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The Reign of King Cotton. Chapter 18.1 Postwar Changes to Texas Farming. Main Idea:

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the reign of king cotton

The Reign of King Cotton

Chapter 18.1

Postwar Changes to Texas Farming


Main Idea:

After the Civil War, life in Texas changed dramatically. Economic problems led to a return to the small family farm, and the freed slaves faced the problems of earning a living in conditions that were often unfair.

  • Why It Matters Now:

Traces of the economy and society that developed after the Civil War can still be seen in Texas today.

economic conditions after the war
Economic Conditions After the War
  • The war left Texas and its people financially ruined.
  • Many people’s entire savings were tied up in Confederate bonds. When the Confederacy was broken up, these pieced of paper became worthless.
  • Before and during the war, businesses sold goods to the Confederate government on credit. Now these debts would never be paid.
the return of the small farm
The Return of the Small Farm
  • As businesses failed, many found themselves without jobs. For many, the only way to survive was to grow their own food.
  • The lack of efficient transportation in Texas made it difficult to send crops to market.
  • Texans saw little reason to pursue commercial farming.
  • Most farmers returned to subsistence farming, growing only enough food to meet their own family’s needs.
the rise of tenant farming
The Rise of Tenant Farming
  • Before a family could farm, it needed land. Many had lost their land because of financial difficulty.
  • Plantation owners had large amounts of land going to waste, so they divided up their plantations into smaller sections that could be sold to farm families.
  • If the families could not afford to buy the land, they could rent it. This was known as tenant farming.
problems with tenant farming
Problems with Tenant Farming
  • It seldom allowed a tenant farmer to earn enough money to buy the land.
  • Even after years of payments, a tenant farmer is no closer to owning the land than when he or she started.
  • It became a way to survive.
  • Many families were too poor to pay their rent in cash. Instead, they paid with a share of the crop. These tenant farmers were known as sharecroppers.
  • There were two types of sharecroppers:
    • 1. Those that owned their own farming equipment and bought their own supplies only owed the landlord for the use of the land.

-2. Poorer renters started out with only their skills. The landowner furnished the equipment, seed, and other supplies.

  • Most sharecroppers had to buy food, clothing, and other necessities on credit.
freedmen turn to sharecropping
Freedmen Turn to Sharecropping
  • After the war, freed African Americans entered society in need of jobs.
  • Many hoped to work as farmhands, but there were not enough jobs to go around.
  • This caused many African American families to turn to sharecropping.
  • Just like poor whites in Texas, this established a cycle of debt.
the reign of king cotton1

The Reign of King Cotton

Chapter 18.2

Railroads Lead to Commercial Farming


Main Idea:

To sell their crops, farmers needed a reliable and inexpensive way to transport goods. Railroads solved this problem. Soon, commercial farming became a major Texas Industry.

  • Why It Matters Now:

Without the development of railroads, Texas might never have become the agricultural leader it is today.

transportation problems in texas
Transportation Problems in Texas
  • Without an efficient way to bring people and goods together, most Texas farmers were stuck in a life of subsistence farming.
  • Postwar, transportation in Texas was very limited.
  • Texan were almost completely isolated from commerce.
railroads provide a solution
Railroads Provide a Solution
  • Before the Civil War, railroads began to cross the United States. By the time the war started, the government was forced to focus on more urgent matters.
  • Eventually, the postwar economy settled down. By 1890, Texas had more than 8,000 miles of track.
  • By the turn of the century, Texas led the nation in miles of railroad constructed.
railroads encourage expansion
Railroads Encourage Expansion
  • By the 1900s goods could be shipped to any place in the US from almost anywhere in Texas.
  • This encouraged farmers to buy land for large, commercial farms.
  • Railroad companies saw a way to make profit. They divided up the land on either side of the tracks and sold it at low prices to farmers and businesses.
  • Over time, many bustling cities grew along Texas Railroads.
farmers discover a water source
Farmers Discover a Water Source
  • Settlers came from all over to buy cheap railroad land in West Texas. Land was cheap because rainfall was limited.
  • Settlers soon discovered underground water sources. They used windmills to pump the water to the surface.
technology revolutionizes farming
Technology Revolutionizes Farming
  • Railroads allowed farmers to move goods to market faster and cheaper.
    • Example:
      • Shipping a 500 pound bale of cotton from Dennison to Houston by ox cart cost $15 and took two weeks.
      • Shipping the same bale could be sent by rail in one day and cost about $4.
  • The steel plow was stronger and lasted longer than iron plows. It became the standard in breaking through tough soil.
18 2 activity
18.2 Activity

