Pubdate: Tue, 02 Sep 2014
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2014 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: William Trolinger
Page: 12


The 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 holds special significance 
for Baltimore in the next few weeks ("More details announced for 
Star-Spangled Spectacular Celebration" Aug. 12). On Aug. 25, 1814, 
President James Madison, and his wife, Dolley, were forced to flee 
for their lives when the British army sacked and burned the White 
House. The later attack on Fort McHenry led to the creation of the 
"Star-Spangled Banner," our national anthem. Why is so little 
attention being paid to this uniquely historic time? I am visiting 
England now for a few weeks and the people here have certainly taken note.

It also seems very newsworthy that the war itself was waged in great 
part over the importation of hemp from Russia to the United States in 
defiance of the British blockade attempting to deny that essential 
commodity for the world shipbuilding industry. The Russians had the 
best quality hemp fiber since it was very labor intensive and their 
large population of serfs provided the requisite slave labor. Ships, 
large and small, required tons of hemp fiber for their ropes and 
sails. Prior to the completion of the Erie Canal, it was faster and 
cheaper to sail a clipper ship to St. Petersburg and return with a 
cargo of hemp than to ship the fiber over land from Kentucky to 
Baltimore. The British Navy stopped and seized all the ships they found.

Since parts of the U.S. are now in the process of repealing the 
prohibition on hemp and the fiber can currently be processed by 
machine, we should see many new products in the future utilizing this 
environmentally and economically useful plant.

William Trolinger, Ellicott City
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