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Losing the ThreadCotton, Liverpool and the American Civil War$
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Jim Powell

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622492

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622492.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 07 July 2022

The Saturday Afternoon Syndrome

The Saturday Afternoon Syndrome

Why nothing was able to replace American cotton

(p.31) Chapter II The Saturday Afternoon Syndrome
Losing the Thread

Jim Powell

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines what was done to reduce the dependence on American cotton before the war, and to replace the supply lost during the war. The conclusion is that both these tasks were impossible. British reliance on American cotton reflected the fact that – although cotton could be grown in many parts of the world – only in America did all the elements come together that made it both commercially viable and available to Britain in high volume. Despite increased supplies of Indian cotton during the war, other sources did not and could not replace the volume lost from America, and the augmented supply was entirely the result of an inflated price. The belief that Indian cotton could replace American was the brainchild equally of naivety and desperation. The chapter describes the agonised response of cotton spinners to the war as they attempted to reconcile their devotion to free trade with their demands for government intervention.

Keywords:   American cotton, Indian cotton, cotton spinners, Free Trade, government intervention

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