The original “America First” campaign revolved around hemp.

The American Revolution took place during what can be described as the Golden Heyday of Hemp. Those were the days when America was bursting at the seams with abundant stands of rank hemp growing 10-16 ft. tall in the fresh fertile soil of every farm in the 13 colonies.

It is ironic, because the Revolution helped achieve a long time goal of the British. For more than 100 years prior to the Revolution England had tried with varying degrees of success to induce the American colonist to grow hemp.

England needed a tremendous amount of hemp for their Navy and merchant vessels. They had the largest maritime fleet in the world and each ship needed 60-100 tons of hemp. It was the goal of England to obtain their hemp from the American colonist.

Americans did grow hemp in every early settlement but the problem was that so much hemp was needed for home consumption that very little was actually exported. In fact, even though much hemp was grown in the colonies many tons of hemp were being imported from Russia to meet the home demand.

England too was dependent on Russian hemp. Although hemp was grown worldwide Russia grew hemp on a vast scale using serf labor. This allowed them to grow hemp, ship it all the way to the ports of America and sell their product cheaper than inland farmers 100 miles away.

The population of America was growing in leaps and bounds. Every decade there was tens of thousands of more people. Farmers struggled to keep up with demand and yet still we had to import hemp from Russia.

In 1765 England made a deal with the colonist that was intended to last for the next 20 years. They offered a tremendous bounty on hemp, promising to pay the colonist handsomely for any hemp the colonists could grow that was fit to be used in their merchant and naval vessels.

A deliberate campaign began to spread and increase the knowledge and culture of hemp in America. Benjamin Franklin asked James Wright of Columbia, in Lancaster County, Pa. to write a treatise on hemp farming. The treatise appeared in Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1765 under the title THE METHOD OF RAISING HEMP IN PENNSYLVANIA. His excellent report on the cultivation of hemp was just one of many that appeared during the same time period, encouraging farmers to grow hemp throughout the colonies.

The culture of hemp was indeed spreading everywhere, but not to the benefit of England. America’s relationship with Great Britain was beginning to become bitter. The Stamp Tax first alienated the Americans and then the Quarters Act. As the tension between the two countries increased, so did the realization that America could stand on her own, without the manufactured goods and trade of England, without the supposed protection from the mother country, and without the humiliating oppression suffered at the hands of England, including taxation without representation and a whole list of other evils that threatened our natural rights and liberties

Although England had hoped to be enriched by American hemp, the Americans decided to use this opportunity of increased hemp production for their own benefit. Everywhere the making of homespun clothing was considered a patriotic duty of great importance. The manufactures of Great Britain were disdained, while the homespun hemp clothing was worn with great pride.

The goal of America during the pre-Revolutionary time period of 1765-1775 and during the Revolution of 1775-1783 was complete self-sufficiency. Hemp was a key component in this drive for home manufactures. During this 18 year period of time hemp was grown on every farm. Anyone who did not grow hemp, flax and wool was not considered a patriot.

Even though a tremendous amount of hemp was grown during the pre-war years and during the Revolution a tremendous amount of hemp was still imported from Russia. In the years after the war American farmers realized the threat that Russian hemp posed to the home hemp industry. They were not willing to relinquish this profitable crop so easily.

One of the biggest hemp-producing regions of the new nation was Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the land of Hempfield. Hemp had been one of the chief cash crops of Lancaster County since 1720 when John Gardner erected the first hemp mill there by the banks of the Susquehanna River. Over the next 60 years the fame of the Lancaster County hemp industry spread far and wide.

In 1789 when the very first Federal Congress met, representatives from Lancaster County and other hemp growing regions argued for a tariff on Russian hemp to protect the home hemp industry. They were persuasive in their arguments and on July 4th, 1789 the hemp tariff was passed and signed into law by President George Washington.

Over the next 25 years the hemp industry exploded in Lancaster County and other regions. To some extent the tariffs seemed to be working but still hemp had to be imported from Russia and other countries, not because so little was grown in America but because of the enormous demand for hemp at home.

Tariffs were not popular with everybody though. If you were a rope-maker in Philadelphia or Boston let’s say, you could get all the hemp you wanted from Russia for cheaper than getting it from the inland farmers of Massachusetts or Pennsylvania. In fact, you needed so much hemp the farmers couldn’t get enough of it to you and you still had to import from Russia. So to them, they hated the tariffs.

