George Washington Grew Hemp

Hemp was a cherished crop in colonial times, essential for its use in canvas, sails, and rigging.

“Hemp is a Plant of great Importance in the Arts and Manufactories, as it furnishes a great Variety of Threads, Cloths, and Cordage.”

-John Adams, 1763 (source)


The Hemp Journals

In addition to being the first president of The United States, George Washington grew hemp on several of his Mount Vernon farms. This is a selection of Washington’s hemp-related journal entries from 1765, preserved in their original spelling and style. The locations mentioned here are the Muddy Hole Farm, Dogue Run Farm, and River Farm.


May, 1765

“Sowed Hemp at Muddy hole by Swamp. Sowed Do. above the Meadow at Doeg Run.” - May 12 & 13

"Sowed Hemp at the head of the Meadow at Doeg Run & about Southwards Houses with the Barrel.” - May 16 (source)


August, 1765

“Began to seperate the Male from the Female hemp at Do.—rather too late.” - August 7

“Abt. 6 Oclock put some Hemp in the Rivr. to Rot.” - August 9

“The English Hemp i.e. the Hemp from the English Seed was pickd at Muddy hole this day & was ripe. Began to seperate Hemp in the neck.” - August 15

“Put some Hemp into the Water about 6 Oclock in the Afternoon—note this Hemp had been pulld the 8th. Instt. & was well dryed, & took it out again the 26th.” - August 22 (source)


September, 1765

“Began to Pull the Seed Hemp but it was not sufficiently ripe.” - September 4

“Hempseed seems to be in good order for getting—that is of a proper ripeness—but oblige to desist to pull my fodder.” - September 25 (source)


October, 1765

“Finishd pulling Seed Hemp at River Plantation.” - October 10

“Began to sow Wheat in Hemp Gd. at Rr. Plantn.” - October 21

“Finishd sowing Wheat in Hemp Ground at Rivr. Plantn. & plowd in a good deal of shattered Hemp Seed—27 Bushls. in all 152 [ ].” - October 31 (source)


You can read more of George Washington's journals at the Founders Online archive.

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