You are the owner of a railroad company. You and your crew have just completed the construction of the rail ways in Texas and are interested in selling off the extra land. Create a poster advertising this sale. You should include:

1. Your Railroad Company name and logo.

2. A sketch of the land you own and how it is divided up.

3. The price of each section.

(Remember, the better access it has to the railroad, the more it is worth.)

Be creative! Your money is at stake!

the reign of king cotton2

The Reign of King Cotton

Chapter 18.3

Cotton: The King of Texas Crops


Main Idea:

The success of cotton production changed the face of Texas. It created a growth in industry and caused an entire culture to spring up around cotton farming.

  • Why It Matters Now:

Today, Texas produces about one-fourth of all cotton grown in the United States.

cotton demands time and resources
Cotton Demands Time and Resources
  • The expansion of the railroad system provided more opportunities for Texas farmers to respond to the nation’s and the world’s demand for cotton.
  • Farmers now spent most of their time in the fields.
  • Household items that had once had been made at home were now purchased from stores.
  • The cotton farmers’ demand for store-bought items let to the birth of new industries in Texas.
  • Increased manufacturing led to the growth of cities.
cotton towns thrive
Cotton Towns Thrive
  • Wherever cotton was farmed and shipped by railroad, towns blossomed.
  • Life in cotton towns were closely tied to farming.
  • A poor crop meant hard times for everyone.
  • Commercial farming drew thousands of immigrants from the southern United States and from Europe.

Commercial farming drew immigrants from the southern United States and from Europe.

  • They arrived in the Blackland Prairie to grow cotton.
  • Most newcomers worked as tenant farmers and sharecroppers.
  • The Blackland Prairie became the main cotton growing region in Texas, partly because of immigration to the area and the construction of rail lines.
a cotton culture emerges
A Cotton Culture Emerges
  • During the late 1880s cotton was king. Activities were planned around the cotton season.
  • Planting began in the Spring, cultivation occurred during the summer, and harvesting started in late August.
  • If little cotton was produced, everyone felt the effects.
  • Bad years were to be expected.
  • The boll weevil infested cotton along the Rio Grande in 1894. It was responsible for destroying countless Texas cotton crops by the turn of the century.
credit encourages cash crops
Credit Encourages Cash Crops
  • In a bad year, farming families could go without luxuries.
  • They still had to buy necessities such as seed and farming equipment. Most farmers turned to borrowing money or buying things on credit.
  • People bought what they needed at the time and paid for it later. This caused many to acquire debts that were difficult to pay off.

One year’s profit typically was used to pay the debts of the year before.

  • To feed the family and plant the following year’s crop, the farmer needed to borrow again.
  • A cycle developed that kept the farmer in debt and supported to growth of cash crops.
  • Most failed to escape the never-ending cycle of poverty.
18 3 activity
18.3 Activity

You are an immigrant who has traveled to the BlacklandPrairie to become a cotton farmer. While many forecasted it to be a great growing season, you have run into more misfortunes than good. Write a letter to someone from your homeland.

You should include:

  • An explanation of the hard times.

-- (You may choose what has happened.)

  • A plan on how you intend to break the cycle of poverty.

Be creative! Remember, your family is depending on you!