"Here," said Wellington, on the Eton foot-ball ground, "we won the battle of Waterloo." Not in angry declamation and wordy debate, in threats of secession and cries for coercion, amid the clash of party-politics, the windy declamation of blatant politicians, or the dirty scramble for office, is the destruction of the dynasty of King Cotton to be looked for. The laws of trade must be the great teacher; and here, as elsewhere, England, the noble nation of shopkeepers, must be the agent for the fulfilment of those laws. It is safe to-day to say, that, through the agency of England, and, in accordance with those laws, under a continuance of the present profit on that staple, the dynasty of King Cotton is doomed, — the monopoly which is now the basis of his power will be a monopoly no more. If saved at all from the blight of this monopoly, the South will be saved, not in New York or Boston, but in Liverpool, — not by the thinkers of America, but by the merchants of England. The real danger of the Cotton dynasty lies not in the hostility of the North, but in the exigencies of the market abroad; they struggle not against the varying fortunes of political warfare, but against the irreversible decrees of Fate. It is the old story of the Rutulian hero; and now, in the very crisis and agony of the battle, while the Cotton King is summoning all his resources and straining every nerve to cope successfully with its more apparent, but less formidable adversary, in the noisy struggle for temporary power, if it would listen for a moment to the voice of reason, and observe the still working of the laws of our being, it, too, might see cause to abandon the contest, with the angry lament, that, not by its opponent was it vanquished, but by the hostility of Jupiter and the gods. The operation of the laws of trade, as touching this monopoly, is beautifully simple. Already the indications are sufficient to tell us, that, under the sure, but silent working of those laws, the very profits of the Southern planter foreshadow the destruction of his monopoly. His dynasty rests upon the theory, that his negro is the only practical agency for the production of his staple. But the supply of African labor is limited, and the increased profit on cotton renders the cost of that labor heavier in its turn, — the value of the negro rising one hundred dollars for every additional cent of profit on a pound of cotton. The increased cost of the labor increases the cost of producing the cotton. The result is clear; and the history of the cotton-trade has twice verified it. The increased profits on the staple tempt competition, and, in the increased cost of production, render it possible. Two courses only are open to the South: either to submit to the destruction of their monopoly, or to try to retain it by a cheaper supply of labor. They now feel the pressure of the dilemma; and hence the cry to reopen the slave-trade. According to the iron policy of their dynasty, they must inundate their country with freshly imported barbarism, or compete with the world. They cry out for more Africans; and to their cry the voice of the civilized world returns its veto. The policy of King Cotton forces them to turn from the daylight of free labor now breaking in Texas. On the other hand, it is not credible that all the land adapted to the growth of the cotton plant is confined to America; and, at the present value of the commodity, the land adapted to its growth would be sought out and used, though buried now in the jungles of India, the well-nigh impenetrable wildernesses of Africa, the table-lands of South America, or the islands of the Pacific. Already the organized energy of England has pushed its explorations, under Livingstone, Barth, and Clegg, into regions hitherto unknown. Already, under the increased consumption, one-third of the cotton consumed at Liverpool is the product of climes other than our own. Hundreds of miles of railroad in India are opening to the market vast regions to share in our profits and break down our monopoly. To-day, India, for home-consumption and exportation, produces twice the amount of cotton produced in America; and, under the mcreased profit of late years, the importation into England from that country has risen from 12,824,200 pounds in 1880, to 77,011,839 pounds in 1840, and, finally, to 250,338,144 pounds in 1857, or nearly twenty per cent. of the whole amount imported, and more than one-fourth of the whole amount imported from -America. The staple there produced does not, indeed, compare in quality with our own; but this remark does not apply to the staple produced in Africa, — the original home of the cotton-plant, as of the negro, — or to that of the cotton-producing islands of the Pacific. The inexhaustible fertility of the valley of the Nile — producing, with a single exception, the finest cotton of the world,— lying on the same latitude as the cotton-producing States of America, and overflowing with unemployed labor — will find its profit, at present prices, in the abandonment of the cultivation of corn, its staple product since the days of Joseph, to come in competition with the monopoly of the South. Peru, Australia, Cuba, Jamaica, and even the Feejee Islands, all are preparing to enter the lists. And, finally, the interior of Africa, the great unknown and unexplored land, which for centuries has baffled the enterprise of travellers, seems about to make known her secrets under the persuasive arguments of trade, and to make her cotton, and not her children, her staple export in the future. In the last fact is to be seen a poetic justice. Africa, outraged, scorned, down-trodden, is, perhaps, to drag down forever the great enslaver of her offspring.
