African Cotton Harvesting

The African Cotton Harvest of 1851

Some fifty-odd years ago the first few bales of American cotton were stopped at the Liverpool Custom-house, on the ground that they could not be the product of the United State. Now, our export of that staple exceeds in value the commerce in any other single article sent forth by any nation. A vaster structure has hardly ever risen from a smaller beginning.

A few weeks since, the weekly list of imports at the same port contained eight bales of Cotton from Monrovia, the capital town of Liberia, beside twenty bales from Natal. Who can say that this is not the beginning of a trade which, in, time, may rival ours in its extent? The African soil and climate are more favorable to the production of Cotton, and it is said produce a better article more more abundantly, than any that we have in America. We hear from Liberia that a great deal of land has been planted with this crop, and the same thing has been done at Sierra Leone.

A missionary writes from there that native chiefs and others in the vicinity are procuring seed in considerable quantities, and that for the first time a native had just applied to him to buy a cotton gin. He is confident that, in a few years, Cotton will be extensively exported from the West Coast generally.

We trust the efforts making to accomplish this end may be crowned with success. Nothing could do so much to put a stop to the Slave trade, and lay the foundation of civilization in Africa, as the establishment of regular commerce to any considerable extent in some article of agricultural production. Cotton is decidedly the easiest and best thing to make a trial on.

N. Y. Tribune


Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: Frederick Douglass’ Paper
Date: September 4, 1851
Title: African Cotton
Location: Rochester, New York

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