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Cotton South Quotations
|"The expansion of the South across the Appalachians and the
Mississippi River to the fringes of the high plains was one of the great American folk
wanderings. . . . [T]he South needed some commercial crop adapted to the climate, demanded
by the overseas market, and suitable for production in circumstances ranging from the
frontier farm to the great plantation." Albert Cowdrey. This Land, This South: An
Environmental History (1983).
|"After the selection of the soil most suitable for cotton, the
preparation of it was of vital importance. The land was deeply plowed, long enough before
the time of planting to allow the spring rains to settle it. Then it was thrown into beds
or ridges by turning furrows both ways toward a given center. . . . The plant made its
appearance in about ten days after planting. . . . It required four months, under the most
favorable circumstances, for cotton to attain its full growth. . . . It bloomed about the
first of June and the first balls opened about August 15. . . . The blooms come out in the
morning and are fully developed by noon, when they are a pure white. Soon after they begin
to develop reddish streaks, and the next morning are a clear pink. They fall off by noon
of the second day." Louis Hughes, Thirty Years a Slave: From Bondage to Freedom
|"In September or October the bolls filled out and burst into
white puffs of lint. . . .The cotton gin separated the seeds from the lint, which was
baled and sold." Pete Daniel, Breaking the Land (1985).
|"For a century and a half cotton farming dominated the southern
United States. Indeed the invention of the cotton gin [in 1793] followed by only four
years the establishment of the government. . . . The cotton gin was such a simple machine
that it was endlessly replicated in each settlement as cotton marched west from county to
county." Pete Daniel, Breaking the Land (1985).
|"The Old South, specifically, had to compete in economic
development with the exploding capitalist power of the North, but its basic institution,
slavery, rendered futile its attempts to fight the advance of soil exhaustion and economic
decline." Eugene Genovese, The Political Economy of Slavery (1989).
|"The cotton fields had to depend largely on barnyard manure. .
. . To be of use barnyard manure requires considerable care in storage and application,
and even today much of it is lost." Eugene Genovese, The Political Economy of Slavery
|"Triumphant agriculture took out heavy liens against the
natural dower. Row crops bared the soil, the rows made watercourses for the rains, which
were heavy, and the colonial practice of plowing straight up and down hills was by no
means extirpated. Further, any system which covers too many fields with the same plant
falls afoul of the ecological principle which states that the simplest systems are apt to
be the most unstable. . . . In any great center of monoculture, soil toxins develop and
parasites of many sorts are encouraged to multiply explosively." Albert Cowdrey, This
Land, this South: An Environmental History (1893).