History on tobacco
By Gene Borio
IN THE BEGINNING . . .
Huron Indian myth has it that in ancient times, when the land was barren and the people were starving, the Great Spirit sent forth a woman to save humanity. As she traveled over the world, everywhere her right hand touched the soil, there grew potatoes. And everywhere her left hand touched the soil, there grew corn. And when the world was rich and fertile, she sat down and rested. When she arose, there grew tobacco . . .
Last major update: 04/22/97
Thanks to tobacco researcher Larry Breed (LB) for his contributions. He recently found a little tome called "This Smoking World" (1927), and shared some of its events (TSW). I am also beginning to incorporate events referenced in Richard Kluger's monumental Ashes to Ashes (RK) and The American Tobacco Story (ATS). Another important source is Bill Drake's wonderful The European Experience With Native American Tobacco (BD)
The sacred origin of tobacco and the first pipe (Schoolcraft)
c. 6000 BC: Experts believe the tobacco plant, as we know it today, begins growing in the Americas.
c. 1 BCE: Experts believe American inhabitants begin finding ways to use tobacco, including smoking (via a number of variations) and in enemas.
c. 1 CE: Tobacco was "nearly everywhere" in the Americas. (American Heritage Book of Indians, p.41).
600-1000 CE: UAXACTUN, GUATEMALA. First pictorial record of smoking: A pottery vessel found here dates from before the 11th century. On it a Maya is depicted smoking a roll of tobacco leaves tied with a string. The Mayan term for smoking was sik'ar
The Chiapas Gift, or The Indians' Revenge?
1492-10-15: Columbus Discovers Smoking
1497: Robert Pane, who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, writes the first report of native tobacco use to appear in Europe.
1518: MEXICO: JUAN DE GRIJALVA lands in Yucatan, observes cigarette smoking by natives (ATS)
1519: MEXICO: CORTEZ conquers AZTEC capitol, finds Mexican natives smoking perfumed reed cigarettes.(ATS)
1530: MEXICO: BERNARDINO DE SAHAGUN, missionary in Mexico, distinguishes between sweet commercial tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and coarse Nicotiana rustica.(ATS)
1531: SANTO DOMINGO: European cultivation of tobacco begins
1534: CUBA, SANTO DOMINGO: "Tall tobacco"sweet, broadleaved Nicotiana tabacumtransplanted from Central American mainland to Cuba and Santo Domingo.(ATS)
1548: BRAZIL: Portuguese cultivate tobacco for commercial export.
1554: ANTWERP: 'Cruydeboeck' presents first illustration of tobacco. (LB)
1535: CANADA: Jacques Cartier encounters natives on the island of Montreal who use tobacco.
1556: FRANCE: Tobacco is introduced. Thevet transplants Nicotiana tabacum from Brazil, describes tobacco as a creature comfort. (ATS)
1558: PORTUGAL: Tobacco is introduced.
1559: SPAIN: Tobacco is introduced.
1560: PORTUGAL, FRANCE: Jean Nicot de Villemain, France's ambassador to Portugal, writes of tobacco's medicinal properties, describing it as a panacea. Nicot sends rustica plants to French court.
1564 or 1565: ENGLAND: Tobacco is introduced by Sir John Hawkins and/or his crew. For the next twenty years in England, tobacco is used cheifly by sailors, including those employed by Sir Francis Drake.
1566: FRANCE: Nicot sends snuff to Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, to treat her migraine headaches. She later decrees tobacco be termed Herba Regina
1568: FRANCE: Andre Thevet provides first description of tobacco use. In Brazil, he wrote, the people smoke it and it cleans the "superfluous humours of the brain". Thevet smoked it himself. (LB)
1570: Claimed first botanical book on tobacco written by Pena and Lobel of London.(TSW)
1571: SPAIN: MEDICINE: Monardes, a doctor in Seville, reports on the latest craze among Spanish doctors-the wonders of the tobacco plant, which herbalists are growing all over Spain. Monardes lists 36 maladies tobacco cures.
1573: ENGLAND: Sir Francis Drake returns from Americas with 'Nicotina tobacum'. (LB)
1575: MEXICO: LEGISLATION: Roman Catholic Church passes a law against smoking in any place of worship in the Spanish Colonies
1577: ENGLAND: MEDICINE: Frampton translates Monardes into English. European doctors look for new cures-tobacco is recommended for toothache, falling fingernails, worms, halitosis, lockjaw & cancer
1580: CUBA: European cultivation of tobacco begins
1585: ENGLAND: Sir Francis Drake introduces smoking to Sir Walter Raleigh (BD)
1586: Ralph Lane, first governor of Virginia, teaches Sir Walter Raleigh to smoke the long-stemmed clay pipe Lane is credited with inventing (BD).(TSW)
1586: GERMANY: 'De plantis epitome utilissima' offers one of first cautions to use of tobacco, calling it a "violent herb". (LB)
1586: ENGLAND: Tobacco Arrives in English Society. In July 1586, some of the Virginia colonists returned to England and disembarked at Plymouth smoking tobacco from pipes, which caused a sensation. William Camden (1551-1623) a contemporary witness, reports that "These men who were thus brought back were the first that I know of that brought into England that Indian plant which they call Tabacca and Nicotia, or Tobacco" Tobacco in the Elizabethan age was known as "sotweed." (BD)
1587: ANTWERP: First published work totally on tobacco, 'De herbe panacea', with numerous recipies and claims of cures. (LB)
1588: Hariot writes about tobacco in Virginia
1590: LITERATURE: Spenser's Fairy Queen: earliest poetical allusion to tobacco in English literature. (Book III, Canto VI, 32).
1595: ENGLAND: Tabacco, the first book in the English language devoted to the subject of tobacco, is published
1595: Matoaka is born to Chief Powhatan. She is given the nickname Pocahontas-"Frisky, " "Playful One" or "Mischief"
1596: LITERATURE: Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humor is acted on the 25th of November, 1596, and printed in 1601. In Act III, Scene 2, Bobadilla (pro) and Cob (con) argue about tobacco. (BD)