Get Hemp to Jive, Man: Part II
Overview of the History of Cannabis Hemp
For the Purpose of Clarity in this Book: Explanations or documentations marked with an asterisk (*) are listed at the end of the related paragraph(s). For brevity, other sources for facts, anecdotes, histories, studies, etc., are cited in the body of the text or included in the appendices. The facts cited herein are generally verifiable in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was printed primarily on paper produced with cannabis hemp for over 150 years. However, any encyclopedia (no matter how old) or good dictionary will do for general verification purposes.
Cannabis Sativa L.
Also known as: Hemp, cannabis hemp, Indian (India) hemp, true hemp, muggles, weed, pot, marijuana, reefer, grass, ganja, bhang, "the kind," dagga, herb, etc., all names for exactly the same plant!
What's in a Name? (U.S. Geography)
HEMPstead, Long Island; HEMPstead County, Arkansas; HEMPstead, Texas; HEMPhill, North Carolina; HEMPfield, Pennsylvania, among others, were named after cannabis growing regions, or after family names derived from hemp growing.
American Historical Notes
In 1619, America's first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, Virginia, "ordering" all farmers to "make tryal of" (grow) Indian hempseed. More mandatory (must-grow) hemp cultivation laws were enacted in Massachusetts in 1631, in Connecticut in 1632 and in the Chesapeake Colonies into the mid-1700s.
Even in England, the much-sought-after prize of full British citizenship was bestowed by a decree of the crown on foreigners who would grow cannabis, and fines were often levied against those who refused.
Cannabis hemp was legal tender (money) in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800s. Why? To encourage American farmers to grow more. (1)
You could pay your taxes with cannabis hemp throughout America for over 200 years. (2)
You could even be jailed in America for not growing cannabis during several periods of shortage, e.g., in Virginia between 1763 and 1767. (Herndon, G.M., Hemp in Colonial Virginia, 1963; The Chesapeake Colonies, 1954; L.A.Times, August 12, 1981; et al.)
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew cannabis on their plantations. Jefferson, (3) while envoy to France, went to great expense - and even considerable risk to himself and his secret agents - to procure particularly good hempseeds smuggled illegally into Turkey from China. The Chinese Mandarins (political rulers) so valued their hempseed that they made its
exportation a capital offense.
The United States Census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp "plantations"* (minimum 2,000-acre farm) growing cannabis hemp for cloth, canvas and even the cordage used for baling cotton. Most of these plantations were located in the South or in the border states, primarily because of the cheap slave labor available prior to 1865 for the labor-intensive hemp industry.
(U.S. Census, 1850; Allen, James Lane, The Reign of Law, A Tale of the Kentucky Hemp Fields, MacMillan Co., NY, 1900; Roffman, Roger, Ph.D. Marijuana as Medicine, Mendrone Books, WA, 1982.)
*This figure does not include the tens of thousands of smaller farms growing cannabis, nor the hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of family hemp patches in America; nor does it take into account that well into this century 80 percent of America's hemp consumption for 200 years still had to be imported from Russia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, etc.
Benjamin Franklin started one of America's first paper mills with cannabis. This allowed America to have a free colonial press without having to beg or justify the need for paper and books from England.
In addition, various marijuana and hashish extracts were the first, second or third most-prescribed medicines in the United States from 1842 until the 1890s. It's medicinal use continued legally through the 1930s for humans and figured even more prominently in American and world veterinary medicines during this time.
Cannabis extract medicines were produced by Eli Lilly, Parke-Davis, Tildens, Brothers Smith (Smith Brothers), Squibb and many other American and European companies and apothecaries. During all the time there was not one reported death from cannabis extract medicines, and virtually no abuse or mental disorders reported, except for first-time or novice users occasionally becoming disoriented or overly introverted.
(Mikuriya, Tod, M.D., Marijuana Medical Papers, Medi-Comp Press, CA; Cohen, Sidney & Stillman, Richard, Therapeutic Potential of Marijuana, Plenum Press, Ny, 1976.)
World Historical Notes
"The earliest known woven fabric was apparently of hemp, which began to be worked in the eight millennium (8,000 - 7,000 B.C.)" (The Columbia History of the World, 1981, page 54.)
