Publication Date


Document Type

Working Paper


Professor John Hall

Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes

N11, N31, N51

Key Words

Colonial America, Cultivation of Hemp, Durability, Industrial Hemp, Revival


This inquiry seeks to establish that in the early United States industrial hemp emerged as an important crop. In Colonial America, hemp was a desirable commodity that attracted capital investments into its cultivation and processing. Because of its durability and strength, hemp fibers had substantial worth in the production of thread, rope, and heavy canvas. Not only was the cultivation of hemp important for the development of a variety of household products, but hemp also played a military role, as the hemp fibers were spun, woven, and fashioned into sails that provided wind power for commercial and military navies. However, as time passed hemp’s importance waned.


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