The Overland Movement of Cotton, 1866-1886
THE OVERLAND MOVEMENT OF COTTON, 1866-1886
J. L. WALLER
The greatest importance of railways as a means of transpor-
tation appeared, as far as the South was concerned, in the mar-
keting of cotton. Railroads were introduced very early to ex-
tend the areas of commercial control of the cotton trade by cer-
tain of the South Atlantic ports.' At one time it was hoped by
those advocates in the South of diversified farming and encour-
agement of industry that the railroads would result in destroy-
ing the monopoly of cotton culture in the South. Quite to the
contrary, railroads simply opened up more cotton lands that had
previously been inaccessible to markets, and thus, instead of
weakening the hold of cotton culture, the railroads tended to
intrench this industry.2 Most of the cotton carried by the rail-
roads during ante-bellum days was to the Gulf and South At-
lantic ports. However, some cotton went by rail direct to north-
ern markets before 1860. It is in this particular field of trans-
portation, the "overland movement" of cotton, that this paper is
to deal. This phase of the marketing of cotton was due entirely
to the widespread use of railways for transportation."
The "overland movement" of cotton was of slight importance
before 1860. This movement of cotton was of two distinct
phases: the movement to northern markets for distribution-
principally for export-and the movement direct to manufac-
tories.4 Both phases will be considered. For a number of years
following the war there was a decided tendency to ship cotton over-
land to northern markets for export, but after 1882 the percent-
age of the crop moved overland for this purpose did not mate-
'Phillips, U. B., A History of Transportation in the Eastern Gotton
Belt to 1860, 17.
3"Overland movement" of cotton refers to that part of the cotton that
passed direct from concentration points in the cotton-belt to manufac-
tories in the North and East, or to northern points for export. Most of
this cotton passed out of the cotton-belt through St. Louis or crossed the
Ohio River at such points as Louisville and Cincinnati.--Johnson, E. R.,
et al., History of Domestic and Foreign Commerce of the United States,
1, 280-281; see, also, Report on Internal Commerce, 1886, lxv.
4Report on Internal Commerce. 1886, lxviii.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101092/. Accessed July 31, 2015.