George Washington Carver
born a slave during the Civil War, possibly in 1865, but there are
Within a few weeks, his father, who belonged to the next farm
over, was killed in a log hauling accident.
Shortly after the Civil War, bushwhackers kidnapped infant
George with his mother and sister.
Moses Carver sent friends to track down the
thieves and trade his best horse to retrieve them.
The thieves only left baby George, lying on the
gr ound, sick with the whooping cough.
George never saw his mother and sister again. Illness claimed
the lives of his two other sisters and they were buried on
the Carver farm.
George and his older brother, Jim, were raised
in Diamond Grove, Missouri, by “Uncle” Moses and “Aunt” Sue
Carver, a childless German immigrant couple.
In poor health as a child, George stayed near the house helping
with chores, learning to cook, clean, sew, mend and wash laundry,
skills that he would later use to support himself.
His recreation was to spend time in the woods.
He left home at eleven and attended school in Neosho, Missouri,
paying his own tuition by doing odd jobs.
Get the book George
Washington Carver-His Life & Faith in His Own Words
George Carver drifted from Kansas to Iowa,
working as a cook and doing laundry.
He studied at Simpson College, then received a bachelor’s and
master’s degree from Iowa State, where he was hired as a
In the Spring of 1896, Booker T. Washington
invited George Washington Carver to teach at
Tuskegee, as he had just received his Master’s Degree from Iowa
State Agricultural Institute:
“Tuskegee Institute seeks to provide education – a means for
survival to those who attend. Our students are poor, often
starving. They travel miles of torn roads, across years of
We teach them to read and write, but words cannot fill stomachs.
They need to learn how to plant and harvest crops…
I cannot offer you money, position or fame. The first two you
have. The last, from the place you now occupy, you will no doubt
achieve. These things I now ask you to give up.
I offer you in their place-work-hard, hard work-the challenge of
bringing people from degradation, poverty and waste to full
On May 16, 1896, George W. Carver responded to
Booker T. Washington:
“My dear Sir, I am just in receipt of yours of the 13th inst.,
and hasten to reply.
I am looking forward to a very busy, pleasant and profitable
time at your college and shall be glad to cooperate with you in
doing all I can through Christ who strengtheneth me to better the
condition of our people.
Some months ago I read your stirring address delivered at
Chicago and I said amen to all you said, furthermore you have the
correct solution to the ‘race problem’…
Providence permitting, I will be there in November. God bless
you and your work, Geo. W. Carver.”
In the fall of 1896, George surprised the staff
at Iowa State College by announcing his plans to give up his
promising future there and accept Booker T.
Washington offer to teach at Tuskegee Institute in
The staff showed their appreciation by purchasing him a going
away present, a microscope, which he used extensively throughout
George assembled an Agricultural Department at
He visited nearby farmers and would teach them farming
techniques, such as crop rotation, fertilization and erosion
prevention. Carver noticed that the soil was depleted due to years
of repeated cotton growth and produced very poorly.
During this time, an insect called the boll weevil swept through
the South, destroying cotton crops and leaving farmers
George showed the farmers the benefits of crop
rotation and planting legumes, such as peanuts, which replenish the
soil with nitrogen.
Farmers heeded Carver’s advice but soon had
more peanuts than the market wanted, as peanuts were primarily used
as animal feed. George determined to find more
uses for the peanut to increase the market for them.
Carver is credited with discovering and/or
popularizing hundreds of uses for the peanut, soybean, sweet
potato, pecan, cowpea, wild plum, and okra revolutionizing the
A partial list of items derived from peanuts was compiled by the
Carver Museum at Tuskegee:
BEVERAGES: blackberry punch, cherry punch, lemon punch, orange
punch, peanut punch, beverage for ice cream, evaporated peanut
beverage; dry coffee, instant coffee, 32 different kinds of milk,
dehydrated milk flakes, buttermilk.
FOODS: peanut butter, salted peanuts, peanut flour, peanut
flakes, peanut meal, cream from peanut milk, butter from peanut
milk, egg yolk, breakfast food, bisque powder, cheese, cream
cheese, cheese pimento, cheese sandwich, cheese tutti frutti,
cocoa, crystallized peanuts, curds, granulated potatoes, potato
nibs, golden nuts, mock coconut, pancake flour, peanut hearts,
peanut surprise, peanut wafers, pickle, sweet pickle, shredded
peanuts, substitute asparagus.
