By the 1850s, idealistic Northerners like Frederick Law Olmsted thought that free white labor could replace slave labor in the growing of cotton. Olmsted used the example of successful German immigrants who were raising cotton in Texas in the 1850s.

Olmsted’s naïve analogy disregards the inherent risk factor and once-a-year cash flow that made cotton farming unsuitable for corporate capital structures. Planters used land slaves to collateralize loans; additional borrowings were predicated on selling crops.