When I think of George Washington Carver, the first thing I think of is peanuts. I think that is because that is what I learned most in school about him. And he did in fact invent many uses for the peanut. At a time when many farmers were hurting, Carver showed farmers many different ways to use peanuts. He saved many farmers by helping them make money and eat.
But George Washington Carver did way more than find uses for the peanut. He had many other inventions and teachings. But more than that he was a great leader for African-Americans at a tough time in history. He was born a slave but died a man of great respect. He was passionate and a very hard worker. You know he must have had his share of problems and challenges but he over came them and made a great impact on on his country and the entire world.
George Washington Carver – Quotes
“Learn to do common things uncommonly well; we must always keep in mind that anything that helps fill the dinner pail is valuable.” – George Washington Carver
“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” – George Washington Carver
“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving something behind.” – George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver – A Tough Start
He was born into slavery in Newton County, Marion Township, near Diamond Grove, now known as Diamond, Missouri. He was born on July 12, 1864. His owner, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant who had purchased George's mother, Mary, from William P. McGinnis on October 9, 1855 for seven hundred dollars. The identity of Carver's father is unknown but he had sisters and a brother, all of whom died prematurely.
When George was an infant, he, a sister, and his mother were kidnapped by Confederate night raiders and sold in Arkansas, a common practice. Moses Carver hired John Bentley to find them. Only Carver was found, orphaned and near death from whooping cough. Carver's mother and sister had already died, although some reports stated that his mother and sister had gone north with the soldiers. For returning George, Moses Carver rewarded Bentley with his best filly that would later produce winning race horses. This episode caused George a bout of respiratory disease that left him with a permanently weakened constitution. Because of this, he was unable to work as a hand and spent his time wandering the fields, drawn to the varieties of wild plants. He became so knowledgeable that he was known by Moses Carver's neighbors as the “Plant Doctor.”
One day he was called to a neighbor's house to help with a plant in need. When he had fixed the problem, he was told to go into the kitchen to collect his reward. When he entered the kitchen, he saw no one. He did, however, see something that changed his life: beautiful paintings of flowers on the walls of the room. From that moment on, he knew that he was going to be an artist as well as a botanist.
After slavery was abolished, Moses Carver and his wife Susan raised George and his brother Jim as their own children. They encouraged George Carver to continue his intellectual pursuits and “Aunt Susan” taught him the basics of reading and writing.
Since blacks were not allowed at the school in Diamond Grove and he had received news that there was a school for blacks ten miles south in Neosho, he resolved to go there at once. To his dismay, when he reached the town, the school had been closed for the night. As he had nowhere to stay, he slept in a nearby barn. By his own account, the next morning he met a kind woman, Mariah Watkins, from whom he wished to rent a room. When he identified himself “Carver's George,” as he had done his whole life, she replied that from now on, his name was “George Carver.” George liked this lady very much and her words “You must learn all you can, then go back out into the world and give your learning back to the people,” made a great impression on him.
At the age of thirteen, due to his desire to attend high school, he relocated to the home of another foster family in Fort Scott, Kansas. After witnessing the beating to death of a black man at the hands of a group of white men, George left Fort Scott. He subsequently attended a series of schools before earning his diploma at Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas.
After high school, George started a laundry business in Olathe, Kansas.
Pick up some books on George Washington Carver if you want to learn more. We can learn so much by studying his life. He didn't start off with much, but with passion and hard work, he did great things.
Education lesson resources from Kamaron Institute for parents and teachers.