88. George Washington Carver: From Slave to Inventor

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The exact birth date of the American inventor, educator, and scientist, George Washington Carver, is unknown. This is because Carver was born into a state of slavery, and many slave owners did not record the dates their slaves were born. Carver's claim to fame was the development of alternative crops for southern farmers, whose main cash crop was cotton. Cotton farming is hard on the land. It depletes the soil of its richness from over-farming, and leaves the farmland useless after multiple uses. Carver recognized this, and began working on other crops that were more soil friendly.

He conducted extensive research, and promoted such crops as peanuts, soybean, and sweet potatoes for small farms in an attempt to improve the farmer's quality of life. By growing these crops instead of cotton, the soil would remain nutritious, and as an added bonus, the crops could be consumed by the farmers to help sustain a healthier diet.

Born in either 1864, or 1865, Carver was one of 11 children born to his slave parents in Diamond, Missouri. Tragedy hit his family hard. All 10 of Carver's brothers and sisters died at a young age. When he was just one-week old, Carver, and his mother, and a sister were kidnapped, and sold in Kentucky. The family was aided by anti-slavery sympathizers, and the family was reunited in Missouri. Shortly after that, slavery was abolished, and Carver was encouraged to continue his education. He tried enrolling into a public school in Missouri, but was turned away because he was black.

Even though slavery was abolished, blacks were still discriminated against. Carver was forced to attend a sub-standard school for blacks only. Carver's struggles in education continued throughout his academic career, but that did not deter him. He graduated from the Tuskegee Institute, and began his crop research shortly after graduation.

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