Effects Of King Cotton

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After Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton could be processed quickly and cheaply. As a result, more cotton was grown and more slaves were needed to work on more acres of cotton fields. This was an unintended consequence for Whitney, who sought to reduce the need for slave labor, although his invention had the opposite effect. The spread of “King Cotton” impacted the Southern way of life politically, economically, and socially. It contributed to a political divide between the North and the South over the issue of slavery, the expansion of the plantation economy in the South, and the often inhumane treatment of slaves. By the 1830s, the Mason-Dixon line, which was originally drawn to resolve a boundary dispute between …show more content…
As a result, planters bought more slaves and more land, in order to produce more cotton. The cotton was sent to the North and then shipped to England, so it could be argued that the economic prosperity of other areas depended on the peculiar institution of slavery. The exportation of cotton helped to stimulate the growth of the American economy. In fact, the South produced more than half of the world’s cotton supply by 1850 and cotton cloth became the single most important product manufactured in the United States. Many Southerners believed that the British would side with them if conflict were to break out between the North and the South. After all, British factories would be forced to close their gates if they didn’t receive Southern cotton. The rise of the Southern economy ensured that small farms became smaller and large plantations became larger. However, slaves were considered an investment of capital, which accounted for some of the financial instability of the plantation system. Rebuilding the economy proved to be a difficult task during the Reconstruction Era, since the South had previously relied on only one type of economic activity. Southerners were resentful towards the Yankee middlemen, bankers, agents, and shippers who reaped the benefits of cotton production. They realized that, despite the plantation system, the equipment they used was manufactured in the North, where they also sent the cotton fibers to be made into

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