Thursday, August 7, 2014
Cotton Production, 19th Century
COTTON AND THE SOUTHERN CONCEIT
My forthcoming novel, Westfall, Slave to King Cotton, is one step closer to publication. My son and award-winning designer Davis Stanard* has produced a cover that ties in with the title -- as well as the antebellum story.
Westfall plantation’s big house, in the background, is overshadowed by a cotton pod in full bloom. Had it not been for cotton, perhaps the South would have developed a varied economy corresponding to the North in the 19th Century, in which case, it is altogether possible that slavery would have disappeared from the nation before becoming embedded in the Southern culture.
The populace of Westfall plantation, black and white, lived under the spell (some would say curse) of cotton. Tilmon Goodwyn, the owner, was convinced that the South’s cotton production was essential to industries of the North. This was a common misconception at the time. In 1858, South Carolina senator James H. Hammond declared in the US Congress that “You dare not make war upon cotton! No power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton is king.” This is one reason many Southerners believed secession could be achieved without violence.
Not only did the South provide cotton to the North, but it was the major supplier to England. Political firebrands of the South counted England as a possible ally should secession be met by resistance from the North. Too late they discovered Britain, which developed alternate sources of cotton, would not intervene on their behalf.
Had cotton not become "king" in the South, vast numbers of blacks would have remained in tribal Africa. They would have been spared the sweltering fields of the South. “It took the labor of forty persons working one day to produce one bale of cotton weighing 300 pounds” according to The Story of Sea Island Cotton, a book by Richard D. Porcher and Sarah Fick that tells the fascinating history of long staple cotton.
I’m in a better mood. Sorry about the ranting in my previous blog.
*Stanard Design Partners of Cincinnati, Ohio - http://www.stanarddesign.com