George Washington Carver, born in 1864 into slavery, was a famous scientist known for his work in botany along with his professorship at Tuskegee Institute. His creativity and intelligence for a person of his color during that time made him one of the most famous scientists in the African American community of all time. Carver was born into slavery in Diamond, Missouri, so the actual date of his birthday is unknown, but he was most likely born in 1864.
As a child, George Carver began his love of nature. His poor health allowed him time away from working in the fields which he used to study plants. People recognized this talent and often asked him for help with their vegetation. After the civil war was over and slavery ended in Missouri, George Carver was kept by his previous owners, Moses and Susan Carver, where they taught him to read and write since black students were not accepted during this time.
After graduating Minneapolis High School, Carver was accepted into Highland Carver in Kansas, but he was denied admittance after it was discovered that he was black. He then moved to Ames, Iowa where he became the first black student in Iowa State. This is where he began his study of botanical science. Carver’s research in botany helped farmers of his time to replace their expensive materials. He was able to teach the farmers in many skills including how to use native clays for paints as well and increasing soil fertility which was a problem in their region.
Carver developed a variety of uses for the crop native in this region to help enhance the attractiveness and encourage the reproduction of the seeds of neighboring farms. Though his crops gained a lot of attention from the neighboring farmers, his main crop, peanuts, was most appealing because of its protein and ability to be planted without depleting the soil as much as cotton. Carver’s work with peanuts spread nationwide with it even reaching the national growers’ association. He was invited to speak in 1921 against the congressional tariffs that brought him to be known as the “Peanut Man”.
He invented the Jessup Wagon, after getting ideas from former slaves turned sharecropper, which was a horse-drawn lab for demonstrating soil chemistry. Farmers of the south were excited from what they learned about cotton/peanut rotation which yielded them large crops. However, they began to gather a huge surplus that began to build up in storehouses. Therefore, Carver developed peanut products to help gather more uses out of the surplus of the crop coining the turn “Peanut Man”. By the end of his work at Tuskegee Institute, he had developed over 300 products, from paper to shaving cream. He even experimented with medicines from peanuts such as laxatives. Carver died on January 5th, 1943 where his life savings of more than $60,000 were left to found the George Washington Carver Institute for Agriculture at Tuskegee.
Later in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt erected a monument in Diamond, Missouri in his honor. The legacy of George Washington Carver lives on to this day making him honored around the nation for his achievements despite the cruel circumstances of that time.