George Washington Carver: The Peanut Man Essay, Research Paper
George Washington Carver
Have you ever wondered who invented Peanut Butter? Did you know that the same man made “more than 450 products ranging from margarine to library paste that could be made from the peanut, the sweet potato, and various other cultivated plants” (http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/harmon/carvharm.htm)? That man, also known as the “Peanut Man” (http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=13469), is George Washington Carver. There are three commonly asked questions about Carver including: “What was his personal life like?” “What did he actually do?” and “What did he like to do when he wasn’t working?” Basically, Carver was an African-American slave born at the end of the Civil War that was able to overcome many obstacles and become a famous scientist and inventor.
George Washington Carver didn’t have that good of a childhood, because he was born a sick, weak baby and a slave in Missouri in 1864. His father died before he was born, leaving his mother, Mary, and their owners, Moses and Susan Carver, to take care of him and his brother James. One night there was a raiding party that took George and his mother and though his mother never came back, he was eventually returned to the Carvers. He and James took Carter as a last name because they weren’t allowed last names when they were slaves, and because they were the ones who had raised them and whom they still lived with. George stayed at the Carvers and helped with cooking and gardening, which he was so good at he adopted the name “The Plant Doctor.” George Washington Carver had little schooling, even though he could read very well. When he was 12 he attended a black school in Neosho, Missouri, about eight miles away, because he had been rejected from Diamond Grove because he was black. He had to help with the chores to pay for his room and board.(http://www.norfacad.pvt.k12.va.us/project/carver/earlylif.htm)
He was one of the few black people of the era to go to good colleges. In 1890, when he was about 26 years old, he enrolled in Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa to study music and art. His art instructor, Etta Budd, son of the head of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State College, convinced him to go into scientific agriculture instead of art. He then went to Ames in 1891 and became active in the YMCA, Welch Eclectic Society, and college military regiment. He got his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Agriculture in 1894 and 1896. He was the first black to enroll as a student at Iowa State, and also the first one to join the faculty.(http://www.lib.iastate.edu/arch/rgrp/21-7-2.htm)
George Washington Carver had a variety of jobs during his lifetime. In 1985, he was the assistant botanist in the Experimental Station. He worked there until the following year, when Booker T. Washington asked him to go to Alabama to join the staff of Tuskegee Institute. He organized the Agricultural Department there and planned the agricultural building. He also conducted research and taught classes in chemistry and botany. He was the Director of Agriculture, Head of the Department of Research, and the first Director of the Agricultural Research and Experimental Station.(http://www.lib.iastate.edu/arch/rgrp/21-7-2.htm)
His work led to the creation of many products from peanuts and over 100 products from sweet potatoes. He also developed many products for Alabama clay, cotton, soybeans, pecans, wood shavings, and waste materials. His hundreds of peanut products are what got him his nickname of the “Peanut Man.” His peanut products included: Evaporated Peanut Beverage, Normal Peanut Beverage, Peanut Lemon Punch, Peanut Koumiss Beverage, Peanut Orange Punch, Peanut Punch, Hair and Scalp Peanut Oil Shampoo, Hen Food for Laying (Peanut Hearts), Peanut Hay Meal, Peanut Hull Bran, Peanut Hull Stock Food, Peanut Meal, Peanut Stock Food, Butter from Peanut Milk, Chocolate Coated Peanut, Crystallized Peanut, Peanut Bar, Peanut Brittle, Peanut Bisque Flour, Peanut Butter (regular), Peanut Cake, Peanut Dainties, Peanut Flakes, Peanut Flour (11 types), Peanut Hearts, Peanut Meat Loaf, Peanut and Pop Corn Bars, Peanut Relish, Peanut Sausage, Peanut Surprise, Peanut Tofu Sauce, Peanut Wafers, Salted Peanut, and Shredded Peanut. (http://www.ehhs.cmich.edu/~rlandrum/peanut.htm) These are just a few of the total peanut products that he either made or that was made through his work. These and other products are what made him get so many awards and things named after him.
George Washington Carver received a multitude of honors. He received honorary degrees from Simpson College, University of Rochester, and Selma University. He also had a feature film on his life made in Hollywood in 1938. He bequeathed hi estate to Tuskegee Institute in 1940, and established the George Washington Carver Foundation to continue his work. He has been called the father of chemurgy.(http://www.lib.iastate.edu/arch/rgrp/21-7-2.htm) The Washington Carver National Monument was built on the farm where he grew up. (http://www.activitytree.com/library/car_story.shtml) During his commencement address at Selma University, Selma, Alabama on May 27, 1942, he recited a poem:
Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the tap and say, “I can.”
Look them over, the wise and great
They take their food from a common plate,
And similar Knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes.
The world considers them brave and smart,
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.
You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if you only will.
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.
You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose you place,
You must say where you want to go,
How much you will study the truth to know.
God has equipped you for life, but He
Lets you decide what you want to be.
Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win.
So figure it out for yourself, my lad.
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began,
Get hold of yourself and say: “I can.”
–Edgar A. Guest”
He had lots of hobbies that he liked to do whenever he could. His work, for one, is something that he loved to do. One of his favorite hobbies was cross-pollination of a hybrid amaryllis that he had, himself, created. One of the only pictures of him and the last one ever taken of him, was of him working on his amaryllis.(http://www.npf.si.edu/exh/harmon/carvharm.htm) He also liked to help people. In the South, he helped farmers to know of crop diversifying and rotation, instead of the soil-exhausting of only planting cotton. Because of this, he became known in the South as the “miracle worker.”
George Washington was a very incredible man who was able to come from a slave all the way to one of the most well known black people of his time. I hope I have answered the question “What was his personal life like?” good in here and would like to summarize by saying that he was able to overcome all odds to become a famous inventor that even had a movie made by him. I would also like to say that He made many, many products that we still use all from simple plants like peanuts in summary to the answer of the question “What did he actually do?”. He also had many hobbies that ended up in helping many people (“What did he like to do when he wasn’t working?”). I have found that this man that I knew nothing about before the report is one of the few real life people I know of that overcame so many things in his life that almost no one even knows about.