Cotton in Virginia

a cotton mill at Fries relied upon waterpower from the New River
a cotton mill at Fries relied upon waterpower from the New River
Source: Library of Congress, Group of adolescent spinners in Washington Cotton Mills, Fries, Va. The youngest ones would not be photographed (1911)

Cotton was grown and processed in Virginia before the Revolutionary War. A traveler through Fredericksburg in 1778 visited a "manufactory" and recorded in his diary:1

Saw the Machine (with 22 Spindles) for spinning Cotton at Work; it is useful & Cotton may be more expeditiously spun with it than with a single Spindle, but I observed that the Threads very frequently broke, which occasioned a great Deal of Trouble... Cotton is planted in many Parts of Virginia. The Seeds are taken out with an Instrument called a Gin; but though this is a more expeditious Way than Hand-picking, it is not so good, as it does not clean the Cotton so well.

In modern Farm Cash Receipts, the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture identified cotton as the #13 most valuable crop in Virginia. Cotton generated over $45 million in sales.2

In 2018, nearly 100,000 acres of cotton were harvested. Cotton gins in Virginia processed 184,391 bales that year, but that was not all of the Virginia crop. Each year, some Virginia cotton is processed in North Carolina and some North Carolina cotton is ginned in Virginia.3

child labor was used in cotton mills in the early 1900's
child labor was used in cotton mills in the early 1900's
Source: Library of Congress, Young spinner in Roanoke (Va.) Cotton Mills. Said fourteen years old, but it is doubtful (1911)

Links

References

1. Ebenezer Hazard and Fred Shelley, "The Journal of Ebenezer Hazard in Virginia, 1777," Virginia Magazine and History and Biography, Volume 62, Number 4 (October 1954), https://www.jstor.org/stable/4246052 (last checked January 7, 2021)
2. "Farm Facts," Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/agfacts.pdf (last checked January 7, 2021)
3. "Annual Report for the Virginia Cotton Board," FY2018-18, https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/cottonannualreport.pdf (last checked January 7, 2021)


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