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Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed
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Princeton, MAINE USA

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When Cotton Was King


Can botany equal destiny? In the U.S., the fate of the Old South was bound up with one plant. The EarthScholars and a Memphis museum explain.


image

U.S. cotton field ready to harvest

Photo: Fahey Byrum III

By James H. Wandersee and Renee M. Clary

EarthScholars™ Research Group

The year was 1858. Cotton had surpassed tobacco as a cash crop in the Deep South after the introduction of the cotton gin. Southern plantations were producing 75% of the world’s cotton supply.

US cotton’s world supremacy led Senator James Henry Hammond of South Carolina to make a famous boast: “Cotton is king.” He was actually echoing the title of an influential pro-slavery book of the time written by David Christy in 1855. By 1860, cotton ruled the South. Cotton was unquestionably vital to the US economy, and it was a major US export to Europe.

 



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Posted by Julie on 11/23 at 09:44 PM
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