George Washington Carver was an inspired botanist, inventor, innovator, and artist. He pioneered crop rotation and promoted planting peanuts by discovering more than 300 uses for them. His laboratory work produced innovations in synthetic rubber, metal polish, adhesives, bleach, axle grease, buttermilk, fuel briquettes, paper, shaving cream, shoe polish, dyes, stains, and plastics, as well as hundreds of uses for sweet potatoes, soybeans and legumes.
Owned by Moses and Susan Carver, George was adopted by the couple after slavery was abolished, and raised as their child.
Carver's childhood illness left him permanently weak, making him useless for farm labor -- which gave him time to wander and study plants.
He was known locally as "the plant doctor."
He referred to himself as "Carver's George" until a kindly lady advised that he call himself "George Carver."
Carver adopted the middle name "Washington" to distinguish himself from another George Carver with whom he schooled.
He was the first African-American to attend Iowa State University, where he received a master's degree, and became the school's first African-American faculty.
In 1891, he received a Bachelor of Science degree, following it with a Masters in bacterial botany and agriculture in 1897.
He brought no books into his laboratory, and claimed that his formulas came to him in revelations.
Carver kept no notes, instead memorizing his experiments, and most of his formulas were lost upon his death.
Of potentially hundreds of profitable products, he patented only three, explaining "if I did (patent everything) it would take so much time, I would get nothing else done."
Invited to speak at a Congressional hearing on peanut tariffs in 1920, Carver faced a hostile white audience -- and left with a standing ovation.
Carver was much sought-after for scientific advice and education. Among those who accepted his tutelage were Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, the Crown Prince of Sweden and auto magnate Henry Ford
After Carver demonstrated that the soybean could be made into a durable plastic, Henry Ford
began using 2 bushels in every auto he produced.
Two of Carver' s paintings were displayed at the 1893 World's Fair, under lighting powered by Nikola Tesla
's revolutionary "alternating current."
Honorary member of the Royal Society of Arts in London, England. RSA Honorary Fellows and recipients of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin
Medal include: Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, R. Buckminster Fuller
, Alvar Aalto
, Saul Bass, Charles Eames, Raymond Loewy.
Received the Spingarn Medal in 1923 from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Shares the honor with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Duke Ellington.
George Washington Carver National Monument, dedicated by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt near Carveer's childhood home, was the first national monument honoring an African American.
Carver has been honored on stamps, coins, and with the naming of the naval vessel the USS George Washington Carver.
He is honored in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, alongside the likes of Henry Ford
and Thomas Edison
January 5, 1943: After spending ten days in bed, he died from complications arising from a fall down a flight of stairs.
It is believed by many that Carver could have made a fortune had he dedicated himself to commercial pursuits. His headstone reads, "He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world."
Beginning three years after his death, the US Government set aside January 5 as a national holiday in memory of Carver. Two days earlier the same is held for Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1990, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.