The War of 1812 between America and England is complicated but part of the reason we fought was for the right to import hemp from Russia. Sometime after the War of 1812 the tariffs on Russian hemp were drastically lowered and American farmers again felt jeopardized.

The market for American hemp started to decline. Besides the tariffs hemp had other troubles. The cotton gin was invented in 1793 and suddenly the mass production of cotton fiber became feasible. Over the next 30 years cotton increasingly took over for hemp. By the 1820’s the first cotton manufacturing plants started to be erected in the northern states and the age of homespun started its decline. By 1840 the great age of homespun would for the most part be dead.

In 1807 Robert Fulton invented the steamship. Over the ensuing years this lessened the demand for hempen rope and sails. Ironically one of Fulton’s many inventions included a machine to make rope from hemp and his father owned a hemp mill on his land in Lancaster County, Pa.

At any rate, by the 1820’s the market for hemp was declining and farmers blamed the low tariffs on foreign hemp. Sentiment to increase the tariffs emerged to become a strong political force.

On April 4, 1822 the subject of tariffs concerning hemp were again brought up for debate in congress, and just as in 1789, were argued from different perspectives. Representatives from the hemp growing regions argued vigorously in favor of increasing the tariffs while the rope manufacturers and the free-traders argued for no tariffs or low tariffs. The debate went on for years.

In 1823, James Buchanan delivered his views on the question of tariffs. He believed that the state of treasury made it imperative to increase revenue from imports. Buchanan declared that articles should be selected for additional duties with a view to encouraging domestic manufactures necessary for national defense AND for consumption of the great mass of people, and particularly those for which the country furnished the raw materials in abundance. In addition to raising revenue, this would have the added effect of helping the country to become gradually independent of foreign nations of raw materials that could be produced in America. He then asked for, “some indirect encouragement to the agriculture and manufactures of the middle part of the Union”.

In 1824, a tariff was passed that levied duties on various farm produce such as wool, hemp, and wheat, but this bill was not entirely satisfactory to the farmers of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They criticized the lack of additional duties upon distilled spirits, and what they considered to be inadequate duties on hemp. Tariff agitation continued in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and James Buchanan tried to please his constituency by trying to insert additional protections for these items into the Woolens Bill. Because these measures were opposed by certain factions, Buchanan voted against the bill on the grounds that it conferred undue sectional advantage to New England.

Lancaster farmers who had heard about Buchanan’s attempt to secure a higher tariff on imported hemp, upon hearing that he then voted against the bill requested his presence in Lancaster to explain himself in front of his constituents. James Buchanan explained his reasons for voting against the Woolens Bill in the Lancaster newspapers using stirring patriotic language. After explaining that an increased duty on foreign spirits and a substitution of domestic whiskey would provide an expanded market for the Pennsylvania growers of grain he then added;

“The friends of the Woolen Bill opposed with equal vigor an increased duty on foreign hemp. It is most strange, but it is not the less true, that the American Navy – our bulwark and our defense, is exclusively supplied with hemp from Russia. We are the most agricultural people on earth, and yet we depend on a foreign nation for the supply of an agricultural product, without which our Navy could not exist. For many years it was believed, that hemp of Russia was superior in quality to that of the United States. This delusion has vanished. It has been ascertained that the difference between the two articles is occasioned entirely by the methods in which they are prepared for market. The Russia hemp is water retted, the American hemp is dew retted. There is no country upon earth in which greater facilities are afforded for water retting hemp, than in Lancaster County. If its cultivation were encouraged by government, the home demand would very soon be supplied with the domestic article; and thus the half million of dollars which is annually sent to Russia, would go into the pockets of our own farmers.”

“We had a right to expect, that if our farmers should agree to pay a heavy additional duty upon all the woolen goods which they purchased, for the benefit of manufacturers, the manufacturers would not object to a small additional duty upon foreign spirits and upon foreign hemp – for the benefit of agriculture. We thought this was no more than a just reciprocity, but we found that Representatives of the Eastern Manufacturers were of a different opinion.”

