Cotton bale

Cotton bale

Museum lore tells us that this miniature bale of cotton, banded and wrapped with a Confederate States of America $20 bill, was sold as a souvenir ca. 1900. Two very divergent schools of thought, from opposite ends of the spectrum, exist about its intent: 1.) it might have been an attempt by northerners to gloat that the South had lost the Civil War and to mock the institution of slavery on which cotton production depended; or 2.) it’s also possible that the keepsake bales were sold to raise money for southern orphans of dead Confederate soldiers.  Crowing or charity? What’s your opinion?

Location: W3, Civil War Gallery

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