7 Achievements of George Washington Carver
Regarded as one of the most influential African Americans of the 20th century, George Washington Carver was an American agricultural scientist and inventor renowned for his incredible works in promoting crop rotation in the South. Carver famously tackled soil depletion in the South by encouraging farmers to grow peanuts and other legumes on their land in order to make the land more fruitful. Due to his extensive works in the agricultural industry, as well as serving as huge role model to African Americans, George Washington Carver is arguably one of the greatest African American scientists of all time.
George Washington Carver: Fast Facts
Full name – George Washington Carver
Birth date and place – 1860s; Diamond, Missouri, United States
Death date and place – January 5, 1943; Tuskegee, Alabama, United States
Buried at – Tuskegee University
Parents – Giles and Mary
Education – Iowa State Agricultural College; Minneapolis High School
Spouse – none
Children – none
Also Known As – The Peanut Man, Black Leonardo; The father of the peanut industry
Notable Awards and Honors – Spingarn Medal in 1923
Influenced by – Moses Carver, Etta Budd, & James Wilson (4th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture)
Most famous for – being a huge influence on agricultural science and research
Achievements of George Washington Carver
The following are seven incredible achievements of George Washington Carver, an inventor who died at the age of 79 in 1943:
Devised innovative crop rotation techniques to improve depleted soils
George Washington Carver devoted a great chunk of his research into discovering techniques that were aimed at tackling soil depletion. For centuries, soils in the South had grown depleted to the extent that livelihoods of those farmers were threatened. The soil depletion was caused by repeated planting of cotton on those lands. Carver reasoned that by planting of peanuts, sweet potatoes and other legumes nitrogen could be restored to those depleted soils, thereby making the soil rich again. He encouraged farmers to practice systematic crop rotation where they would alternate cotton with those legumes.
He improved the lives of several farmers in Alabama
Aside from restoring the soil, this approach of his improved the cotton yield of farmers, thereby enhancing their standard of living. Farmers in the South could also benefit from the proceeds from those legumes. Carver set up agricultural extension programs in Alabama, training farmers in his systematic crop rotation technique.
Carver came out with numerous ways in which those new crops could be used. Through his research, he devised over 105 food recipes using peanuts. He hoped that by popularizing alternative uses of those crops, he would be able to create adequate demand for those crops, which would ultimately give the farmers additional source of income. Much of the work he did came through his industrial research laboratory, which had up-and-coming researchers that were as passionate to the cause as Carver himself.
He conducted extensive research into Crop rotation
As a renowned scientist of his generation, George Washington Carver primarily concerned himself with exploring alternative cash crops that could be beneficial to farmers. His intention was to use those crops to restore soils that have been depleted by years of repeated planting of cotton.
Carver served as a huge inspiration to young black students, encouraging them to take up profession in the agricultural sector. He developed an innovative way of bringing the activities of the classroom to farmers on the field. His mobile classroom initiative was financed by a philanthropist by name Morris Ketchum Jesup.
Carver’s work in the agricultural sector received enormous praise from Theodore Roosevelt
Due to the manner in which his research findings impacted the lives of farmers in the South, Carver’s reputation skyrocketed across the country. One of his biggest admirers was President Theodore Roosevelt himself. Carver also received tremendous praise from his former professors at Iowa State University. When the famous industrialist and inventor William C. Edenborn ventured into planting peanuts, Carver was called upon to offer guidance.
With his reputation growing fast, it was not surprising when the Royal Society of Arts in England made him a member in 1916. As the leading expert in peanut in the country, Carver came to be known as the “Peanut Man”. In a bid to promote peanuts in the country, he frequently attended conferences organized by the United Peanut Associations of America.
George Washington Carver published 44 academic bulletins in agriculture
Throughout his extensive research career, he published a total of 44 practical bulletins for farmers. His bulletins covered a wide array of agricultural topics, including animal husbandry, legumes, dairy, and meat production. Interestingly, his final bulletin was on the topic of peanut.
The most famous bulletin had to be How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption. The bulletin, which was published in 1916, received critical acclaim from both academia and farmers.
His testimony before Congress helped get the Fordney-McCumber Tariff passed
Towards the latter part of the 1910s, peanut farmers from China repeatedly undercut their prices in the United States. This caused significant amount of hardship for several peanut farmers in the country. The peanut farmers called on Carver to serve as their spokesperson in their effort to impose tariffs on imported peanuts.
Carver was called to appear before Congress’ Ways and Means Committee in 1921. His testimony was instrumental in convincing House Representatives to pass the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922, which placed tariffs on imported peanuts, thereby protecting the livelihoods of American peanut farmers. Carver’s historic testimony before Congress boosted his image across the country. It also cemented him as the leading African-American scientist of that era.
He was the head of the Agriculture Department at Tuskegee Institute
Having garnered some level of attention as a rising scientist, George Washington Carver was invited by Booker T. Washington to become a member of the faculty at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). Booker T. Washington was the president and principal of the institute.
Carver had a very fruitful teaching career, serving as the head of the Agriculture Department at Tuskegee Institute for close to half a century. Kind courtesy to his dedication to research and teaching, the department was transformed into one of excellence. Carver was also in charge of the Agricultural Experiment Station farms that were used in generating additional income for the institute through the sale of farm products.
Did you know: George Washington Carver was the first African American to get a national monument in his honor? Construction of the national monument, which is called the George Washington Carver National Monument, began in 1943. It received $30,000 from the FDR administration. With the exclusion of U.S. presidents, Carver was the first person to receive a national monument. The 210-acre monument officially opened in July 1953.
Other notable accomplishments of George Washington Carver
- He was an avid writer of articles that were published in several peanut industry journals. He was also the author of a newspaper column known as Professor Carver’s Advice.
- Carver was not the kind of researcher to profit from his expertise. He often gave technical advice of charge to businesses. For example, he and industrialist Henry Ford maintained a strong friendship. Ford is believed to have donated generously to Carver’s department at Tuskegee Institute.
- In 1938, Carver used about US$60,000 of his own money in setting up the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee.
- Carver’s extensive work in promoting peanuts was vital in keeping peanut production high after the industry was rocked by boll weevil. The researcher also maintained a working relationship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offering his services in researching a host of plant diseases.
- He was a key contributor to the development of branch of chemistry known as chemurgy. The branch entails researching into industrial application of agricultural produce.
- George Washington Carver has been inducted into a number of organizations, including the Hall of Fame for Great Americans (in 1977) and the National Inventors Hall of Fame (in 1990).