“A motion was made by myself, that the Woolen Bill should be recommitted to the Committee on Manufactures, with instructions so to amend the same, as to make the duties upon the importation of Foreign Woolen goods and Foreign Wool, commence at the same time; and to make the duties the same on foreign wool, whether imported upon the skin or not; also to increase the duty on the importation of foreign Spirits not less than ten cents per gallon; also to increase the duty on the importation of foreign hemp not less than five dollars per ton.”

“No question was ever taken upon this motion. A member from New Hampshire rose and moved the previous question, which was sustained by the House and put an end to all amendment and debate. The vote was 102 to 98. Every Representative from New England, except one, voted for the previous question. Only eight of the Representatives from Pennsylvania voted in favor of it, the remaining eighteen voted against it.”

“The friends of the Woolen Bill have often said let us now protect wool and woolens, and afterwards we will protect the other articles. I ask, have we any reason to hope, that after we shall have afforded them the protection which they demand, they will assist us in obtaining additional duties for the benefit of the grain, and hemp, and manufactures of Pennsylvania? If they will not now vote for an additional duty upon any of these articles, when they have so much at stake, will they generously and voluntarily give it to us, without any equivalent, after they have obtained all they desire? All our experience is at war with such a supposition.”

Buchanan, after summation of the Woolen Bill and his opposition to it then said, “I can declare in the most solemn manner, before this meeting, that had I voted for this bill, I should have done an act at war with my most solemn convictions of duty, and with what I firmly believe to be the best interests of my constituents and of my native state. Still it is possible I may have been mistaken; and to your candid judgment I shall now leave this question”.

Farmers in Lancaster County were not the only people in America who wished for increased protections for the home hemp industry and in inducing the U.S. Navy to buy its hemp from American farmers. In May of 1824, Thomas S. Benton of Missouri, whose constituents were devoting attention to the growth and sale of hemp, submitted a resolution to the Senate that was read for consideration. It appears in the Abridgement of the Debates of CONGRESS as follows:

American Hemp

The following resolution, submitted on Saturday last, by Mr. Benton, was again read for consideration:

Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to direct the Secretary of the Navy to lay a report before the Senate, at the commencement of the next session of Congress, showing the reason, if any, why canvass, cordage and cables, made of hemp, the growth of the United States, may not be used in the equipment of national vessels.

 Mr. Benton said his object in presenting the resolution was, to find out the reason which excludes American Hemp from American ships. The objection being known, could be met and conquered, if it was not insuperable. A defect in the fiber might be incurable; but if the objection goes only to the preparation, the manufacture, or the want of an adequate supply, there is nothing invincible in it.

Mr. B. wished the Navy to be national, not only in the hearts which fill it, but in the materials now used; iron from Sweden, hemp from Russia, copper from England, lead from the Mediterranean. Wood alone, was the product of the United States. He referred to an official paper to show the cost of these materials in a ship of the line:

Iron – $23,000 – The North Carolina 74

Hemp – $61,000 – The Columbus 74

Copper – $57,000 – The Columbia 74

Wood – $70,000 – The Columbia 74

Lead – $2,500 – The North Carolina 74

He pointed out the enormous disproportion of cost between the foreign and the domestic material; and calculated the loss to American citizens, and the gain to the serfs and boors of Europe, in building the nine ships of the line and the twelve frigates, lately authorized by an act of Congress for the gradual increase of the Navy. But the loss, great as it is he said, did not stop here. When these nine seventy-fours and twelve frigates are finished, another set will be commenced, and the work will go on, until the Republic, like the Mother Empire, shall boast her “thousand ships of war.”

A lot seemed to be at stake. We can see that next to wood, hemp was the most expensive item in constructing a ship. Many ships took from 50-100 tons of hemp for the rope rigging, anchor cables and canvass sails. Farmers were excited about the possibility of claiming a fair share of this market. They were eager to prove the quality of their hemp by direct tests with the hemp of Russia, their foreign competitor, and also sought additional protection through increased tariffs on imported hemp. Sentiment to increase protection for hemp farmers and agriculturalist reached a crescendo during these years in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and elsewhere around the country and was reflected in farmer’s mass meetings to discuss these issues and to send messages to their elected representatives. One of these meetings took place in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1827. The following is an excerpt from the Lancaster newspaper:

HARRISBURG CONVENTION MEMORIAL TO CONGRESS

The following is the Memorial to Congress as it was signed by the Convention. We copy it from the Philadelphia U.S. Gazette.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, The memorial and petition of their fellow citizens, the undersigned, assembled at Harrisburg in the State of Pennsylvania. Respectfully shows-

That the imperfections of the acts of Congress intended to foster the woolen interests of these United States, together with the counterstalling measures of the British government, have reduced that interest in need of the early and effectual interposition of congress to support it.

