Ripened bolls of short-staple cotton in the fields of Calhoun County in September of 1968. Cotton still produced in South Carolina dominated agriculture in the state in the first half of the 19th century. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin that separated short-staple cotton from its sticky seeds in 1794. The region in which cotton production was concentrated was in the uplands, above the sandhills. In 1811, South Carolina was producing 20,000 tons of ginned cotton, more than half of that produced in the nation. By 1821, their share was less than a third. In spite of the center for cotton production moving westward to the newer lands of Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas, South Carolina continued to focus its agricultural hopes on cotton until the Civil War.
Courtesy of the Clemson University Libraries.