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South-250,000 in a single year-and by the year 1830 the Western country had outstripped the seaboard States in the production of cotton. "Soon thereafter a capital of $55,000,000 was applied to the cultivation of cotton lands in the new States, within three years; and during that same brief period the output of cotton in these States was almost doubled." W. B. Hammond thinks that the expanding geographical distribution of slaves and of cotton cultivation affords the most striking evidence of the close connection of the two institutions that can be had; the lines for the gradual spread of slavery over the map coinciding almost exactly with those suitable for the extension of cotton: as if this plantking were literally leading the human captives in his train. Between 1830 and 1850 the slave population of Maryland decreased and that of Virginia remained stationary, while, as Rhodes points out, Louisiana more than doubled, Alabama nearly trebled, and Mississippi almost quintupled their number of slaves.8
Naturally, the desire for new cotton lands had much to do with the Southern movement for the acquisition of additional national territory, and as negroes were deemed to be absolutely essential to the successful cultivation of this great money crop, every Congressional discussion about new lands inevitably became a slavery controversy. The desire of Southern planters for fresh lands was greatly intensified by the shiftless and unscientific character of slave agriculture, which resulted, notwithstanding the fact that cotton exhausts the soil less than any other of the great staples, in a rapid wearing
The Cotton Industry, p. 59, 8 As cited, i, 315,
out of the lands where it was grown, without rotation, one year after another. Undoubtedly this economic argument influenced the South in favoring the admission of Texas; and probably the same consideration, in spite of the rhetorical denial of Toombs, was influential in the movement for the purchase of Cuba, which led Seward to his gruff remark in the Senate: "The Cuba bill is the question of slaves for the slave-holders." Rhodes thinks that if Cuba had been acquired, no doubt can exist that it would have been admitted into the Union as one or more slave States."
However this may be, there can be no question whatever that it was the extension of the national territory that occasioned the increasingly bitter debates centering around the years 1820, 1845, 1850, and 1854, which, in their turn, brought about a development of increasingly divergent political theories on subjects of vital importance. The first debate, which startled the prophetic vision of Jefferson and produced the "Missouri Compromise," afforded the first clear demarcation between the two sections. To clarify the Congressional action which had accompanied the acquisition of the huge Louisiana country, a literal geographical and political dividing line was now drawn westward from the southern boundary of Missouri, admitted as a slave State with the proviso that in no other part of the territory acquired from France in 1803 north of 36° 30' should there be slavery or involuntary servitude. The Northern States, although they had not opposed the admission of the Southern district centering around New Orleans as slave territory in 1812, now resisted the admission of the Northern district cen9 As cited, ii, 350-352.
tering around St. Louis as the slave State of Missouri; but their resistance was countered by the ingenuity of Thomas of Illinois and the strategic manipulation of Clay, Maine being at the same time admitted as a free State so as to maintain equilibrium.
The maintenance of a geographical "balance of power" henceforth became a matter of vital concern to the South, which began to recognize its profound estrangement from the North, and the consequent conclusion that only by an equalized Congressional representation could it hope for the preservation of its interests.
NOTE. Professor Turner, in his Rise of the New West (page 47) presents a valuable table which shows both the enormous increase in the cotton crop during the period under consideration, and also its extension into the fresh cotton lands:
THIS recognition of sectional estrangement from the North coöperated with the economic tendency in favor of land expansion to produce a Southern sentiment toward nationalism in the direction of the West. Cotton had much to do with the building of the first railroad using an American locomotive in the regular service-the South Carolina railway, connecting Charleston with the head of navigation on the Savannah River (begun in 1830, completed in 1833), for the purpose of deflecting the raw material from its course down the river to Savannah, and for the further ambitious purpose of strengthening connections with the West. The road was extended to Augusta, then to Atlanta and Chattanooga under the name of the "Western and Atlantic;" and finally the "Charleston and Memphis" was built from Chattanooga to Memphis, whereupon a through train was run over the entire line, carrying a company of Memphis and Charleston citizens and also a barrel of water from the Mississippi River, which was emptied into the bay of Charleston to symbolize the future connections of commerce.1 General Hayne, the great colleague of Calhoun and antagonist of Webster, was deeply interested in promoting the construction of a through line from Charleston to Cincinnati, with the expectation that
1 Tompkins, American Commerce, as cited, pp. 113–114.
by deflecting the immense tide of export comm from Pittsburgh and the Middle West down Ohio to Cincinnati and thence by rail to Charleston, this port could be lifted from its already notable standing among American cities to a position second to none.
While this Cincinnati project has only succeeded within recent years, a great Western traffic was built up by the early railroads, which stimulated the extension of cotton culture and in return reduced the cost of Southern living through a plentiful supply of Western "hog and hominy." From 1845 to 1860 the South built more miles of railroad than the New England and Middle States together, and expended over $60,000,000 on mills and factories. In Alabama there was "a sort of frenzy" over railroads in the middle of the 'fifties.
Water traffic also developed. In the lower South, as Brown says, the steamboats, plying all the navigable rivers, enlivening the forests with their steam calliopes, and brightening the lowlands at night with their brilliant cabin lights, were the chief representatives of modern methods of transportation. Cotton was hauled from the plantation to the nearest river bluff, the bales went sliding down an incline to the waiting steamboat, and so passed on to Mobile, New Orleans, Boston, Liverpool. The planter perhaps followed his crop as far as Mobile or New Orleans, made a settlement with his agent, enjoyed his annual outing, and returned with his supplies for another year, not neglecting a proper provision for the fortnight's feasting and jollity at the approaching Christmastide. As for South
2 W. G. Brown, The Lower South in American History: New York, 1902; pp. 36-37.