Antebellum Mobile was a cotton port city, and economic dependence upon the North created by the cotton trade controlled the city’s development. Mobile’s export trade placed the city third after New York and New Orleans in total value of exports for the nation by 1860. Because the exports consisted almost entirely of cotton headed for Northern and foreign textile mills, Mobile depended on Northern businessmen for marketing services. Nearly all the city’s imports were from New York: Mobile had the worst export-import imbalance of all antebellum ports.
As the volume of cotton exports increased, so did the city’s population—from1,500 in 1820 to 30,000 in 1860. Amos’s study delineates the basis for Mobile’s growth and the ways in which residents and their government promoted growth and adapted to it. Because some of the New York banking, shipping, and marketing firms maintained local agencies, a significant number of Northern-born businessmen participated widely in civic affairs. This has afforded the author the opportunity to explore the North-South relationship in economic and personal terms, in one important city, during a period of increasing sectional tension.
In Fair to Middlin', Lynn Willoughby describes the livelihood of the regional antebellum economy surrounding the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee River valley and the resulting global impact of this industry. This study focuses on the port of Apalachicola, Florida and the business men who lived the trade, flourishing amongst the poor conditions of transportation, communication, money, and banking. Cotton businessmen located along the waterway and on the coast neatly divided the labour necessary to market the region's major source of income. Early regional economics revolved around and grew from the rivers that served as the primary form of transportation, and each patchwork of economy in the antebellum South relied on a different river system and its major transportation artery. Few people truly understand and realize how important cotton was to the world's economy, and no other American export came close to the importance of cotton. This power and success allowed the South to function self-sufficiently, eliminating the need to rely on other regions for goods. It was not until the introduction of the railroad system that these individual river economies blurred and faded into one another, gradually uniting to one integrated national economy.
Fair to Middlin' is the recipient of the 1992 Mrs. Simon Baruch University Award of The United Daughters of the Confederacy.
As the economies of China, India, and other Asian nations continue to grow, these countries are seeking greater control over the rules that govern international trade. Setting the rules carries with it the power to establish advantage, so it’s no surprise that everyone wants a seat at the table—or that negotiations over rules often result in stalemates at meeting of the World Trade Organization.
Nowhere is the conflict over rule setting more evident than in the simmering “standards wars” over the rules that define quality and enable the adjudication of disputes. In Global Rivalries, Amy A. Quark explores the questions of how rules are made, who makes them, and how they are enforced, using the lens of cotton—a simple commodity that has become a poignant symbol of both the crisis of Western rule making power and the potential for powerful new rivals to supplant it. Quark traces the strategies for influencing rule making processes employed not only by national governments but also by transnational corporations, fiber scientists, and trade associations from around the globe. Quark analyzes the efficacy of their approaches and the implications for more marginal actors in the cotton trade, including producers in West Africa.
By placing the current contest within the historical development of the global capitalist system, Global Rivalries highlights a fascinating interaction of politics and economics.
The textile industry was one of the first manufacturing activities to become organized globally, as mechanized production in Europe used cotton from the various colonies. Africa, the least developed of the world’s major regions, is now increasingly engaged in the production of this crop for the global market, and debates about the pros and cons of this trend have intensified.
Hanging by a Thread: Cotton, Globalization, and Poverty in Africa illuminates the connections between Africa and the global economy. The editors offer a compelling set of linked studies that detail one aspect of the globalization process in Africa, the cotton commodity chain.
From global policy debates, to impacts on the natural environment, to the economic and social implications of this process, Hanging by a Thread explores cotton production in the postcolonial period from different disciplinary perspectives and in a range of national contexts. This approach makes the globalization process palpable by detailing how changes at the macroeconomic level play out on the ground in the world’s poorest region. Hanging by a Thread offers new insights on the region in a global context and provides a critical perspective on current and future development policy for Africa.
Contributors: Thomas J. Bassett, Jim Bingen, Duncan Boughton, Brian M. Dowd, Marnus Gouse, Leslie C. Gray, Dolores Koenig, Scott M. Lacy, William G. Moseley, Colin Poulton, Bhavani Shankar, Corinne Siaens, Colin Thirtle, David Tschirley, and Quentin Wodon.
The exhaustive, definitive study of Southern attempts to gain international support for the Confederacy by leveraging the cotton supply for European intervention during the Civil War. Using previously untapped sources from Britain and France, along with documents from the Confederacy’s state department, Frank Owsley’s King Cotton Diplomacy is the first archival-based study of Confederate diplomacy.
