Biography of George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was born into slavery January of 1860 on the Moses Carver plantation in Diamond Grove, Missouri. He spent the first year of his life, the brutal days of border war, between Missouri and neighboring Kansas. George was a very sickly child with a whooping cough, which later lead to his speech impediment, and he was tiny and puny. George’s father, James Carver, died in a wood hauling accident when he was bringing wood to his master’s house one day. George was sick a great deal during his early years. In 1861, when George was one year old, raiders kidnapped him and his mother with horses from their home in Missouri. Moses Carver, Mary’s master, heard that a bushwhacker named Bentley knew Mary’s whereabouts along with little George’s. Moses offered him 40 acres of his best timberland and Pacer, one of his best horses. Bentley accepted the offer and started in pursuit all the way into Arkansas.

Bentley returned a few days later only with young George in a bundle and no sign of Mary. A few years later, in spring, little George was in the woods scraping at the earth. When someone was sick George gathered roots, herbs, and bark, which he boiled to make medicines. Carver grew to be a student of life and a scholar, despite the illness and frailty of his early childhood. Because he was not strong enough to work in the fields, he helped with household chores and gardening. Probably because of these duties and because of the hours he would spend exploring the woods around his home, he developed a keen interest in plants at an early age. Neighbors called George the Plant Doctor because he made house to house calls in Diamond Grove to prescribe for ailing plants. George had his own mini garden where he nursed sick plants back to health. Moses and Susan Carver, his owners, reared him until slavery was abolished in 1865. He learned to read, write and spell at home because there were no schools for African Americans in Diamond Grove. A few years later George decided to leave the Carver’s and go on with his education. He set out and ended upon the farm of a family, Christopher and Mariah Watson, who became his foster parents. While under the Watson’s care, George attended the colored school of Neosho. From age 10, his thirst for knowledge and desire for formal education led him to several communities in Missouri and Kansas Later he moved to Fort Scott, Kansas to attend High school. In 1890, to Indiana, Iowa were he enrolled at Simpson College to study piano and painting. In 1891 he got admission in Iowa State University and gained his BS in 1894 and MS in 1897 in “Bacterial Botany” and “Agriculture”. Meanwhile he also took art and piano lessons. In 1894, Carver qualified for an opening, in Iowa, on the faculty as assistant botanist in the experiment station. Carver devoted special attention to bacterial laboratory work in systematic botany. He also collaborated with Dr. Pammell, an eminent botanist, on two publications: Treatment of Currants and Cherries to Prevent Spot Diseases, and Fungus Diseases of Plants at Ames.

In 1985, Dr., as he was known as, George Washington Carver was sent a request asking him to accept the Chair of Agriculture at the Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Westside Mississippi. While in Mississippi George really learned about Jim Crowism through the people and his experiences. All of Georges life he spent around white people and now he was segregated where he could only eat, sleep, and drink certain places. It took him a while to get used to it but eventually he adjusted. G. W. Carver formulated a plan, after becoming Director and Consulting Chemist at Tuskegee University, to help farmers. The plan included giving Alabama farmers education in soil conservation, diversification of crops, utilization of native crops. The economy of the farming south had been devastated by years of civil war and the cotton and tobacco plantations could no longer use slave labor, because slavery had been abolished. Carver convinced the southern farmers to follow his suggestions and helped the region to recover. In a study with Pan-American Medical Congress, Carver discovered a large number of official drug plants, and an equal number of unofficial, which were found to be household remedies. In 1881, G. W. Carver founded Tuskegee Institute. Carver helped to produce an abundance of many crops. For example, he increased the average yield of sweet potatoes from 37 bushels an acre to 266 bushels an acre. Carver also extracted from rotten sweet potatoes a water-soluble bluing, which was used for laundry purposes and if added to clay it that was naturally yellow a soft green resulted. Carver created in all twenty-seven combinations of color washes. He was responsible for the invention in 1927, of a process for producing paints and stains from soybeans. Although it is well known that Dr.George Washington Carver did not invent the peanut, not many know of the many products that have come from the peanut due to the work of this great African-American inventor and scientist. George Washington Carver invented peanut butter along with over three hundred other uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Innumerable products we that exist today come to us by the discoveries of Carver. Only three patents were every issued to him, but among his discoveries are: Adhesives, Axle Grease, Bleach, Buttermilk, Chili Sauce, Fuel Briquettes, Ink, Instant Coffee, Linoleum, Mayonnaise, Meat Tenderizer, Metal Polish, Paper, Plastic, Pavement, Shaving Cream, Shoe Polish, Synthetic Rubber, Talcum Powder, and Wood Stain. George Washington Carver died in 1943.

He received many honors in his lifetime and a 1938 feature film called Life of George Washington Carver. Some of his honors included a film dedicated to him at Tuskegee Institute in 1941, the Roosevelt Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Southern Agriculture in 1942, a national monument in Diamond Grove, Missouri; commemorative postage stamps in 1947 and 1998; and a fifty-cent coin in 1951. George was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1977. He was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1994, Iowa State awarded him the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters. I truly enjoyed this book and learning about George Washington Carver. I learned a lot about this great African American scientist who was very caring and devoted to his work. George Washington Carver helped to make and discovered many different uses for items like the peanut and sweet potatoes. This book was very vivid in its description of all the hardships, hard work, and effort George Washington Carver put into his research. I learned that George was very dedicated to his research and he proved this in many ways. George donated his entire estate to enable his research to continue which coerces me to strive to do better for myself. Overall, this book gave me a real role model that I could strive to be like. I realized from reading the book that George never gave up no matter how many people gave him a fight. I also learned that just because you are slow or have a disability does not mean that you are not smart. Now I know to believe in myself and not to let others put me down or not to put down myself and for his contributions I am thankful.