Carver was born into slavery in Missouri in 1864. His mother died soon after giving birth to him, and his father sold him off to farmers in Alabama.
He worked hard in school and became interested in science. After graduating college, he got a job teaching biology at Tuskegee University in Alabama.
In 1895, he married Mary Jane Moore. They had three children together. In 1902, George Washington Carver won the Nobel Prize in Agriculture for discovering how to use peanut oil to make soap and cosmetics.
George Washington Carver was born on December 5, 1864, in Diamond Grove, Newton Co., Mo., about 15 miles south of Kansas City. He was the son of Mary Ann McBride and Giles Carver, both slaves owned by Moses Carver, a German immigrant. At age seven, George was sent to live with relatives in the nearby town of Diamond where he attended school.
In 1877, while attending high school in Diamond, George met his future wife, Sarah Jane Sexton, daughter of a prominent local farmer and businessman. They married on June 28, 1880, in her father’s home.
After graduating from high school, George taught school in Diamond for three years. In 1884, he began teaching at the newly established Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. There he worked under Booker T. Washington, one of America’s most influential leaders.
In 1888, George returned to Diamond to teach at the local public schools. He continued to work there for the next 20 years. During this period, he developed many of his famous recipes.
In 1896, George moved to Macon, Ga., where he became headmaster of the Macon Colored High School. While in Macon, he wrote several books including How I Became A Housekeeper, published in 1899; The Negro Cook Book, published in 1900; and The New Teacher in Georgia, published in 1901.
In 1904, George accepted a position as principal of the Tuskegee Normal Training School in Alabama. This marked the beginning of his career as a teacher, scientist, inventor, author, lecturer, and entrepreneur.
During his tenure at Tuskegee, George invented numerous products, such as peanut butter, cake mixes, corn meal mush, flour, and vinegar. He also discovered uses for peanuts and pecans.
George Washington Carver had a rough start in life. Born into slavery in 1864, he was sold away from his family. After escaping from bondage, Carver went to school, learned how to read and write, and eventually became a teacher himself. But even though he was educated, he couldn’t find work as a teacher in the South. So he moved north to Kansas, where he found some success farming and selling crops.
In 1886, Carver bought land in Ness County, Kansas, and began cultivating it. His farm produced many different kinds of crops, including soybeans, wheat, oats, sorghum, sweet potatoes, peanuts, cotton, and tobacco. He also raised livestock and grew ornamental plants and trees.
Carver used his money wisely, too. He paid off his debts, built a home, and invested in land. And he gave much of his earnings to help people in need.
George Washington Carver began teaching at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School in 1881. After spending time in New York City and Boston, he returned to Alabama in 1895 where he became principal of the school. Over the course of his tenure at the institute, Carver developed many agricultural techniques, including the use of peanut butter as fertilizer. His work helped improve crop yields and increase food production across the South. Carver also taught students about the importance of nutrition and health, and promoted the development of industry in rural areas.
Carver served as the director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at Tuskegee University from 1912 to 1915. During World War I, he worked to develop ways to grow crops in climates unsuitable for agriculture. For example, he grew cotton in Alaska. Carver died in 1943.
Rise to Fame
Carver was born in 1864 in tiny Mount Vernon, Georgia, where his father ran a general store. He attended Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, where he studied agriculture and botany. After graduation, he worked as a teacher and principal in rural schools. In 1890, he married Mary Ellen Holmes, whom he met while she was working as a schoolteacher. She died in 1896.
In 1895, Carver accepted a position as head of the agricultural experiment station at Tuskegee University in Alabama. His job was to develop practical methods for improving farming practices. He spent most of his career there.
His work led him to study the effects of different fertilizers and pesticides. He found that the best way to use fertilizer was to apply it in small amounts over several weeks rather than dumping large quantities onto fields. This practice helped to prevent erosion and conserve water.
He also discovered that planting cover crops could help keep nutrients in the soil. Cover crops are plants grown specifically to protect existing crops. They help prevent weeds, reduce erosion, add nutrients, and provide habitat for insects.
For example, during WWII, Carver recommended growing clover around peanut fields because it helps prevent soil erosion. And in the 1930s, he suggested planting leguminous trees such as white locust along roadsides to help control dust.
The USDA named Carver the nation’s leading agronomist in 1921. By the end of World War II, the government had produced posters featuring Carver’s face urging Americans to support the war effort. One of those posters read: “One of America’s greatest scientists—the man who saved our food supply.”
Life While Famous
Carver enjoyed being famous. But fame did not come easily to him. His early career was marked by rejection and failure. And even though he became one of the world’s most celebrated writers, many people still didn’t know it.
In fact, Carver spent much of his later life trying to hide his identity. He lived out of the spotlight, rarely giving interviews or speaking publicly about himself. In fact, he hid his true name for nearly 30 years.
Carver’s legacy lives on today in many ways. His name adorns schools, streets and even a city park. Many people know him as the author of peanuts and pecans. But he was much more than just a peanut farmer. He wrote books about farming, food and race relations. And he worked tirelessly for civil rights.
In 1942, during World War II, Congress passed a law banning federal government employees from engaging in political activities. In response, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9981, which allowed federal agencies to spend money on projects outside of war efforts.
The president’s order did not specify how much money could be spent. So the executive branch set up a committee to determine what constituted a legitimate project. This group included representatives from the Agriculture Department, the Interior Department, the Treasury Department, the Labor Department and the Office of Price Administration. They met several times over the next few months to discuss how to allocate the funds.
But one thing remained constant: no money could be used for anything related to politics. At one meeting, a representative from the Department of Justice suggested that a national monument honoring Carver might be appropriate. Other members agreed, so the committee recommended a resolution establishing the George Washington Carver Memorial National Monument.
On July 14, 1943, Roosevelt signed the legislation into law. On August 2, the United States Forest Service announced plans to build the monument.
The story of George Washington Carver’s death begins in late December 1938, while he was still living in New York City. At that time, he had been working on a book about peanut farming for almost three years. His publisher wanted it ready for Christmas, but Carver didn’t think he could finish it in time.
Carver left his apartment at 11:30 p.m. on December 29th, planning to go to bed early. But he fell down some stairs outside his building and injured his head. When he got up the following morning, he felt dizzy and confused. A doctor examined him and told him he needed to see a neurologist.
On January 2nd, 1939, Carver went to see Dr. William H. Welch, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital. After examining him, Dr. Welch diagnosed Carver with encephalitis lethargica, commonly known as “sleeping sickness. This disease causes patients to become progressively weaker over several days, and eventually die. In the case of Carver, he began to lose consciousness during the night of January 3rd and 4th. By the evening of January 4th, he was unable to move or speak. Doctors tried everything they could to revive him, including blood transfusions and medications to increase his heart rate. They even performed surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
But nothing worked. On January 5th, Carver passed away at 7:35 a.m., just five hours after doctors pronounced him dead.