Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field eBook

Thomas W. Knox
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 458 pages of information about Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field.

Compared with the North, the Southern States have been strictly an agricultural region.  Their few manufactures were conducted on a small scale, and could not compete with those of the colder latitudes.  They gave some attention to stock-raising in a few localities, but did not attach to it any great importance.  Cotton was the product which fed, clothed, sheltered, and regaled the people.  Even with the immense profits they received from its culture, they did not appear to understand the art of enjoyment.  They generally lived on large and comfortless tracts of land, and had very few cities away from the sea-coast.  They thought less of personal comfort than of the acquisition of more land, mules, and negroes.

In the greatest portion of the South, the people lived poorer than many Northern mechanics have lived in the past twenty years.  The property in slaves, to the extent of four hundred millions of dollars, was their heaviest item of wealth, but they seemed unable to turn this wealth to the greatest advantage.  With the climate and soil in their favor, they paid little attention to the cheaper luxuries of rational living, but surrounded themselves with much that was expensive, though utterly useless.  On plantations where the owners resided, a visiter would find the women adorned with diamonds and laces that cost many thousand dollars, and feast his eyes upon parlor furniture and ornaments of the most elaborate character.  But the dinner-table would present a repast far below that of a New England farmer or mechanic in ordinary circumstances, and the sleeping-rooms would give evidence that genuine comfort was a secondary consideration.  Outside of New Orleans and Charleston, where they are conducted by foreigners, the South has no such market gardens, or such abundance and variety of wholesome fruits and vegetables, as the more sterile North can boast of everywhere.  So of a thousand other marks of advancing civilization.

Virginia, “the mother of Presidents,” is rich in minerals of the more useful sort, and some of the precious metals.  Her list of mineral treasures includes gold, copper, iron, lead, plumbago, coal, and salt.  The gold mines are not available except to capitalists, and it is not yet fully settled whether the yield is sufficient to warrant large investments.  The gold is extracted from an auriferous region, extending from the Rappahannock to the Coosa River, in Alabama.  The coal-beds in the State are easy of access, and said to be inexhaustible.  The Kanawha salt-works are well known, and the petroleum regions of West Virginia are attracting much attention.

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Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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