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Erasing American History?

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While watching Antiques Roadshow on PBS I saw a 17 Century wedding gown, when the appraiser started discussing the dress's fabric composition, I listened close. "Cotton was not a largely used material in the period. (Colonial America) "It was too expensive, too hard to keep clean, and wore out to quickly,” the appraiser lectured. I just could not take the dancing around of the words she longed to spit out. "Just say it,” I screamed at the television, "the dang thing is made up of HEMP."

The Great Cotton Rag Myth

In fact one of the largest reordering of American History has hardly anything to do with war, or foreign affairs, it instead has to do with a plant and its fibers. After watching a Documentary entitled The Hemp Revolution by an Australian film maker I went to find out about the microscopic analysis of textiles in American history.

The last state left in the United States to proudly and loudly proclaim their Hemp history is Kentucky. Museums such as the Smithsonian Institute and the Textile Museum here in America have changed most of their records to totally annihilate every reference to hemp in American history. However, they have let some good ones go by. Like that fact that the rope holding George Washington's first banner to its staff, was 100% hemp. This kind of discovery tickles me to no end when found.

Through history the classification of fibers used in textiles has been either overlooked due to researchers not properly categorizing the fiber by specific testing standard, or possibly on just listing the fabric contents as to what pleases the Government. After all this insures more monies to the organizations.

Studies and evidence used in the determination of fibers of natural fibers at a microscopic level is sometimes tricky. Looking at the photos of Flax compared to Hemp the two are almost identical. As a researcher, I would classify alot of fibers very wrongly myself.

The comparison of Hemp to Flax is so close that a light spectrum tests must be preformed to make a proper verification for the determination of which plant the fiber came from.

The terms of fabrics are a key to this little mystery. "Homespun" broadcloth and linen are the major terms used for the politically correct term instead of hemp. In all of my research I have yet to find a linen plant or a broadcloth plant for that matter. There is however many fibers employed in the making of linen, mainly hemp, as well as in hundreds of other cloths used both today and throughout history. What they mean to say is hemp fibers, they simply can't.

Critics say hemp fibers are and were too rough to be used as fine cloth. Yet history and today shows steaming the Hemp fibers can produce a material almost as smooth as silk. A patent on such a process was granted in the early 1800's. In fact during the Revolution Hemp fabric was considered as much a Patriotic statement as a fashion.

In the United States Congress, records throughout history show there almost always Hemp on the agenda. Thomas Jefferson produced enough cloth to clothe the entire population of his plantation. I'd say due to the wealth of evidence it is been proven that Hemp was the driving force in not only building this Country but in our bid for freedom, many experts agree, America would never have won the Revolution except for our fine Hemp.

American Cannabis Sativa was shown to be the finest in the world, and is still used today for military gear, from rucksacks, to uniforms and the canvas tents we supply our troops. Martha Washington herself was said to have run a spinning bee to cloth our troops at Valley Forge, only thing they could not make from Hemp, was shoes. All this is from the lowest THC variety of this plant American farmers are banned from growing.

Ecological, economical, and safe, with so much of our history built on this foundation, shouldn't we also consider Hemp may well have a prominent place in our future?


Edited by KMS

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Of course hemp should be freed of restrictions that have been placed on it, whether one is smoking it or making rope and clothing out of it. However, I'm not so sure about how it would fare in the market place today, at the time of the revolution cotton textiles were very expensive because they had to be imported from england (which they were less willing to do while we were rebelling). Add to this that short-staple cotton was yet in large supply without the cotton gin revolution. Hemp served to fill the void, whether it could be anything other than a second-rate fiber today is unclear. Speaking for my own field, historians have been very frank about the fact that many of the founders (Washington and Jefferson to name but two) grew hemp on their farms.

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