Whether you are a traditionalist who smokes an old pipe or a millennial who frequents hookah bars on the weekends, you enjoy tobacco. The tobacco plant has a very vibrant history in USA and not very many people have taken time to appreciate how the industry started. So here is a brief tobacco history so that way you can have some interesting talking points the next time you light up a cigar with your buddy.
1 BCE- It is believed that American inhabitants began using tobaccos in a variety of ways- chewing and smoking the leaves and possibly hallucinogenic concoctions.
600-1000 CE- First pictorial record of smoking found on a Mayan clay pot.
1492- Columbus encounters tobacco leaves upon his arrival to the Americas. They received dry leaves as gifts but not knowing what they were; the leaves were thrown away.
The 1500s- Natives in Yucatan and Cortez (Aztec Capitol) were found smoking cigarettes in the early 1500s.
1534- Tobacco is transplanted to Cuba (the very beginning of Cuban cigars!)
1535- Jacques Cartier discovers locals using tobacco on the island of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
1564/5- Tobacco is introduced to England and mainly used by sailors at first.
1575- Roman Catholic Church passes a law against smoking in any place of worship in the Spanish colonies.
1606- The Virginia Company’s recruitment of men to travel to America pushed heavily the idea of making money from growing tobacco. The first advertising campaign in the modern world and it involved tobacco!
1612- John Rolfe raises Virginia’s first commercial crop of “tall tobacco” in Jamestown.
1619- First Africans brought to Virginia by Dutch to work on tobacco crop.
17th Century- Slavery began to change the dynamic of tobacco into a huge cash crop. Farmers were able to keep the costs lower, which increased their profits.
1765- American Revolution began; the British blockaded the colonies from trading tobacco with Europe.
End of 18th Century- as the desire for tobacco continued to grow in Europe and the rest of the world; farmers in America couldn’t keep up with the demand. They began taking out landholding loans to increase their crops.
1863- President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the entire slave workforce and that put a strain on the farmers in the South. The demand in Europe for snuff, pipes, cigars and now cigarettes was booming. The cigarette ended up being the answer to the farmers’ labor problem.
1881- James Bonsack created that revolutionized the cigarette production.
1890- The American Tobacco Co. listed sales of $25,000.
1903- The American Tobacco Co. recorded sales of $316,000,000