Cotton is one of the most important crops grown worldwide. What was once the land rich but dollar poor southern US and cotton are synonymous with each other, the crop itself originally imported from India. Despite the ease of growing cotton and the world demand for it, the labor intensive activity of separating the seed from the lint made it an expensive proposition until the creation of the cotton gin by inventor Eli Whitney in the late eighteenth century. Whitney was an unassuming schoolmaster when he created his deceptively simple but time and labor saving device, which revolutionized the cotton industry and led to great increases in the planting of cotton crops and production in the southern US. This increase had the unforeseen consequence of insufficient laborers to pick the cotton, which in turn led to an increase in the slave trade from West Africa, and the growing economic disparity between the rich cotton plantation owners and the poor slaves. The moral question of slavery ...Written by
This "documentary" says much more about 1940 USA than it does about the history of cotton and the South. It's an example of the political correctness of that time: don't say anything that offends white Southerners! It's fascinating to watch: you get to hear how Southern history and slavery used to be taught in schools in the USA (I say "used to", but this was the version of the history I heard as well as late as 1980 or so in Kentucky). The movie doesn't have a political agenda, but as a result of its skewed view of history, ends up explaining cotton and Southern history largely in sympathy to the South, particularly regarding the issue of slavery, with only one scene depicting its horrors -- "balanced" with a scene of a slave family that will make you cringe for all the wrong reasons. I don't think the film was intended as propaganda -- I think the producers were actually trying to present something historical (and cash in on all the "Gone With the Wind" mania of the time). I give it 8 out of 10 because, wow, you'll learn a LOT about the climate of the USA in 1940 with regard to how it wanted to think about the Civil War.
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