|High Cotton Polos|
|Original Cotton T's|
Southern plantations generated three-fourths of the world's cotton supply. The "New South" has long, hot summers, and rich soil of river valley, ideal conditions to grow cotton. The drawback of growing cotton is mainly the time that is spent processing the crop after harvesting. After the invention of the cotton gin the production of cotton surpassed that of tobacco in the South and became the dominant cash crop.
The rapid growth of cotton production was an international phenomenon, prompted by events occurring far from the American South. The insatiable demand for cotton was a result of the technological and social changes that are today known as the Industrial Revolution. Beginning early in the eighteenth century, a series of inventions resulted in the mechanized spinning and weaving of cloth in the world’s first factories in the north of England. The ability of these factories to produce unprecedented amounts of cotton cloth revolutionized the world economy.
By the time of the Civil War, cotton accounted for almost 60% of American exports, representing a total value of nearly $300 million a year. The rise in population from the cotton industry even brought statehood to southern territories. The admission of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida ,and Texas,into the Union brought increase of power to the South in the United States Congress. Cotton’s central place in the national economy and its international importance led Senator James Henry Hammond of South Carolina to make a famous boast in 1858:
“Without firing a gun, without drawing a sword, should they make war on us, we could bring the whole world to our feet... What would happen if no cotton was furnished for three years?... England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her save the South. No, you dare not to make war on cotton. No power on the earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is King. ”
Southerners thought their survival depended on the sympathy of Europe to offset the power of the Union. They believed that cotton was so essential to Europe that they would intervene in any civil war.