Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cotton And Its Worshippers

The Richmond Congress is puzzled what to do about cotton.  Mr. Brown, of Mississippi, proposes to make it a criminal offence for a planter to grow more than three bales for his family and one bale for each of his field hands.  He though that without some strict prohibitions “a large class of grasping Shylocks” (Southern planters and gentlemen called Shylocks) would certainly go on planting cotton in the hope to make a great profit.

It is a curious comment on the loud professions in favor of free trade and State-rights, that Mr. Brown’s resolution, levying a tax of forty dollars per ball on all cotton grown beyond a certain amount – a flagrant interference with the course of trade, and, as Mr. Hunter remarked, an unconstitutional interference with the States – received in the Confederate Senate nine votes out of twenty, counting the mover, who did not vote.

Mr. Semmes, of Louisiana, said, in the course of the debate, that he “had long since abandoned the idea that cotton is king.  We have tested the powers of King Cotton and found him wanting.”  Mr. Barnwell, of South Carolina, seemed of a similar opinion.  He said:  “We must have a monopoly of the market.  We begin to find out we have not a monopoly, that cotton can be produced elsewhere.”  The planters are evidently awakening to the fact that they are not yet masters of the civilized world. – {National Intelligencer.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 3

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