Impact Of King Cotton On The Industrial Revolution

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The Impact of King Cotton and the Industrial Revolution

Before the Civil War, cotton was America’s most leading export. The cotton industry was the world’s largest business. Most of the world’s cotton was grown and harvested in the South and it generated large amounts of money in the United States. This industry was created on the backs of slaves on Southern plantations. In many aspects, the 19th century cotton industry can be compared to the 21st century oil industry. “Throughout the 1700s, cotton production was expensive because of the huge amount of labor necessary to remove the seeds. By the end of the 18th century, demand for cotton was increasing as power looms were able to turn out great quantities of cloth.” “The slave-based tobacco economy that sustained the Chesapeake region was in deep crisis in the late-18th century and some Virginia leaders even talked about ending slavery. But technological innovations to process cotton soon gave new life to slavery, which would flourish in the new nation as never before.” One of the most important influential figures of the 19th century was a man named Eli Whitney. Born in 1765 in Massachusetts, Eli moved to South Carolina after working his way through college at Yale. In South Carolina, he saw how difficult it was to separate the seeds from the actual short-staple cotton itself. In a short time, he had created a machine that could do the work much faster and efficiently. This machine was called the ‘cotton gin.’ The
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