Cotton - Why didn't poor white farmers start co-ops

jgoodguy

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#41
Something often overlooked, the whole nation benefited from us being a world power in international market

Would Saudi Arabia still command the level on the world scene without oil......or just be another third world country? Countries can command a certain level of respect internationally from being an economic power instead of a military power.
Agree, but I was thinking more of the gold coming in a time of Mercantilism, gold used in investments along with gold from investments from foreigners. Gold used to buy technology and machines to jump-start US industry.
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jgoodguy

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#43
I agree, one cant be a world power in global market without it benefiting the whole country, in both direct and indirect ways, its hardly just regional
Gold dropped at every waypoint Cotton took on its journey: Factors, Factories, Bankers, Brokers, Exporters, Shipowners and other lubrication of international trade.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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#44
This is from rickwoten.com and Iowa State University

"....In the antebellum era, most white men who sought to participate in the agricultural economy wanted to own their own farm rather than work for someone else, in part because the rapid population growth of the United States ensured an unearned increment derived from increasing land prices. Thus, in the North, farm labor was scarce, and few farmers owned farms much larger than what could be cultivated by one family (in fact, farmers commonly owned more land than they were able to farm). In the slave states, on the other hand, planters with adequate financial resources could acquire tremendous numbers of unfree laborers and thus also cultivate very large tracts of land. The long cotton boom greatly enhanced the demand for slaves, and by the 1850s, slaves made up about 50 percent of the population of the four main cotton states. Slaves, not land, livestock, or machinery, was the most important asset in cotton agriculture. Due to the great demand and the ban on importation of slaves, the price of slaves rose steadily until the Civil War. This meant that even slaveowners outside the cotton areas could benefit from the cotton boom by selling their slaves further south and west. In this way, cotton culture contributed greatly to the southern elite's commitment to slavery. "

A couple of interesting things I've come across and haven't come across.

1) Up here in New England, my grandfather owned very large farms and ended up selling one because he couldn't find enough help to run one in another town. This would have been late 1800s up through and past WW 1.

2) No mention, whatsoever is made of finding gold in 1849 in California in southern citations about cotton. New England had its population so depleted from the '49ers that it took until the 1970s before the population again, in states like Vermont and Maine and the Berkshires of Massachusetts and remote western and northern areas of New Hampshire equaled what it was before gold was found. My reference for that is a talk I went to sponsored by the Historical Society of NH and I questioned it and the fellow giving the talk had a lengthy list with population numbers for common towns I knew in NH. Some of the towns have never recovered and of course this is in more western parts of the state, not the seacoast and commuting areas to Boston and suburbs for that city.

3) So Cotton was so important in all its secondary and tertiary elements that it seems like the young men in the south didn't run off to California for gold? And oddly, W.T. Sherman I think did one of the surveys or geology reports that kind of brought that run about!

4) I saw one reference to a Southern Cracker Culture influencing how white men saw their role working (or not working) in a field. I have no idea what a "Cracker Culture" is. Can someone talk to that?
 

jgoodguy

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#45
3) So Cotton was so important in all its secondary and tertiary elements that it seems like the young men in the south didn't run off to California for gold? And oddly, W.T. Sherman I think did one of the surveys or geology reports that kind of brought that run about!
The modern analogy to cotton is oil.
 

Karen Lips

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#47
The South did have CO-OPs but cotton was a whole different matter due to the labor involved. The CS camp that I'm excavating now covers over 800 acres and the farmer that leases this land to plant cotton can do it with 3 people.

I always remember going to the Co-Op with my Grand Daddy on Saturdays. He spent more BS and telling lies on well his cotton crop was then buying:D
View attachment 228901
What decade was this, if I may ask?
 
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#48
Maybe we need a definition of what was considered a small farmer for antebellum times. I'm off to go look.
Maybe we need to look to the people who lived in that place and time. Here is the thing, property (land) taxes were generally not assessed in the antebellum South in the same way that New Englanders or other moderns' think of them.

Property taxes were a local affair, then as now. Local officials made assessments and levied taxes accordingly. Here is what I have found occurring in the antebellum:

They assessed taxes not on land but on slave ownership. Households that owned numerous slaves were assessed accordingly. Households that owned no slaves (regardless of land ownership) paid no local taxes. Households that owned a few or a handful of slaves were often also exempted from taxation - the exemption was determined locally.

I am suggesting we look to the records and let the records determine who was a "small farmer" and who was a "large (taxable) farmer." Modern internet opinion is worthless, if you ask me.
 

jgoodguy

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#49
Maybe we need to look to the people who lived in that place and time. Here is the thing, property (land) taxes were generally not assessed in the antebellum South in the same way that New Englanders or other moderns' think of them.

Property taxes were a local affair, then as now. Local officials made assessments and levied taxes accordingly. Here is what I have found occurring in the antebellum:

They assessed taxes not on land but on slave ownership. Households that owned numerous slaves were assessed accordingly. Households that owned no slaves (regardless of land ownership) paid no local taxes. Households that owned a few or a handful of slaves were often also exempted from taxation - the exemption was determined locally.

