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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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

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