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Whoa dude! ‘Hemp for Victory,’ 1942

Industrial hemp demonstration, 1942.

In late November 1942, during World War II, farm advisers and agriculture officials from Central Illinois gathered in Bloomington to hear about the importance of growing hemp for the war effort. That’s right, industrial hemp was needed to make rope and other things, such as harnesses and shroud lines for airborne troops. Seen here exhibiting hemp “straw” at the November 23 meeting are J. Francis Buck (left) of the Illinois Agricultural Adjustment Agency (AAA) and Dr. W.L. Burlison of the University of Illinois.
By the summer of 1943 there were more than 235 farmers in northern McLean County with a total of more than 4,000 acres of hemp in cultivation. And Lexington would become home to one of 42 hemp mills built by the federal government during the war. One local AAA representative suggested the propaganda slogan, “Hemp to Hang Hitler.” Whoa indeed.

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History

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