HARD DRUGS: Part 1
In 1000 A.D., the cultivation of coca is begun in Peru. In 1090 a fanatical Moslem sect, holy scrolls and all, are discovered to be hashish-oriented. In the 1200s hashish is introduced into Egypt.
Around the year 1600, a concern calling itself the British East India Company is formed and goes into competition with similar Portuguese and Dutch outfits, all involved in the trading of one main product - opium. By 1781, England will have total control of this monopoly.
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The famous English physician Dr. Sydenham publishes a widely-read 1680 statement about opium, making this incredible claim about the substance: "Among the remedies which it has pleased almighty God to give man to relieve his suffering, none is so universal and so efficacious as opium."
Another opium-enamored English physician, Thomas Dover, took the trouble out of always having to smoke the substance in 1709, by developing it as a drink which consisted of opium and wine. Dubbed "Dover's Powder," it proves so potent that (according to Dover's own notes) apothecaries insisted that before receiving the drink, patients must make out their wills.
English author Thomas De Quincy publishes his sensationalistic series of magazine articles called Confessions of an English Opium Eater in 1821. They become so popular that they are gathered into a best-selling book the following year.
In 1797, noted author Samuel Taylor Coleridge publishes his famous book, Kubla Khan, bragging that while writing it he was under the influence of opium.
In 1800 Napolean's army returns from Egypt and introduces hashish to France.
In 1844, a French cult of sorts is formed by hashish-oriented men of letters. It is called Le Club des Hachichins (The Club of Hashishians) and meets at the Hotel Pimoden in the Latin Quarter area of Paris.
The two founders are the famous writers Theophile Gautier and Charles Baudelaire, and its stated purpose is to investigate creativeness for writing while under the effects of hashish.
Many other great romantic writers of the time either join or show interest in the group, including Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas. These people are drug experimenters who are interested in investigating a new avenue of creativeness for their craft.
Author Honore de Balzac also attends, although he is not a user of the drug.
Dr. Jacques Moreau is a frequent visitor as well. Moreau has been using hashish on mental patients since 1841. Four years later, after working to unlock the secrets of insanity in the intoxication acquired from hashish, he publishes his extensive book on the subject, Hashish and Mental Illness.
In 1800, American clipper ships became involved in opium trade activities in China.
Also, in regard to the Chinese, in 1850 many of them are sold a "gold-paved streets" story on the U.S., but arrive only to find nothing for them but back-breaking labor. Regarded as less valuable than black slaves, they become a work force for gold-mining camps - and later railroad contruction - both businesses of which are monopolized by white Americans.
The Chinese bring with them their old opium-smoking habit, taught to them by the British, which allows their bosses to control them with the drug. A hundred years later the same scene will repeat itself with cocaine in U.S. black ghettos.
In 1856, the United States enters into an opium sales agreement with Siam. According to the arrangement, Americans can get opium from Siam, but when selling it later, they must also include the original opium farmer (or his agents) in the deal.
Not to be outdone by the popular French writers' experiments in hashish of the decade before, American Fitz Ludlow makes his own "hash mark" in 1856.
This is when, at the tender age of 16, Ludlow writes for Putnam's Magazine an account of his hashish-eating experiences. The following year this work is published as The Hasheesh Eater: Being Passages from the Life of a Pythagorean. The 371-page book is printed by no less than Harper & Brothers (later Harper & Row).
In 1860, Baudelaire writes about his hashish experiences in The Artificial Paradises.
In 1861, the American Civil War begins, and it can also be called America's first drug-related war, because treatment of the wounded soldiers with morphine produces 45,000 people addicted to the substance by war's end in 1865.
Also in 1865, Angelo Mariani of Corsica introduces a wine laced with cocaine. Called "Vin Coca Mariani," it becomes very popular in Europe, and is publicly praised by many influencial figures, including the Pope. It sells throughout the Western Hemisphere up until the turn of the century.
England finally passes its Pharmacy Act in 1869, which places some controls on opium and how it is prepared.
In 1870, the popularity of smoking peyote becomes evident, as it spreads to nearly all American indian tribes of the plains. Although Peyotism can be traced back to the pre-Columbian era among certain tribes, its use among the plains indians has risen dramatically by this date.
Following the European example, drugs once reserved by indians for rare ceremonial use are now increasingly thrust into the general social scene instead. This "anti-moderation" practice will have an even greater effect during the next 100 years.
Opium-smoking, being perfectly legal in the United States for the first 100 years of the country's history, finally gets the first minor law passed against it in 1875. This law is strictly local, applying only to one certain city - San Francisco, California, which is a town heavily-populated with Chinese (semi-slave) laborers who will now have to pay more for their opium habit on the black market.
In 1880, a period begins that will last a quarter century: the "anything goes" patent medicine era, where chemists and businessmen alike never have to look before they leap. Often sold on the road from the back of wagons by carnival-barker style "doctors," they range from 44% alcohol-laced cough syrups to opium-based children's medicines.
In 1884, Commanche Chief Quanah Parker converts to peyote and later forms the Native American Church of North America, wherein taking this drug will be upheld by U.S. law from then on.
Go To HARD DRUGS: Part 2