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Hemp Cultivation History: The George Washington & Thomas Jefferson Connection

By February 18, 2016History of Hemp, News

Hemp, George Washington, hemp production, cannabis, CBD, cannabidiol, indica

Hemp cultivation played a pretty important role in America gaining their independence from Britain.  Hemp cultivation had gained popularity among the colonists because of the many uses of hemp and the oppressive nature of Britain. Due to restrictions and tariffs placed upon them, the colonists had to turn to hemp to make their goods.  Hemp’s popularity continued to flourish with colonists, and both Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were cultivators of hemp on their personal farms after America had gained independence from Britain.

Thomas Jefferson’s Hemp Cultivation

Hemp Cultivation was especially popular with Jefferson, who chose to grow it instead of growing tobacco.  Jefferson cultivated large amounts of hemp at his famous property, Monticello. Not only was his hemp his cash crop, Jefferson used that hemp to make his own clothing.  In the year 1815, Monticello was processing 2,000 yards of cloth per year. Jefferson later decided to stop growing hemp because the labor was intensive without the use of machinery.  Cultivation of hemp was tough business in those days.  Fields had to be plowed thoroughly and seeds often failed to germinate.  Farmers also had tough times harvesting hemp, and they either had to pull the plant up from the root or tie them into bundles to rot in the dew or snow.  This process was referred to as retting.  Further processing was needed to convert the plant into raw materials.

George Washington’s Hemp Cultivation

George Washington’s initial interest in hemp cultivation had to do with his belief that hemp could be a better cash crop than tobacco. Even though Washington ultimately settled on wheat, he still grew hemp to suit his own needs. In fact, George Washington grew hemp on all 5 of his farms, (River Farm, Union Farm, Muddy Hole Farm, Dogue Run Farm and Mansion House). We know this to be true from Washington’s journal entries. This journal entry, from February 1794, was something Washington wrote to his farm manager, William Pierce:

“…I am very glad to hear that the Gardener has saved so much of the St. Foin seed, and that of the India Hemp…Let the ground be well prepared and the Seed be sown in April. The hemp may be sown anywhere.”

President Washington grew hemp, but he also grew what he referred to in his journal as “Indian Hemp.”  It is known that it was Cannabis Indica that the president was referring to.  Cannabis Indica seeds were imported from India.  This suggests that Washington cultivated cannabis for his personal use.  The thought that Washington cultivated hemp for smoking purposes is that he also wrote in his journal about separating male hemp plants from female hemp plants.

When talking about the history of cannabis, specifically hemp, there seems to be a lot of debate when it comes to which historical figures relied on or used hemp. Curious about which U.S. presidents used different forms of cannabis (hemp)?

What do you think George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and some of our other great historical leaders would say about water soluble Cannabidiol (CBD) made from hemp?

 

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