In the United States, Southern cotton provided capital for the continuing development of the North. The cotton produced by enslaved African Americans not only helped the South, but also enriched Northern merchants. Much of the Southern cotton was trans-shipped through northern ports. Cotton remained a key crop in the Southern economy after emancipation and the end of the Civil War in 1865. Across the South, sharecropping evolved, in which landless black and white farmers worked land owned by others in return for a share of the profits. Some farmers rented the land and bore the production costs themselves. Until mechanical cotton pickers were developed, cotton farmers needed additional labor to hand-pick cotton. Picking cotton was a source of income for families across the South. Rural and small town school systems had split vacations so children could work in the fields during "cotton-picking." It was not until the 1950s that reliable harvesting machinery was introduced (prior to this, cotton-harvesting machinery had been too clumsy to pick cotton without shredding the fibers). During the first half of the 20th century, employment in the cotton industry fell, as machines began to replace laborers and the South's rural labor force dwindled during the World Wars. Cotton remains a major export of the southern United States, and a majority of the world's annual cotton crop is of the long-staple American variety. Driving south thru the Carolina's multiple fields of cotton appeared like poppies on the way to the "emerald city......" Available as 8 x 11 or 11 x 17 b & w or color photo or watercolor or painted print on Hahnemuhle Museum Etching Fine Art Inkjet Paper, and each photograph or print is personally approved and hand-signed by me, the artist.