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By the mid-1600s, hemp had become an important part of the economy in New England, and south to Maryland and Virginia. The Colonies produced cordage, cloth, canvas, sacks and paper from hemp during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. Most of the fiber was then destined for British consumption, although at least some was used for domestic purposes. Ironically, the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were penned on hemp paper.
Hemp fiber was so important to the young Republic that farmers were compelled by patriotic duty to grow it, and were allowed to pay taxes with it. George Washington grew hemp and encouraged all citizens to sow hemp widely. Thomas Jefferson bred improved hemp varieties, and invented a special brake for crushing the plant’s stems during fiber processing.
Hemp crops quickly spread, and arrived in Kentucky with settlers from Virginia just prior to the Revolutionary War, according to a 1919 article in the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin no. 22. These settlers set the stage for what would become one of the most important and long-standing hemp industries in America.
Along with Missouri and Illinois, Kentucky farmers produced most American hemp until the late 1800s, when demand for sailcloth and cordage began to wane as steam ships dominated the seas. By the end of the Civil War, Kentucky was the only state with a significant hemp industry until World War I, and that state remained the nation’s leading producer of hemp seed.
In 1918, virtually all stages of hemp growing and processing in the U.S. still relied on hand labor. It took the directed efforts of Wisconsin State Department of Agriculture and local hemp growers like Matt Rens of Waupun to convince the International Harvester Co. and others to embrace the task of mechanizing the hemp harvest and processing.
Ultimately, hemp’s use as a fiber crop was crippled by politics. In 1937, the federal government passed the Marijuana Tax Act, aimed at regulating the narcotic varieties of cannabis. Interestingly, this law turned over the regulation of hemp production to the Department of Revenue, which was then responsible for licensing all hemp growers.
“(The Marijuana Tax Act) didn’t really affect us as growers, other than we had to pay a small tax and sign a paper stating that we wouldn’t use the plant as a drug,” explains hemp farmer and Matt’s nephew, Junior Prange. “What really killed the hemp industry in the 1950s was the availability of cheap synthetic fibers."
World War II brought on the final burst in American hemp-fiber production. The USDA’s Hemp for Victory campaign successfully convinced growers to again embrace hemp. But when the war ended, so did the demand for domestic hemp fiber. Many Midwestern towns (and farmers) were left high and dry with empty or partially constructed plants, and cancelled hemp contracts. By 1958, the last significant hemp crop in the U.S. had been harvested and processed.
The USS Constitution in Boston Harbor: More than 120,000 pounds of hemp fiber was needed to rig the 44-gun USS Constitution, America’s oldest Navy ship affectionately called “Old Ironsides.”
Nearly 55 tons of fiber was needed for the lines and rigging on that vessel alone. Even more hemp fiber went into making canvas for sails and caulking for the wooden hull.
Where did all of that hemp fiber come from? It came from the cannabis sativa fields of patriotic Revolutionary War-era farmers who originally grew the fibrous crop for the British Crown. Strong fibers formed strong nations in the pre-industrial age, and hemp was strategically important during the Revolutionary War. The forgotten history of this lowly “ditch weed” – now hugely important as a food for migratory birds – reveals that hemp was an important crop from Colonial times through World War II, when it was last widely planted across the country for the war effort.
In 1914, the United States $10 bill featured an image of hemp being harvested in the fields, a symbol of the glorious productivity of our nation at that time.
Popular Mechanics describes Hemp as the "New Billion Dollar Crop"
American farmers are promised a new cash crop with an annual value of several hundred million dollars, all because a machine has been invented which solves a problem more than 6,000 years old. It is hemp, a crop that will not compete with other American products.Instead, it will displace imports of raw material and manufactured products produced by underpaid coolie and peasant labor and it will provide thousands of jobs for American workers through out the land.The machine which makes this possible is designed for removing the fiber-bearing cortex from the rest of the stalk, making hemp fiber available for use without a prohibitive amount of human labor. Hemp is the standard fiber of the world. It has great tensile strength and durability. It is used to produce more than 5,000 textile products, ranging from rope to fine laces, and the woody "hurds" remaining after the fiber has been removed contain more than seventy-seven per cent cellulose, and can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to Cellophane.
Machines now in service in Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, and other states are producing fiber at a manufacturing cost of half a cent per pound, and are finding a profitable market for the rest of the stalk. Machine operators are making a good profit in competition with coolie-produced foreign fiber, while paying farmers $15 a ton for hemp as it comes from the field.From the farmer's point of view, hemp is an easy crop to grow and will yield from three to six tons per acre on any land that will grow corn, wheat, or oats. It can be grown in any state of the Union. It has a short growing season, so that it can be planted after other crops are in. The long roots penetrate and break the soil to leave it in perfect condition for next year's crop. The dense shock of leaves, eight to twelve feet above the ground, chokes out weeds. Two successive crops are enough to reclaim land that has been abandoned because of Canadian thistles or quack grass.
