Cotton.The cotton of commerce, now so widely used throughout the civilized world in the manufacture of textile fabrics, is the product of several varieties of plants belonging to the genus gossypium, natural order malaceae, of which the best known species is the gossypium barbadense, the cotton that is cultivated so extensively in the United States. Of this plant there are two varietiesthe long staple, or sea-island cotton, which is grown exclusively upon the islands along the coast and in a few places on the mainland in Georgia. Florida and South Carolina, and the short staple, or upland cotton, which is successfully grown everywhere in the Union south of the 35th parallel. A small quantity is raised north of that line, but is usually of an inferior quality.
India is the oldest cotton producing country in the world. In the early part of the seventh century the manufacture of cotton cloth was introduced into Spain by the Mohammedans, and in course of time it spread to all the European countries. In 1721 the first cotton was planted in Virginia, and eleven or twelve years later it was introduced in Georgia and South Carolina. The cotton crop of the colonies in 1790 was a little less than 9,000 bales. Three years later the cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney, and in 1800 the crop was nearly 180,000 bales, much of the increase being due to Whitney's invention. By 1860 the production reached to over 5,000,000 bales, with an average weight of 445 pounds. Then came the great Civil war, during which the Southern ports were in a state of blockade, so that the cotton could not find an outlet to market, and the production practically ceased.
It was in this period that the experiment of raising cotton in the Northern states was tried. Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, Nevada, Utah, California and Kansas all joined the ranks of the cotton growing states, and while the amount raised was not sufficient to supply the demand, and the quality was not as good as that of the cotton grown farther south, at the close of the war these states were producing annually something like 300,000 pounds of cotton.
The experiment was tried in practically every county of Kansas, but it was found that only the southern portion of the state was adapted to the cultivation of cotton. After the war came the reconstruction period, during which the industries of the South were almost completely paralyzed, so that it was several years before the cotton growing states were able to produce anything like a normal crop. As late as 1878 cotton was grown in 22 counties of Kansas, the report of the state board of agriculture for that year showing that there were 508 acres planted in cotton, and the value of the crop was $8,523.70. More than one-half the entire amount was raised in Crawford county, where there were 333 acres of cotton fields and the value of the product was $5,833.50. From that time cotton growing in the state gradually declined, owing to the fact that the Southern states were increasing their production, and the cost of labor in those states made it impossible for the Kansas cotton planter to compete with them. The report of the state board of agriculture for 1910 shows that cotton was raised in but two counties of the state10 acres in Cowley county and 24 acres in Montgomeryand the value of the entire crop was but $790.Page 458 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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