The most used phrase to describe the U.S. economic growth of the 19thcentury was “Cotton Is King.” Based on the statistics of that period, I would say that the phrase sums the period up pretty well.
Cotton production in the United States gained a large share of the world market between the years of 1840 and 1860. The United States accounted for an average of 65.5% throughout that time. The next up would be India with an average of 16.6% following with the rest of Asia, which brought out an average of 7.9%.
The consumption of cotton was led by Great Britain with a total of 459 million pounds in 1840 followed by an increase of 1084 million pounds in 1860. Second in consumption would be the United States with 146 million pounds in 1840 with an increase to 386 million pounds in 1860.
Cotton proved to be a valuable export in the United States during the early 19thcentury. Leading exported manufactured goods like beef, pork, and rice could not be touched by cotton exports. From 1816 to 1820, the value of cotton was $121.5 and would later increase to be $744.6 by 1860. During the same period of 1816 to 1820, the value of rice was only $13.1. That’s a big difference.
The production of cotton was a major reason for the growth of the American economy. It flourished with the mass consumption of cotton that led to great profit as an export. Cotton productivity remained central for the economy all throughout the 19thcentury.
As a side note…
BEHIND THE SUCCESS: There was a dependence on cotton that was matched by its slaves to harvest the cotton. Cotton and Slavery were intertwined and formed the foundation of the United States’ economic success.
To find out more about the role that cotton played in the 19thcentury, visit this site: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/why-was-cotton-king/
By Kristan Wilkins
Word Count: 314