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Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800–1850

King cotton reigned in Texas like the benevolent emperor who gives gifts to his subjects. During the nineteenth century, the dream of growing cotton spurred a mass migration to Texas. Seeds of Empire reveals the remarkable story of how global economic shifts during the first half of the nineteenth century transformed northern Mexico into the American Southwest.

Learn more about the role of the cotton trade in Texas’s history from Dr. Andrew Torget at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16.

Settlers came to Texas to grow cotton. The state’s soils and climate were perfect for the plants that produced the fibers that were woven into clothes, bed spreads and table linens. Bales of cotton were shipped down Texas rivers, across the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. From here, most of it was transported to Great Britain, where the industrial revolution was in full force. The migration to Texas, Torget writes, was more than anything a continuation of the endless search by Americans … for the best cotton land along North America’s rich Gulf Coast.” And this crop was, in many cases, cultivated and picked by slaves.

Torget, an assistant professor of history at the University of North Texas, notes that the opening of Texas to American immigrants coincided with an international demand for cotton. By 1835, Texas was producing more than 3 million pounds of it.

Dr. Torget is a historian of nineteenth-century North America at the University of North Texas, where he directs a digital humanities lab. A veteran of pioneering work in digital scholarship, he has been a featured speaker at Harvard, Stanford, Rice, Johns Hopkins, and the Library of Congress.  In 2011, he was named the inaugural David J. Weber Research Fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University.

The library is located at 300 N. Allen Dr. Sponsored by the Allen Public Library, the program is free. Call 214.509.4911.