Gallaher Plants of Commercial Value: Hemp

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A Brief Summary of the Uses of Hemp
Our $100,000 Challenge to the World: Try to Prove Us Wrong

Part I | Part II

If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as trees for paper and construction were banned in order to save the planet, reverse the Greenhouse Effect:
Then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the world’s paper and textiles; meeting all of the world’s transportation, industrial and home energy needs; simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil, and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time—the same one that did it all before: Cannabis Hemp…Marijuana!

Ships & Sailors
Ninety percent* of all ships’ sails (since before the Phoenicians, from at least the 5th century B.C. until long after the invention and commercialization 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, etc. - 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”1 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 Acadians. 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.1 (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 the outer and inner hull of ships) 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.*

endeavour

*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; Ency. Britannica; Magoun, Alexander, The Frigate Constitution, 1928; 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) until 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.

Nor was hemp use restricted to the briny deep…

Textiles & Fabrics

Until the 1880s in America (and until the 20th century in most of the rest of the world), 80% 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.”

The fact that hemp is softer than cotton, warmer than cotton, more water absorbent than cotton, has three times the tensile strength of cotton and is many times more durable than cotton was well known to our forebearers.
Although these facts have been almost forgotten, our forebears were well aware that hemp is softer than cotton, warmer than cotton, more water absorbent than cotton, has three times the tensile strength of cotton and is many times more durable than cotton.
Homespun cloth was almost always spun from fibers grown in the family hemp patch.
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, Pennsylvania.
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 tarpaulins2 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.3

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.*
hemp farmer

*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 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 180 seeds to the square yard are planted for rough cordage or coarse 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.
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.4
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. (Cavender, 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); Thomas Paine’s pamphlets, The Rights of Man, Common Sense, The Age of Reason (18th 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.

Related: The Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library

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 sold 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*, made primarily from hemp and sometimes flax, then sold to scrap dealers.

*Hence the term “rag paper.”

forefathers
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. Rag paper is stable for centuries, barring extreme conditions. It will almost never wear out.
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.Many U.S. government papers were written, by law, on hempen “rag paper” until the 1920s.5
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).

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% of the Western world’s hemp from 1640 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, gun-powder, 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. Farben 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.

Art Canvas
Hemp is the perfect archival medium.7

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, and 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 petro-chemicals.8

*National Institute of Oilseed Products congressional testimony against the 1937 Marijuana Transfer Tax Law.

mona lisa
Congress and the Treasury Department were assured through secret testimony given by DuPont in 1935- 37 directly to Herman Oliphant, Chief Council for the Treasury Department, that hemp seed oil could be replaced with synthetic petro-chemical oils made principally by DuPoint.
Oliphant was directly responsible for drafting the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act that was submitted to Congress.

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 clump 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.

- pp. 5 - 8, The Emperor Wears no Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of the Cannabis Plant, Marijuana Prohibition, & How Hemp Can Still Save the World by Jack Herer (1992) & with reference to Chapter 2: 1990 Edition

Go to Part II.

Gallaher Plants of Commercial Value: Hemp
hemp rigging
hemp farmer
declaration of independence
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