Virtually every city and town (from time out of mind) in the world had an industry making hemp rope.6 Russia, however, was the world’s largest producer and best-quality manufacturer, supplying 80% of the Western world’s hemp from 1640 until 1940.
Thomas Paine outlined four essential natural resources for the new nation in Common Sense (1776): “cordage, iron, timber and tar.”
Chief among these was hemp for cordage. He wrote, “Hemp flourishes even to rankness, we do not want for cordage.” Then he went on to list the other essentials necessary for war with the British navy: cannons, gun-powder, etc.
From 70-90% of all rope, twine, and cordage was made from hemp until 1937. It was then replaced mostly by petrochemical fibers (owned principally by DuPont under license from Germany’s I.G. Farben Corporation patents) and by Manila (Abaca) Hemp, with steel cables often intertwined for strength, brought in from our “new” far-western Pacific Philippines possession, seized from Spain as reparation for the Spanish American War in 1898.