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Cotton South Quotations 

"The expansion of the South across the Appalachians and the Mississippi River to the fringes of the high plains was one of the great American folk wanderings. . . . [T]he South needed some commercial crop adapted to the climate, demanded by the overseas market, and suitable for production in circumstances ranging from the frontier farm to the great plantation." Albert Cowdrey. This Land, This South: An Environmental History (1983).
"After the selection of the soil most suitable for cotton, the preparation of it was of vital importance. The land was deeply plowed, long enough before the time of planting to allow the spring rains to settle it. Then it was thrown into beds or ridges by turning furrows both ways toward a given center. . . . The plant made its appearance in about ten days after planting. . . . It required four months, under the most favorable circumstances, for cotton to attain its full growth. . . . It bloomed about the first of June and the first balls opened about August 15. . . . The blooms come out in the morning and are fully developed by noon, when they are a pure white. Soon after they begin to develop reddish streaks, and the next morning are a clear pink. They fall off by noon of the second day." Louis Hughes, Thirty Years a Slave: From Bondage to Freedom (1897).
"In September or October the bolls filled out and burst into white puffs of lint. . . .The cotton gin separated the seeds from the lint, which was baled and sold." Pete Daniel, Breaking the Land (1985).
"For a century and a half cotton farming dominated the southern United States. Indeed the invention of the cotton gin [in 1793] followed by only four years the establishment of the government. . . . The cotton gin was such a simple machine that it was endlessly replicated in each settlement as cotton marched west from county to county." Pete Daniel, Breaking the Land (1985).
"The Old South, specifically, had to compete in economic development with the exploding capitalist power of the North, but its basic institution, slavery, rendered futile its attempts to fight the advance of soil exhaustion and economic decline." Eugene Genovese, The Political Economy of Slavery (1989).
"The cotton fields had to depend largely on barnyard manure. . . . To be of use barnyard manure requires considerable care in storage and application, and even today much of it is lost." Eugene Genovese, The Political Economy of Slavery (1989).
"Triumphant agriculture took out heavy liens against the natural dower. Row crops bared the soil, the rows made watercourses for the rains, which were heavy, and the colonial practice of plowing straight up and down hills was by no means extirpated. Further, any system which covers too many fields with the same plant falls afoul of the ecological principle which states that the simplest systems are apt to be the most unstable. . . . In any great center of monoculture, soil toxins develop and parasites of many sorts are encouraged to multiply explosively." Albert Cowdrey, This Land, this South: An Environmental History (1893).