Forty millions of manufacturing capitol, together with the forty millions of farming capitol, composing this great national concern, for want of adequate protection, have lost their value.

It is the power of the congress to relieve it from present distress and jeopardy, to prevent its utter ruin which is imminent, and to render it of the first importance to the general welfare of these United States.

Your petitioners might present their views, in extensive consideration of the subject. Deprived of natural circumstances of concerted action, and almost of common cause, in this respect the weakest interest of the country, your petitioners have been induced to meet together, from various distant places, for the purpose of exchanging sentiments personally, and uniting on this occasion in a petition to congress for that justice, which no doubt will be promptly dispensed, as soon as your honorable bodies are convinced that the country stands in need of it…

Flax and hemp, with their products may be obtained in such quantities as to supersede the use of foreign flax and hemp, and the manufactures from them, if protected from the large importations of those articles from foreign countries.”

In August of 1827, similar meetings took place in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The following, which is self-explanatory, is copied from an early Lancaster County newspaper.

An Agricultural Meeting

Agreeably to the recommendations of a meeting of the citizens of the townships of Donegal and Mount Joy, held at Elizabethtown, – and public notice given, a very large and respectable meeting of the citizens of Lancaster County, was held in the Court House in the city of Lancaster, on Wednesday the 22nd of August, 1827

The Honorable John Lightner was appointed Chairman, and Jacob Hibshman and N.W. Sample, Jr. Esq.’s, Secretaries

The proceedings of the Elizabethtown meeting being read, on motion of G.B. Porter, Esq.

Resolved, That a Committee of seven persons be appointed to draft resolutions Expressive of the sense of the meeting-where upon G.B. Porter, Esq., John Montgomery, Esq., John Rohrer, Esq., John Hoover, John Caldwell, Nathaniel F. Lightner and Jeremiah Brown, Esq. were appointed. The committee having retired for a short time, returned and reported the following preambles and resolutions which were read and unanimously adopted by the meeting.

Whilst the Farmers of Lancaster County have ever been, and still are, willing to encourage Domestic Manufactures, the time has now arrived, they think, when efficient protection should be given to Agriculture…

The people of this country, the first agricultural country, also pay to foreigners, about half a million of dollars annually for foreign Hemp, when it has been satisfactorily ascertained that American water retted Hemp, is equal in quality to any in the world.

Should this be so? – If our government shall protect us, we will in a very short time acquire the art of water-retting Hemp – and that competition at home in cultivating that article would soon reduce its price even below the price of Russian Hemp. The half million of dollars which is annually sent abroad, and goes in the pockets of the landholders of Russia, would remain at home, and erich the farmers of our country.

Fully impressed with the importance of these truths, and knowing the great interest which this fine agricultural county have in question, your committee offers the following resolutions:

Resolved, That whilst it is the opinion of this meeting, that Government should afford their aid to such of our domestic manufactures as require additional protection, – it is also their bounden duty, at the same time, to protect the farmers of the country, against foreign competition.

Resolved, In the opinion of this meeting, the importation of foreign spirits should be, either entirely prohibited or the duty upon its importation should be raised to such a standard, as would ensure in a great degree the conusption of domestic distilled spirits in its stead: and thus promote the agriculture of the country by increasing the demand for, and raising the price of rye and corn.

Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting, the interest of agriculture requires that an additional duty should be imposed on the importation of foreign Hemp.

Resolved, That for the purpose of carrying into effect the intentions of this meeting, a committee of 12 persons be appointed, to prepare a memorial to Congress, and circulate the same throughout the county, for signature.

Whereupon the following persons were appointed the committee agreeably to the said resolution, vis: G.B. Porter, John R. Montgomery, John Rohrer, John Hoover, John Caldwell, Nathaniel F. Lightner, Jeremiah Brown, Jr., Francis Boggs, Elias Baker, George Kinzer, Samuel Keller and George Redsecker.

Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting, signed by the Chairman and Secretaries be published in all the newspapers of the county.

