George Washington Carver

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It is rare to find a man of the caliber of George Washington Carver. A man who would decline an invitation to work for a salary of more than $100,000 a year, almost a million today, to continue his research on behalf of his countrymen.

Agricultural chemist, 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/for: 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. Only three patents were every issued to Carver.

George Washington Carver was born in Missouri on the Moses Carver plantation. His parents were slaves. His father died right before George was born, then while he was still a baby, slave traders kidnapped him and his mother. Only George was returned to the plantation. When he was a baby, he had a disease called whooping cough. It left him sickly and he couldn't do hard work like the other slaves. His chores were cooking and sewing. He loved to work in the garden. He taught himself to read. His family was so poor, he couldn't afford to buy a pencil, so he made a holder and used a pencil that was only 1/4 inch long.

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 as a result 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. He gathered and cared for a wide variety of flora from the land near his home and became known as the "plant doctor," helping neighbors and friends with ailing plants. He learned to read, write and spell at home because there were no schools for African Americans in Diamond Grove.

His master sent him to Neosho, Missouri for an early education and graduated from Minneapolis High School in Kansas. He eventually mailed an application to Highland University in Kansas and was not only accepted but also offered a scholarship. Happily, George traveled to the school to accept the scholarship but upon meeting George, the University president asked, "why didn't you tell me you were a Negro?

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