The body of literature (i.e., archaeology, anthropology, philology, economy, history) pertaining to hemp is in general agreement that, at the very least: From more than 1,000 years before the time of Christ until 1883 A.D., cannabis hemp - indeed, marijuana - was our planet's largest agricultural crop and most important industry, involving thousands of products and enterprises; producing the overall majority of Earth's fiber, fabric, lighting oil, paper, incense and medicines. In addition, it was a primary source of essential food oil and protein for humans and animals.
According to virtually every anthropologist and university in the world, marijuana was also used in most of our religions and cults as one of the seven or so most widely used mood-, mind-, or pain-altering drugs when taken as psychotropic, psychedelic (mind-manifesting or -expanding) sacraments.
Almost without exception, these sacred (drug) experiences inspired our superstitions, amulets, talismans, religions, prayers, and language codes. (See chapter 10 on "Religions and Magic.")
(Wasson, R., Gordon, Soma, Divine Mushroom of Immortality; Allegro, J.M., Sacred Mushrooms & the Cross, Doubleday, NY, 1969; Pliny; Josephus; Herodotus; Dead Sea Scrolls; Gnostic Gospels; the Bible; Ginsberg Legends Kaballah, c. 1860; Paracelsus; British Museum; Budge; Ency. Britannica, "Pharmacological Cults;" Schultes & Wasson, Plants of the Gods, Research of R.E. Schultes, Harvard Botanical Dept.; Wm EmBoden, Cal State U., Northridge; et al.)
Great Wars were Fought to Ensure the Availability of Hemp
For example, the primary reason for the War of 1812 (fought by America against Great Britain) was access to Russian cannabis hemp. Russian hemp was also the principal reason that Napoleon (our 1812 ally) and his "Continental Systems" allies invaded Russia in 1812. (See Chapter 12, "The (Hemp) War of 1812 and Napolean Invades Russia.")
In 1942, after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines cut off the supply of Manila (Abaca) hemp, the U.S. Government distributed 400,000 pounds of cannabis seeds to American farmers from Wisconsin to Kentucky, who produced 42,000 tons of hemp fiber annually until 1946 when the war ended.
Why Has Cannabis Hemp/Marijuana Been So Important in History?
Because cannabis hemp is, overall, the strongest, most-durable, longest-lasting natural soft-fiber on the planet. Its leaves and flower tops (marijuana) were - depending on the culture - the first, second or third most important and most-used medicines for two-thirds of the world's people for at least 3,000 years, until the turn of the century.
Botanically, hemp is member of the most advanced plant family on Earth. It is a dioecious (having male, female and sometimes hermaphroditic - male and female on the same plant), woody, herbaceous annual that uses the sun more efficiently than virtually any other plant on our planet, reaching a robust 12 to 20 feet or more in one short growing season. It can be grown in virtually any climate or soil condition on Earth, even marginal ones.
Hemp is, by far, Earth's premier, renewable natural resource. This is why hemp is so very imPORT 68,104,226,153,129,247
tion of steam ships - mid- to late-19th century) were made from hemp.
* The other 10% were usually flax or minor fibers like ramie, sisal, jute, abaca. - Abel, Ernest, Marijuana: The First 12,000 Years, Plenum Press, 1980; Herodotus, Histories, 5th Century B.C.; Frazier, Jack, The Marijuana Farmers, 1972; U.S. Agricultural Index, 1916-1982; USDA film, Hemp for Victory, 1942.
The word "canvas" is the Dutch pronunciation (twice removed, from French and Latin) of the Greek word "Kannabis."*
* Kannabis - of the (Hellenized) Mediterranean Basin Greek language, derived from the Persian and earlier Northern Semitics (Quanuba, Kanabosm, Cana?, Kanah?) which scholars have now traced back to the dawn of the 6,000-year-old Indo-Semitic-European language family base of the Sumerians and Accadians. The early Sumerian/Babylonian word K(a)N(a)B(a), or Q(a)N(a)B(a) is one of man's longest surviving root words. (KN means cane and B means two - two reeds or two sexes.)