Under old methods, hemp was cut and allowed to lie in the fields for weeks until it "retted" enough so that the fibers could be pulled off by hand. Retting is simply rotting as a result of dew, rain, and bacterial action. Machines were developed to separate the fibers mechanically after retting was complete, but the cost was high, the loss of fiber great, and the quality of fiber comparatively low.With the new machine--known as a decorticator--hemp is cut with a slightly modified grain binder. It is delivered to the machine where an automatic chain conveyor feeds it to the breaking arms at a rate of two or three tons per hour. The hurds are broken into fine pieces that drop into the hopper, from where they are delivered by blower to a baler, or to a truck or freight car for loose shipment. The fiber comes from the other end of the machine, ready for baling.
From this point on, almost anything can happen. The raw fiber can be used to produce strong twine or rope, woven into burlap, used for carpet warp or linoleum backing, or it may be bleached and refined, with resinous by-products of high commercial value. It can, in fact, be used to replace foreign fibers which now flood our markets.Thousands of tons of hemp hurds are used every year by one large powder company for the manufacture of dynamite and TNT. A large paper company, which has been paying more than a million dollars a year in duties on foreign-made cigarette papers, now is manufacturing these papers from American hemp grown in Minnesota. A new factory in Illinois is producing bond paper from hemp. The natural materials in hemp make it an economical source of pulp for any grade of paper manufactured, and the high percentage of alpha cellulose promises an unlimited supply of raw material for the thousands of cellulose products our chemists have developed.It is generally believed that all linen is produced from flax. Actually, the majority comes from hemp--authorities estimate that more than half of our imported linen fabrics are manufactured from hemp fiber. Another misconception is that burlap is made from hemp. Actually, its source is usually jute, and practically all of the burlap we use is woven from laborers in India who receive only four cents a day. Binder twine is usually made from sisal, which comes from the Yucatan and East Africa.
All of these products, now imported, can be produced from home-grown hemp. Fish nets, bow strings, canvas, strong rope, overalls, damask tablecloths, fine linen garments, towels, bed linen, and thousands of other everyday items can be grown on American farms. Our imports of foriegn fabrics and fibers average about $200 million per year; in raw fibers alone we imported over $50 million in the first six months of 1937. All of this income can be made available for Americans.The paper industry offers even greater possibilities. As an industry it amounts to over $1 billion a year, and of that, 80 percent is imported. But hemp will produce every grade of paper and government figures estimate that 10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average pulp land.
Another obstacle is that the blossom of the female hemp plant contains marijuana, a narcotic, and it is impossible to grow hemp without producing the blossom. Federal regulations now being drawn up require registration of hemp growers, and tentative proposals for preventing narcotic production are rather stringent.However, the connection of hemp as a crop and marijuana seems to be exaggerated. The drug is usually produced from wild hemp or locoweed, which can be found on vacant lots and along railroad tracks in every state. If federal regulations can be drawn to protect the public without preventing the legitimate culture of hemp, this vast new crop can add immeasurably to American agriculture and industry.
Read the New Billion Dollar Crop Article at Google Books:
"Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?" ~ Henry Ford
Popular Mechanics Magazine reveals details of Henry Ford's plastic car made using hemp and fueled from hemp. Henry Ford continued to illegally grow hemp for some years after the Federal ban, hoping to become independent of the petroleum industry.
Ford takes an ax to the trunk of his car that he made from the hemp plastic to demonstrate it's strength.
The body of Ford's original Hemp car, in the picture above featured in the article, was lighter and therefore more fuel efficient than a normal metal body. It was made in Dearborn Michigan, through the work of scientist/botanist George Washington Carver and was introduced to public view on August 13, 1941. It was made, in part, as a hedge against the rationing of steel during World War II. It was designed to run on Hemp fuel.
On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, ‘grown from the soil,’ had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel.
Henry Ford continued to illegally grow hemp for some years after the Federal ban, hoping to become independent of the petroleum industry.
According to an article I found by Global Research Canada, Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to run on vegetable and seed oils like hemp! Read article here:
Publication Year: 1941
Popular Mechanics Magazine reveals details of Henry Ford's plastic car made using hemp and fueled from hemp.
Former Dell executive Bruce Dietzen has been working on his own sports car, the 2017 Renew, with the environment in mind, and as we can see here, he's been thinking way outside the box. With goals set on using eco-friendly materials, the man was able to build a car body that's made up by 100 pounds of cannabis, all covered in an extremely hard resin.
Jay Leno drove the Renew on his show, Jay Leno's Garage, Wednesday night and debuted the car to the rest of the world. During the broadcast, Dietzen gave the audience some insight to what makes cannabis such a viable building material for the future of cars.
According to him, these tightly woven cannabis leaves make the car's body ten times stronger than steel, an attribute which he soon tests out by banging on the hood over and over. Leno even gives it a go, all without damaging the Renew's bodywork. Additionally, the manufacturing process used to construct the car is "carbon neutral", meaning it doesn't tax the atmosphere with any extra, harmful gasses.
Bruce Dietzen invested $200,000 to build a sport scar with bodywork made from hemp cannabis. » Subscribe to CNBC Make It.: http://cnb.cx/2kxl2rfAbout CNBC Make It.: CNBC Make It. is a new section of CNBC dedicated to making you smarter about managing your business, career, and money. Connect with CNBC Make It. Online Get the latest updates: http://www.cnbc.com/make-itFind CNBC Make It. on Facebook: http://cnb.cx/LikeCNBCMakeIt