This site was suggested to me by a reader, which is always a thrill – it’s nice to hear from you, and to exchange new knowledge!
Reading about cotton was a bit like reading about salt; it’s one of those commodities that’s so omnipresent I never spared it much thought. But this tshirt sales site surprisingly offers a good little history about the cultivation of cotton.
As mentioned above, cotton and cotton cloth that date back 7,000 years have been recovered. With that fact in mind, it’s no surprise that by 3,000 BC, cotton was being grown and woven on a commercial scale in the Indus River Valley and along the Egyptian Nile. Cotton traveled to Europe at around 800 A.D., courtesy of Arabian traders. It was not, however, passed along to America in the same way. When Christopher Columbus landed in 1492, he was surprised to discover cotton in the Bahaman Islands. Cotton began growing in the southern United States around 1556, and by 1793, it was being spun by Eli Whitney’s cotton gin. The cotton gin completely revolutionized the speed with which cotton could be produced. Before its introduction, laborers had to struggle to pick clean one pound of cotton per day. With the help of the cotton gin, a single worker could clean and produce fifty pounds of cotton per day. Of course, this meant that more laborers would mean more money for plantation owners, and this put slaves at high demand.