"Cotton is a speculator’s crop"
Cotton field
Creative Commons AttributionCotton field - Credit: cobalt123
As this c.1900 photo suggests, picking cotton was done primarily by African Americans
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAs this c.1900 photo suggests, picking cotton was done primarily by African Americans - Credit: born1945

With 75 per cent of the world’s cotton being grown on southern plantations it was, at the time of the Civil War, the main source of the region’s wealth. However, over the ensuing decades, things would begin to change drastically. During the war, Abraham Lincoln imposed an embargo on the export of cotton, resulting in increased production in rival countries. As a result, when the veto was lifted there was a huge glut of cotton on the global market and prices fell dramatically, plunging many growers into poverty. The ravages of the boll-weevil also took their toll and cotton production increasingly moved west to areas which had been less badly affected. Ultimately, the South paid the price for its over-reliance on a single crop and was forced to diversify.

 

 

 

 

Baling cotton, c.1900
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBaling cotton, c.1900 - Credit: born1945