George Washington Carver was an agricultural gentleman who managed to resolve a major crisis in America with a few simple ideas! His work and his legacy have outlived him and we still practice his fundamental agricultural principles today. George was not a man who gave up easily, he was a man who stood up, looked fear in the eye, and walked all over it to become the success he was! Join us as we take a trip through history, here are 55 inspiring facts about George Washington Carver.
Fact 1: Carver was born into slavery like many other African Americans in the 19th century.
Fact 2: George was born in Diamond Grove, Crystal Palace, in Missouri. This location is now known as Diamond, Missouri!
Fact 3: Sadly, as Carver was born into slavery, there is no way of saying when exactly he was born. Historians believe that he was born sometime in the 1860s.
Fact 4: Carver was constantly ill as a child. During his childhood he suffered with various infections, some of which he carried with him into his adult life. Researchers believe that his high pitched voice might have been the result of one of his serious infections from childhood.
Fact 5: George’s Master was Moses Carver, a German American immigrant. He purchased George’s parents, Mary and Giles in 1855 for $700. They lived with him until they were kidnapped.
Fact 6: A young Carver was kidnapped by night raiders when he was just 1 week old. He along with his family were taken to Kentucky and were going to be re-sold as slaves. Moses, the original Master of the family, sent John Bentley out to find the family.
Fact 7: James, George’s brother, along with George, were raised by Moses Carver and Susan Carver as their children after they had been found by John Bentley.
Fact 8: Carver taught at Tuskegee Institute (now University) for 47 years. During his time he developed the agricultural department, and contributed significant research to the world of botany and agriculture.
Fact 9: Susan Carver, the lady who brought him up taught George to read and write. Allegedly, he called her ‘Aunt Susan’ and not Mother.
Fact 10: George didn’t ever obtain a Doctorate from a University, even though some call him a Doctor. But he did receive 3 Honorary Doctorates: one from Simpson College, a second from Selma University, and a third from Iowa State Agricultural College.
Fact 11: In later life, Carver was almost seen as a peanut genius. The likes of James Childers commented that Carver and his peanut products saved the US after it was devastated by the boll weevil that annihilated cotton crops.
Fact 12: George had to attend a school that was only for black children when he was a young boy. This school was in Neosho, which was 16 km from where he actually lived. He was not allowed to attend the local school because of his race.
Fact 13: While working at Tuskegee Institute, he would often take students out of the classroom and take them to farms in the surrounding areas to teach them about agriculture. Carver nicknamed this moving classroom phenomenon the ‘Jesup wagon’. This proved to be very popular with students! And was actually quite ahead of the time really!
Fact 14: At 13 he moved to Fort Scott in Kansas to study. But, he left Fort Scott soon after he arrived because he witnessed a brutal murder. He had to move on.
Fact 15: In 1977 he was elected to the ‘Hall of Fame for Great Americans’.
Fact 16: Similarly, in 1990, he was elected to the ‘National Inventors Hall of Fame’.
Fact 17: In later life, he did a lot of work on peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans, amongst other things. These would make him a very popular figure later on.
Fact 18: George got a diploma from Minneapolis High School, in Kansas. This was an incredible feat considering his background, and that many people at the time ridiculed him and believed he would fail.
Fact 19: Carver gained a place at Highland University, Kansas, when he was in his late teenage years. But, he was refused entry into the university because of his race.
Fact 20: George met the following presidents throughout his later life: Calvin Hodge, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt. All were great admirers of his!
Fact 21: In 1938 he set up the ‘George Washington Carver Foundation’ at Tuskegee Institute. About $60,000 of his money, after he died, went towards this cause.
Fact 22: Carver set up a conservatory and grew plants and flowers in Beeler in 1886, after he was sent away from Highland University. He was very successful at this and obviously had a natural talent for botany.
Fact 23: In 2002, George Washington Carver was listed by Molefi Asante as 1 of the ‘100 Greatest African Americans of all time’.
Fact 24: George had 17 acres of homesteaded land in Beeler in 1886, he ploughed all the land himself. This sounds hard enough to do with a tractor! Imagine doing it all by hand! Phew…
Fact 25: Before agreeing to teach at Tuskegee Institute, the President of the University, B. T. Washington, offered Carver a significant deal. He offered to pay George well above the minimum wage and he said he’d give him 2 rooms at the university for his personal space. This was an awesome deal at this time!