In addition to canvas sails, until this century virtually all of the rigging, anchor ropes, cargo nets, fishing nets, flags, shrouds, and oakum (the main protection for ships against salt water, used as a sealant between loose or green beams) were made from the stalk of the marijuana plant.
Even the sailors' clothing, right down to the stitching in the seamen's rope-soled and (sometimes) "canvas" shoes, was crafted from cannabis.*
* An average cargo, clipper, whaler, or naval ship of the line, in the 16th, 17th, 18th, or 19th centuries carried 50 to 100 tons of cannabis hemp rigging, not to mention the sails, nets, etc., and needed it all replaced every year or two, due to salt rot. (Ask the U.S. Naval Academy, or see the construction of the USS Constitution, a.k.a. "Old Ironsides," Boston Harbor.)Abel, Ernest, Marijuana: The First 12,000 Years, Plenum Press, 1980; Herodotus, Histories, 5th Century B.C.; Frazier, Jack, The Marijuana Farmers, 1972; U.S. Agricultural Index, 1916-1982; USDA film, Hemp for Victory, 1942.
Additionally, the ships' charts, maps, logs, and Bibles were made from paper containing hemp fiber from the time of Columbus (15th Century) util the early 1900s in the Western European/American World, and by the Chinese from the 1st Century A.D. on. Hemp paper lasted 50 to 100 times longer than most preparations of papyrus, and was a hundred times easier and cheaper to make.
Incredibly, it cost more for a ship's hempen sails, ropes, etc. than it did to build the wooden parts.
Nor was hemp restricted to the briny deep...
Textiles & Fabrics
Until the 1820s in America (and until the 20th Century in most of the rest of the world), 80 percent of all textiles and fabrics used for clothing, tents,
bed sheets and linens,* rugs, drapes, quilts, towels, diapers, etc. - and even our flag, "Old Glory," were principally made from fibers of cannabis.
For hundreds, if not thousands of years (until the 1830s), Ireland made the finest linens and Italy made the world's finest cloth for clothing with hemp.
* The 1893-1910 editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica indicate - and in 1938, Popular Mechanics estimated - that at least half of all the material that has
been called linen was not made from flax, but from cannabis. Herodotus (c. 450 B.C.) describes the hempen garments made by the Thracians as equal to linen in fineness and that "none but a very experienced person could tell whether they were of hemp or flax."
Although these facts have been almost forgotten, our forebears were well aware that hemp is softer than cotton, more water absorbent than cotton, has three times the tensile strength of cotton and is many times more durable than cotton.
In fact, when the patriotic, real-life, 1776 mothers of our present day blue-blood "Daughters of the American Revolution" (the DAR of Boston and New England organized "spinning bees" to clothe Washington's soldiers, the majority of the thread was spun from hemp fibers. Were it not for the historically forgotten (or censored) and currently disparaged marijuana plant, the Continental Army would have frozen to death at Valley Forge,
The common use of hemp in the economy of the early republic was important enough to occupy the time and thoughts of our first U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who wrote in a Treasury notice from the 1790s, "Flax and Hemp: Manufacturers of these articles have so much affinity to each other, and they are so often blended, that they may with advantage be considered in conjunction. Sailcloth should have 10% duty..." - Herndon, G.M., Hemp in Colonial Virginia, 1963; DAR histories; Able Ernest, Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years; also see the 1985 film Revolution with Al Pacino.
The covered wagons went west (to Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, and California*) covered with sturdy hemp canvas tarpaulins, while ships sailed around the "Horn" to San Francisco on hemp sails and ropes.
* The original, heavy-duty, famous Levi pants were made for the California '49ers out of hempen sailcloth and rivets. This way the pockets wouldn't rip
when filled with gold panned from the sediment.
Homespun cloth was almost always spun, by people all over the world, from fibers grown in the "family hemp patch." In America, this tradition lasted from the Pilgrims (1620s) until hemp's prohibition in the 1930s.*
* In the 1930s, Congress was told by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics that many Polish-Americans still grew pot in their backyards to make their winter "long johns" and work clothes, and greeted the agents with s shotguns for stealing their next year's clothes.
