Rise of the New West, 1819-1829

By Frederick Jackson Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE SOUTH (1820-1830)

IN the decade which forms the subject of this volume, no section underwent more far-reaching changes than did the group of South Atlantic states made up of Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, with which this chapter will deal under the name of the south. Then it was that the south came to appreciate the effect of the westward spread of the cotton-plant upon slavery and politics.

The invention of the cotton-gin by Eli Whitney,1 in 1793, made possible the profitable cultivation of the short-staple variety of cotton. Before this, the labor of taking the seeds by hand from this variety, the only one suited to production in the uplands, had prevented its use; thereafter, it was only a question of time when the cotton area, no longer limited to the tidewater region, would extend to the interior, carrying slavery with it. This invention came at an opportune time. Already the inventions of Arkwright, Hargreaves, and Cartwright had worked a revolution in the textile industries of England, by

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1
Am. Hist. Review, III., 99.

-45-

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