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George Washington Carver

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George Washington Carver (1864-1943)

George Washington Carver (Born::January 1864Died::January 5, 1943) found difficulty getting into college due to racial barriers, but at the age of thirty he was finally accepted. He achieved a Bachelor of Science degree in 1894 from Iowa Agricultural College (which is now Iowa State University), and a Master of Science degree in bacterial botany and agriculture in 1897. Carver later became the first black staff member of Iowa State College teaching classes about soil conservation and chemurgy.

George Washington Carver is perhaps best known for his work in agricultural science, where he found some 300 uses for peanuts, hundreds more for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. He also developed a method of crop rotation, which revolutionized the southern agriculture. Carver taught farmers to alternate cotton with other crops such as peanuts, pecans, and soybeans, because they would replace the soil nutrients that had been depleted by cotton.

He also suggested recipes and improvements for: adhesive, axle grease, buttermilk, bleach, chili sauce, fuel briquettes, ink, instant coffee, linoleum, and quite a few other things to help farmers economically. Carver gave his discoveries freely to the world. He did not patent most of his industrial applications or profit from much of his work. However, during World War I he found a way to replace dyes that were previously being imported from Europe. His research produced 500 different shades of dye for which he got three individual patents:

  • U.S. 1,522,176 Cosmetics and Producing the Same. January 6, 1925. George W. Carver. Tuskegee, Alabama.
  • U.S. 1,541,478 Paint and Stain and Producing the Same June 9, 1925. George W. Carver. Tuskegee, Alabama.
  • U.S. 1,632,365 Producing Paints and Stains. June 14, 1927. George W. Carver. Tuskegee, Alabama.

Carver was given the Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1923. He was also made an honorary member of the Royal Society of Arts in London. He was given an honorary doctorate from Simpson College in 1928. In 1939, he received the Roosevelt Medal for restoring agriculture to the south. In 1940 Carver gave all his life savings to the establishment of the Carver Research Foundation at Tuskegee, for continuing research on agriculture. He died on January 5, 1943, and on July 14 of that year President Roosevelt honored Carver with a national monument. The area where Carver grew up, Diamond Grove, Missouri, was preserved as a park. It is the first designated national monument given to a black person in the U.S.

Carver's deep religious faith was also important to him. In his speeches and interviews, he almost always referred to the Bible and divine guidance. He was fond of saying that his accomplishments were not his doing but were the work of God. It is said that he often credited divine revelation instead of scientific methods for his success, which put him at odds with the scientific community. As he told a reporter for the Atlanta Journal who questioned him about the permanency of the clay paints he had developed: "Why should they not be permanent? God made the clay in the hills; they have been there for countless generations, changeless. All I do is prepare what God has made, for uses to which man can put it. It is God's work—not mine."


See Also