John Lightner, Chairman

Jacob Hibshamn and N.W. Sample, Secretaries

The Pennsylvania Legislature was in perfect agreement with the citizens of Harrisburg and Lancaster. In December of 1827, a resolution was offered by General Porter and seconded by Mr. Williams of Pittsburgh in the House of Representatives. It is copied here from the Lancaster Newspaper.

A Resolution for affording additional Protection to Domestic Manufactures and encouraging Agricultural interest:

Experience, the test of all human wisdom has proven that the present tariff system of the government of the United States, is wholly insufficient to render protection to our Domestic manufactures and agricultural interest, which they need, to relieve them from the present embarrassment, and secure them from impending ruin. These important branches of internal industry, are so closely connected, that it may now be said, that the prosperity of the one, depends on the success of the other, and are equally entitled to encouragement. The best interest of our country demand that every possible exertion should be made to procure the passage of an act of Congress, imposing such duties as would enable our manufacturer to enter into fair competition with foreign manufacturers, and protect the farmer, the grower of hemp and wool, and the distiller of spirits from domestic materials, against foreign competition. The people of Pennsylvania do not ask for such a tariff as would secede to any one class, or to any section of the country, a monopoly. They want a system of protection, which will extend its blessings, as well as its burdens, as equally as possible over every part of the Union – to be uniform in its operation – upon the rich as well as the poor.

THEREFORE: Be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met: That the Senators of this state, with the Senate of the United States be, and they are hereby instructed, and the Representatives of the state in Congress, be, and they are hereby requested, to procure if practicable, the establishment of such a tariff as will afford additional protection to, consequently our domestic manufactures, by enabling our citizens fairly to compete with foreign enterprise, capitol and experience; and give encouragement to the grain growing states, by laying an additional duty upon the importation of foreign spirits, hemp and wool.

And be it further Resolved, that the Governor be, and is hereby requested to transmit a copy of the foregoing preamble and resolution, to each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress.

A favorable report made by the Navy Commissioner’s Office and printed in the Lancaster Newspapers helped cinch the support and guarantee passage of the legislative encouragement for the protection of hemp farmers:

HEMP

The following Report of the Navy Commissioners was made by the Secretary of the Navy to Congress, in consequence of a resolution offered by Mr. Buchanan, (whose name is unaccountably, and perhaps, designedly omitted in the Report) and adopted by the House. The water-rotted Hemp with which these experiments were tried, was raised and prepared by Mr. Adam Hoar, of Salisbury Township, in this county. As there is now no doubt but that preference will be given to the American water-rotted Hemp, would it not be a more profitable crop than wheat or rye to many of our Farmers, especially if an additional duty be laid on Foreign hemp?

The tariff was passed in the favor of the hemp farmers. It provided that after June 30, 1828, the rate on un-manufactured hemp should be raised to 45 dollars per ton for one year, after which a further levy of $5 per ton would be added each year until the total should reach $60 per ton. The fact that this new tariff bill was acceptable to the farmers and citizens of Lancaster County is reflected by the landslide reelection of James Buchanan a few months later. Interestingly enough, after working so hard to protect American hemp farmers from competition from Russian hemp, Buchanan was made Ambassador to Russia in the 1830’s.

Tariff issues were far from being resolved however, and continued to be debated for many years.

Here are some quotes from James Buchanan during the tarriff debates of the 1820’s:

“In this manner, Mr. Chairman, the astonishing spectacle is presented to the world of an agricultural nation, possessing millions of acres of land capable of producing the finest hemp, dependent on its supply of that necessary article upon a distant country. There must be something rotten in the system of policy from which such consequences proceed. The rapid increase of the importation of the foreign article demonstrates that an additional duty is absolutely necessary to check its further progress, unless you wish to give the growers of the article in Russia an exclusive monopoly of our market in preference to our own farmers. The additional duty proposed is moderate; it is no more than a protective duty in favor of our own agriculture, and will not, at least for many years to come, prohibit the importation of foreign hemp.” – James Buchanan, March 23, 1824

