in the prices of cotton manufactures, from 1814 to 1826, would seem, by a comparison of the real or declared value of the exports with the official value, rated by a uniform list, to have been 55 per cent. The greatest export in value, of any one year, was in 1815, having exceeded £19,000,000 sterling.In the U. States, the progress of this manufacture has partaken of the characteristic energy and vigor of the country. It is only since the introduction of the powerloom, that it can be considered as having been established on a permanent and useful basis: the scarcity of skilful weavers, and the high prices of weaving, had been found serious obstacles to its success, which was secured by this invention. The first successful experiment with this instrument was made at Waltham, Mass., in 1815, applied to the coarser fabrics; but so rapid has been the extension of the manufacture, that, besides furnishing the U. States with its full supply of the more staple productions, and a considerable export of coarse goods, the beautiful prints of Manchester and Glasgow are imitated in great perfection ; and more than half the consump tion of the country, in this important branch, is supposed to be now furnished from native industry. The actual extent of this manufacture, in the U. States, at the present time (1830), is matter of estimate only; a very moderate one is believed to be the consumption of 35,000,000 pounds of cotton per annum, manufactured into 140,000,000 of yards of cloth, of which about 10,000,000 are exported, and upwards of 20,000,000 printed; the value, $12 to 14,000,000; and employing a capital of $25 to 30,000,000. Several improvements, originating in the country, have been introduced into the manufacture, and the whole process is believed to be performed to as great advantage as in any part of the world. The descriptions of cottons exported are mostly of a coarse fabric, which are taking the place of the cottons of India, and are known abroad by the name of American domestics. They have been extensively imitated by the English, and a competition is going on, between the manufacturers of the two countries, for the possession of the foreign markets. It is thought, that the possession of the raw material on the spot, and the use of the comparatively cheap moving power of water, instead of steam, with the proximity of the great markets of South America, are advantages, in favor of the U. States, more than sufficient to counterbalance some disadvantage in the higher cost of machineiy, and, as is commonly supposed, in the higher wages of labor. But the labor in the cotton mills producing these goods, being wholly performed by females, has been ascertained not to be dearer than the same description of work in England; and, as it is not easily applicable to any other branch of industry, it would seem not improbable, that this country will be the future source of supply, in coarse cottons, for foreign markets. The great profits attending this manufacture have attracted to it, in a very short period, a great amount of capital, and produced a violent competition: the consequence has been a sudden reaction and great depression of prices, producing considerable embarrassment in those establishments operating with inadequate capital, and unable to meet the shock of impaired credit. But, although individuals may meet with heavy losses by imprudent speculations, there is no reason to distrust the eventual success of the manufacture, which must soon find relief, under the increasing consumption of the country. The price of coarse cottons, in 1829, was less than one ihird of the price in 1815. The largest establishments for the manufacture of cot ton, in the U. States, at present (1830), are at Dover, N. H. ; Lowell, Mass. ; Pawtucket, R. I.; Patterson, N. J.; and in the neighborhood of Philadelphia and Baltimore. The increase of the production of the raw material is even more wonderful than that of the manufacture. In 1791, the whole export of the U. States was 64 bags, of 300 pounds each ; the average of 1826, 7, and 8, is 235,000,000 pounds; and, if we include that consumed in the country, the average production is 270,000,000 pounds, valued at $27,000,000; the price having fallen to about one third of that of 1815. This reduction of price seems destined to cause a still further immense extension of the manufacture, which is rapidly taking the place of hempen sailcloth, and the different descriptions of coarse linens. In fact, this valuable material, at once delicate, strong and cheap, seems equally well adapted to every fabric, from the gossamerlike muslin of the ballroom to the coarse garment of the Negro slave.As the subject of cotton manufactures is one of so much interest, we shall here give a detailed account of the process, and mention the most important machines by which each part is performed. After the cotton has been ginned (see the first part of this article), and picked or batted, that is, beat up and separated into a light, uniform mass, the first operation of the manufacturer is carding, which serves to equalise the substance of the cotton, and dispose its fibres in a somewhat parallel direction. The cardingengine consists of a revolving cylinder, covered with cards, which is