An International Gateway
The planners of the Cotton States and International Exposition were determined to use the exhibition as a chance to develop international trade partners from Europe and Latin America. They considered Atlanta a natural gateway city for the shipment of goods from Mexico and South America. Representatives were sent and invitations were extended to the countries in those regions. The exposition planners hoped that countries in Latin America would send their own exhibits and visitors to the Cotton States and International Exposition. Exhibitions on cotton and Southern coal and iron would market Southern production to Latin America. The promotion of a direct trade line from Atlanta to the Southern Hemisphere would encourage sugar, fruits, and cotton to be imported directly into South.
But efforts to bring international exhibitions and visitors to the Cotton States and International Exposition fell short. Most foreign countries did not know where Atlanta was. And despite the Civil War, far less knew there was a regional difference in the Northern and Southern parts of the United States. It was also very expensive to send goods for an exhibition overseas, and few countries felt the exposition worth the cost. Other countries were discouraged by the name “Cotton States,” thinking the exposition was entirely devoted to cotton production. In the end, only five countries sent exhibits, a disappointment to the international aspirations of the exposition.
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