Global Demand for Cotton
Enslaved workers’ production in cotton was the backbone of the American financial and shipping industries. Same for the British textile industry. Cotton was not shipped directly to Europe from the South. It actually was shipped to New York and then transshipped to England and other centers of cotton manufacturing in the United States and Europe. After the Panic of 1837, there was a long depression, according to MeasuringWealth.com. Finally, the almost three-fold increase in prices after 1843 can be explained by several factors, including the rapid increase in the worldwide demand for cotton and increased productivity in the South attributable to better soil and improvements in the cotton plant. It is clear that during this time the market for enslaved Blacks was active, and they were regarded as more valuable.
Banks and financial institutions benefited by making loans or investments in the cotton plantation businesses, spurring more business and more money for the banks and plantation owners. The economic power of owning one enslaved person was much higher earlier in the century — as high as $8 million. This finding, according to MeasuringWorth.com, is consistent with the history of the period when Southern states exercised great influence on such issues as tariffs, banking, and new areas of the country that would allow slavery. The “power measure” of owning a single person declined as time moved on because industrialization and agriculture in the North grew faster than the slave economy.