Thus the monopoly of King Cotton hangs upon a thread. Its profits must fall, or it must cease to exist. If subject to no disturbing influence, such as war, which would force the world to look elsewhere for its supply, and thus unnaturally force production elsewhere, the growth of this competition will probably be slow. Another War of 1812, or any long-continued civil convulsions, would force England to look to other sources of supply, and, thus forcing production, would probably be the death-blow of the monopoly. Apart from all disturbing influences arising from the rashness of his own lieges, or other causes, the reign of King Cotton at present prices may be expected to continue some ten years longer. For so long, then, this disturbing influence may be looked for in American politics; and then we may hope that this tremendous material influence, become subject, like others, to the laws of trade and competition, will cease to threaten our liberties by silently sapping their very foundation. As in the course of years competition gradually increases, the effect of this competition on the South will probably be most beneficial. The change from monopoly to competition, distributed over many years, will come with no sudden and destructive shock, but will take place imperceptibly. The fall of the dynasty will be gradual; and with the dynasty must fall its policy. Its fruits must be eradicated by time. Under the healing influence of time, the South, still young and energetic, ceasing to think of one thing alone, will quickly turn its attention to many. Education will be more sought for, as the policy which resisted it, and made its diffusion impossible, ceases to exist. With the growth of other branches of industry, labor will become respectable and profitable, and laborers will flock to the country; and a new, a purer, and more prosperous future will open upon the entire Republic. Perhaps, also, it may in time be discovered that even slave-labor is most profitable when most intelligent and best rewarded,—that the present mode of growing cotton is the most wasteful and extravagant, and one not bearing competition. Thus even the African may reap benefit from the result, and in his increased self-respect and intelligence may be found the real prosperity of the master. And thus the peaceful laws of trade may do the work which agitation has attempted in vain. Sweet concord may come from this dark chaos, and the world receive another proof, that material interest, well understood, is not in conflict, but in beautiful unison with general morality, all-pervading intelligence, and the precepts of Christianity. Under these influences, too, the very supply of cotton will probably be immensely increased. Its cultivation, like the cultivation of their staple products by the English counties mentioned by Smith, will not languish, but flourish, under the influence of healthy competition.—These views, though simply the apparently legitimate result of principle and experience, are by no means unsupported by authority. They are the same results arrived at from the reflections of the most unprejudiced of observers. A shrewd Northern gentleman, who has more recently and thoroughly than any other writer travelled through the Southern States, in the final summary of his observations thus covers all the positions here taken. "My conclusion," says Mr. Olmsted, " is this,— that there is no physical obstacle in the way of our country's supplying ten bales of cotton where it now does one. AU that is necessary for this purpose is to direct to the cotton-producing region an adequate number of laborers, either black or white, or both. No amalgamation, no association on equality, no violent disruption of present relations is necessary. It is necessary that there should be more objects of industry, more varied enterprises, more general intelligence among the people, — and, especially, that they should become, or should desire to become, richer, more comfortable, than they are." It is not pleasant to turn from this, and view the reverse of the picture. But, unless our Southern brethren, in obedience to some great law of trade or morals, return from their divergence,— if, still being a republic in form, the South close her ears to the great truth, that education is democracy's first law of self-preservation,— if the dynasty of King Cotton, unshaken by present indications, should continue indefinitely, and still the South should bow itself down as now before its throne,—it requires no gift of prophecy to read her future. As you sow, so shall you reap; and communities, like individuals, who sow the wind, must, in the fulness of time, look to reap the whirlwind. The Constitution of our Federal Union guaranties to each member composing it a republican form of government; but no constitution can guaranty that universal intelligence of the people without which, soon or late, a republican government must become, not only a form, but a mockery. Under the Cotton dynasty, the South has undoubtedly lost sight of this great principle ; and unless she return and bind herself closely to it, her fate is fixed. Under the present monopolizing sway of King Cotton, — soon or late, in the Union, or out of the Union, — her government must cease to be republican, and relapse into anarchy, unless previously, abandoning the experiment of democracy in despair, she take refuge in a government of force. The Northern States, the educational communities, have apparently little to fear while they cling closely to the principles inherent in their nature. With the Servile States, or away from them, the experiment of a constitutional republic can apparently be carried on with success through an indefinite lapse of time; but though, with the assistance of an original impetus and custom, they may temporarily drag along their stumbling brethren of the South, the catastrophe is but deferred, not avoided. Out of the Union, the more extreme Southern States — those in which King Cotton has already firmly established his dynasty — are, if we may judge by passing events, ripe for the result. The more Northern have yet a reprieve of fate, as having not yet wholly forgotten the lessons of their origin. The result, however, be it delayed for one year or for one hundred years, can hardly admit of doubt. The emergency which is to try their system may not arise for many years; but passing events warn us that it may be upon them now. The most philosophical of modern French historians, in describing the latter days of the Roman Empire, tells us that " the higher classes of a nation can communicate virtue and wisdom to the government, if they themselves are virtuous and wise: but they can never give it strength; for strength always comes from below; it always proceeds from the masses." The Cotton dynasty pretends not only to maintain a government where the masses are slaves, but a republican government where the vast majority of the higher classes are ignorant. On the intelligence of the mass of the whites the South must rely for its republican permanence, as on their arms it must rely for its force; and here again, the words of Sismondi, written of falling Rome, seem already applicable to the South: —"Thus all that class of free cultivators, who more than any other class feel the love of country, who could defend the soil, and who ought to furnish the best soldiers, disappeared almost entirely. The number of small farmers diminished to such a degree, that a rich man, a man of noble family, had often to travel more than ten leagues before falling in with an equal or a neighbor." The destruction of the republican form of government is, then, almost the necessary catastrophe; but what will follow that catastrophe if is not so easy to foretell. The Republic, thus undermined, will fall; but what shall supply its place? The tendency of decaying republics is to anarchy; and men take refuge from the terrors of anarchy in despotism. The South least of all can indulge in anarchy, as it would at once tend to servile insurrection. They cannot long be torn by civil war, for the same reason. The ever-present, all-pervading fear of the African must force them into some government, and the stronger the better. The social divisions of the South, into the rich and educated whites, the poor and ignorant whites, and the servile class, would seem naturally to point to an aristocratic or constitutional-monarchical form of government. But, in their transition state, difficulties are to be met in all directions; and the well-ordered social distinctions of a constitutional monarchy seem hardly consistent with the time-honored licentious independence and rude equality of Southern society. The reign of King Cotton, however, conducted under the present policy, must inevitably tend to increase and aggravate all the present social tendencies of the Southern system,— all the anti-republican affinities already strongly developed. It makes deeper the chasm dividing the rich and the poor; it increases vastly the ranks of the uneducated; and, finally, while most unnaturally forcing the increase of the already threatening African infusion, it also tends to make the servile condition more unendurable, and its burdens heavier.