Virtually every city and town (from time out of mind) in the world had an industry making hemp rope.6 Russia, however, was the worlds largest producer and best-quality manufacturer, supplying 80% of the Western worlds hemp from 1740 until 1940.
6. Adams, James T., editor, Album of American History, Charles Scribners Sons, NY, 1944, pg. 116.
Thomas Paine outlined four essential natural resources for the new nation in Common Sense (1776): cordage, iron, timber and tar.
Chief among these was hemp for cordage. He wrote, Hemp flourishes even to rankness, we do not want for cordage. Then he want on to list the other essentials necessary for war with the British navy: cannons, gunpowder, etc.
From 70-90% of all rope, twine, and cordage was made from hemp until 1937. It was then replaced mostly by petrochemical fibers (owned principally by DuPont under license from Germanys I.G. Corporation patents) and by Manila (Abaca) Hemp, with steel cables often intertwined for strengthbrought in from our new far-Western Pacific Philippines possession, seized from Spain as reparations for the Spanish American War in 1898.
illustration © 1996 Ian Worth (photographer); Holy Moly (model); photograph courtesy of the Hempstead Company
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