The age and density of the hemp patch influences fiber quality. If a farmer wanted soft linen-quality fibers he would plant his cannabis close together.
As a rule of thumb, if you plant for medical or recreational use, you plant one seed per five square yards. When planted for seed: four to five feet apart. - Univ. of Kentucky Agricultural. Ext. leaflet, March 1943.
One-hundred-twenty to one-hundred eighty seeds to the square yard are planted for rough cordage or course cloth. Finest linen or lace is grown up to 400 plants to the square yard and harvested between 80 to 100 days. - Farm Crop Reports, USDA international abstracts. CIBA Review 1961-62 Luigi Castellini, Milan Italy.
By the late 1820s, the new American hand cotton gins (invented by Eli Whitney in 1793) were largely replaced by European-made "industrial" looms and cotton gins ("gin" is short for engine), because of Europe's primary equipment-machinery-technology (tool and die making) lead over America.
Fifty percent of all chemicals used in American agriculture today are used in cotton growing. Hemp needs no chemicals and has few weed or insect enemies - except for the U.S.government and the DEA.
For the first time, light cotton clothing could be produced at less cost than hand retting (rotting) and hand separating hemp fibers to be handspun on spinning wheels and jennys.
However, because of its strength, softness, warmth and long-lasting qualities, hemp continued to be the second most-used natural fiber* until the 1930s.
* In case you're wondering, there is no THC or "high" in hemp fiber. That's right, you can't smoke your shirt! In fact, attempting to smoke hemp fabric -
or any fabric, for that matter - could be fatal!
After the 1937 Marijuana Tax law,new DuPont "plastic fibers," under license since 1936 from the German company I.G. Farben (patent surrenders were part of Germany's World War I reparation payments to America), replaced natural hempen fibers. (Some 30% of I.G. Farben, under Hitler, was owned and financed by America's DuPont.) DuPont also introduced Nylon (invented in 1935) to the market after they'd patented it in 1938. - Colby, Jerry, DuPont Dynasties, Lyle Stewart, 1984.
Finally, it must be noted that approximately 50% of all chemicals used in American agriculture today are used in cotton growing. Hemp needs no chemicals and has few weed or insect enemies - except for the U.S. government and the DEA. - Cavendar, Jim, Professor of Botany, Ohio University, "Authorities Examine Pot Claims," Athens News, November 16, 1989.
Fiber & Pulp Paper
Until 1883, from 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with cannabis hemp fiber including that for books, Bibles, maps, paper money, stocks and bonds, newspapers, etc. The Gutenberg Bible (in the 15th Century); Pantagruel and the Herb pantagruelion, Rabelais (16th Century); King James Bible (17th Century); the works of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas; Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" (19th Century); and just about everything else was printed on hemp paper.
The first draft of the Declaration of Independence (June 28, 1776) was written on Dutch (hemp) paper, as was the second draft completed on July 2, 1776. This was the document actually agreed to on that day and announced and released on July 4, 1776. On July 19, 1776, Congress ordered the Declaration be copied and engrossed on parchment (a prepared animal skin) and this was the document actually signed by the delegates on August 2, 1776. Hemp paper lasted 50 to 100 times longer than most preparations of papyrus, and was a hundred times easier and cheaper to make.
What we (the colonial Americans) and the rest of the world used to make all our paper from was the discarded sails and ropes by ship owners as scrap for recycling into paper.
The rest of our paper came from our worn-out clothes, sheets, diapers, curtains and rags* sold to scrap dealers made primarily from hemp and sometimes flax.
* Hence the term "rag paper."
Our ancestors were too thrifty to just throw anything away, so, until the 1880s, any remaining scraps and clothes were mixed together and recycled into paper.
Rag paper, containing hemp fiber, is the highest quality and longest lasting paper ever made. It can be torn when wet, but returns to its full strength when dry. Barring extreme conditions, rag paper remains stable for centuries. It will almost never wear out. Many U.S. government papers were written, by law, on hempen "rag paper" until the 1920s.
