Until 1883, from 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with cannabis hemp fiber including paper for books, Bibles, maps, paper money, stocks and bonds, newspaper, etc. The Gutenberg Bible (15th Century); Pantagruel and the Herb Pantagruelion, Rabelais (16th Century); King James Bible (17th Century); Thomas Paines pamphlets, The Rights of Man, Common Sense, The Age of Reason (18th Century); the works of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Lewis Carrolls Alice in Wonderland (19th Century); and just about everything else was printed on hemp paper.
The first draft of the Declaration of Independence (June 28, 1776) was written on Dutch (hemp) paper, as was the second draft completed on July 2, 1776. This was the document actually agreed to on that day and announced and released on July 4, 1776. On July 19, 1776, Congress ordered the Declaration be copied and engrossed on parchment (a prepared animal skin) and this was the document actually signed by the delegates on August 2, 1776.
Colonial printing press
What we (the colonial American) and the rest of the world used to make all our paper from was the discarded sails and ropes sold by ship owners as scrap for recycling into paper.
The rest of our paper came from our worn-out clothes, sheets, diapers, curtains, and rags* sold to scrap dealers made primarily from hemp and sometimes flax.
* Hence the term rag paper.
Our ancestors were too thrifty to just throw anything away, so, until the 1880s, any remaining scraps and clothes were mixed together and recycled into paper.
Rag paper, containing hemp fiber, is the highest quality and longest lasting paper ever made. It can be torn when wet, but returns to its full strength when dry. Barring extreme conditions, rag paper remains stable for centuries. It will almost never wear out. Many U.S. government papers were written, by law, on hempen rag paper until the 1920s.5
5. Frazier, Jack, The Marijuana Farmers, Solar Age Press, New Orleans, LA, 1974; U.S. Library of Congress; National Archives; U.S. Mint; etc.
It is generally believed by scholars that the early Chinese knowledge, or art, of hemp paper making (First Century C.E.800 years before Islam discovered how, and 1,200 to 1,400 years before Europe) was one of the two chief reasons that Oriental knowledge and science were vastly superior to that of the West for 1,400 years. Thus, the art of long-lasting hemp papermaking allowed the Orientals accumulated knowledge to be passed on, built upon, investigated, refined, challenged, and changed, for generation after generation (in other words, cumulative and comprehensive scholarship).
Hemp paper lasted 50 to 100 times longer than most preparations of papyrus, and was a hundred times easier and cheaper to make.
The other reason that Oriental knowledge and science sustained superiority to that of the West for 1,400 years was that the Roman Catholic Church forbade reading and writing for 95% of Europes people; in addition, they burned, hunted down, or prohibited all foreign or domestic booksincluding their own Bible! for more than 1,200 years under the penalty and often-used punishment of death. Hence, many historians term this period The Dark Ages. (476 C.E.-1000 C.E., or even until the Renaissance). (See chapter 10 on Sociology.)
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