Our very own Dover, New Hampshire and its early 19th century cotton mills are mentioned a few
times in a new, highly-praised book, "Empire of Cotton: A Global History". Sven Beckert's comprehensive history of the growth of the cotton manufacturing industry has been called one of the best non-fiction books of 2014.
Entrepreneurs and powerful statesmen combined imperial expansion and slave labor with new machines and wage workers to change the world. Here is the story of how, beginning well before the advent of machine production in the 1780s, these men captured ancient trades and skills in Asia, and combined them with the expropriation of lands in the Americas and the enslavement of African workers to crucially reshape the disparate realms of cotton that had existed for millennia, and how industrial capitalism gave birth to an empire, and how this force transformed the world.
"Cotton is everywhere, has been for a long time, and was the dominant commodity during the early years of our country. It fostered war capitalism among European nations. It helped launch the industrial revolution in England. It drove slavery. The story of cotton is the story of modern capitalism, and in Empire of Cotton, author Sven Beckert shows how a worldwide crop that came in multiple forms and was cultivated and produced in many different ways came to be dominated by the late coming Europeans, and later Americans, often through violent means, reshaping both the world economy and the world itself—for better or worse—along the way." – Chris Schluep
Dover was certainly shaped (both literally and figuratively) by the cotton manufacturers who built their huge brick mills aside the Cochecho River in the 1820s. This book is a fascinating look at the world-wide implications of the the cotton trade and the growth of capitalism. Although just a small part of Beckert's story, we should be proud to be included in this history.