Here’s a quick look at South Carolina’s addiction to cotton. Like other kinds of junkies, its love of the white stuff led it to make rash decisions and sacrifice its future. By the looks of it, the effects of the Civil War are still plaguing the state.
“The story of cotton itself is as interesting as the stories about its place in American history,” Cox said.
That includes cotton’s role in the Civil War. Thanks to cotton, U.S. Census data ranked South Carolina third in wealth among the states on the eve of the war. With most young men fighting, cotton production fell 96 percent during the war. And since then, South Carolina has consistently been in the bottom 10 in per capita income in the U.S.
The state’s fortunes were tied to cotton long after the war. In the 1880s, some cotton farmers went from the richest men in the state after boom years with good weather to bust in just a few years when drought returned.