George Wasington Carver: The Life of the Peanut Man

Interesting Facts about George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver, 1910

George Washington Carver, 1910

As a young slave in Diamond Grove, Missouri,

  • George Washington Carver knew very little about his parents. His mother’s name was Mary, but she and George were kidnapped when George was young and he never saw her again. His father died before George’s birth. After the Civil War ended, their former owners, Moses and Susan Carver, raised George and his
    brother Jim.
  • Young George got sick often as a child, so he did mostly household chores with Susan. The Carvers treated George like their own child, giving him free time to explore the woods on the family farm. They also taught him to read and George spent a lot of time with his spelling book.
  • George wanted to learn the names of plants, trees, animals, and flowers. Since he couldn’t find the answers in his spelling book, George sought other opportunities to go to school. His determination helped him walk eight miles to the Lincoln school for black children. Unfortunately, George soon discovered that the teacher didn’t know much more than he did.
  • George went to Kansas to finish his education, but he learned more about racial hatred there than anything else. At Ft. Scott, he saw a black man lynched and burned. Though he left Ft. Scott, he stayed in Kansas to finish high school.
  • To pay for his education, George worked a variety of jobs, including helping a black family with their laundry business.
  • Although he was accepted into Highland College in Kansas, when he arrived he was turned away because of the color of his skin. Eventually he graduated from Iowa State Agricultural College.
  • After graduation, George got an offer from Booker T. Washington to teach agriculture at Tuskegee Institute. He took the job because “It has always been the one ideal of my life to be the greatest good to the greatest number of ‘my people’ as possible.”
  • While at Tuskegee, George came up with new ways to help poor black farmers. For example, many farmers were only planting cotton, a crop that used up a lot of nutrients in the soil. George suggested that farmers plant crops like peanuts, which would nourish the soil. He said they should plant peanuts one year, and then plant cotton the next year.
  • After farmers started taking George’s advice, they had way too many peanuts. George had a solution, though—he found more than 300 uses for peanuts, including peanut milk and peanut soap!

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