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The Great Migration
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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, General Research and Reference Division

Charles Morris, The Old South and the New (Philadelphia?: s.n., 1907)

The Cotton South

While other crops where economically significant, cotton was by far the South's and the country's most important staple crop. By 1860 cotton exports amounted to more than 50 percent annually of the dollar value of all United States imports. After the Civil War, the cotton-growing industry got on its feet again by development of a "cropping system." The planter gave each tenant a plot of land and a portion of the crop: half the crop, or less if the planter furnished the tools, seed, and mules. The tiny insect called a boll weevil invaded Texas in 1898 and ate its way across the South from west to east. Farmers turned to food products, which required thirty times fewer workers. These laborers found themselves out of a job.

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