nearly surrounded by a fixed concave framing, also lined with cards, with which the cylinder comes in contact. From this cylinder, called the breaker, the cotton is taken off by the motion of a transverse comb, called the dojjingplate, and passes through a second carding in the finishing cylinder. It is then passed through a kind of funnel, by which it is contracted into a narrow band or sliver, and received into tin cans, in the state of a uniform, continued carding. The next step in the process is called drawing the cotton. The machine employed for this purpose, called the drawingframe, is constructed on the same principle as the spinningframe, from which the idea of it was taken. To imitate the operation performed by the thumb and finger in handspinning, two pairs of rollers are employed; the first pair, slowly revolving in contact with each other, are placed at a little distance from the second pair, which revolve with greater velocity. The lower roller of each pair is furrowed, or fluted longitudinally, and the upper one is covered with leather, to give the two a proper hold of the cotton. If a carding be passed between the first pair, it will be merely compressed by the pressure of the rollers ; but if it be then passed through the second pair, moving with twice or thrice the velocity of the first, it will be drawn twice or thrice smaller than it was when it entered the first rollers. The relative velocity of the two pairs of rollers is called the draught of the machine. Several of these drawings are then passed together through rollers in the same manner, plying (coalescing) as they pass, and forming a single new drawing. The drawing and plying are several times repeated, and have the effect of arranging all the fibres of the cotton longitudinally, in a uniform and parallel direction, and doing away all the' inequalities of thickness. In these operations, the cotton receives no twist. Roving the cotton, which is the next part of the process, gives it a slight twist, which converts it into a soft and loose thread, called the roving. The machine for performing this operation is called the rovingframe or double speeder. In order to wind the roving upon the bobbins of the spindles, in even, cylindrical layers, the spindlerail is made to rise and fall slowly, by means of heartwheels in the interior of the machine. And, as the size of the bobbins is augmented by each layer, the velocity of the spindles and of the spindlerail is made to diminish gradually, from the beginning to the end of the operation. This is effected by transmitting the motion to both, through two opposite cones, one of which drives the other with a band, which is made to pass slowly from one end to the other of the cones, and thus continually to alter their relative speed, and cause a uniform retardation of the velocity. The bobbins are now transferred to the spinningframe, which has a double set of rollers^ like those described in the account of the drawing and rovingframes, and which, operating in the same manner as in those machines, extend the rove, and reduce it to a thread of the required fineness. The twist is given to this thread by flyers, driven by bands, which receive their motion from a horizontal flywheel, or from a longitudinal cylinder. The yarn produced by this mode of spinning is called water twist, from the circumstance of the machinery, from which it is obtained, having been, at first, generally put in motion by water.In 1775, the mulejenny or mule was invented by Samuel Crompton, of Bolton. The spindles are mounted on a movable carriage, which recedes when the threads are to be stretched, and returns when they are to be wound up. The process of stretching is intended to produce threads of the finest kinds, and consists in forcibly stretching portions of yarn, several yards long, in the direction of their length. The purpose of it is to reduce those places m the yarn which have a greater diameter than the rest, so that the size and twist of the thread may become uniform throughout. Here ends the process of spinning, and that of weaving begins.The follow ing progress of a pound of cotton may be not uninteresting to our readers. It appeared, originally, in the English Monthly Magazine. " There was sent to London lately, from Paisley, a small piece of muslin, about one pound weight, the history of which is as follows: The wool came from the East Indies to London; from London it went to Lancashire, where it was manufactured into yarn; from Manchester it was sent to Paisley, where it was woven; it was sent to Ayrshire next, where it was tamboured; it was then conveyed to Dumbarton, where it was handsewed, and again returned to Paisley, whence it was sent to Glasgow and finished, and then sent, per coach, to London. It may be reckoned about three years that it took to bring this article to market, from the time when it was packed in India, till it arrived complete, in the merchant's warehouse, in London; whither it must have been conveyed 5000 miles by sea, nearly 1000 by land, and have contributed to reward the labor of nearly 150 persons, whose services were necessary in the carriage and manufacture of this small quantity of cotton, and by which the value has been advanced more than 2000 per cent."