Inventor's Biography: Dr. George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver's life was marked by academia, spirituality and sociology. He developed hundreds of agricultural products.

Dr. George Washington Carver was born in 1859, in Diamond, Missouri, right before the time of the Civil War. When only an infant, Carver and his mother were carried off by a band of night-raiders. His master bought George back in exchange for a race horse. George's mother was never found.

Carver was a puny, sickly child. Illness kept him from romping with the other children, but helped create an intense hunger for knowledge in the young boy. George was determined to learn about plants and rocks. After patching together an elementary school education, he finally reached highschool while working as a domestic servant. But George didn't want to stop after graduating. His heart was set on attending college.

Carver was denied entry to several institutions because of his color. He finally gained entry to Ames College, presently called Iowa State University of Science and Technology, in Ames, Iowa. There he earned a bachelor of science degree in biology. The year was 1891. Six years later he completed his master's in science.

At that time Booker T. Washington invited Dr. Carver to come to Tuskegee Institute. The Institute was established by an act of the Alabama state legislature in 1881. Booker T. Washington opened the school and served as principal and instructor for thirty-three years. He knew of Dr. Carver's reputation as assistant botanist at Iowa State, and wanted him at Tuskegee.

In the poorly equipped laboratory at Tuskegee, Dr. Carver began the work that would put him in the history books. He developed new and more resistant strains of cotton, which had a direct bearing on increasing the South's cotton harvest. He was a forerunner of recycling, converting trash into fertilizer. He understood the process of green fertilizer, using a cover crop to improve soil conditions. He developed hundreds of products from sweet potatoes and peanuts.

Throughout his lifetime, genius and humility were the marks of Dr. Carver. A list of famous men including the Roosevelts, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were privileged to call Dr. Carver a mentor and friend.

Dr. Carver had often been the recipient of racism, but he pitied those who looked down on another because of color, and did not let it stop him from his work. His attitude of love, his work ethic, his dedication to serving others has more than qualified him as an American hero. He is the only black American to whom a national monument has ever been erected.

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