Empire of Cotton: A Global History

by Sven Beckert,
Tulsa World, January 25, 2015

In 1862, British merchant John Benjamin Smith boasted that the manufacture of cotton yarn and cloth had become “the greatest industry that ever had or could by possibility have ever existed in any age or country.” Forty years later, about 1.5 percent of the men, women and children alive in the world either planted, picked, manufactured, shipped or sold the fluffy white fiber.

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