chapter  14
12 Pages

The Cotton Kingdom

In Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky Jews were latecomers, poor immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe who became peddlers and shopkeepers. Alabama and Mississippi were actually opened to cotton planting at the end of the eighteenth century by the Scottish trader Robert Grierson, a surveyor Joseph Collins, and Benjamin Hawkins who encouraged the Creek Indians to bring raw cotton to the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers. Alabama's cotton production increased from 20 million pounds in 1821 to 440 million in 1851. A few Jews may have trickled west along the Holston River at the end of the eighteenth century. A transplanted Virginian, Colonel David Meade had established one of the first plantations in Kentucky, Chaumiere du Prairie. Outwardly hospitable, they were "absudly ostentatious and extravagant." More important, this "Privileged Class of the South" was, for the most part, comprised of descendants of English and Irish immigrants, New England tradesmen, all "Christian men" who misused the Bible.