Cotton Famine, the destitution caused by the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861-1865) in the English cotton manufacturing districts, especially Lancashire. The cotton supply failed on account of the blockade of the S. ports of the United States, and in consequence the mill owners finally closed their mills entirely, nearly 2,000,000 people being reduced to great distress. A Cotton District Relief Fund was started, and a Relief Act passed by Parliament, by which loans were granted to the guardians of the poor for the purpose of instituting relief works. Gradually the difficulties were overcome, and by June, 1865, the distress was at an end, greatly increased supplies of cotton having been received from Brazil, Egypt, India, and elsewhere. In 1863, in the midst of the war, three shiploads of provisions and supplies were sent to England from New York City. In 1903 serious want and destitution were caused in many British textile centers, and to a lesser degree in some American manufacturing towns, by the comparative scarcity and high price of cotton.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.