Rivoli Chapter 2 Questions

1. Review the emergence of large-scale production of cotton textiles.  Understand the role of innovation, production, price, and consumer demand in this process.

 2. During which 4-decade period did US cotton growers achieve world dominance?

 3. What were 2 of the costs of this emergence?
a. Concentration of capital, labor and entrepreneurial energies on cotton production in the South prevented the development of a balanced economy in the South.
b. Slavery.

 4. What 2 “exacting and unpredictable labor requirements” made reliance on labor markets impossible for cotton growers?
The necessity of frequent, arduous weeding; the unpredictable timing of harvest.  

 5.  How was slavery a strategy to avoid this labor risk?
Growers did not have to buy labor on markets and labor was always immediately available.

 6. What factor, other than slavery, kept whites from selling their labor to cotton growers? 
Land was cheap, so they preferred to buy their own family farms.

7. On what did the “profitability of the plantation” depend?
“The planter’s ability to induce his slaves to perform repetitive and exhaustive physical labor at unpredictable times.”

8. According to Rivoli, how was plantation production of cotton not an indictment of markets?
Plantation production was not a result of free labor markets, but of “suppression of the market”.

 9. What was the “bottleneck” encountered by cotton growers as they moved westward?
Sea Island cotton would not grow.  So, planters grew Upland cotton instead. However, Upland cotton fibers are extremely difficult to separate from seed.

10. Learn how Eli Whitney’s invention revolutionized cotton production and entrenched the slave plantations society.

11. On what fact does Rivoli base her argument that slavery was not the reason that cotton production in the US grew much more rapidly than in China and India?   
During the period of the US’s rise to dominance, China and India also had free labor available.

12. How does Rivoli account for the US’s rise to dominance in cotton production?
Institutions like private property, incentive structures, governance.

13. How did the share-cropping system protect cotton growers from labor markets?
The share-cropping system bound former slaves and their descendants to growers’ lands by not paying them cash wages for their labor.  This prevented laborers from leaving plantations and buying their own land.

14. What does lien mean in Rivoli’s description of the share-cropping system?
A lien is similar to collateral for a loan.  Sharecroppers could not use their cotton harvests as collateral for a loan, because it belonged to the landowner.

15. Learn how the boll weevil undermined King Cotton in the Deep South.

16. Where and when did cotton production move after the boll weevil struck the Deep South?Texas and Oklahoma: 1900-1920

17. Monkeys, geese, fire?  Why were these solutions tried in Texas but not Mississippi?
Texas cotton growers were looking for solutions to their unpredictable, arduous labor demands.  In Mississippi and the rest of the Deep South slaves, and later sharecroppers, were the solution to labor demands.

18. How was the labor solution in Texas similar to the labor solution in the Deep South? Use the term labor market correctly in your answer.
Texas growers avoided the labor market by organizing laborers in new company towns which housed laborers who were not paid cash wages and who were tied to the land just as laborers were in the Deep South.