Why did the southern cotton industry have a hard time recovering after the Civil War?

2 Answers
Jun 20, 2017

Britain had started to import cotton from India and Egypt


During the Civil War, Jefferson Davies strted an embargo on cotton and Britain was deprived from American exports, he hoped Britain would join the fight against the North. He was wrong and despite the crisis that struck the textile industry in Manchester for instance. The British turned to their empire to supply in cotton.

Jun 20, 2017

The Civil War had disrupted the production of Cotton in the south.


The large planters had invested their capital in worthless Confederate bonds. The planters did not have the money to plant all of their fields.

Large numbers of previous slaves did not return after the Civil War to work the plantations. This created a work force shortage, which combined with the shortage of capital greatly reduced the number of acres of cotton which could be planted.

Instead of extremely inexpensive slave labour other forms of labour had to be developed. Share cropping and related forms of production were not as efficient as the large scale plantation methods. Also the Share cropping besides being less efficient it was also more expensive.

The number of farms in the south increased from 450,000 to over 1,000,000. The size of the farms decreased from an average of 347 to 156. As the large plantations were more difficult to maintain smaller "yeoman" farmers took over more of the cotton production.

During the Civil war England turned to India, Egypt and Brazil for other sources of Cotton. After the Civil War the South had to compete for market share. It wasn't until 1878 that the South regained its pre Civil War Market Share in Cotton.