Most of us love eating peanut as a snack or in a dessert. But what if I told you that a man used peanut as the base for over 300 inventions? Well, I present to you George Washington Carver…
Who was George Washington Carver?
George Washington Carver was an American agricultural scientist who promoted methods and techniques to prevent soil depletion in Southeastern U.S. He is commonly known as the “Father of the Peanut Industry” due to his 300 inventions based on peanut (he also used clay and sweet potato on his inventions). Even though he grew to be a highly-known inventor, his early life wasn’t easy…
Fun Fact: Contrary to popular belief, his inventions did not include peanut butter!
George Washington Carver was born into slavery during cold war around 1864 (the exact date of his birth is unknown) on a farm in Diamond, Missouri. He and his family were owned by Moses and Susan Carver. George, his sister, and mother were kidnapped by slave raiders and sold in Kentucky when he was just a baby. Moses Carver was only able to find George and brought him back to the farm.
After slavery was abolished, Susan and Moses raised and educated both George and his brother James. At the age of 11, George Carver moved out and went to attend an all-black school in Neosho because no local school in Missouri allowed blacks to attend. Disappointed with the education in Neosho, he soon moved to Kansas where he graduated high school. George Carver majored in agriculture and was the first African-American to earn a Bachelor’s degree in the Iowa State University.
After graduating from university in 1894, George was offered a teaching position at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). He accepted the offer and taught at the Institute’s agricultural school to African-Americans. It was there that he experimented with farming and crop methods for which he would be known in the coming future…
When George moved to Alabama (to work at Tuskegee Institute), he encountered soil degradation due to the cotton crops. At the time African-Americans were allowed to get a portion of the white landowner’s farm. Carver wanted to improve the black farmers’ lives and encouraged them to use crop rotation and other methods to improve the soil. He recommended growing nitrogen-fixing plants (peanuts and sweet potatoes) so that the soil replenished and yield increased. He also invented the Jessup Wagon to further help the farmers.
With implementing crop rotation, farmers saw better soil but peanut had a huge production increase. To fix the issue and help poor farmers consume all the peanuts, Carver created 300 inventions using peanuts. His inventions varied from beverages to medicines and even paint!
Struggles he faced as a black inventor
Throughout his life he faced many difficulties due to racial segregation and discrimination…
When he applied for university and schools most of them rejected him only because he was black. George always had to work harder than the whites to be able to gain any recognition for his works. He also had to work many jobs to be able to pay for an adequate education.
Blacks were usually viewed as slaves and expected to work on farms (not laboratories like Carver did). This was one of the major struggles George Carver faced due to the fact that he was an agricultural scientist. However, he never gave up and became the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century.
George Carver’s quote:
“It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success.” — George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver and his extraordinary contribution to agriculture will never be forgotten and serves as an inspiration to all!
Featured image retrieved from: https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/famous-inventors/george-washington-carvers-inventions.htm