After the 1854 abolition of slavery in Peru, a new generation of plantation owners turned to a system of peasant tenantry to maintain cotton production through the use of cheap labor. In Peasants on Plantations Vincent C. Peloso analyzes the changing social and economic relationships governing the production of cotton in the Pisco Valley, a little-studied area of Peru’s south coast. Challenging widely held assumptions about the system of relations that tied peasants to the land, Peloso’s work examines the interdependence of the planters, managers, and peasants—and the various strategies used by peasants in their struggle to resist control by the owners.
Grounded in the theoretical perspectives of subaltern studies and drawing on an extremely complete archive of landed estates that includes detailed regular reports by plantation managers on all aspects of farming life, Peasants on Plantations reveals the intricate ways peasants, managers, and owners manipulated each other to benefit their own interests. As Peloso demonstrates, rather than a simple case of domination of the peasants by the owners, both parties realized that negotiation was the key to successful growth, often with the result that peasants cooperated with plantation growth strategies in order to participate in a market economy. Long-term contracts gave tenants and sharecroppers many opportunities to make farming choices, to assert claims on the land, compete among themselves, and participate in plantation expansion. At the same time, owners strove to keep the peasants in debt and well aware of who maintained ultimate control.
Peasants on Plantations offers a largely untold view of the monumental struggle between planters and peasants that was fundamental in shaping the agrarian history of Peru. It will interest those engaged in Latin American studies, anthropology, and peasant and agrarian studies.
This masterful social and economic history of rural Zaire examines the complex and lasting effects of forced cotton cultivation in central Africa from 1917 to 1960. Osumaka Likaka recreates daily life inside the colonial cotton regime. He shows that, to ensure widespread cotton production and to overcome continued peasant resistance, the colonial state and the cotton companies found it necessary to augment their use of threats and force with efforts to win the cooperation of the peasant farmers, through structural reforms, economic incentives, and propaganda exploiting African popular culture.
As local plots of food crops grown by individual households gave way to commercial fields of cotton, a whole host of social, economic, and environmental changes followed. Likaka reveals how food shortages and competition for labor were endemic, forests were cleared, social stratification increased, married women lost their traditional control of agricultural production, and communities became impoverished while local chiefs enlarged their power and prosperity.
Likaka documents how the cotton regime promoted its cause through agricultural exhibits, cotton festivals, films, and plays, as well as by raising producer prices and decreasing tax rates. He also shows how the peasant laborers in turn resisted regimented agricultural production by migrating, fleeing the farms for the bush, or sabotaging plantings by surreptitiously boiling cotton seeds. Small farmers who had received appallingly low prices from the cotton companies resisted by stealing back their cotton by night from the warehouses, to resell it in the morning. Likaka draws on interviews with more than fifty informants in Zaire and Belgium and reviews an impressive array of archival materials, from court records to comic books. In uncovering the tumultuous economic and social consequences of the cotton regime and by emphasizing its effects on social institutions, Likaka enriches historical understanding of African agriculture and development.
The Impact of Illicit Trade Between the North and South During the Civil War
While Confederate blockade runners famously carried the seaborne trade for the South during the American Civil War, the amount of Southern cotton exported to Europe was only half of that shipped illicitly to the North. Most went to New England textile mills where business “was better than ever,” according to textile mogul Amos Lawrence. Rhode Island senator William Sprague, a mill owner and son-in-law to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, was a member of a partnership supplying weapons to the Confederacy in exchange for cotton. The trade in contraband was not confined to New England. Union General William T. Sherman claimed Confederates were supplied with weapons from Cincinnati, while General Ulysses S. Grant captured Rebel cavalry armed with carbines purchased in Union-occupied Memphis. During the last months of the war, supplies entering the Union-controlled port of Norfolk, Virginia, were one of the principal factors enabling Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army to avoid starvation. Indeed, many of the supplies that passed through the Union blockade into the Confederacy originated in Northern states, instead of Europe as is commonly supposed. Merchants were not the only ones who profited; Union officers General Benjamin Butler and Admiral David Dixon Porter benefited from this black market. President Lincoln admitted that numerous military leaders and public officials were involved, but refused to stop the trade.
In Trading with the Enemy: The Covert Economy During the American Civil War, New York Times Disunion contributor Philip Leigh recounts the little-known story of clandestine commerce between the North and South. Cotton was so important to the Northern economy that Yankees began growing it on the captured Sea Islands of South Carolina. Soon the neutral port of Matamoras, Mexico, became a major trading center, where nearly all the munitions shipped to the port—much of it from Northern armories—went to the Confederacy. After the fall of New Orleans and Vicksburg, a frenzy of contraband-for-cotton swept across the vast trans-Mississippi Confederacy, with Northerners sometimes buying the cotton directly from the Confederate government. A fascinating study, Trading with the Enemy adds another layer to our understanding of the Civil War.