“Then, in regard to hemp, need I say anything? It has now been clearly ascertained, from the highest authority, that American water-rotted hemp is fully equal, if not superior, to that of Russia. This problem has been solved, and I feel it to be a high honor, that I have been an humble instrument in assisting to dispel the delusion which had existed in regard to American hemp. In the year 1824, I got one of my constituents to water-rot between 7 and 8 hundred weight of hemp. It was received in the navy yard in Philadelphia, by order of the Secretary of Navy, and the agent there, at once, pronounced it to be equal to the best water-rotted Russian hemp, and paid for it accordingly. It was manufactured and sent to the Mediterranean, and after an actual experiment of considerable length, no doubt is now entertained by the Commissioners of the Navy, but that it will prove to be fully equal, in all respects to the best Russian hemp. Indeed, in one respect, the report which we have received from the Navy Department, awards to American hemp a decided preference.” – James Buchanan, 1828

“In the remarks which I intend to make, I shall confine myself strictly to a reply to the arguments of the gentleman from Maine. I shall not attempt to follow him in his splendid career of eloquence. Even if I were able, upon any occasion, to be eloquent. Heaven defend me from such objects of hemp and molasses! Of all themes, for rhetorical effect, they are the very worst…

The gentleman from Maine has shown himself to be a true disciple of the Harrisburg Convention School. Even that convention, although the chief objects of their regard appeared to be wool and woolens, recommended further protections to iron, hemp, flax, and the items manufactured from them, and to domestic spirits. The gentleman from Maine has moved to strike from the bill additional duties which it proposes upon the importation of foreign hemp and molasses; and in his speech, he has argued against any additional duties either upon iron, or steel, or flax, or foreign spirits. In his opinion, therefore, the American System can embrace no other interests except that of the growers and manufacturers of wool…

The legislature of Pennsylvania has given us what, in my opinion, is the correct version of the American System. They have declared that “the best interest of our country demand that every possible exertion should be made to procure the passage of an act of Congress imposing such duties as will enable our manufacturers to enter into fair competition with foreign manufacturers, and protect the farmer, the growers of hemp and wool, and the distiller of spirits from domestic materials, against foreign competition.” – James Buchanan, 1828

“Sir, I am the decided friend of a tariff upon broad national principles; but I never can support a bill of this unjust and partial character: a bill which protects the woolen manufacturer of New England, whilst is leaves the agriculture of my own State to perish. Pennsylvania has, beyond comparison, a much greater interest in obtaining an increased duty on foreign spirits and foreign hemp, than on foreign wool and woolens. Upon this subject, however, I shall not repeat the observations which I have made heretofore. I sincerely believe, should my motion prevail, so far from defeating the bill, it will be carried by an increased majority.” James Buchanan, 1827

“But, upon the present occasion, we should be governed by higher considerations than these. I would vote for this bill upon the same principal that I would for the erection of a necessary fortification or the building of a navy. Are not the woolen and the cotton manufactures necessary to our independence? Is a nation perfectly independent, without clothing for its people, without iron, and without hemp? Is it either patriotic or wise to rely on the means of defense upon foreign nations, when we possess them in abundance within ourselves?” – James Buchanan, 1824

As popular as the tariffs were in the North and in Kentucky and other hemp growing regions they were in equal proportion hated by the slave-owning states of the South. The tariff of 1828 was called the Tariff of Abominations. A tariff in 1832 further angered the South. This led to the Nullification movement, a precursor to the Civil War.

A search on Google for “How did tariffs lead to the Civil War” brought up many interesting articles. After reading articles in favor of the theory that the tariffs were the primary cause of the war and those rejecting the theory I conclude that it was not the primary cause but it definitely contributed to the tensions.

One thing we do know though is that James Buchanan, one of the prime champions of the tariffs was elected president in 1856 and he signed a new tariff on his way out in 1861. Buchanan was a popular state representative from Lancaster County and a popular senator but he is almost universally condemned as America’s worst president and some lay a lot of the blame on his administration for failing to stop the country’s descent into bloody war.

For many decades after the Civil War tariffs on hemp and other products were continually debated and adjusted. Russian hemp was eventually displaced by even cheaper hemp from the Philippines. American farmers increasingly lost out to foreign competition.

Were the tariffs a good thing or a bad thing? History shows mixed results. However, we know one thing. Hemp was a part of the original “America First” campaign and to protect this important industry a tariff was imposed primarily to protect American farmers against the interests of Russia.

~Les Stark, NHA Contributor and Hemp Historian