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Sydney: Convict or Hemp Colony?

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More a Question of Peak Resources?

The big problem of the 21st century has been that we live in an age of "peak resources". This relates to the future energy, food and water needs of an ever growing world population. The word "sustainability" is often used as advertising hooks. There must have been past eras that experienced similar issues leading to solutions that we take for granted now.. Enter Botanist Sir Joseph Banks...

Captain James Cook

Capt. James Cook's voyage 1768-1771 discovered Australia's east coast.

Captain James Cook discovery of New Holland/Australia's East Coast, and botanist Sir Joseph Banks, demand for Royal Navy Supremacy, the economic and Social issues in the late 1700s. If history is a litany of cause and effect, aka problems demanding solutions,then the mid-1700s was a dynamic cauldron fueling the future which is our present

British Man-of-War Batteship Royal Navy

Royal Navy Man of War: 80 tonnes of hemp to fit out & maintain.

A Royal Navy First Rate Man of War took 80 tonnes of hemp to build and maintain. It took 120 acres to grow such a quantity. There was the Sail cloth, the hemp ropes & rigging, waterproofing through he process of "caulking": hammering in,"oakum" was essential for water proofing, sealing, between the timber planks.

Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp John Jiggens

Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp

An historian and hemp advocate, Prof. John Jiggens' tome, "Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp",by historian John Jiggins, notes that thethat the wealthy noble botanist was a grower of Indian Hemp (Cannabis indica). Indeed, Banks supplied the poet, Coleridge, with Marijuana, that we know colloquially as “dope”, a banned substance. One of Banks' main interests was the importance of growing hemp as a strategic raw material for the British Navy within the Empire. Indian hemp seemed to solve this issue . He assumed it was a substitute resource for American Cannabis stavia essential for the maritime industry. 

Sydney Cove, 1788

Hemp is now banned or restricted authorised use. Why? The historical importance of hemp was undeniably the most important vegetable on the planet. United States Presidents all grew Hemp. Hemp was central to Sea power, commerce and Naval warfare.  Britain relied on this American Colonial source 0f Cannabis Sativa, but in 1776 George III reign "lost" this resource


George Washington, Hemp

President Washington admits it is true!

Hemp is now banned or restricted authorized use...why? The historical importance of hemp was undeniable made it the most important vegetable on the planet. US Presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams all grew hemp. THis was the stuff their faces were printed on as legal currency. Hemp was central to sea power,commerce and warfare as Petroleum is today.Bit of a problem with that American Revolution in 1776. It seemed the only alternative source of this vital Empire Building substance was Russia. The volatile Baltic states were seen as a impediment, as was the Russian knowledge of Britain's need!

Consequences for the Empire Control.

In 1773 tax collectors for the Empire overlords were tarred and feathered as for a taste of what was to come.

Jiggins argues the hidden reason for an Australian settlement was a strategic theme in British government thinking as a replacement Hemp Colony. After the American Revolution in 1776 , the British lost a convict purging opportunity indeed. More importantly they were deprived of the vital resource of hemp..Convicts were on the First Fleet, but maybe to supply much needed labour for establishing and growing hemp.Losing the American Colony, the British established The Indian Hemp Experiment.

Cannabis indica has a higher ratio of CBD:THC.

Banks assumed that it looked the same hence would have the same qualities to sustain the vital maritime industry for the island nation. It turned out the mistake. The Indians did warn them of the folly to turn 'dope' into rope! The Indian hemp did not have the identical properties of the American imports. It turns out that both can bebeneficil as "medical cannabis", but "Cannabis indica has a higher ratio of CBD:THC compared to Cannabis sativa". Jiggens strongly suggested that the banning of hemp is a backdoor attack by the plastic and petroleum industry.

commercial Hemp, clothing, rope, medicene

Harvested hemp to be used for rope, clothing, medicene, building materials, even building bio degradable cars of the future...

Jiggens suggests, why would the British chose such an expensive option as New Holland for dumping convicts half way around the world. It is too simple and convenient an explanation for a new colony. He argues the British government concerns about the vital supply of hemp demands a rethink of the idea it was a Hemp Colony NOT a Convict Colony.

©Sandra Ker Antiquarian Print Gallery 2013


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