Why did the South decide to withhold cotton from England and France during the Civil War?
The South did this because it felt that it could use its cotton as a weapon to force the European countries to help it in the war. The South felt that the economies of these two countries (and Britain's in particular) were so dependent on cotton that withholding it would harm them badly. Faced with such harm to their economies, these major world powers would side with the Confederacy. They would recognize the South's independence and would put pressure on the North to recognize it as well. In this way, the South would be able to win their independence much more easily through the use of cotton as a weapon.