Philadelphia Press, January 25, 1861
Great reliance has been placed by the Secession leaders upon the importance of their great staple—cotton—to the manufacturing and business interests of the world, for the success of their treasonable and revolutionary schemes. They proudly boast that “Cotton is King,” and argue from this assertion, that whatever is demanded in its name by those who assume to act as leaders of the States devoted to its production, must be peremptorily yielded up. Their war cry is something like that of the Mahommedans [sic], “Great is Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet” Their version being “Great is King Cotton—we are his apostles—let no man dare to oppose us.”
It is certainly undeniable that cotton is, at the present day, one of the most important products of the world; that a vast amount of capital has been invested in machinery, specially adapted to its manufacture, which would be comparatively useless for all other purposes; that hundreds of thousands of operatives depend for their subsistence upon the wages they earn by converting it into useful fabrics; that the consumption of cotton goods is now an important feature of the domestic economy of nearly every family in the civilized world; and that, therefore, one of the greatest calamities that could occur would be the inability of those who have heretofore purchased, manufactured, sold, and worn cotton goods to procure the supplies of raw materials to which they have become accustomed.
Nevertheless, it is by no means absolutely certain that those who assume to speak and act for the cotton-producing interest will be enabled to hold sovereign sway over all the cotton planters, those with whom they have heretofore been politically associated, and the civilized world generally, and that all their requests, however unreasonable or unjust they may be, must therefore be cheerfully granted.
It is true that the Southern portion of our Union has heretofore proved the main reliance of manufacturers in England, on the continent, and in our own country, for their supplies, and if the Union is preserved this state of things will probably continue for a long period of time. The growth of cotton being an important element of American wealth, as our Government has heretofore been constituted, our whole nation should, and does, rather rejoice in than regret that this state of dependence exists; but if the Confederacy is to be dissolved, the people of the Northern States will naturally regard with much more favor and interest than heretofore the efforts which are constantly being made to develop and increase the capacities of other cotton-growing countries. Vain as many of these exertions have proved, of late years some of them have been attended with no inconsiderable degree of success. The available product of India, which is one of the oldest cotton-growing countries in the world, will soon, it is said, be very much increased by the completion of great railway lines that will cheaply convey to the seaboard immense quantities which could not heretofore be procured from the almost inaccessible interior in the absence of the necessary facilities for transportation. Great hopes are also entertained in England of the establishment of immense cotton plantations in Australia, as well as of the success of Dr. LIVINGSTONE in his exertions in Africa to stimulate and encourage some of the tribes of that benighted continent to engage extensively in the business which their sable brethren conduct so well, under the direction of their masters in this country.
But even supposing all these plans to fail, as possibly they may, there is no doubt that the continuance of such revolutionary movements as are now being made in the Gulf States will have a constant and powerful tendency to stimulate the inventive genius of the world to redoubled exertions to devise, as far as possible, substitutes for cotton, and to spare no pains or expense to infuse additional energy and determination into the efforts which have long been made in other cotton-producing countries to increase their supply.
If cotton is indeed a monarch, he must remember that, in this progressive age, despotic pretentions are not cheerfully submitted to, and that, if he is determined to indulge in them, such resolute steps may be taken to dethrone him as will, sooner or later, be crowned with partial, if not complete success.
But another, and perhaps a more correct view, may also be very properly taken of this subject. In the nature of things, the men who raise cotton are naturally as anxious to sell as manufacturers are to buy it. As long as the Gulf States produce their present staple they will desire purchasers for it. If, on account of their revolutionary attitude, it cannot find its accustomed outlet to the great markets of the world from their own seaports, large quantities will still be sent to the North in exchange for the agricultural and manufacturing products which are absolutely essential to the existence and comfort of the people of the South. Already striking evidences of this fact are to be found in the unprecedentedly large quantities of cotton which have recently been sent up the Mississippi to Cairo, and thence by railroad to Montreal for transportation to England, as well as in the recent shipments over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and over the Pennsylvania Railroad to our own city, and from here to some of the manufacturing towns of New England.
If, as is now not improbable, it should become necessary, or be deemed expedient, to repeal the acts of Congress establishing a number of the Southern ports of entry, in consequence of the inability of our Government to enforce in them the existing revenue laws, an immense impetus will be given to this new course of cotton transportation, and the chief sufferers, in a business point of view, will be rather the planters, the merchants of Southern cities, and the owners of vessels engaged in the coasting trade, than the purchasers of cotton.