Why Does the United States Have a Cotton Belt?
When people think about the United States, agriculture is probably not something that comes to mind; however, agriculture used to be a very important part of the United States. Many of the founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, believed that the country would be dominated by agriculture. Indeed, much of the United States was dominated by agriculture, including cotton, for centuries. Even though the United States no longer has a Cotton Belt, it used to be one of the biggest cotton producers in the world. There are several states that used to make up the Cotton Belt.
What States Are a Part of the Cotton Belt?
When people talk about the Cotton Belt in the United States, they usually refer to the Southeastern part of the country that used to grow tremendous amounts of cotton prior to the Civil War. Specifically, North Carolina was the biggest Cotton Belt State, just as it used to be the largest producer of tobacco. Some of the other states that used to grow significant amounts of cotton include South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. There were plenty of other states that grew cotton as well, but these were the biggest producers. Cotton was important because it was required to make many of the clothes that people wore during the 18th and 19th centuries.
What Happened To the Cotton Belt?
In 1861, the South tried to secede from the United States. This led to the Civil War, which the north ultimately won. At the end of the Civil War, slavery was abolished, and the Southern United States had to agree to get rid of slavery to be readmitted to the union. When slavery was abolished, the Cotton Belt experienced a significant decline. Many people who lived in the South had to change the way they lived their lives to adapt to a new world. It did not necessarily mean that cotton was dead, but it didn't mean that the South became a more diverse area. As a result, simply labeling the southeastern United States as the Cotton Belt no longer made a lot of sense.
Does the United States Still Grow Cotton Today?
Yes, the United States still grows cotton to this day. Even though the southeastern United States has changed significantly, technology has made it easier for people to grow cotton. Instead of having to ask people to pick cotton by hand, machines were developed to make the process easier. For example, the cotton gin was one of the biggest inventions, and it made it much easier for cotton farmers to process cotton before sending it off to the mill. Therefore, the United States is still a significant producer of cotton, but the manner in which the country grows cotton has changed tremendously. The legacy of King Cotton is still alive to this day in the Southern United States, even if it is a bit of a controversial one because of its ties to slavery.