Green historian and activist, Drew Hutton, will launch Dr John Jiggens' controversial history of the founding of Australia, Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp at Avid Reader on Tuesday April 24 at 6pm.
The book reveals that Sir Joseph Banks, the Father of Australia, grew hundreds of acres of ganga in India, and supplied the poet Samuel Coleridge with hashish. Accoring to Dr Jiggens, New South Wales was intended as a hemp colony to replace the United States.
Drew Hutton, Green historian and activist, will launch my new book 'Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp' at Avid Reader, Boundary Street, West End, on Tuesday April 24 at 6pm.
'Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp' examines the way the hemp question directed Britain’s colonial policy and the strategy and outcome of naval warfare between 1776 and 1815, a period when Britain lost its first empire in the US and began a second empire, centred on the Pacific. It argues that New South Wales was intended as a replacement hemp colony for the US.
Sir Joseph Banks has been hailed as ‘the Father of Australia’ and names like Botany Bay and Bankstown commemorate his visit to these shores. But Banks was a cannabis fanatic, who, together with his protégé Governor Philip King, was responsible for the cultivation of tens of acres of cannabis on the banks of the Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers in the 1800s. Only the Griffith mafia in the 1970s grew as much cannabis in Australia as King and Banks did.
Although Banks was primarily interested in hemp as a fibre crop, he was also intrigued with drug cannabis or marijuana. Banks was regularly sent quantities of hashish from James Matra, the British consul in Tangiers, who, together with Banks had drawn up the plans for the settlement in Botany Bay. The poet and early drug enthusiast, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, found out about Banks’ stash of hashish and got Banks to send him a quantity. Coleridge later wrote an account of his experience, which is the first recorded use of drug cannabis in England. This, of course, makes Banks the first supplier of drug cannabis in England.
Needless to say, under the present laws of England and Australia, the ‘Father of Australia’ would be facing a very long prison sentence indeed. Under the existing sentencing procedures he would no doubt have been sent back to Botany Bay!
Two hundred years ago, Cannabis sativa, or hemp, was the most important plant on the planet. As the basis for sail and rope, hemp was as strategic in the Age of Sail as oil is in our era. Just as oil supplies and alternatives to oil occupy some of the greatest minds of our era, two hundred years ago, Sir Joseph Banks, was preoccupied with hemp supplies and alternatives to hemp.
Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp Avid Reader, Tuesday 24 April, 6pm.