One of the most reputed names in the field of agriculture and botany is undoubtedly that of George Washington Carver. He was a renowned scientist and inventor, who made some path breaking discoveries in the field of agriculture. He was the pioneer of finding multiple uses and making new products from simple crops like peanuts, pecans, sweet potatoes etc.
He is also most popularly known for his development of various methods for crop rotation, which went on to help a lot of poor Southern farmers in increasing their yield, preserving the nutrients of the soil and also to improve their own health and diet. But how did this revolution begin? How did Carver, a slave boy, become such a renowned name in academics and science? Find out below as this Buzzle article takes you through the biography of George Washington Carver.
The Life of George Washington Carver
In this section, we'll give you the details of George Washington Carver's life, right from the beginning till the end. It will highlight major his inventions, events, achievements, and discoveries. Let us see what his life was all about.
1864: On the 12th of July, 1964, George Washington Carver was born to Mary. His father, who was a slave, died before George was born. His mother, Mary was a slave of Moses and Susan Carver. Within a few months of his birth, George was kidnapped along with his mother. However, he was soon returned to his owners, and they brought him up.
1877: At the age of thirteen, George left his owners and decided to settle in Kansas. In the years that he lived with the Carvers, he learned to read and write from Susan and also attended schools that were for African Americans.
1890: He studied in many schools in Kansas and paid for them by undertaking odd jobs. Then in 1890, he enrolled at the Simpson College in Indianola to study art and also to learn the piano. He was the first Black student who was admitted to the college.
1890-1894: Within a year of being accepted into Simpson College, he was transferred to the State Agricultural College, which is now known as Iowa State University. In 1893, his extraordinary paintings got displayed at the Chicago World's Fair and got an honorary mention. In 1864, he successfully completed his Bachelor of Agriculture Degree and became a graduate in Agriculture from the State Agricultural College at Iowa. As soon as he became a graduate, he was asked to take a place on the faculty of the State Agricultural College, something that was very unusual, given the immense discrimination that he had to face because of his race. It was an honor that he took up gladly.
1894-1896: Even after being appointed as a faculty member, he continued his study of agriculture, and soon, in 1896, he earned his Master's degree, that is the Master of Agriculture Degree, again from the State Agricultural College. In 1896, Booker T Washington called upon George Washington to head the Department of Agricultural Research at the Tuskegee University in Alabama.
1896-1916: He continued his extensive research in the field of agricultural chemistry. It was during this time in Alabama that he conducted the majority of his research that benefited farmers. He conducted many agricultural experiments in his laboratory and devised various uses and recipes for plants like peanuts, sweet potatoes and pecans. The land in Alabama had become quite infertile due to the constant planting of cotton, which was the staple crop at that time. He told the farmers to plant peanuts when there was no cotton planted and they saw the improvement in the quality of the soil. In 1916, he was named Fellow, London Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts.
In this period, he was given the following honors.
- 1923: He was given the NAACP Spingarn Medal for Distinguished Service to Science.
- 1925: He received two patents from the U.S. Government. They were as follows, 1,522,176 (US) for Cosmetics and Producing the Same issued January 6,1925 and 1,541,478 (US) for Paint and Stain and Producing the Same issued June 9, 1925.
- 1927: He received another patent, 1,632,365 (US) for Producing Paints and Stains issued June 14, 1927.
- 1928: He was given an honorary doctorate from Simpson College, where he competed his Bachelor's and Master's in Agriculture from.
- 1935: He was chosen to be appointed as the collaborator in the Division of Plant Mycology at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- 1938: A Hollywood movie titled 'Life of George Washington Carver' was made this year. Also, the Tuskegee Institute Trustee Board established a George Washington Carver Museum in his honor.
- 1939: The Theodore Roosevelt Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Southern Agriculture was awarded to Carver.
1916-1940: Carver continued extensive research in agriculture all through the 1920s. He was also a firm believer in racial and communal harmony. He traveled a lot spreading this message to people. He gained popularity as a scientist, and in the mid 1930s, when there was an outbreak of the polio virus in America, he discovered that massaging the patient with peanut oil can give him or her some relief from the paralyzing effect. This made him immensely popular. Also, through the 1930s, he devised some excellent methods to help farmers affected by the Great Depression to maximize the production of their farms.
1940-1943: Carver was suffering from constant health problems by this time. In 1940, he donated all his savings towards the establishment of the George W. Carver Foundation at Tuskegee University.
In 1941, he was honored with the following
In 1941, he was honored with the following
- Honorary Degree from the University of Rochester.
- Award of Merit by Variety Clubs of America.
- Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) from the Selma University in Alabama.
- A George Washington Carver Cabin was erected at The Henry Ford.
- A birthplace marker in Diamond Grove, where Carver was born was authorized by the Missouri governor.
Post 1943: After his death, he was honored with a commemorative 3c stamp, a fifty pence coin and a Polaris submarine called George Washington Carver in 1948, 1951 and 1952 respectively. More recently, in 1990, he was included into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and also had another stamp, a 32c one, issued in his honor in 1998.
George Washington Carver has left behind a legacy that will be very hard to match up to. All we can say is that this man was an agricultural genius and that shows through his remarkable breakthroughs in various food (especially peanuts) related inventions.