Western Expansion and Cotton

Western Expansion and Cotton

           In the 1830s and 1840s, cotton was among the first world’s luxuries after tobacco and cotton. Cotton was referred to as a king due to its role in the growth of the American economy. Surprisingly, it could not have earned a prestigious position in the American economy without the contribution of the enslaved Africans. In the 17th and 18th centuries the enslaved Africans were the key drivers of the cotton plantations, and through their labor, they helped to build America into an economic powerhouse. In the 19th century movements to abolish slave trade emerged and almost tore the great nation into parts through a bloody Civil War. The abolition of the slave trade was seen as a threat to the American economy that primarily relied on cotton. In as much as Cotton was the pillar of the American economy in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, it was more of a curse than a blessing since it production involved forcefully soliciting labor from the blacks. PLAGIARIZED SAMPLE ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW

Inarguably, the enslaved Africans were the builders of the American economy in the early days — the slogan “King Cotton” revitalized slavery. The high profits gained from cotton farming influenced enslavement of more Africans before illegalizing trans-Atlantic trade. In chapter 4 in the, Voice of Freedom, by Foner (2016) it is revealed that between 1787 and 1808, 250, 000 new slaves arrived in the United States. The great value of cotton became the driving force of expanding the American territory to Southwest to foster trade between the United States and Europe (Foner, 2016). Through slave labor, cotton became the leading export in American even many years after abolishing slavery.

From the perspective of the American economy, the cotton was a blessing, but from the slavery point of view, it was a curse. The trade between the United States and Great Britain was boosted by cotton production. Great Britain depended on slave-produced United States cotton to feed its textile industry. The data has shown that black people were the drivers of the Britain economy (Olmstead & Rhode, 2016). For example, 40 percent of the Britain exports were from textile mills, and one-fifth of the English was either indirectly or directly engaged in the cotton textile sector. For the U.S, cotton was the fundamental product for maintaining the trade between America and Great Britain. However, it is heartbreaking to realize the ‘gold’ trade product was at the expense enslaved black people through forced labor. It is more of a curse than a blessing to enjoy the proceeds of the cotton that were results of the involuntary labor from oppressed and mistreated people.

The eruption of the Civil war proves that cotton was a curse in the development of America. It is true that cotton was the key determinant of American history in the 19th century. However, the perception that the slave-produced cotton was the “King Cotton” sparked the Civil War. The preferential treatment of cotton aroused the most prolonged social disaster, slavery, and as a result, the slave-grown cotton led to the bloody Civil War. To attest that the slave-produced cotton was serious social issues, the New England states joined the fight to bring enslavement into an end.

Cotton was of paramount importance in the American economic development. It was one of the leading American exports in 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. However, it is hurting to realize America’s economic development was at the cost of the enslaved blacks. Maybe, the slave-produced cotton could be equated to the Hitler’s mass killing of Jews. It sounded like a sadistic act for America to build its economy from enslaved people who were forced to provide their labor. The slave-grown cotton ended with a bloody Civil War; hence, a justification that cotton was a curse rather than a blessing. PLAGIARIZED SAMPLE ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW


Foner, E. (2016). Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History (Fifth ed., Vol. 2). New York: Norton & Company.

Olmstead, A. L., & Rhode, P. W. (2016, October ). Cotton, Slavery, and the New History of Capitalism. Retrieved from Columbia.edu: https://www.law.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/microsites/law-economics-studies/olmstead_-_cotton_slavery_and_history_of_new_capitalism_131_nhc_28_sept_2016.pdf

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