They grew fields and fields of the waving green stuff.
Yup… George, Thomas and Benjamin believed it was pivotal in the impending war with Britain to control the hemp trade.
It was a matter of national security!
Benjamin Franklin owned the mill that made the hemp paper that distributed the revolutionary ideas of liberty.
The first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on paper made from hemp.
The cannabis plant flourished in Colonial New England
and the Massachusetts House of Representatives commissioned A Treatise of Hemp-Husbandry by Edmund Quincy in 1765 to aid the hemp farmer’s success.
When Thomas Pain used his influential pen to persuade households to support the revolution, one of his key points published in his Common Sense periodical was the fact that the American Colonies could be a self sustaining nation with the help of the prolific hemp plant. Essentials of paper, cloth, rope, oil and more were available as a home-grown staple allowing them the independence they wanted so specifically.
Britain paid farmers handsomely for their raw fiber
and required the colonies to send it all “home” across the Atlantic. It ensured the Englishman’s domination of the seas continued with the superior sails, ropes and rigging of American grown hemp fiber.
Defying the crown, colonial women began to prepare their men for war spinning the long, strong hempen fibers into threads that would not only clothe the revolutionary army but create the original flags that showed solidarity between the 13 states uniting.
The refusal to send their cannabis crops to Britain was one of the rebels first acts of defiance and actually began the secession long before all that tea hit the Boston Harbor.
The first patent to be filed in the United States was for a hemp-break devise that could turn a threshing machine into a hemp processor.
It was invented and filed by none other than Thomas Jefferson who notes in his journals that he had been smuggling the seeds of cannabis when he visited foreign countries to keep the American crops diverse.
Jefferson’s machine must not have worked as well as hoped; plantation laborer’s complaints about the hard work influenced Jefferson to give up hemp farming in 1815.
There is little proof that these early American leaders got stoned,
but their slaves did. Africans knew of the effects of “dagga” and were permitted to load their pipes in peace. Slave labor was crucial to the production of American hemp as it was grueling work breaking the tough hemp fibers into usable material.
Kentucky farmers noted that it took three slaves per 50 acres to produce about 37,500 pounds of usable hemp fiber. The labor force needed incentive. A daily quota was required of each slave and the black man who could produce over his quota was paid a penny a pound. A motivated man could earn up to $2 per day working the hemp fields and some surely purchased their freedom this way.
The Civil War spelled doom for the hemp industry in the late 1860’s with the loss of forced slave labor.
It would take until the early 1900’s for machinery to be invented that could successfully promise access to the cellulose dense stalks of the hemp plant. This spawned inventors to develop a vast variety of uses for the prolific plant’s bi-products. One such visionary, Henry Ford, was sparked with an idea to make a car “grown from the soil”.
Long before the War on Drugs, the War for Independence and
the Civil War were also influenced by marijuana.
I think the Founding Fathers would be proud of this generation
to have the common sense to bring hemp fields back to our economy
and create a sea of green waving from “sea to shining sea”.
Peace and Prosperity,