PSM V54 D025 Cotton field in mississippi

A cotton field in Carolina in the 1880s.

The Cotton War refers to the time period within the 19th Century in which several of the American Republics competed with each other over the dominance of production and exportation of globally desired cash crops (most notably cotton and tobacco).

While all of the American Republics got involved at some point (with Maryland, New Netherland, and Pennsylvania also being located in the so called "Cotton Belt"), the main competition would come from the Carolinian Confederacy and the Commonwealth of Virginia, due in great part to their agricultural dominance and continued practice of slave labor.

Carolina had an early lead in the Cotton War, due in greater part the nation's larger abundance of workable territory and utilization of slave labor. At the same time, Virginian productivity was limited to the southeastern parts of the nation, with slave labor being unworkable in the central mountainous regions of the country (which also limited its expansion into the westernmost part of the nation).

In the 1860s, Virginia broke out into civil war, ending with the abolition of slavery. The end of slavery opened Virginian to industrialize themselves and to cooperate with the northern industrial nations. By the 1880s, the Virginian cotton market was catching up to Carolina. International pressure would lead Carolina to abolish slavery in the 1890s, cutting Carolinian productivity down, and helping Virginia to become the dominant cotton exporter for the remainder of the century and throughout the 20th Century (due also in part to Carolina's slow move towards industrialization).

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