HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Mississippi author spoke to Southern Miss students tonight about the importance of cotton and slavery in the development of America's 19th century economy. Financial historian and author Gene Dattel addressed students at an honors forum about his book, Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Costs of Economic Power.
Dattel says cotton was the most important determining factor of 19th century history. And he says the economic power of cotton then was comparable to the economic power of oil today.
"The issues today, look at immigration, look at labor surpluses, look at labor deficiencies, etc.," said Dattel. "The economic power of oil or the financial system, these are all very much ingrained in the cotton world and also, racial issues," Dattel said.
Dattel was born in Ruleville, but spent much of his life working in the financial industry in Europe and Asia.