Seven Founding Fathers Who Farmed Hemp and Advocated for It


On July 4, 1776—247 years in the past—the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, asserting the colonies’ separation from Nice Britain. Lots of them not solely grew hemp however insisted how essential the plant is to the muse of American agriculture. Sorting by rumors concerning the Founding Fathers and hemp is one other story, with invented quotes and misinformation.

The Declaration’s blanket assertion, “all Males are created equal,” must be taken with a grain of salt provided that many Founding Fathers owned slaves, and Thomas Jefferson’s and Henry Clay’s slaves additionally grew hemp. It might take quite a bit longer for precise equal rights to materialize.

In colonial occasions, hemp was an acceptable form of tax payment for over 150 years. Right here’s the highest Founding Fathers who farmed, milled, processed, or advocated for hemp.

George Washington, George Washington’s property, admits he grew hemp extensively and in contrast it to tobacco. “All through his lifetime, George Washington cultivated hemp at Mount Vernon for industrial makes use of,” Mount Vernon writes. “The fibers from hemp held glorious properties for making rope and sail canvas. As well as, hemp fibers might be spun into thread for clothes or, as indicated in Mount Vernon information, utilized in repairing the big seine nets Washington utilized in his fishing operation alongside the Potomac.”

Nearly half a million Americans die annually from tobacco-related illness, however to suppose that it may have been averted if Washington had his method is highly effective. “At one level within the 1760’s Washington thought-about whether or not hemp could be a extra profitable money crop than tobacco however decided wheat was a greater various.” At this time students can sift by George Washington’s detailed develop log.

Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson’s hemp crops have been huge, and he enlisted slaves to develop it. “Enslaved laborers cultivated hemp each at Monticello and Poplar Forest, Jefferson’s plantation in Bedford County, Virginia,” Jefferson’s property writes. Jefferson as soon as used 48 pounds of hemp to make clothing for youngster slaves.

Jefferson’s huge plantation may yield as much as 150 kilos in at some point: “A hand can have a tendency 3 acres of hemp a 12 months,” Jefferson’s journal reads. Tolerable floor yields 500. lb to the acre. Chances are you’ll usually depend on 100 lb for each foot the hemp is over 4 f. excessive. A hand will break 60 or 70 lb a day, and even to 150 lb.” You may learn page 95 of his hemp journal in his own handwriting here.

American-made threshing machines, invented across the time of the Declaration, have been used for hemp and have been an emblem of energy over Nice Britain’s dominance.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine’s Widespread Sense spurred the revolution and it had the largest sale and circulation of any book printed in American historical past when it was printed in 1775. It satisfied colonists that they have been being exploited by the Crown. “In virtually each article of defence we abound,” the pamphlet reads. “Hemp prospers even to rankness, in order that we’d like not need cordage.” The latter line stirred up speculations, however “rankness” apparently means “fruitfulness” i.e. making certain that the colonists wouldn’t run out of hemp rope.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin owned a hemp-paper mill and printed content material about hemp’s medical properties. Franklin printed the Pennsylvania Gazette, and in it excerpted Ephraim Chambers’ Common Dictionary, writing that hemp is “of nice Use within the Arts and Manufactories,” and that “The Seed is alleged to have the School of abating Venereal Needs; and its Decoction in Milk, is really useful towards the Jaundice.” You may see the unique version here.

Like Washington, Franklin additionally had a change of heart on the issue of slavery, and was the primary president of an abolitionist society, nonetheless little modified throughout his lifetime on the embedded establishment of slavery.

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, oversaw hemp imports within the States, and as soon as imposed a 5% tax on hemp imports in 1790. “… All different items imported from International International locations shall be liable to an obligation of 5 per Cent ad-Valorem, excepting sure articles deemed of significance to Manufactures, amongst which Hemp just isn’t,” Hamilton wrote on Might 21, 1790. “It’s due to this fact sure, {that a} Responsibility of 5 per Cent accrues on the importation of Hemp into the USA from any International Nation.”

Henry Clay

Clay ran unsuccessfully for presidency 3 times, which is why his identify is talked about much less typically. Clay was additionally very smitten by hemp and compelled his slaves to farm it. “Hemp was Henry Clay’s most profitable money crop at Ashland,” writes. “Males enslaved by Clay grew 1000’s of kilos of hemp and manufactured it into rope and bagging for the cotton trade. Clay was serious about experimentation and pursued many new improvements in tools and hemp varieties.”

James Madison

James Madison, America’s fourth President and “Father of the Structure,” was additionally reportedly a hemp farmer and claimed that hemp gave him the insight to create a new democratic nation. Launched in 2015 by school from the Departments of Biology and Engineering, James Madison University’s Industrial Hemp Research Program coordinates college experience towards laboratory analysis.

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