Fact 26: George’s most popular bulletin, which he released later in life, was ‘How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption’, which was published in 1916. Okay, gotta admit this but I can barely think of 10 ways to prepare peanuts for human consumption!!
Fact 27: George Washington Carver used to grow rice, corn, fruit trees, and forest trees on his land in Beeler!
Fact 28: George had a high pitched voice. This is likely to be the result of a number of infections that he experienced throughout his childhood. These infections gradually affected his larynx, which is likely to have affected how his voice sounded.
Fact 29: Carver was a dedicated agricultural soul. When he was tending to his own land in Beeler, he also worked as a farmhand too. Dedication there…
Fact 30: In 1890 he studied art and piano at Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa.
Fact 31: Carver has been the subject of many biographies. Most notably R. Merritt’s 1929 biography. He’s an influential guy, we wouldn’t expect anything less!
Fact 32: Etta Budd, his art teacher, encouraged him to study botany. Just think if she hadn’t said anything we wouldn’t know half the information we know about peanuts today…
Fact 33: George was never married.
Fact 34: In 1948 Carver was featured on a commemorative stamp.
Fact 35: George Washington Carver joined the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity while he was a Professor at Tuskegee Institute. He gave a few talks while part of this group too.
Fact 36: Carver was the first black student at Iowa State Agricultural College.
Fact 37: There are theories that Carver was castrated at the age of 11 by a white Master, although there is little evidence to support this.
Fact 38: From 1951-1954 George appeared on a commemorative half dollar coin.
Fact 39: George’s Prof at the Agricultural college suggested that he stayed on to do a Masters course too. His work over the 2 years would earn him national recognition in the field of botany.
Fact 40: Carver obtained a Masters degree in 1896. This itself was a feat for the time!
Fact 41: For two years, 1933-1935, George worked on creating a ‘peanut oil’ that was supposed to help with polio when massaged into the skin. The peanuts apparently played no role in helping the issue but the messages helped a little instead!
Fact 42: Geroge Washington Carver was the first black member of staff at Iowa State Agricultural College.
Fact 43: George saw himself as both a Christian and a scientist. He would often discuss his Christian readings and he even gave some teachings to some students who requested it.
Fact 44: George advised farmers to add nitrogen to their soils and to rotate their crops regularly to get the most out of their lands. This resulted in more money for farmers as they had better crops, and it also saved them after the feared boll weevil incident.
Fact 45: George also worked on recipes, journals, and published articles about peanuts, and explored other foods too.
Fact 46: Carver, although he never married, did have a 3 year relationship with a school teacher called Sarah Hunt, when he was about 40 years of age. But, this ended when she moved to another state to teach.
Fact 47: In 1916 George was made a member of the ‘Royal Society of Arts in England’.
Fact 48: In 1919 Carver contacted a peanut company and told them about the potential of ‘peanut milk’. You can still drink this today.
Fact 49: George Washington Carver was invited in 1920, by the United Peanut Associations of America, to discuss the ‘possibilities of using peanuts’. Obviously, he had loads of ideas on what to do with peanuts! I still can’t think of more than 10 ways to use them for food!
Fact 50: In 1953 the ‘George Washington Carver National Monument’ was opened in Diamond, Missouri. It was the first monument to be dedicated to an African American. And so, it is historical for this reason too, as well as it being a dedication to the gentleman.
Fact 51: There is a bust of Carver at the ‘George Washington Carver National Monument’. There have also been a number of portraits of George over the years. Some still exist, but some perished in a fire.
Fact 52: Allegedly, Henry Ford was responsible for setting up an elevator for Carver to use at his Tuskegee dormitory, after his health declined and he couldn’t walk upstairs.
Fact 53: Carver passed away at a hospital after he fell down a flight of stairs. He was also suffering from anemia.
Fact 54: Carver died on January 5, 1943. He was 78 years of age at the time. He was buried at Tuskegee Institute (known as University today).
Fact 55: These are the words on his grave ‘He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world’.