Tobacco Timeline

Chapter 4

The Eighteenth Century--Snuff Holds Sway

  • ENGLAND: George III's wife known as "Snuffy Charlotte"
  • FRANCE: Napoleon said to have used 7 lb. of snuff per month
  • HEALTH: Lung cancer, an extremely rare disease, is first described.

  • 1701: HEALTH: MEDICINE: Nicholas Andryde Boisregard warns that young people taking too much tobacco have trembling, unsteady hands, staggering feet and suffer a withering of "their noble parts."
  • I701-40: PRUSSIA: Tobacco councils of Frederick I and Frederick William I. (AHS)
  • 1705: VIRGINIA Assembly passes a law legalizing lifelong slavery. . . . all servants imported and brought into this country, by sea or land, who were not christians in their native country . . . shall be . . . slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to christianity afterwards."

  • 1713: LEGISLATION: Inspection regulations passed to keep up standards of Virginia leaf exports (not effective until 1730). (ATS)
  • 1719: LEGISLATION: FRANCE: Smoking is prohibited. Exceptions: the Franche-Comt, Flanders and Alsace.

  • 1724: REGULATION: Pope Benedict XIII learns to smoke and use snuff, and repeals papal bulls against clerical smoking.(TSW)
  • 1727: ECONOMY: "Tobacco notes" Become Legal Tender in Virginia. Tobacco Notes attesting to quality and quantity of one's tobacco kept in public warehouses are authorized as legal tender in Virginia. Used as units of monetary exchange throughout 18th Century. The notes are more convenient than the acutal leaf, which had been in use as money for over a century.

  • 1730: LEGISLATION: Virginia Inspection Acts come into effect, standardizing and regulating tobacco sales and exports to prevent the export of "trash tobacco"--shipments diluted with leaves and household sweepings, which were debasing the value of Virginia tobacco. Inspection warehouses were empowered to verify weight and kind and kind of tobacco.
  • 1730: VIRGINIA: BUSINESS: First American tobacco factories begun in Virginia--small snuff mills

  • 1747: LEGISLATION: Maryland passes its own Maryland Inspection Act to control quality of exports.

  • 1750: RHODE ISLAND BUSINESS: Gilbert Stuart builds snuff mill in Rhode Island, ships his products in dried animal bladders
  • 1753: SWEDEN: Swedish Botanist Carolus Linnaeus names the plant genus, nicotiana. and describes two species, nicotiana rustica. and nicotiana tabacum."
  • 1755-10: Virginia's tobacco crop fails because of extended drought conditions.
  • 1758: LEGISLATION: Virginia Assembly passes wildly unpopular "Two Penny Act," forbidding payment in percentage of tobacco crop to some public officials, such as the Anglican clergy. The crop was small at this period, making tobacco a seller's market. The law mandating a regular salary for these officials severely cut the clergy's real income.
  • 1759: GEORGE WASHINGTON, having gained 17,000 acres of farmland and 286 slaves from his new wife, MARTHA DANDRIDGE CUSTIS (these added to his own 30 slaves), harvests his first tobacco crop. The British market is unimpressed with its quality, and by 1761, Washington is deeply in debt.

  • 1760: BUSINESS: Pierre Lorillard establishes a "manufactory" in New York City for processing pipe tobacco, cigars, and snuff. P. Lorillard is the oldest tobacco company in the US.
  • 1761: SCIENCE: ENGLAND: Physician John Hill publishes "Cautions against the Immoderate Use of Snuff" -- perhaps the first clinical study of tobacco effects. Hill warns snuff users they are vulnerable to cancers of the nose.
  • 1761: SCIENCE: ENGLAND: Dr. Percival Pott notes incidence of cancer of the scrotum among chimneysweeps, theorizing a connection between cancer and exposure to soot.
  • 1762: General Israel Putnam introduces cigar-smoking to the US. After a British campaign in Cuba, "Old Put" returns with three donkey-loads of Havana cigars; introduces the customers of his Connecticut brewery and tavern to cigar smoking (BD)
  • 1763: Patrick Henry argues a tobacco case, the "Parson's Cause."
  • The clergy had been paid in tobacco until a late 1750s Virginia law which decreed they should be paid in currency at the fixed rate of 2 cent/lb. When tobacco began selling for 6 cents/lb, the clergy protested, and the law was vetoed by the Crown. The old Virginia law was still sometimes adhered to, however, and some clergy sued their parishes. Henry defended one such parish (Hanover County) in court. He berated England's interference in domestic matters, and convinced the jury to give the plaintiff/clergyman only one penny in damages.
  • 1769: Captain James Cook arrives, smoking a pipe. Thought a demon, the natives dowse him with water.

