Historic Markers Across Alabama

Cotton and Creek Country

Marker ID:  
Location: East Broad Street, Eufaula, AL
County: Barbour
Coordinates: N 31° 53.683    W 085° 8.368
  31.89471666    -85.13946666
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Cotton and Creek Country
—Creek Heritage Trail —

A primary factor in the eventual expulsion of the Creeks from their ancestral homeland was the fact that their territory was some of the best suited in the nation for the production of cotton. Containing enormous tracts of productive soils, a long growing season, mild climate and rivers for transportation of crops to markets, Creek lands were perfectly suited for nineteenth century agriculture. As the United States experienced dramatic population growth in the era and worldwide demand for cotton skyrocketed, Americans exerted tremendous pressure on the Creeks for the cession of their lands. Cotton, more than any other single factor, became the item that brought
about the swift transformation of Creek country from wilderness domain to one of the primary cotton production areas of the South.

The Chattahoochee Valley played an important role in this transition. Large-scale cotton farming took place here as early as the 1820s, and by the 1830s it had become one of South's most prolific cotton corridors. By 1845 over 150,000 bales annually were exported from the port of Apalachicola, each of which weighed several hundred pounds. A large portion of this cotton was shipped overseas for use in British textile mills, enabling this area to assume a pivotal position in worldwide trade networks.

[Insert-Middle Bottom]
Cotton and the Cotton Gin

The enormous amounts of labor required to produce cotton in large quantities prohibited its adoption as a staple crop prior to Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793. Not only was tending and picking the crop backbreaking work, but cotton bolls have numerous seeds which must be removed before the fiber can be processed. Whitney's famous invention transformed the South into the world's leading center of cotton production within a few decades by dramatically reducing the time and effort it took to separate the seeds from the bolls. Dozens of copies of Whitney's design appeared throughout the region virtually overnight, and by the 1830s, gins of varying sizes could be found on virtually
every large farm and plantation throughout the Chattahoochee Valley.

[Insert-Top Right]

Many Creeks actively participated in cotton agriculture in the Chattahoochee Valley region. By the first decades of the nineteenth century several prominent Creek leaders in this area were managing slave-operated plantations alongside those of their American neigbors (sic). While slavery as practiced by the Creeks is generally regarded as less severe than the institution as administered by Americans, Creeks bought, sold, and employed slaves in the production of cotton in large numbers.

[Photo captions]
Left-middle: Cotton warehouses in Apalachicola, Florida
Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Left-bottom: Steamboat Shamrock at the Apalachicola wharf
Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Middle: Loading cotton on the steamboat City of Eufaula
Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Bottom-middle: Boll of cotton and detailed view of cotton before ginning

Right-top: Nineteenth century lithograph depicting slaves picking cotton
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Right-bottom: A depiction of the first cotton gin
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

2015 by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission and the Friends of the Yoholo Micco Heritage Trail.


See HMDM.org for photos of this marker.

End of Cotton and Creek Country