Black History Feature

George Washington Carver



In 1864, July 12, George Washington was born near Diamond, Missouri. Apparently, Moses Carver purchased Mary, George’s mother on October 9, 1855 from William P. McGinnis. One night raiders kidnapped him along with his mother and sister. Moses Carver rescued George and brought him home. Moses and his wife raised George Washington as their own child. They allowed him to use the surname "Carver". Hence George Washington became George Washington Carver.

He had to travel around 10 miles south of Diamond Grove to reach his school. He attended a one-room schoolhouse, the only school where blacks were accepted. George received his high school diploma from Minneapolis High School.

In 1887, George Washington joined Simpson College in Indianola. In 891, he became the first African-American student to be admitted in Iowa State Agricultural College. He received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1894 and his postgraduate degree in 1896.

George Washington Carver’s Inventions

Booker T. Washington offered George Washington Carver a faculty position in Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes,Tuskegee, in 1897. While at Tuskegee, Carver studied the problems faced by farmers who grew cotton and developed a method for conserving nutrients in soil. This method was known as crop rotational method. This is one of many and most important inventions of George Washington Carver. He insisted on planting crops such as peanuts, sweat potato and pecans to enrich the soil after every cotton harvest.

Carver was instrumental in creating new markets for farmers by discovering three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds of uses for pecans, sweet potatoes and soybeans. The crop rotational method is considered as a significant achievement of George Washington Carver because during the 19th century American economy was an agricultural economy.

George Washington Carver invented dyes of 500 different shades from agricultural crops. Initially, textile dyes were imported from Europe. He researched widely at developing industrial products from agricultural crops.

In 1927, G.W. Carver invented the process of producing paints and stains from soybeans. He was given three patent rights for this process. A point noteworthy is George Washington Carver never patented or received profits for most of his inventions and discoveries. This what he would say about his inventions "God gave them to me, How can I sell them to someone else?".

George Washington Carver worked along with Henry Ford to develop synthesized rubber from soybean.

He invented the " Cook Stove Chemistry". This was formulated to improve the diet of the families who were not in a position to afford meat and was low in protein and vitamins. He encouraged the consumption of cow peas and peanuts as alternative sources of protein. He was lovingly called as "Plant doctor" and his nickname was "peanut".

In spite of his inventions, Carver had patent rights for just three products. A few of the products he developed from peanuts were peanut butter, most favored butter among sandwich lovers; shaving cream, wood stain, leather and cloth dye, laxative, hair tonic and so on. Some of the food products that he had invented from peanuts include salad oil, instant coffee, coca, mayonnaise and so on. He invented flour, sugar, yeast, wood stains, medicines and cattle feed and many more from sweet potatoes.

In 1940, he contributed his entire savings for the establishment of Carver Research Foundation at Tuskegee. In 1977, George Washington Carver was elected to the " Hall of Fame for Americans." In 1990, he became the first African-American to the "National Inventors Hall of Fame", in Akron, Ohio. In 1943, at the age of 79 George Washington Carver left for heavenly abode.

His Death

Upon returning home one day, Carver took a bad fall down a flight of stairs; he was found unconscious by a maid who took him to a hospital. Carver died January 5, 1943, at the age of 78 from complications (anemia) resulting from this fall. He was buried next to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee University. Due to his frugality, Carver's life savings totaled $60,000, all of which he donated in his last years and at his death to the Carver Museum and to the George Washington Carver Foundation.
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