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In 1846, political economist Karl Marx wrote that "without cotton, you have no modern industry." Indeed, before the American Civil War, cotton brought wealth, power and prosperity to both America and Europe. Giant industries in the northern U.S., extensive shipping networks up and down the Atlantic Coast and to Europe, new inventions and revised applications of old machines--all sprang from the success of King Cotton. This thoughtful study traces the impact of southern cotton on most of the important facets of life in antebellum America, including employment, international relations, agriculture, shipping, the U.S. economy, Native American relations, and the subjugation of humans. This one plant fashioned the way of life of the South and profoundly affected the destiny of the entire American people.

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