The West And Cotton Culture


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2010 JPS Teach American History

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The West And Cotton Culture

  1. 1. The West and Cotton CultureJeff Kolnick, JPS Workshop Summer 2010<br />
  2. 2. The West<br />
  3. 3. How do we teach “The West?”<br />Cowboys and Indians<br />Covered Wagons and Pioneers<br />Environment and Mining<br />Farming and Land <br />Immigrants and Railroads<br />Gunfights and Saloons<br />Pioneer Women and Children<br />Where is “The West?”<br />Can the South be part of “The West?”<br />
  4. 4. Two Dominant Images of the West<br />
  5. 5. The South as West<br />Land taking?<br />Indian killing?<br />Pioneer families?<br />Frontier violence?<br />Cotton and farming?<br />Labor??<br />
  6. 6. Looking West: The Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812<br />The 1803 purchase of Louisiana from France pointed to the direction of the nation’s future: Jefferson’s Empire of Liberty.<br />Though there are many causes to the War of 1812, the dispute with the British over lands in the West is a key.<br />Battle of New Orleans secures the lands purchased by Jefferson from the French.<br />The ultimate result of the war was to open lands in the West to white settlement, including lands in the South that would use slave labor.<br />Black Americans served in the war as soldiers and sailors for the US, playing a key roles in the Battle of New Orleans, making up one in ten sailors in the US Navy on the Great Lakes, and participating significantly in the defense of Philadelphia.<br />Once again the British offered freedom to enslaved Africans who made it to their lines and at least eight thousand successfully escaped, making this the largest act of self liberation between the Revolution and the Civil War. <br />
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  8. 8. Cotton and the West: Impacts<br />The unsettling impact of the Revolution was lost in the South.<br />Massive resettlement and movement of enslaved Africans.<br />Very heavy investment of southern whites in the idea of slavery and the creation of the cotton south as the idea of Dixie.<br />Enormous profits for many, planters and traders in particular. <br />
  9. 9. Cotton Culture<br />Sea Island Cotton was grown in the colonies along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia during colonial times. <br />During the Revolution, short staple cotton was grown due to a shortage of fiber for fabrics.<br />The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 allowed for the expansion of cotton cultivation into the West and black belts of the eastern seaboard states. <br />Though less arduous than sugar of rice cultivation, cotton plantations required massive work loads and sunup to sundown labor 52 weeks a year. <br />In 1790 the south produced 3,155 bales of cotton. In 1800 it was 73,145 and by 1830 it was 334,378 bales.<br />
  10. 10. Labor<br />Planting, cultivation, and harvesting occurred for most enslaved people in a gang labor system and began before sunrise and ended at sunset and occurred in all kinds of weather.<br />Besides those tasks associated with cultivation, those folk who worked in the fields did all the other tasks associated with farming including breaking ground, clearing land, lumbering, fencing, livestock raising, etc.<br />Then there were the skilled trades associated with the mechanics of ginning, carpentry and building, and other crafts necessary for maintaining a farm. <br />
  11. 11. Population Movement and the Internal Slave Trade<br />In 1810, before the War of 1812, about 40,000 non indigenous people lived in what is now Mississippi and Alabama. In 1820, that number has risen to 200,000 and would reach 1,000,000 by 1840, a substantial portion of which were enslaved Africans. <br />Ira Berlin, in a new books looks at migration as a central theme in black history. He posits the idea of Four Great Migrations. <br />The international Slave Trade, abolished in 1807.<br />The internal slave trade.<br />The Great Migration to the North in the middle years of the 20th century.<br />The new migrants to the US from Africa and the African Diaspora after the Immigration Reform Act of 1965.<br />
  12. 12. The Internal Slave Trade<br />Tremendously disruptive on those who experienced it.<br />Profoundly negative impact on family and community which had to be reconstituted, and on the health of those who endured the trade. <br />Up to 1820, the movement of enslaved people followed the movement of planters, first south into Middle and South Georgia and then west. After this, a formal trade with middlemen became more significant. <br />Even larger than these distant migrations was a thriving local market that also had negative impacts.<br />Most of the forced migrants were young and male, and if you entered the interstate trade, it was likely a one way trip. <br />
  13. 13. Concluding Remarks?<br />What worked?<br />What didn’t?<br />What’s up?<br />