1619: The Summer That Connects America, Hemp and African-Americans Forever

There is a piece of history in the United States that ties slavery and the hemp industry. Interestingly, these two go hand-in-hand. At the hand of one man in 1619, to add to that. I imagine you have heard of the year before, but here is how it applies to African-Americans and American hemp.

Our story takes place in the United States in the first permanent English settlement, Jamestown, Virginia. The newly appointed Governor of Virginia, Sir George Yeardley, introduced self-government in the colony on July 30, 1619, calling for the first representative legislative assembly in America.

First Assembly, Yeardly seated in red.


Yeardley granted white male voters new political control then enacted the decree of King James I asking Jamestown the landowners to grow and export 100 hemp plants to help the effort in England. It was encouraged for manufacture because hemp was a fiber resource for sails, cordage, and rough bagging.

Hemp Plant.

While Yeadly proved to be a pinnacle political figure in what would eventually become the United States, he would the same summer make slavery central to America’s development.

On August 20, 1619, when 20+ Angolans were brought to the Virginia Colony by Captain Jope aboard The White Lion, carrying the flag of a Dutch port notorious for its pirates, Yeardly deprived captured people from West-Central Africa of their liberty and freedom.

First captured Africans sold in America.

Governor Yeardley, and his head merchant Abraham Piersey, were the first to go on record to purchase the first Africans to be sold into forced labor, exchanging “20 odd negros” for food. Eventually, Yeardly became one of the largest English slave owners in The Colonies.

In closing, the acts in the summer of 1619, orchestrated by one man who influenced the creation of our country’s greatest disgrace. It is imperative to know our history in the hemp industry as more black and brown people join the cannabis culture and welcome the date as a starting point to reshape our African-American narrative in the United States.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

What tidbits of African-American Hemp history do you know about the industry?

Let us know in the comments below.


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Resources:

1619: The Beginning of Self-Government in Virginia ~ The Imaginative Conservative

History Of Hemp In America » Hemp Frontiers

The Ropewalk | Charlestown, MA Patch

The Forgotten History of Hemp Cultivation in America (farmcollector.com)

1610 to 1619  |  Virginia Records Timeline: 1553 to 1743  |  Articles and Essays  |  Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606-1827  |  Digital Collections  |  Library of Congress (loc.gov)

Legal history of cannabis in the United States – Wikipedia

America’s History of Slavery Began Long Before Jamestown – HISTORY

What we get wrong about the roots of slavery in America – The Washington Post

1619: The First African Slaves In America | BET

Hemp Farming and Slavery: A Story of Exploit and Shame | Cannabis News & Culture: Heady Vermont

America’s History of Slavery Began Long Before Jamestown – HISTORY

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