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The Joys of Smoking Cigarettes
In 1612, Captain John Rolfe produced the first successful tobacco crop in Virginia. John Rolfe was a farmer in the Jamestown settlement whose crops of tobacco became the economic basis for the colony. Known as an "ardent smoker," Rolfe was probably instrumental in importing tobacco seed from Trinidad between 1610 and 1611. He crossed the imported breed with the indigenous tobacco to produce a plant well adapted to the local soil and reportedly of pleasant taste. When the English cargo vessel Elizabeth sailed from Virginia on June 28, 1613, it presumably carried Rolfe's first tobacco crop for export. In April of the following year, John Rolfe married a sweet young Indian named Pocahontas in a Jamestown church. He died early in 1622. Within those ten short years, tobacco became the staple of the colonies, even though the motherland, England, was anxious to have the new provinces produce other commodities, such as flax, cotton, and indigo.
The revenues and profits from the "devil weed," as tobacco had come to be called, changed their minds, though. In 1622, Virginia exported sixty thousand pounds of tobacco from the colonies back to England. Nearly a hundred years later, the production level of export had risen to a whopping 50 million pounds and was still growing.
Rolfe may be considered the father of modern tobacco, through his aggressive sale and distribution of tobacco, but he was also anointed the economic savior of the colonies.The Joys of Smoking Cigarettes. Copyright © by James Fitzgerald. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers,Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.