History of Tobacco
Pre-Columbian (before 1492) - The smoking of tobacco and other leaves in the Americas has been evidenced through stone pipes found in southern Patagonia from 7000 years ago.
1492 – Christopher Columbus discovers tobacco in Cuba.
The indigenous Indians were rolling up Tobacco leaves, inserting them into their noses [according to some accounts] and breathing out smoke.
It is widely accepted that the Arawak Indians emigrated from the mainland of South America to Cuba, and brought the original tobacco seeds with them. By the early 1500’s, the Tainos, Cuban natives descended from the Arawaks, had already shown Spaniards their intricate and laborious processes for growing and processing tobacco. The steps of transplanting seedlings, creating “pilones” for fermentation, and even packaging leaves in palm bark remain the foundations of cigar production today.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas were already transplanting seedlings, curing, and fermenting tobacco long before Europeans arrived!
1518 – Conquistador Hernan Cortez brings tobacco seeds back to King Charles V of Spain.
1520 – Having developed a taste for the plant, Spanish settlers in Cuba begin to cultivate tobacco for their own personal use.
1602 – Pipe smoking had spread throughout Europe and reached parts of China, India, and Japan
1612 – Settlers begin to cultivate tobacco in Jamestown, Virginia.
- John Rolfe (husband of Princess Pocohontas) is the first to grow tobacco commercially for export.
- The settlement of Virginia would not have been as successful if tobacco had not been so profitable. In fact, tobacco production had to be curtailed so that ample food could still be grown.
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