CONTENT NOTE: This poem contains an offensive racist term.
Title:Old King Cotton
Publication:The Bolton Chronicle
Date:24th January 1863
There are many poems which use the figure of ‘King Cotton’ published on both sides of the Atlantic, and their number increased during the Civil War. This satirical poem, which includes an offensive racist term, treats the figure of King Cotton as an actual character and recounts the events of the Cotton Famine up to that point in comical and pointed terms. There is an interesting reference to the effects on the French cotton industry, which is quite rare in British newspaper poetry. There is also the suggestion that ‘King Cotton’ now has an ‘Indian throne’ – a reference to replacement cotton imported from the Surat region of the state of Gujarat in India. – SR