Project Title

The Rome Courier's Crusade Against Cotton: The Use of Media in the Confederate Cotton Crisis

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - History & Philosophy

Faculty Sponsor Name

Dr. Albert Way

I am not using human subjects.

Abstract (300 words maximum)

During the American Civil War, lack of access to the food crops of the North required the Confederacy to become self-sufficient. A battle ensued between the Confederate government and its citizens who desired food crops versus the cotton planters who desired to grow cotton crops for economic gain. While historians such as Stanley Lebergott and Lee W. Formwalt have investigated the military and home front consequences of this debate, no one has conducted a fine-grained analysis of a particular community, especially one outside of the major cotton growing districts. This research examines how the Confederate cotton crisis spread to Georgians beyond the traditional cotton belt in middle Georgia, specifically to Floyd County, and its county seat, Rome, in northwest Georgia. In addition, it demonstrates how the newspaper, the Rome Courier, provided both information and propaganda about the crisis to citizens in an attempt to promote food crop growth in the Rome area and to save them from starvation. This study begins with a review of the historiography on the effects of continued cotton growth in the Confederacy, covering the major works on this question to date. It then shifts into primary source research on cotton and food crop growth in Floyd County and Rome, Georgia, using the Rome Courier, which leads to an exploration of the role the Rome Courier itself played in the Confederate cotton crisis. This research provides insight into the variety of tactics, such as weather reports and wartime propaganda, used by Southern newspapers to influence readers to grow more food crops during the Confederate cotton crisis, even in an area removed from the middle Georgia cotton belt. Finally, this project concludes that, despite these appeals and tactics by the newspapers, other overriding factors led to struggle and starvation in places such as Rome.

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

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The Rome Courier's Crusade Against Cotton: The Use of Media in the Confederate Cotton Crisis

During the American Civil War, lack of access to the food crops of the North required the Confederacy to become self-sufficient. A battle ensued between the Confederate government and its citizens who desired food crops versus the cotton planters who desired to grow cotton crops for economic gain. While historians such as Stanley Lebergott and Lee W. Formwalt have investigated the military and home front consequences of this debate, no one has conducted a fine-grained analysis of a particular community, especially one outside of the major cotton growing districts. This research examines how the Confederate cotton crisis spread to Georgians beyond the traditional cotton belt in middle Georgia, specifically to Floyd County, and its county seat, Rome, in northwest Georgia. In addition, it demonstrates how the newspaper, the Rome Courier, provided both information and propaganda about the crisis to citizens in an attempt to promote food crop growth in the Rome area and to save them from starvation. This study begins with a review of the historiography on the effects of continued cotton growth in the Confederacy, covering the major works on this question to date. It then shifts into primary source research on cotton and food crop growth in Floyd County and Rome, Georgia, using the Rome Courier, which leads to an exploration of the role the Rome Courier itself played in the Confederate cotton crisis. This research provides insight into the variety of tactics, such as weather reports and wartime propaganda, used by Southern newspapers to influence readers to grow more food crops during the Confederate cotton crisis, even in an area removed from the middle Georgia cotton belt. Finally, this project concludes that, despite these appeals and tactics by the newspapers, other overriding factors led to struggle and starvation in places such as Rome.