From Staple to Outlaw and Back: South Carolina is 31st State to Allow Hemp
A hundred centuries ago, hemp (non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis plant) was first spun into usable fiber. It was a Tuesday in May, like today.
That last sentence is only half true - the part about hemp being a key part of Ancient Asian and Mediterranean civilizations for 10,000 years, as well as European and American civilizations more recently.
From our friends at Wikipedia:
"Commercial production of hemp in the West took off in the eighteenth century, but was grown in the sixteenth century in eastern England. Because of colonial and naval expansion of the era, economies needed large quantities of hemp for rope and oakum."
And from the hemp history site Hemphasis:
"In 1619, because hemp was such an important resource, it was illegal not to grow hemp in Jamestown, Virginia. Massachusetts and Connecticut had similar laws. During the 1700's, subsidies and bounties were granted in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, North & South Carolina, and the New England states to encourage hemp cultivation and the manufacturing of cordage and canvas."
image source: http://www.vidiani.com