  • 1770s: UK: Glasgow is Britain's main tobacco port.
  • 1770: Demuth Tobacco shop, the oldest tobacco shop in the nation is established by Christopher Demuth at 114 E. King St., Lancaster, PA.
  • 1771-12-17: REGULATION: FRANCE: French official is condemned to be hanged for admitting foreign tobacco into the country.
  • 1776: AMERICAN REVOLUTION Along "Tobacco Coast" (the Chesapeake), the Revolutionary War was variously known as "The Tobacco War." Growers had found themselves perpetually in debt to British merchants; by 1776, growers owed the mercantile houses millions of pounds. British tobacco taxes are a further grievance. Tobacco helps finance the Revolution by serving as collateral for the loan Benjamin Franklin won from France--the security was 5 million pounds of Virginia tobacco. George Washington once appealed to his countrymen for aid to the army: "If you can't send money, send tobacco." During the war, it was tobacco exports that the fledgling government used to build up credits abroad. And, when the war was over, Americans turned to tobacco taxes to help repay the revolutionary war debt.
  • 1779: Pope Benedict XII opens a tobacco factory

  • 1780-1781: VIRGINIA: "TOBACCO WAR" waged by Lord Cornwallis to destroy basis of America's credit abroad (ATS)
  • 1781: Thomas Jefferson suggests tobacco cultivation in the "western country on the Mississippi." (ATS)
  • 1785: Conestoga wagons leave Pennsylvania for the West. The rolled tobacco leaves inside lead to the term "Stogies" for cigars.
  • 1788: BUSINESS: Spanish NEW ORLEANS opened for export of tobacco by Americans in Mississippi valley. (ATS)
  • 1788: AUSTRALIA: Tobacco arrives with the First Fleet
  • 1789-1799: FRENCH REVOLUTION French masses begin to take to the cigarito, as the form of tobacco use least like the aristocratic snuff. The hated tobacco monopoly is abolished (to be resurrected by Napoleon)

  • 1790s: Lorillard creates the US's first national ad campaign by distributing its posters via post office.
  • .
  • 1791: SCIENCE: ENGLAND: London physician John Hill reports cases in which use of snuff caused nasal cancers
  • .
  • 1791: FRANCE: The National Assembly grants the freedom to cultivate and sell tobacco.
  • 1794: TAXES: The U.S Congress passes the first federal excise tax on tobacco products. The tax of 8 cents applies only to snuff, not the more plebian chewing or smoking tobacco. The tax is 60% of snuff's usual selling price. James Madison opposed the tax, saying it deprive poorer people of innocent gratification
  • 1795: SCIENCE: Sammuel Thomas von Soemmering of Maine reports on cancers of the lip in pipe smokers
  • 1798. SCIENCE: Famed physician Benjamin Rush writes on the medical dangers of tobacco and claims that smoking or chewing tobacco leads to drunkenness.
  • 1798. The United States Marine Hospital Service is established. The service will become the Public Health Service in 1912 and had been made part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1953.

    Next Chapter: The Nineteenth Century--The Age of the Cigar


    Chapter 1: Discovery
    Chapter 2: The Sixteenth Century--Sailors Spread the Seeds
    Chapter 3: The Seventeenth Century--"The Great Age of the Pipe"
    Chapter 4: The Eighteenth Century--Snuff Holds Sway
    Chapter 5: The Nineteenth Century--The Age of the Cigar
    Chapter 6: The Twentieth Century, 1900-1950--The Rise of the Cigarette
    Chapter 7: The Twentieth Century, 1950-1999--The Battle is Joined
    Chapter 8: The New Millennium
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  • 2001 Gene Borio, Tobacco BBS (212-982-4645). WebPage: Tobacco BBS material may be reprinted in any non-commercial venue if accompanied by this credit

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