The Many Uses of Hemp in the 1700s

In the 1700s, hemp was a widely cultivated crop in British colonies and the United States. It was used for a variety of purposes, including ropes, candles, clothing, paper, and even food. In Virginia and other American colonies, farmers were required by law to grow hemp. In the Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley regions of Virginia, hemp was a staple food.

Hemp seeds were boiled in milk to treat coughs, but opium was the go-to for more serious ailments. Hemp was also used to make clothing. The theft of hemp shirts was reported with some frequency, indicating their popularity. Thomas Whitmore Esq.

even advertised them. For almost 3000 years, hemp was the largest agricultural crop on planet Earth and the most important industry that produced fiber, paper, clothing, fuel for lighting and medicines used by much of humanity. In 1632, the Virginia Assembly ordered “that every planter, as soon as he could, provide flax and hemp seeds and sow the same.” To process hemp into usable fiber, millers used a draft animal that walked in circles to break it down and release strong fibers that held a new nation together. The cannabis most commonly cultivated in the colonies was an introduced species, Cannabis sativa.

During the time of Elizabeth I, reports were submitted to the government on the potential of hemp seeds for oil production. Modern technology has made it possible to prepare a wide variety of foods from hemp seeds, including cheese, milk, ice cream, flour, hemp tofu, butter and oil. Hemp is making a comeback as people all over the world reconnect with old knowledge and learn from new science about the true value of the entire cannabis plant.

Ethel Sweetwood
Ethel Sweetwood

Unapologetic organizer. General twitter buff. Friendly social media expert. Infuriatingly humble coffee nerd. Proud tv nerd. Evil tv scholar.

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