Q:

Why was the South's strategy called the King Cotton diplomacy?

A:

Quick Answer

Confederate states attempted to intentionally withhold cotton from Great Britain and France in order to coerce these nations to enter the war on the side of the South, according to the Mississippi Historical Society. Cotton was the main staple of the Confederacy's economy and the United States' largest export during the time of the Civil War.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Great Britain declared its neutrality with regards to the U.S. Civil War in May 1861. In response to this declaration, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and southern leaders declared an informal cotton embargo on Britain. King Cotton diplomacy started when planters burned 2.5 million bales of cotton to create a cotton shortage. Southern plantations exported more than three million bales of cotton to Europe in 1860, so burning the bales cut more than 80 percent of those exports.

Tensions between northern and southern states escalated for years ahead of the war. English companies, however, still possessed a surplus of cotton that they had amassed during the 1850s. The price of cotton did not go up until 1863, when prices went from 10 cents per pound in 1860 to $1.89 per pound three years later. To prevent further price hikes, Britain found new suppliers of cotton after the war started.

The Confederacy still used cotton to borrow money from British and French banks. Historians believe that King Cotton diplomacy ultimately failed because the surplus cotton could have been used to finance the Confederacy instead of trying to destabilize Europe's economy.

Learn more about US History

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why was cotton important to the south?

    A:

    Cotton was important to the South because cotton production was integral not only to the Southern economy, but also to overall U.S. economic prosperity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The cotton economy of the South prolonged slavery as an institution and as a result helped give rise to the American Civil War.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the definition of "King Cotton diplomacy?"

    A:

    King Cotton diplomacy is a term that describes the Confederate States of America's approach to foreign policy and diplomacy during the Civil War. Cotton was the Confederacy's one major asset going into the war, and they used this asset to attempt to gain a diplomatic advantage in Europe.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What caused the War of 1812?

    A:

    The War of 1812 was caused by three grievances that the United States held toward Great Britain. The first two, the imposition of trade restrictions and forced recruitment of American sailors to the Royal Navy, were the result of broader British geopolitical interests, yet they ultimately affected America acutely. The final cause, Britain's arming of certain Native Americans, related directly to American ambitions for territorial expansion.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How was the Oregon territory acquired?

    A:

    The Oregon Country had been claimed by various nations, including Spain, Russia, Great Britain and the U.S., but the U.S. and Great Britain soon made a joint occupation agreement, in 1818, until it was superseded by the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which established it as a U.S. state at the 49th parallel. Numerous free-state politicians vied for acquiring Oregon Country, in order to balance out the annexation of Texas, a slave state at the time.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore