Cotton is King

April 15, 2010

Speaking of war, the War between the States began 149 years ago this week. Woohoo! And what a war it was. Lasting four years and claiming over one million people, the American Civil War killed 3% of the total population. To put it in perspective, if there were a comparable war today, we’d be talking about 9 million people dead.

And for what? Slavery? Well, Abraham Lincoln said free the slaves in his Emancipation Proclamation, and surely, it was the right thing to do. But the South, with a slave population of 60%, said “what the hell?” and told the North to go pound sand. Because if the South were made to give up their slaves, their cotton revenue would have fallen away and, one can assume, would have bankrupted their economy. And they were right, as cotton production fell from 4.5 million bales before the war to 300,000 after. So on April 12, 1861, they started shooting. When it came right down to it, the war wasn’t about morality. It was all about the money, nothing more. But hey, some great technology came out of it, including the Spencer rifle, the Gatling gun, and trench warfare.

You should read “Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara if you’re at all interested. It’s a great book.

P.S. I’m no historian, but it seems to me that history continues to repeat itself. Why else are we fighting bad men in the Middle-East right now, when there are so many other bad men to fight in non oil-rich countries (Uganda, Darfur, Rwanda)? Again, it’s all about the money.

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