external image confederate-flag.jpgexternal image confederate-flag.jpgKing Cotton
Prior to the Civil War, cotton was a major cash crop in the American economy. With the invention of Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin, cotton production increased rapidly. It also was caused a revival of slavery. Without the invention, many people believe that slavery would have died down sooner rather than later. Cotton soon represented about half of America's exports. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the concept of King Cotton began in the book Cotton is King (1855) by David Christy. It suggested that cotton was valuable enough to end all thoughts of a war in the South. James H. Hammond, a US Senator once said, "You dare not make war upon cotton! No power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton is king.” This summed up all Southern American's views. They believed that cotton ruled the world.external image DSC_0282.jpg
Pre-Cotton Evolution

  • The decline of tobacco in the 1800's, land became exhausted due to tobacco sucking all the nutrients out of the soil
  • Tobacco prices were subject to frequent depression
  • Short-staple cotton was an important new product that soone overshadowed all other crops
  • Short-staple cotton could grow successfully in variety of climates and in a variety of soils
  • Cotton production spreaded rapidly in the 1820's
  • Demand for cotton was growing rapidly because of the textile industry in britain created a huge new demand for the crop, resulting in men and women quickly moving into previously uncultivated lands
  • By 1850, cotton was producing nearly 3 million bales (compressed packages) a year

The Failed Embargo
The South believed that if they refused to trade any cotton with England, England would eventually decide to aid the Confederacy in the American Civil War. However, it did not work out that way. England just found a new product to trade with other countries and slavery and cotton both eventually slowed it's pace. Slavery officially became abolished in the United States in 1865. Because of the end of free labor, and the failed embargo , cotton production decreased.

Slaveryexternal image king-cotton-cartoon.jpg
The cultivation of cotton created a dire need for more slaves due to the greater need of manual labor. There was a high demand for the crop in Europe, so more of it had to be created at a rapid speed. 57% of the population in South Carolina was made up of slaves. 55% of the population in Mississippi were slaves. About "4 million people were held in bondage". However, the majority of Americans did not own slaves. There were virtually no slaves in the North. Eventually, slavery was later abolished in 1865.

Aftermath of the Civil War
The war left numerous farmers struck with poverty and in debt. Many turned to cotton growing and stopped what they used to do. By the mid-1870s, cotton was at its peak once again. However, some farmers were still in poverty and the cotton growing did nothing to help them reach "economic salvation". America had begun its Reconstruction.

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