50 Facts About The ‘Wizard of Tuskegee’ – Inventor George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver (c. 1864 to January 5, 1943)

  1. George William Carver was born into slavery during the Civil War.

2. Growing up, he had been known as Carver’s George. When he started school, he went by George Carver.

3. He was kidnapped from Missouri and sold in Kentucky when he was just a week old.

4. He had a curious mind. He investigated insects, tree bark, leaves, ferns and seeds.

5. He earned the nickname “The Plant Doctor” and collected in earnest all manner of rocks and plants.

6. He witnessed a lynching one night as a Black man was dragged from the jail and lynched.

7. He was turned away by a Kansas University because he was Black.

8. He enrolled at Iowa’s Simpson College, where he studied piano and art, but he switched to Iowa State Agricultural College to study agriculture a year later.

9. He became the first Black student, and later the first Black faculty member, at Iowa State.

10. His successful work in plant pathology and mycology gained him countrywide acclaim and fame as a prominent botanist.

11. African-American educator and author Booker T. Washington contacted Carver in 1896 and offered him a position at his brand new school, Tuskegee Institute, as the head of the agricultural department. Carver accepted and went on to devote the rest of his life to the institution and its goals.

12. In 1916, he was elected as a member of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts in England, the world’s oldest scientific organization.

13. In 1918, he went to the War Department in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate his findings on the sweet potato.

14. Tuskegee’s agricultural department achieved national recognition under Carver’s leadership.

15. Carver taught farmers how to utilize farm waste products to grow better plants.

16. Carver pioneered a mobile classroom to bring his lessons to farmers. The classroom was known as a “Jesup wagon.”

17. He did not accept compensation for the advice he gave to peanut producers and other farmers.

18. He was known throughout the South as the “farmer’s best friend.”

19. He reached a wide audience with the Tuskegee Experiment Station’s bulletins and brochures that he wrote and published from 1898 until his death.

20. In 1923, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.

21. His favorite plant was the peanut. He invented over 300 ways to use the peanut, for soap, plastic, shampoo and even shoe polish.

22. He turned down a $100,000-a-year job offer at Edison Laboratories, run by inventor Thomas Edison, because he wanted to stay at Tuskegee.

23. In 1925, Carver wrote and published How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing It for Human Consumption.

24. Carver taught his students to use crop rotation. One year they would grow cotton, followed by other crops such as sweet potatoes and soybeans. By doing this, the soil stayed enriched.

25. He advised President Theodore Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress on matters of agriculture. He even worked with Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi to help with growing crops in India.

26. In 1927, he invented the process for producing paints and stains from soybeans. For that, he received three separate patents.

27. He was instrumental in changing the South from being a one-crop land of cotton, to being multi-crop farmlands, with farmers having hundreds of profitable uses for their new crops.

28. When the polio disease came to the U.S., Carver offered a treatment of peanut-oil massages that he believed helped many people, especially children, gain relief from the painful and paralyzing effects.

29. At the peak of his career, he was one of the best-known African-American intellectuals.

30. He also wrote a syndicated newspaper column and toured the nation, speaking on the importance of agricultural innovation.

31. During World War II, he worked alongside American industrialist Henry Ford to devise a way to make a rubber substitute from goldenrod, a plant weed.

32. He was dubbed the “Black Leonardo” by Time magazine in 1941.

33. He often played the piano at fund-raising events for the Tuskegee school.

34. The testimony of Carver before the congressional House Ways and Means Committee in 1921 led to the passage of the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Bill of 1922. It raised American tariffs in order to protect factories and farms.

35. The 1936-37 school year at Tuskegee was dedicated to honoring Dr. Carver’s 40th year at the school.

36. His nickname later in life was the “Wizard of Tuskegee.”

37. He received the Theodore Roosevelt Medal in 1939 for distinguished achievement in science.

38. After the First World War, he added a “W” to his name to honor his friend and colleague Booker T. Washington.

39. In the 1920s, Carver formed the Carver Products Co. with several Atlanta businessmen in an attempt to market his inventions. They patented three inventions — two for paint and one for cosmetics.

40. Despite the positive impact George Washington Carver’s inventions had on the South, the inventor never sought out glory. Instead, he continued to invent, discover and teach in order to make the world a better place.

41. Carver was considered a spiritual man. He reportedly once stated, “All my life, I have risen regularly at four o’clock and have gone into the woods and talked with God. There he gives me my orders for the day. Alone there with things I love the most, I gather specimens and study the great lessons nature is so eager to teach us all. When people are still a sleep, I hear God best and learn my plan.”

42. In 1940, he gave his life savings, $33,000, to establish the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee Institute to continue research in agriculture and chemistry.

43. On July 14, 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt honored Carver with a national monument dedicated to his accomplishments.

44. Congress declared Jan. 5 to be celebrated as George Washington Carver Recognition Day.

45. Carver was the first African-American to have a national park named in his honor.

46. He died on Jan. 5, 1943, at the age of 78, after falling down the stairs. He left his entire estate to the foundation, valued at more than $60,000, to the George Washington Carver Institute for Agriculture at Tuskegee.

47. A George Washington Carver half-dollar coin was minted between 1951 and 1954.

48. There are two U.S. military vessels named in his honor.

49. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Simpson College.

50. Inscribed on his tombstone is the epitaph: “He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.”

source: atlantablackstar.com By Yanique Dawkins

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