Cotton Diplomacy

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Cotton Diplomacy

During the 1850's, the vast differences between the North and the South brought about the impending notion of war between the two. The South knew that the North had them beat on every level. The North had manufacturing capabilities with factories that could produce supplies necessary for outfitting an army. Also, the North's population of 22 million was nearly three times the population of the South. The South only had nine million people, four million of whom were black slaves. This larger population provided a steady source of military and civilian manpower, and was important in a war of attrition. Lastly, the North grew most of the country's food, and a fighting army can get very hungry. The South had the plantations, but mostly cash crops were grown there. The South wanted to use their cash crops in order to help them during a war if one ever ensued. They thought of a plan that could help them do just that: The Cotton Diplomacy. This idea was first brought up by a senator from South Carolina, by the name of James Henry Hammond. In an 1858 speech to the Senate, Hammond claimed that "Cotton was King" and the European nations with whom the South sold cotton to would back them up if there ever was a war (Dictionary of American History, 12/2/07). After Hammond's speech, Cotton diplomacy became the idea that Britain and France required southern cotton to the point of extending diplomatic recognition to the South. Southerners believed they could use cotton to lure England and France into recognizing the Confederacy. Although the Confederate Congress never formally approved an embargo, the state governments and private citizens voluntarily withheld the crop from the market in hopes of causing a "cotton famine" overseas. Theoretically, widespread shortages would shut down European mills, forcing governments to recognize and perhaps come to the military aid of the Confederacy. However, the Confederate States of America significantly overestimated...
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