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The growth of cotton propelled the settlement of the Cotton South from the 1790s with
the invention of the cotton gin to the 1890s when the boll weevil began to devastate
cotton yields. Today cotton is still a major crop in the South and in California's
irrigated Central Valley where the panoramas below were taken.
As you view the panoramas and accompanying images, identify the interlinked ecological,
social, and economic factors that made cotton a dominant factor in the development of the
South in the nineteenth century, those which continue to foster its success today, and the
ecological consequences of cotton production on the land. Use the Cotton South quotations to assist you in your interpretation.
Credits: Photographs by Carolyn Merchant; panorama assembly and web page by Rob Weinberg.