Friday, November 07, 2008
This week took me through South Carolina cotton country to Holly Mill, SC.
The first cottonseed came to South Carolina with the Europeans on their sailing vessels. Any man unable to pay passage to the colonies was allowed to make payment with 200 pounds of cotton, ginger, or tobacco within two years of arrival.
Cotton was first exported from South Carolina to England in 1764, and the first cotton mill was built on James Island in 1789. Sea Island cotton, which had long, fine, strong fibers, was favored in both English and American markets. Mrs. Kinsey Burden of St. Paul’s Parish raised the first long-staple cotton crop in South Carolina, and William B. Seabrook of Edisto Island discovered that the best seed for growing Sea Island cotton was the "black seed" variety.
During the Civil War, the Confederate government banned the export of cotton, hoping to produce a cotton famine in England and France which would force these nations to recognize the Confederacy and to lend support. After the war, Confederates burned and Northerners seized the remaining cotton bales. By the time the nation entered WWI, the boll weevil had infiltrated the cotton fields in South Carolina, and cotton farming began to suffer.