It is generally believed by scholars that the early Chinese knowledge, or art, of hemp paper making (1st Century A.D. - 800 years before Islam discovered how, and 1,200 to 1,400 years before Europe) was one of the two chief reasons that Oriental knowledge and science were vastly superior to that of the West for 1,400 years. Thus, the art of long-lasting hemp papermaking allowed the Orientals' accumulated knowledge to be passed on, built upon, investigated, refined, challenged and changed, for generation after generation (in other words, cumulative and comprehensive scholarship).
The other reason that Oriental knowledge and science sustained superiority to that of the West for 1,400 years was that the Roman Catholic Church forbade reading and writing for 95% of Europe's people; in addition, they burned, hunted down, or prohibited all foreign or domestic books - including their own Bible! - for over 1,200 years under the penalty and often-used punishment of death. Hence, many historians term this period "The Dark Ages" (476 A.D. - 1000 A.D., or even until the Renaissance). (See Chapter 10 on Sociology.)
Rope, Twine & Cordage
Virtually every city and town (from time out of mind) in the world had an industry making hemp rope.6 Russia, however, was the world's largest producer and best-quality manufacturer, supplying 80 percent of the Western world's hemp from 1740 until 1940.
Thomas Paine outlined four essential natural resources for the new nation in Common Sense (1776); "cordage, iron, timber and tar."
Chief among these was hemp for cordage. He wrote, "Hemp flourishes even to rankness, we do not want for cordage." Then he went on to list the other essentials necessary for war with the British navy; cannons, gunpowder, etc.
From 70-90% of all rope, twine, and cordage was made from hemp until 1937. It was then replaced mostly by petrochemical fibers (owned principally by DuPont under license from Germany's I.G. Corporation patents) and by Manila (Abaca) Hemp, with steel cables often intertwined for strength - brought in from our "new" far-western Pacific Philippines possession, seized from Spain as reparation for the Spanish American War in 1898.
Hemp is the perfect archival medium.
The paintings of Van Gogh, Gainsborough, Rembrandt, etc., were primarily painted on hemp canvas, as were practically all canvas paintings.
A strong, lustrous fiber, hemp withstands heat, mildew, insects and is not damaged by light. Oil paintings on hemp and/or flax canvas have stayed in fine condition for centuries.
Paints & Varnishes
For thousands of years, virtually all good paints and varnishes were made with hempseed oil and/or linseed oil.
For instance, in 1935 alone, 116 million pounds (58,000) tons*) of hempseed were used in America just for paint and varnish. The hemp drying oil business went principally to DuPont petrochemicals.
* National Institute of Oilseed Products congressional testimony against the 1937 Marijuana Transfer Tax Law. As a comparison, consider that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), along with all America's state and local police agencies, claim to have seized for all of 1996, 700+ tons of American-grown marijuana; seed, plant, root, dirt clum and all. Even the DEA itself admits that 94 to 97 percent of all marijuana/hemp plants that have been seized and destroyed since the 1960s were growing completely wild and could not have been smoked as marijuana.
Congress and the Treasury Department were assured through secret testimony given by DuPont in 1935-37 directly to Herman Oliphant, Chief Counsel for the Treasury Dept., that hempseed oil could be replaced with synthetic petrochemical oils made principally by DuPont.
Oliphant was solely responsible for drafting the Marijuana Tax Act that was submitted to Congress. (See complete story in Chapter 4, "The Last Days of Legal Cannabis.")
Until about 1800, hempseed oil was the most consumed lighting oil in America and the world. From then until the 1870s, it was the second most consumed lighting oil, exceeded only by whale oil.
Hempseed oil lit the lamps of legendary Aladdin, Abraham the prohet, and in real life, Abraham Lincoln. It was the brightest lamp oil.
Hempseed oil for lamps was replaced by petroleum, kerosene, etc., after the 1859 Pennsylvania oil discovery and John D. Rockefeller's 1870-on national petroleum stewardship. (See chapter nine of "Economics.")
In fact, the celebrated botanist Luther Burbank stated, "The seed [of cannabis] is prized in other countries for its oil, and its neglect here illustrates the same wasteful use of our agricultural resources." - Burbank, Luther, How Plants Are Trained To Work For Man, Useful Plants, P.F. Collier & Son Co., NY, Vol. 6, pg. 48.