In 1858 Senator James Henry Hammond of South Carolina replied to Senator William H. Seward of New York:
"Without the firing of a gun, without drawing a sword, should they [Northerners] make war upon us [Southerners], we could bring the whole world to our feet. What would happen if no cotton was furnished for three years? . . England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her. No, you dare not make war on cotton! No power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton is King."
Cotton is King!
Cotton is grown in 12 of our 13 Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Florida and Virginia) stretching from Virginia to Florida, with Texas growing the most at 4.5 million bales annually.
Cotton covers more than 12 million acres or about 19,000 square miles. From this combined acreage, Southern cotton farmers annually harvest about 17 million bales or 7.2 billion pounds of cotton. Business revenue stimulated by the crop in the South’s economy is estimated to be close to $120 billion.
At the farm level alone, the production of each year's crop involves the purchase of more than $5.3 billion worth of supplies and services ... stimulating business activity for factories and enterprises throughout the country. In a typical year, cotton farmers invest more than $652 million in fertilizers, $762 million in agricultural chemicals and $238 million in planting seed. They also pay out more than $528 million in fuel and equipment and $610 million in farm labor.
More than half the crop (64 percent) goes into apparel, 28 percent into home furnishings and 8 percent into industrial products each year.
An often-overlooked component of the crop is the vast amount of cottonseed that is produced along with the fiber. Annual cottonseed production averages 5.7 million tons. More than 9 billion pounds of whole cottonseed and cottonseed meal are used in feed for livestock, dairy cattle and poultry. And more than 154 million gallons of cottonseed oil are used for food products ranging from margarine to salad dressing.
Textile mills will spin almost 10 million bales of cotton this year. That's enough cotton to make almost 3 billion pairs of men's jeans and 8 billion men's dress shirts.
About two thirds of the harvested crop is composed of the seed, which is crushed to separate its three products–oil, meal and hulls. Cottonseed oil is a common component of many food items, used primarily as a cooking oil, shortening and salad dressing. The oil is used extensively in the preparation of such snack foods as crackers, cookies and chips. The meal and hulls are used as livestock, poultry and fish feed and as fertilizer.
A History of Cotton (click)
A Study by Narvell Strickland
Southern Cotton Production
One bale of cotton can make:
249 Bed Sheets
409 Men's Sport Shirts
690 Terry Bath Towels
765 Men's Dress Shirts
1,217 Men's T-Shirts
2,104 Boxer Shorts
2,419 Men's Briefs
4,321 Mid-Calf Socks
6,436 Women's Knit Briefs
21,960 Women's Handkerchiefs
313,600 $100 Bills*
A bale of cotton weighs
about 480 pounds.