Category Archives: cotton
There used to be more research and debate on the negative effects of labour resistance on early industrialisation, but that topic has been crowded out by the intense focus on inequality of recent years. There now prevails a quiet presumption … Continue reading
The Calico Acts: Was British cotton made possible by infant industry protection from Indian competition?
Many “global historians” argue that the British cotton industry was the product of (unintentional) infant industry protection from Indian competition in the 18th century. The various Calico Acts created an import-substitution industry by banning Indian cloths and reserving the home market for British producers. This … Continue reading
Some caveats and reservations about the Napoleonic blockade paper on the infant industry argument that’s making waves. My caveat: protection persisted for decades after the blockade and may have helped keep the French cotton industry backward relative to Britain.
British Tariff Protection after 1774: Competition, Innovation, & Misallocation, plus a note on Weaving This is an addendum to a post about the Calico Acts, which had prohibited within Britain the consumption of cotton cloths both foreign and domestic. But even after … Continue reading
Historian Sven Beckert’s widely acclaimed book, Empire of Cotton: A New History of Global Capitalism, is a good agrarian, business, and labour history of a single commodity. But as economic history it’s not so good.
I (mostly) copy-and-paste Deirdre McCloskey’s argument that cotton was not crucial to the Industrial Revolution in Britain. I also have a very brief rant about historians’ erasure of Robert Fogel from historiographic memory.
Did western industrialisation require American slave cotton ? What coal and sugar might tell us. (Short answer: It’s reasonable and plausible to argue slavery accelerated the industrial revolution, but not enabled it. It’s profoundly unreasonable to say the IR could not have happened … Continue reading
The underlying claim in Edward Baptist’s “oral economic history” of slavery, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is that slave owners, through the scientific “calibration” of torture, intensified the work of slaves in order to increase labour productivity by … Continue reading
Summary : New cultivars of cotton led to an unprecedented rise in the productivity of US southern cotton in the 60 years before the American Civil War. The Economist magazine may have said some stupid things about the subject in its review of Edward Baptist’s book … Continue reading