Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Life and Legacy of George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver grew to be an honored scholar and student in school despite his illness and frailty during childhood. He became the nation’s most famous agriculturist. With help from God, Carver remarkably revolutionized the South from a two-crop land of cotton and tobacco, to a multi-crop farmland where farmers could boast of hundreds of creative and profitable uses for their crops. Single-handedly at Tuskegee University, Carver discovered over three hundred uses for the peanut and over one hundred more for soybeans, pecans, and sweet potatoes. Leading a life of generosity, and leaving behind a legacy of serving others, Carver drastically changed American agriculture for good.

George Washington Carver was born in 1864 on Moses Carver’s plantation in Diamond Grove, Missouri, and had a peculiar childhood. As a child, George could not speak fluently, and was quite frail. However, God used him in a purposeful and mighty way. George’s father died in an accident shortly before his birth, and slave raiders kidnapped him and his mother when George was just a baby. Luckily, George was rescued, but his mother was never heard from again. Having been raised as a strong Christian, George enjoyed listening to Moses Carver read the Bible. Since he was not strong enough to work in the fields, George helped Frau Carver with household chores. As a result of numerous hours spent in the garden and in the forest, George developed a keen interest in plants at an early age. He gathered and cared for a variety of flora and fauna in the land near his home and George became known as the “plant doctor.” He helped his neighbors and friends with their ailing vegetation. George began his formal education at the age of twelve, which required leaving Diamond Grove and the Carver plantation.

As a result, George left his home behind to receive a formal education. He studied in a small, one-room schoolhouse and lodged at a farm in Neosho. He then attended Minneapolis High School. College was a struggle because of racial barriers. Finally, Carver got accepted at age thirty to Simpson College, where he was the first African-American student. He studied piano and art since the college did not offer science classes. In 1891, George Washington Carver received an invitation to Iowa State College Department of Horticulture, which is now Iowa State University. Although he excelled extraordinarily in art and music, Carver left Simpson College and became the first black to enroll at Iowa State College. There, he was able to pursue and live his dream of being a scientist.

Through remarkably amazing determination and perseverance, Carver became involved in all facets of campus life. He was a leader in the YMCA and the debate club. He was also a Captain, which is the highest student rank in the campus military regiment. Carver’s poetry was published in the student newspaper and two of his paintings were exhibited at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois. Carver’s interest in music and art remained strong, but his excellence in botany and horticulture prompted professors to encourage Carver to stay on as a graduate student after he completed his bachelor’s degree in 1894. Being proficient in breeding plants, Carver was appointed to the faculty at Iowa State, becoming the university’s first African-American professor. He published several articles on his work, and gained national respect. In 1896, Carver received his Master’s degree, which completed his schooling. Soon he would receive an invitation that would change his life.

In fact, in 1897, Carver got a letter from Booker T. Washington asking him to join the all African-American, Tuskegee University faculty because of the depleted soil and the difficulties Tuskegee students were having growing crops. Because the south was repeatedly planting cotton and tobacco, the soil in the south had been deprived of its nutrients. Sacrificially, Carver left behind a yearly salary of $100,00.00 (which is almost $1 million today) at Iowa State, and left for Tuskegee to help the struggling Tuskegee Institute. When Carver first arrived in Alabama, the soil was barren and dry and there was no green vegetation in sight. Eventually, he developed the widespread and famous crop rotation method, in which soil enriching crops such as soybeans, sweet potatoes, and peanuts were grown to take the place of soil depleting crops like cotton and tobacco. Carver worked diligently to recover and improve the soils of the south while finding hundreds of new uses for the crops he grew. Giving his ideas freely to the farmers of the south, Carver did not patent or profit from the majority of his products. At Tuskegee, Carver helped the south to become a land of diverse crops.

George Washington Carver, who received many awards before and after his death, had a National Monument dedicated to him where he spent his childhood in Diamond Grove, Missouri. Being African American, Carver was blessed to acquire an education that most African-Americans were denied during that time. In 1943, when George Washington Carver passed away in Tuskegee, Alabama, he left behind a permanent legacy that shows what it truly means to serve others. “He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.” Fittingly, this is what is said of Carver on his grave. Although George Washington Carver grew in difficult circumstances, he significantly transformed the American society for the better. George Washington Carver’s story is certainly one of “Doing a good turn daily.” All Scouts should learn a lesson from this man of character and sacrifice.


Bibliography:

Bellis, Mary. “George Washington Carver.”
March 2, 2011. About.com Inventors.

<http://inventors.about.com/od/cstartinventors/a/GWC.htm>.

“George Washington Carver.”
March 2, 2011. Wikipedia.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_Carver>.

Fishbein, Toby. “The Legacy of George Washington Carver.”
March 2, 2011. Iowa State University e-Library.
<http://www.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/gwc/bio.html>.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback