Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Cattle in the Cotton Fields: A History of Cattle Raising in Alabama

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Cattle in the Cotton Fields: A History of Cattle Raising in Alabama

Article excerpt

Cattle in the Cotton Fields: A History of Cattle Raising in Alabama. By Brooks Blevins. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998. Pp. xii, 219. Preface, appendix, illustrations, notes, bibliography, and index. $34.95.)

Brooks Blevins is to be complimented for writing a detailed and comprehensive history of the cattle industry in Alabama. Cattle and cotton, the two major cash crops in Alabama, have had a long and important relationship in the developing agricultural economy of that state. In addition to providing details of agricultural development in Alabama, this book should be of interest to those studying the agricultural history of the South.

Cattle played an important role in the exploration, settlement, and development of North America. French, Spanish, and Native Americans had a part in bringing cattle to Alabama. By the early 1800s, cattle raising had become increasingly the domain of Anglo-American settlers. During this period, as land became available, cotton plantations occupied the fertile soils of the Black Belt and the Tennessee Valley regions. In the Piedmont were small cotton growers and yeoman farmers. In that region, as in the north, hogs were the dominant livestock. The southern piney woods became Alabama's herding cattle region. There the operations followed the traditional "Cowpens" open range Spanish-British herding style typical across the southern colonies. These were "Cracker" type cattle. Such were the antebellum patterns of cattle production in Alabama.

The cattle population was reduced during the Civil War by almost half the prewar numbers. Postwar Reconstruction was a difficult time for all agriculture. Expansion of cotton production after the Civil War pushed herders into the more inaccessible reaches of the backcountry. …

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