Carver-His Life & Faith in His Own Words
George Washington Carver addressed Congress and
met with Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge and Franklin
He was offered jobs by Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, and
received correspondence from world leaders, including Gandhi and
George Washington Carver died JANUARY 5,
In 1928, Dr. Carver stated:
“Human need is really a great spiritual vacuum which God seeks
to fill… With one hand in the hand of a fellow man in need
and the other in the hand of Christ, He could get across the
vacuum…Then the passage, ‘I can do all things
through Christ which strengthens me,’ came to have real
In the summer of 1920, the Young Men’s Christian Association of
Blue Ridge, North Carolina, invited Professor
Carver to speak at their summer school for the southern
Dr. Willis D. Weatherford, President of Blue Ridge, introduced
him as the speaker.
With his high voice surprising the audience, Dr. Carver
“I always look forward to introductions as opportunities to
learn something about myself….”
“Years ago I went into my laboratory and said, ‘Dear Mr.
Creator, please tell me what the universe was made for?’
The Great Creator answered, ‘You want to know too much for that
little mind of yours. Ask for something more your size, little
Then I asked, ‘Please, Mr. Creator, tell me what man was made
Again the Great Creator replied, ‘You are still asking too much.
Cut down on the extent and improve the intent.’
So then I asked, ‘Please, Mr. Creator, will you tell me why the
peanut was made?’
‘That’s better, but even then it’s infinite. What do you want to
know about the peanut?’
‘Mr. Creator, can I make milk out of the peanut?’
‘What kind of milk do you want? Good Jersey milk or just plain
boarding house milk?’
‘Good Jersey milk.’
And then the Great Creator taught me to take the peanut apart
and put it together again. And out of the process have come forth
all these products!”
Among the numerous products displayed was a bottle of good
Jersey milk. Three and-a-half ounces of peanuts produced one pint
of rich milk or one quart of raw “skim” milk, called boarding house
“blue john” milk.
On November 19, 1924, Carver spoke to over 500
people at the Women’s Board of Domestic Missions:
“God is going to reveal to us things He never revealed
before if we put our hands in His. No books ever go into
my laboratory. The thing I am to do and the way are revealed to me
the moment I am inspired to create something new.
Without God to draw aside the curtain, I would be
helpless. Only alone can I draw close enough to God to
discover His secrets.”
On March 24, 1925, Carver wrote to Robert
Johnson, an employee of Chesley Enterprises of Ontario:
“Thank God I love humanity; complexion doesn’t
interest me one single bit.”
Though from a disadvantaged background, George did not let this
pull him down into harboring self-pity and bitterness, or yielding
to a hateful victim-hood mentality.
On March 1, 1927, George W. Carver wrote to
Jack Boyd, a YMCA official in Denver, CO:
” My beloved friend, keep your hand in that of the
Master, walk daily by His side, so that you may lead
others into the realms of true happiness, where a religion
of hate, (which poisons both body and soul) will be
having in its place the ‘Golden Rule’ way, which is the
‘Jesus Way’ of life, will reign supreme…
Then, we can walk and talk with Jesus momentarily, because we
will be attuned to His will and wishes… God, my beloved friend is
infinite the highest embodiment of love.
We are finite, surrounded and often filled with
hate. We can only understand the infinite as we loose the
finite and take on the infinite.”
This was also the attitude of Booker T.
Washington, who wrote in Up From Slavery
“It is now long ago that I learned this lesson from General
Samuel Chapman Armstrong, and resolved that I would permit
no man, no
matter what his color might be , to narrow and degrade my
soul by making me hate him.
With God’s help, I believe that I have completely rid
myself of any ill feeling toward the Southern white man for any
wrong that he may have inflicted upon my race.
I am made to feel just as happy now when I am rendering service
to Southern white men as when the service is rendered to a member
of my own race.
I pity from the bottom of my heart any
individual who is so unfortunate as to get into the habit of
holding race prejudice.”
On July 10, 1924, George Washington Carver
wrote to James Hardwick:
“God cannot use you as He wishes until you come into the
fullness of His Glory. Do not get alarmed, my friend, when doubts
creep in. That is old Satan. Pray, pray, pray.
Oh, my friend, I am praying that God will come in and
rid you entirely of self so you can go out after
souls right, or rather have souls seek the Christ in
you. This is my prayer for you always.”
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