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George Washington Carver 


George Washington Carver was born in 1864 near Diamond Grove, Missouri on the farm of Moses Carver near the end of the Civil War. He moved to Newton County in southwest Missouri at the age of twelve, where he worked as a farm hand and studied in a one-room schoolhouse. He went on to attend Minneapolis High School in Kansas. College entrance was a struggle, again because of racial barriers. At the age of thirty, Carver gained acceptance to Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, where he was the first black student. Intent on a science career, he later transferred to Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in 1891, where he gained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1894 and a Master of Science degree in bacterial botany and agriculture in 1897. George Washington Carver discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Among the listed items that he suggested to southern farmers to help them economically were his recipes and improvements to glue, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, plastic, pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, talcum powder and wood stain. Only three patents were every issued to Carver. At Tuskegee Carver developed crop rotation, which revolutionized southern agriculture. He educated the farmers to alternate the soil-depleting cotton crops with soil-enriching crops such as; peanuts, peas, soybeans, sweet potato, and pecans. America's economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture during this era making Carver's achievements very significant. Decades of growing only cotton and tobacco had depleted the soils of the southern area of the United States of America. The economy of the farming south had been devastated by years of civil war and the fact that the cotton and tobacco plantations could no longer (ab)use slave labor. Carver convinced the southern farmers to follow his suggestions and helped the region to recover. Carver did not patent or profit from most of his products. He freely gave his discoveries. He changed the South from being a one-crop land of cotton, to being multi-crop farmlands, with farmers having hundreds of uses for their new crops. "God gave them to me." he would say about his ideas, "How can I sell them to someone else?" In 1940, Carver donated his life savings to the establishment of the Carver Research Foundation at Tuskegee, for continuing research in agriculture.

He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world." - Epitaph on the grave of George Washington Carver


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