"The Tree of Life"
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both founding fathers, were promoters and cultivators of hemp for industrial purposes. For over 200 years in Colonial Virginia, hemp was a form of currency that one could pay their taxes with. Washington speaks throughout his farm diary about the quality of seeds, always taking care to sow seeds in best areas on his farm at Mount Vernon. Washington began cultivating “Indian hemp” which he said produced the best quality of plant, and noted its superior quality to common hemp mostly grown during that time. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia and believed hemp to be a superior crop to tobacco, which was a competing cash crop of the time. He said tobacco exhausted the soil, used to much manure, and provided no nourishment for cattle. Hemp on the other hand “was of the first necessity to commerce and marine, in other words to the wealth and protection of the country.”
Washington speaks throughout his farm diary about the quality of seeds, always taking care to sow seeds in best areas on his farm at Mount Vernon. Washington began cultivating “Indian hemp” which he said produced the best quality of plant, and noted its superior quality to common hemp mostly grown during that time.
Hemp in America
Throughout Colonial America Industrial Hemp played an integral role in the lives and economy of the settlers.
Although, much of the fiber was destined for British consumption, the colonists produced many goods including paper, cloth, canvas and cordage for their own use. In 1619 the Virginia House of Burgesses, which was the legal body in North America, passed legislation requiring every farmer to grow hemp. During shortages in Virginia, in the years 1763 to 1767, you could be fined for not growing hemp on your farm.
Where did it come from?
Hemp originated in Central Asia. Cultivation for its fiber was recorded in China as early as 2800 BC and was practiced in Europe early in the Christian era. It was planted in Chile in the 1500s and a century later in North America. Hemp has served as a resource and critical role in countless civilizations and will soon return to its rightful role as the worlds largest cash crop and most reliable, sustainable and environmentally friendly resource for a myriad of uses.