GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER – PLANT SCIENTIST, INVENTOR AND PHILOSOPHER
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© December 2018, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
Next time you are feeling sorry for yourself, read a biography of George Carver.
George Washington Carver (1864-1943) was born a black slave in Diamond, Missouri, USA, near the end of the American Civil War.
A week after his birth, he and his mother were kidnapped by bandits. The bandits wanted his mother, who could be sold as a slave further South. The baby, George, was of no value to them. They threw the week-old baby to the ground from their horse. He was left on the road to die.
However, his slave owner, Moses Carver, sent an agent to find the boy. He was found, he survived, and was brought back to the Carver home. The Carver family raised him and his brother, making sure they learned to read and write and got an education.
Attending school was difficult right after the Civil War. Very few schools would accept black pupils. George attended a number of elementary and secondary schools. Eventually, he got a high school degree from Minneapolis High School in Kansas.
Early in his life, George demonstrated a keen interest in plants. Eventually, he attended Iowa State Agricultural college, where he received a degree in plant biology.
At this time, the farmers in the south of the United States were facing a crisis because years of nothing but growing cotton had depleted the soil in many areas. Many of the farmers were former slaves and they needed new crops to grow and ways to regenerate their soil.
George Carver set to work solving these problems. He suggested growing legumes to regenerate the soil, a technique used today throughout the world.
However, there was little demand at that time for the crops he suggested, such as peanuts and soybeans. So he went to work inventing products made from these plants.
He invented over 300 products made from peanuts. These included plastics, dyes and even gasoline. He also invented more than 100 products made from sweet potatoes, and many from soybeans, as well.
George Carver became one of the most distinguished scientists in the world. Sadly, his life story is not taught to every young person, as it needs to be. It is truly inspirational.
There is much more to say about the life of George Carver. We suggest reading one of the many biographies written about him. Here is the URL of just one of them: