Cotton Market Crash

Cotton Market Crash

When World War One broke out, the demand for cotton—for uniforms, tires, and airplanes—soared. At the same time, Great Britain embargoed Egyptian cotton. Arizona replaced Egypt as the leading source of cotton for the United States during the war, but when the war ended, demand for cotton and migrant workers to pick the cotton plummeted. Crops went unsold and the migrant workers who had come to Arizona to work in the cotton fields were left without work or the means to return to their homes (Sheridan 1995).

Read About It

Use the document analysis sheet and the photograph analysis sheet to uncover clues about the people that created the documents. 

Understand It

  1. When did the Cotton Market Crash happen? Who was affected?
  2. Do the above documents record the experiences of everyone affected by the Cotton Market Crash?
  3. Why did laborers come from other states and Mexico to pick cotton? What were their lives like? Would you have come to Arizona to pick cotton? Why or why not?
  4. What did the Arizona Cotton Growers Association do to help the laborers after the cotton market crashed? What about the US and Mexican governments? Do you think it was enough? What might you have done differently?

Explore More

Visit the websites below to learn more. Based on this new information, have your answers to the questions above changed?

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Labor and Economics