I am suggesting we look to the records and let the records determine who was a "small farmer" and who was a "large (taxable) farmer." Modern internet opinion is worthless, if you ask me.
Do you have any of those land records/examples of local laws?
 

uaskme

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#51
Time on the Cross had a blip on Co-Ops or rather the lack of them. It would of been beneficial, but they simple didn't create them. A lot of these better small farmers will end up working on the Plantations.

Here Time on the Cross talks about a comprehensive farm study done in the early 20th Century:

The following are the interim findings:
1. Southern agriculture as a whole was about 35 percent more efficient than northern agriculture in 1860; that is. on average, a southern farm using a given amount of labor, land, and capital could produce about 35 percent more output than a northern farm, or group of farms, using the same quantities of these inputs.
2. Both southern farms using free labor and southern farms using slave labor were more efficient that northern farms. Compared with each other, however, southern slave farms were 28 percent more efficient than southern free farms. Compared with northern farms, southern free farms were 9 percent more efficient, while slave farms were 40 percent more efficient.
3. There were economies of scale in southern agriculture. This means that a single large farm using given quantities of inputs could produce more output that a group of small farms which together used the same quantities of inputs. Not all of the superior efficiency of slave farms are due to economies of scale. And not all economies of scale were in production. Our measures indicate that plantations of moderate size in the New South (sixteen to fifty slaves) may have had certain advantages in production over very large plantations.

In general, however, the larger the farm, the greater the role of economies of scale. Economics of scale contributed only 6 percent to the efficiency of fairly small plantations with from one to fifteen slaves. Scare led to a 15 percent gain in efficiency for moderate-sized plantations with between sixteen and fifty slaves. And the average scale at which the largest plantations operated--those with over fifty slaves--raised their efficiency by just over 23 percent. In other words, plantations with just a few slaves were not really able to take advantage of the benefits of large-scale organization. Moderate-sized plantations were able to achieve most but not quite all, of the benefits of large-scale organization which accrued to the very large plantations. pp192-194 Time on the Cross by Fogel and Engerman

So, the Co-Op probably would not of saved them. Also, in Cotton Production, the South never achieved the production rates Post War to the same levels Pre War. By this time Planters knew how to get the most out of their Slaves. Free Labor never matched those production rates.
 

archieclement

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#52
Maybe we need to look to the people who lived in that place and time. Here is the thing, property (land) taxes were generally not assessed in the antebellum South in the same way that New Englanders or other moderns' think of them.

Property taxes were a local affair, then as now. Local officials made assessments and levied taxes accordingly. Here is what I have found occurring in the antebellum:

They assessed taxes not on land but on slave ownership. Households that owned numerous slaves were assessed accordingly. Households that owned no slaves (regardless of land ownership) paid no local taxes. Households that owned a few or a handful of slaves were often also exempted from taxation - the exemption was determined locally.

I am suggesting we look to the records and let the records determine who was a "small farmer" and who was a "large (taxable) farmer." Modern internet opinion is worthless, if you ask me.
If your looking for a industry standard nationwide...….local definition of property taxes is worthless if ask me

would need something thats constant......income, net worth, or acreage no matter the crop or local law. Today the SBA defination for agriculture is "Maximum of $750,000 in average receipts"

Agriculture is going to vary by region as it entails every type of livestock and crop production, still need one standard to define small within the industry
 
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#55
This article explains it as well as anything. https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.co...w-slave-tax-warped-alabama-finances/97447706/

I disagree with the conclusions of article particularly that today's tax structure problems really are rooted in the slave tax. Also it ignores the economic devastation of the war and reconstruction. The idea that you could impose a property tax to replace the slave tax immediately after the war is ludicrous. There was a lack of capital to finance normal year to year ag operations much less restoration of infrastructure destroyed by the war. The headline that accompanied the article when it appeared in print implied that present revenue shortfalls were from nonpayment of the slave tax. I earnestly asked my farmer friends why they weren't paying their slave tax.
 

ebg12

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#56
Good points. The point of a cash crop is to have spending money after the necessities of life are provided for. Corn Whisky as a cash crop was the basis for the Whisky Rebellion. After the Civil War and the rise of sharecropping, subsistence farming declined with an increase in cash crop production.
I agree. I like to add that even up to 1950....3/4th of the cotton grown had to be picked by hand because still in 1950 the modern
machinery was inefficient at the task. So, before 1950, an increase in acreage to grow cotton, meant an increase in "hands" to pick that cotton was needed. So poor white farmers before the civil war could make extra cash by growing the cotton they could pick, but a co-op meant you the had to buy slaves to survive. Besides, human nature leads to greed...they would also be one person that would want it all for themselves in a co-op, and would push the other farmers out.
 

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