|Blockade Runner Teaser|
(Library of Congress)
The blockade of Southern ports — why we believe England and France will not submit to it. [Richmond Daily Dispatch, May 13, 1861
About a month ago, the London Telegraph made this significant remark:
"With regard to the blockade question, we have stated that it cannot be solved by any Government in America, but must be left to the maritime powers of Europe — which, acting upon the law of self-preservation, must, of course, forbid all attempts to exclude their commerce from the ports of the South; the rain of which, though-it might gratify the passions, would not serve the interests of the North. Such a policy of coercion, therefore, would be at once short-sighted and ineffectual."
In this connection, we beg to call the attention of our readers to some facts which we have before published, but which are at the present time of pecullar interest, bearing, as they do, upon the probable policy of the European powers in connexion with the blockade of Southern ports.
The quantity of cotton consumed by the cotton manufacturers of Europe and America is nearly three hundred million pounds in excess of the American production, yet the Southern States are the sole dependence of England, Europe and the two American Republics for a supply of cotton clothing. There are many sources of supply in existence, but this country alone furnishes more than it consumes, and alone produces the requisite quality.
In a paper read before the British Society of Arts, by J. B. Smith, Esq., M. P., from Stockport, it is observed--
"That every one seems impressed with the necessity of multiplying the sources of supply of cotton; but that one branch of the question, though a most essential one, appears to have been nearly overlooked. We need, says Mr. Smith, not only a large supply, and a cheap supply, but a supply of a pecultar kind and quality.Mr. Smith then classifies into three divisions the cotton required for the trade of Great Britain. These divisions are the long staple, the medium staple, and the short staple. For the purpose of British manufactures, only a limited quantity of the firts and third qualities are required, but of the second quality, they need and can consume an almost unlimited supply. 'In this fact,' says Mr. Smith, 'lies our real difficulty; for, while several quarters of the world supply the first sort, and India could supply enormous quantities of the third sort, the United States of America alone have hitherto produced the second most necessary kind.' And again: 'Our great consumption and demand is for the soft, white, silky, moderately long cotton of America — the quality usually called 'Uplands,' 'Bowed Georgia,' and 'New Orleens.' We need and consume nine bags of this cotton for one bag of all other qualities put together."
Mr. Smith proceeds to state that there is cotton enough in India, "but it is its quality that, is in fault, and, as far as the past is a quide, it would seem irrecoverably in f?ult." Every effort has been made to improve the character of the India cotton--American seed has been planted, American planters and American gins have been sent over — and the result has been a combination in cleanliness and color, but scarecly any change in specific character. From some peculiarity of soll or climate, or as some say, from adulteration by the airborne pollen of the inferior native plant, the improved and altered charactes of the cotton has never been kept up.
A great deal has been said about the cultivation of cotton in Africa, but, apart from the great difficulty,--the quality of the article,--cotton can only be successfully cultivated by slave labor, and British anti-slaveryism has put that out of the question so far as England is concerned. Moreover, if the negroes could raise and get to market a considerable quantity of cotton, the result would be, "that all the laboriously hand-made goods now used by them would be superceded by machine goods, and the demand for these would still exceed the supply of cotton." Such has been the case with Rgypt, Turkey, South America, China, India, which, no matter how much cotton they supply, take back a great deal more in the manufactured article. The United States alone afford a not surplus of cotton above the weight of goods they buy back. There is a prospective demand for 4,700,000,000 pounds more cotton than is now grown.
Of 3,651,000 balos delivered for European consumption in 1859, the Southern States supplied 2,880,000 bales. The total English consumption was 2,294,000, of which 1,907,000 was from the Southern States. Notwithstanding these large deliveries, the stock-on hand at the close of the year did not increase.
The LondonCotton Supply Reporter estimates that at least four million persons in that country are dependent on the cotton trade for subsistence. Lancashire, which, a century ago, contained a population of only 300,000, now numbers 2,300,000--an increase which exceeds that of any other equal surface of the globe in the same time, and is entirely owing to the development of the cotton trade. Says the Reporter:
"If a war should at any time break out between England and America, a general servile insurrection take place, or the cotton crop fall short in quantity, our mills would be stopped for want of cotton, employers would be ruined, and famine would stalk abroad among the hundreds and thousands of working people who are at present fortunately well employed. Railways would cease to pay, and our ships would lie rotting in their ports, should a scarcity of the raw material for manufacture overtake us."
The London Times, commenting on a speech of Lord Brougham, in the House of Lords, says:
The importation of cotton into this country has, since the import duty was abolished, increased sixteen fold. Having been 63,000,000 pounds, it is now 1,000,000,000 pounds. This is one of those giant facts which stand head and shoulders higher than the crowd — so high and so broad that we can neither overlook it nor affect not to see it. It proves the existenoe of a thousand smaller facts that must stand under its shadow. It tells of sixteen times as many milis, sixteen times as many English families living by working those milis, sixteen times as much profit derived from sixteen times as much capital engaged in this manufacture. It carries after it sequences of increased quantily of freights and insurances, and necessities for sixteen times the amount of customers to consume, to our profit, the immense amount of produce we are turning out. There are not many such facts as these, arising in the quiet routine of industrial history. It is so large and sosteady that we can steer our national policy by it."
#x34;If France should take to manufacturing on a large seale," adds the Times,"the present supply will not be enough. France will be competing with us in the foreign cotton markets, stimulating still further the produce of Georgia and South Carolina. The jump which the consumption of cotton in England has just made is but a single leap, which may be repeated indefinitely, There are a thousand millions of mankind upon the globe, all of whom can be most comfortably clad in cotton. Every year new tribes and new nations are added to the category of cotton wearers. There is every reason to believe that the supply of this universal necessity will for many years yet to come fail to keep pace with the demand, and,"
in the interest of that large class of our countrymen to whom cotton is bread, we must continue to hope that the United States will be able to supply us in years to come with twice as much as we bought of them in years past. 'Let us raise up another market,' say the antislavery people. So say we all. We know very well that the possibility of growing cotton is not confined to the New World. The plains of Bengal grew cotton before Columbus was born, and we, with our mechanical advantages, can actually afford to take the Bengal cotton from the growers and send it back to them in yarns and pieces cheaper than they can make it up. So, also, thousands of square miles in China are covered by the cotton plant, and some day we may perhaps repeat the same process there. Africa, too, promises us cotton. Dr. Livingstone found a country in which the growth was indigenous, and where the chiefs were very anxious to be taught how to cultivate it for a European market. There is no lack of lands and climate where cotton could be produced.--It is said of gold that no substance in nature is more widely diffused and more omnipresent; but, unfortunately, it is diffused under conditions which make it seldom possible to win it with a profit. So it is with cotton.--The conditions under which it becomes available for our markets are not often present in the wild cotton which our travelers discover, nor are they to be immediately supplied. Remember the efforts which the French have made to produce cotton in Aleria, the enormous prizes they offered, the prices at which they bought up all the produce, the care with which fabrics were prepared from these cottons at Rouen and exhibited at the Paris Exhibition, and then note the miserable result after so many years of artificial protection."
Who can read such facts as these and believe that Great Britain can or will submit to the Lincoln blockade, or even to a war policy of the North which threatens the source of the Southern supply? The interest of France, though not as great, is still very large, and both these nations will retain their accustomed Southern trade, or "know the reason why."