George Washington Carver
    INV NM
(1864 - 1943)
Died at age 79 Birthday: Unknown
Born a slave and kidnapped as a child, he was found near death and expected to die before age 21.
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.
George Washington Carver Quotes

  • “Ye shall know science and science shall make you free.”
  • “Look about you. Take hold of the things that are here. Let them talk to you. You learn to talk to them.”
  • “Ye know full well that we see in people and animate things just about what we are looking for.”
  • “We are the architects of our own fortune and the hewers of our own destiny.”
  • “Learn to do common things uncommonly well; we must always keep in mind that anything that helps fill the dinner pail is valuable.”
  • “Take care of the waste on the farm and turn it into useful channels' should be the slogan of every farmer.”
  • “There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation -- veneer isn't worth anything.”
  • “It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success.”
  • “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”
  • “We are brothers, all of us, no matter what race or color or condition; children of the same Heavenly Father. We rise together or we fall together.”
  • “No individual has any right to come into this world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”

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.