The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970 Page: 457
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Cotton on the Border, 1861-1865
Europe; it was to insure the international success of the South as a
nation. In short, cotton was king."
But the Confederate strategy became an unintentional perversion
of this plan. When the European powers did not immediately recognize
the South's independence, President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet
agreed that the method by which they would achieve their goal would
be withholding cotton from the international market. They hoped
that the ensuing shortage would force Great Britain to intervene in
the war, or at least recognize their government. Some planters refused
to export their cotton even before the Union blockade became effec-
tive, then they burned it, still trying to provoke British intervention.8
The most significant dissenter from this policy was Secretary of State
Judah P. Benjamin, who initially agreed with Davis, but soon advo-
cated hypothecation of the cotton-a plan whereby cotton would be
set aside as security for bonds sold in Europe. By storing the cotton at
government expense, instead of holding it off the market or burning
it, Benjamin hoped to build up southern credit in Europe.'
From the beginning of the conflict, the idea that cotton should be
withheld from the world market was unpopular in Texas. Most Texans
agreed with the overall policy of their government, but felt that they
should be allowed to continue shipping the fiber to Mexico, because
Matamoros offered such an easy-and profitable-outlet. And the Con-
federate Congress consented. When it voted to prohibit cotton ship-
ments from southern ports, it specifically exempted shipment into
Mexico, ostensibly because the trade supplied several mills there. Two
North Texas companies, those of Colonel Middleton T. Johnson and
the Rhyne brothers, shipped the first big load of cotton, some 3,ooo
bales, to Mexico for exportation to Europe."
'The best account of Confederate diplomatic operations is Frank Lawrence Owsley,
King Cotton Diplomacy: Foreign Relations of the Confederate States of America (2nd ed.
rev.; Chicago, 1959). Also see Stuart Bruchey (ed.), Cotton and the Growth of the
American Economy: 179o-186o (New York, 1967), 73-75; and Henry Blumenthal, "Con-
federate Diplomacy: Popular Notions and International Realities," Journal of Southern
History, XXXII (May, 1966), 151-171. Quote is in H. P. Bee to S. S. Anderson, November
3o, 1862, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union
and Confederate Armies (130 vols.; Washington, 1880-1901), Series I, XV, 882; hereafter
cited as O.R.A.
1J. M. Callahan, The Diplomatic History of the Southern Confederation (Baltimore,
1901), 102-159; Owsley, King Cotton Diplomacy, 1, 43-50; Blumenthal, "Confederate
Diplomacy," 154-171; San Antonio Weekly Herald, September 14, November 9, 1861.
'Owsley, King Cotton Diplomacy, 362-392. Apparently this is the plan referred to in
Tom Lea, The King Ranch (2 vols.; Boston, 1957), I, 188.
1Owsley, King Cotton Diplomacy, 31; Hunter, "Fall of Brownsville," 5.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970, periodical, 1970; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/m1/503/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.