Did only Southerners benefit from the expansion of slavery and the Cotton Kingdom?

It was not only Southerners who benefited from the expansion of the Cotton Kingdom and slavery. However, the world soon learned that there were other sources of cotton that did not involve slavery.

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One thing to remember when considering this question is that only a minority of Southern planters directly benefited from the expansion of slavery and the expansion of the Cotton Kingdom. The majority of Southerners were either small landowners or had no prospects for owning good land for agriculture.

Many groups benefited from the expansion of the Cotton Kingdom. Textile mills in the Northeast and Europe benefited from the availability of cheap Southern cotton. The mills employed many of the working poor in Britain and New England, and there was a constant demand for textile production. An increase in cotton production would allow for cheaper textiles, thus creating more demand in the garment industry as well. While cotton was not as lucrative as whale oil or the China trade, bales of cotton still made a popular cargo for transatlantic shippers. Anything to increase this would make them more profits by potentially creating the need for more shipping runs. Shipping insurance underwriters and investors could also make more money from shipping cotton. In addition to rich plantation owners, many other groups benefited from the spread of slavery and the expansion of the Cotton Kingdom.

When the Civil War started, the rich plantation owners who took leadership positions in the Confederate government hoped to use the Cotton Kingdom to benefit the secession movement. They soon realized that a strong cotton crop in 1860 curtailed demand abroad in 1861. Also, by the end of the war, Britain was turning to India and Egypt to supply its cotton-growing needs. The US domestic need was fed by captured Confederate cotton warehouses, and shippers shipped other cargoes, such as whale oil and consumer goods.

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