In the American Yawp textbook, chapter 11, “The Cotton Revolution” by Andrew Wegman, it talks about the history of the cotton revolution and how it came to be. This chapter stood out to me because I have heard about the cotton revolution before and knew its meaning, but I have never learned about its history and other important factors. The author first starts off by talking about Petit Gulf cotton, which was what kicked off this revolution. America has had cotton before this discovery of Petit Gulf, however it was never as good and as smooth when it slid through the cotton gin machine. Petit Gulf cotton was found in 1820 and it drastically changed the cotton market in America. At the same time as the discovery of this cotton, the federal government forced a migration on which all Eastern people had to relocate. After this removal act, farmers had the chance to purchase hundreds of acres in the Mississippi River for very little money. By the end of 1830, cotton had become the primary crop and was distributed throughout the region. In 1835, the main cotton growing states were South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Lousisana, and the American South became the world’s leading producer of cotton. Before cotton, the south’s main crop was tobacco, but as cotton started to rise, tobacco wasn’t as important anymore. However, tobacco wasn’t as good after all. It required a lot of movement, laborers, and massive fields, but all it did was treat the land poorly. On the other hand, cotton grew quickly and was very cheap, and that is exactly what led the South to slavery. By 1840, prices started rising and slavery had become so comon that writers began referring to the are as the Black Belt, based on the skin color of the enslaved laborers. Slavery was used for everything, and without it there would not be so much cotton. Cotton became the foundation of southern economy, and the thought of change, such as anti slavery, never crossed anyones mind. The cotton revolution was also a time of capitalism and competition. In chapter 11, it states “The more wealth one gained, the more land one needed to procure, which led to more enslaved laborers, and more mouths to feed.”Nobody wanted to give up slavery, but it was also hard to maintain. Slave owners had to buy enslaved people, and the wealthier they cotton based on the cotton production, the more they had to spend money on their enslaved laborers. Another negative factor to slavery, was that slave owners were afraid of rebellion. They had hundreds of enslaved people working for them, and were also afraid of a sudden attack, or escape. Therefore, the South strongly benefited from the cotton revolution, and many became wealthy, however slavery continued, and many had questions on what to do next if slavery ever ended.
The passage “American Slavery American Freedom” by Mogran describes Slavery in the year 1619, and the reasons behind it. In 1619, the first African enslaved people were brought to Virginia on a ship. Many innocent people were stacked into the ship and placed head to toe with thousands of other people. There were men, women, and even young boys. Everyone was categorized, tied up, and left without any food or water. Many were sick, and many died. Those poor people went through something unimaginable and were treated as animals. The author, Mogran, proceeds to explain in the first few paragraphs the reason why Virginia did such a thing. There was a demand for tobacco in England and Virginia needed as many men as possible for this labor. The captured enslaved people worked mostly on tobacco fields in severe and harsh conditions. They worked from sunrises to sunsets and were often punished by their masters for the slightest mistakes. They were put through impossible labor in horrifying conditions with a lack of food, clothes, shelter, and basic necessities. Morgan states, “ It had, and although Virginians were not at all happy about it, throughout the century they kept crying for more. They wanted men, they could not get enough of them. (pg 295)”. This line is very significant because it shows how Virginians were very stubborn and just wanted servants to do labor for them, even if it wasn’t needed. Virginians first wanted servants; however there was a huge lack of them and many were declining the offer, so Virginia quickly switched over to salvery and took advantage of the poor. Morgan also states, “ It is possible that the conversion to slavery in Virginia was helped, as it was in Barbados, by a decline in the number of servants coming to the colony. (pg 299)”. This line shows that there was a lack of servants coming to the colony and that is why they had to turn to slavery. Throughout the passage there were many insights on Virginia and their thought process, but what stood out to me the most was the fact that African people were not enslaved because of their race. Virginians had to make a decision whether to keep the people or not and that had nothing to do with race. This stood out to me because to me the idea of salvery always associated with racism. However, in this passage the author makes sure that we’re not mistaken and that racism wasn’t the main ingredient to slavery. Overall, this was a very informative reading that made me learn much more information about salvery and made me see it from a different point of view.