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Cotton, Its Progress from the Field to the Needle Being a brief sketch of the culture of the plant, its picking, cleaning, packing, shipment, and manufacture   By:

Cotton, Its Progress from the Field to the Needle Being a brief sketch of the culture of the plant, its picking, cleaning, packing, shipment, and manufacture by Anonymous

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COTTON, ITS PROGRESS FROM THE FIELD TO THE NEEDLE:

BEING A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE CULTURE OF THE PLANT, ITS PICKING, CLEANING, PACKING, SHIPMENT, AND MANUFACTURE.

[Illustration]

NEW YORK: PUBLISHED BY ROBERT LOGAN & CO., 51 DEY STREET.

1855.

OLIVER & BROTHER, STEAM PRINTERS, No. 32 Beckman Street, New York.

PREFACE.

Among the utilitarian gifts of nature and art we know of none in more general use, or of greater practical value, than sewing cotton. The taste which turns into graceful shapes the products of the loom, the executive skill which converts them into convenient and elegant apparel, would be powerless without this simple accessory. It is the food of the needle, and might almost be called the thread of life to thousands of the gentler sex. Yet as it passes through the delicate fingers of mothers, wives, and daughters, ministering to so many wants, and creating so many beautiful superfluities, little thought is bestowed upon the labor, the care, the dexterity, and the scientific ability required in producing the article. The cultivation of the raw material, the processes of picking, ginning, packing, shipping, combing, spinning, and twisting, are among the most interesting operations in the whole range of agriculture and manufactures; and we think the ladies, for whose especial convenience such a vast amount of industry, skill, and talent is employed, will not be unwilling to trace with us in a familiar way the progress of this great domestic staple from the field to the needle.

We therefore claim their attention to the following short treatise, from which, without being fatigued by dry details, they may derive a tolerably accurate idea of what capital, labor, and science have done to bring to its present perfection the simple article of sewing cotton.

CULTIVATION OF THE COTTON PLANT.

The cotton planting season in all the Southern States commences in April. The seed is sown in drills, a negro girl following the light plough which makes the furrow, and throwing the seed into the shallow trench as she moves along. A harrow follows to cover up the deposits, and the work of "planting" is completed. About two and a half bushels of seed are required for an acre of ground.

[Illustration]

In a week or ten days the cotton is "up," when a small plough is run along the drills, throwing the earth from the tender plants. The next process is "scraping;" in other words, thinning out and earthing up the plants, so as to leave each in the centre of a little hill, some two feet distant from its nearest neighbors. The dexterity and accuracy with which this feat is accomplished are wonderful; and there are few spectacles more animated and picturesque than that of a hundred active field hands flourishing their bright hoes among the young vegetation, each striving to outstrip the others in "hoeing out his row." Several ploughings and hoeings intervene between the first of May and the last of June.

In July the cotton fields burst into bloom, creaming the landscape with a sea of blossoms, the flower being very nearly of the same tint as the ultimate product in its unbleached state. The new beauty thus imparted to the scenery is, however, ephemeral. The blossoms unfold in the night, are in their full glory in the morning, and by noon have begun to fade. On the following day their cream color has changed to a dull red, and before sunset the petals have fallen, leaving inclosed in the calyx the germ or "form" of the filamental fruit.

The cotton plant, in its progress towards maturity, is liable to the assaults of as many enemies as the young crocodile on the banks of the Nile; but among them all, the "army worm" is the most destructive. This worm is produced from the eggs of a chocolate colored moth of particularly harmless and demure appearance; but its name is legion, its ravages terrific. No one who has beheld an invasion of these caterpillars can ever forget it... Continue reading book >>




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