What was the rise of cotton belt and the slave system?
The cotton belt was a region of the United States where much cotton was grown. Slavery was tied to the growth of the cotton belt. Prior to the invention of the cotton gin, most cotton was grown along the coast. This cotton, called long staple cotton, could have its seeds easily separated by machines. The limitation with long staple cotton was that it could only be grown along the coast. This limited how much land was available for growing cotton.
Once the cotton gin was invented, cotton could be grown anywhere in the South where the land would support its growth. This area of the Deep South where much cotton could now be grown was called the cotton belt. Cotton grown away from the coast was called short staple cotton. With this cotton, it was hard to separate the seeds from the cotton. It had to be done by hand. Once the cotton gin was invented, short staple cotton could now be separated by this machine. This opened up much more land in the South for growing cotton. Because so much more land could now be used for growing cotton, slavery grew significantly. More slaves were needed to tend to the fields and to work on the growing of cotton. The cotton gin made slavery more essential to the South. By 1860, cotton was the main export of the South, and the southerners believed more than ever that slavery was necessary.