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4034. INVENTIONS, Hemp-brake.—

The braking and beating hemp, which has
been always done by hand, is so slow, so laborious,
and so much complained of by our laborers,
that I had given it up and purchased and
manufactured cotton for their shirting. The
advanced price of this, however, makes it a
serious item of expense; and, in the meantime,
a method of removing the difficulty of preparing
hemp occurred to me, so simple and so
cheap, that I return to its culture and manufacture.
To a person having a threshing machine,
the addition of a hemp-brake will not
cost more than twelve or fifteen dollars. You
know that the first mover in that machine is a
horizontal horse-wheel with cogs on its upper
face. On these is placed a wallower and shaft,
which give motion to the threshing apparatus.
On the opposite side of this same wheel I place
another wallower and shaft, through which, and
near its outer end, I pass a cross-arm of sufficient
strength, projecting on each side fifteen
inches in this form:

Nearly under the cross-arm is placed a very
strong hemp-brake, much stronger and heavier
than those for the hand. Its head block particu
larly is massive, and four feet high, and near its
upper end in front, is fixed a strong pin (which
we may call its horn); by this the cross-arm lifts
and lets fall the brake twice in every revolution
of the wallower. * * * Something of this kind
has been so long wanted by the cultivators of
hemp, that as soon as I can speak of its effect
with certainty I shall probably describe it
anonymously in the public papers, in order to
forestall the prevention of its use by some interloping
To George Fleming. Washington ed. vi, 506.
(M. 1815)