[D8805AAA], Letter from J S Richardson to Thomas Alva Edison, January 2nd, 1888


View document with UniversalViewer   → View document on Archive.org  → Re-use this digital object via a IIIF manifest


[D8805AAA], Letter from J S Richardson to Thomas Alva Edison, January 2nd, 1888

Editor's Notes

"I am in receipt of your favor of the 30th ult. I cannot now say exactly what date I will be in New York, but when I am there I shall be pleased to come over and see you in regard to the Cotton Harvesting Machine. There is nothing as important to me as the development of this machine. Fur cotton farms are in clusters of three to seven in a body on the Miss. River between Memphis, Tenn. And Vicksburg, Miss. I have no mechanical talent, but my whole life has been identified with cotton planting and I am sure I could recognize a machine that would do the work and be able to some extent to point out the defisiensies that would prevent its successful operation. If at any time you feel it necessary to inspect the cotton fields I shall be glad to meet you at Memphis, Tenn. Or Vicksburg, Miss. And take you to our farms, which is but a short run from either point. The localizing in which we plant are the richest cotton lands in the world, our cotton grows from five to eight feet in height, and we plant in drills and cultivate in rows which is different from the cultivation in the hill lands as they check the cotton or plant in hills. Our cotton is sowed in drills and shipped out to a stand leaving a stalk aobut every twelve or fourteen inches apart as to the strength of the land, strong land producing the largest stalk and largest limb and interlope and keep the bottom bells and opened cotton shaded and deep which causes it to rot before we can gather it. When we finish the cultivation the last plowing heaps the earth around the stalk, so that the earth taken out from between the rows makes the top of the row about three to three and a half inches higher than the surface that the wheels of the machine will have to track. Our planting is done from the 15th of April to the 5th of May. The cultivation is finished generally about the 9th of August and picking begins about the 20th of that month. In the country in which we plant it takes twice the amount of labor to gather the crop that it takes to plant and cultivate it, as a consequence we plant and cultivate only about half as much land as could be planted and cultivated to the land and the negro works only about one third of his time which has a very demoralizing effect on our labor and makes it unfit to do its full duty when the push of picking comes on. I have imported much labor from the hill lands of Miss., La., Arks. And Tenn., to our cotton fields this year still I cannot hope to finish picking cotton before the middle of February or the first of March, the cotton still in the field being much damaged by stain from the good stalks to the ground to be entirely lost. I congragulate the South, the great cotton producing land that so able a mind as yours is at work with reasonable [unclear] of success for their relief, and I am only candid when I say that I believe that you could spend a week in the cotton fields of Bolivar or Washington Co. Miss. In the month of November or December, when you would realize the necessity that South has of a machine to harvest her cotton crop and the men who perfects such a machine will be the greatest benefactor she has ever had, and I am notified that there is no better field for the assumption of an immense fortune than the invention of a machine that will gather cotton, for when such a machine is in existence the inventor would only have to name his price for the royalty or purchase and the demand could not be supplied. ### If at any time you should desire any information conserning the cotton plant I shall be happy and only too glad to give it. Please pardon the length of my letter, but it is on a subject in which I have a great interest." Yours truly, J.S. Richardson




Folder/Volume ID


Microfilm ID


Document ID



Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
Download CSV | JSON