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Regarding “U.S. would have prospered even without slaves” (Sept. 1): In this age of misinformation, it was particularly disturbing to read Geoff Lambert’s letter asserting, “Agriculture in the South was barely sustainable with slaves and contributed nothing to the advance of the U.S.” This is patently false.

The historical facts regarding the importance of cotton, almost all of which was the product of slave labor, to the U.S. economy through the first half of the 19th century has long been documented. But one rather recent source says it all. Sven Beckert writes in his book, “Empire of Cotton,” that by 1820, “cotton constituted 32 percent of all U.S. exports. … More than half of all American exports between 1815 and 1860 consisted of cotton. … It was on the back of cotton, and thus on the back of black slaves, that the U.S. economy ascended in the world.”

Rick Kordenbrock • Ladue