The Man Who Made PEANUTS His Life Work

 

The Man Who Made PEANUTS His Life Work

By Kenneth Eden.

George Washington Carver. (Black Lives Contribution).

There is leadership that talks and there is leadership that works and in the halls of the popularity of black leaders over the decades, George Washington Carver was a leader that really functioned.

His leadership was not of the kind that tried to catch attention or make himself look wonderful, courting popularity for himself.

He didn’t try to accomplish or begin a movement to change the status quo via physical confrontation etc, although those things are in some cases required. He was too wise for that.

George Washington Carver showed leadership skills by making contributions to the welfare of individuals that would last a lifetime. George Washington Carver is most likely best recognized for his discoveries in the usage of the peanut.

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George Washington Carver genuinely took the hands of his individuals where they were at that moment and lead them forward to a better life. And also the black community in the 19th century was into farming. This was where black family members tried to find their food, and make their living as well as their opportunity to better themselves. : Which is what George Washington Carver enabled them to do.

He remained in every way a self-made man, setting out at a young age to obtain a much better education for himself than the norm.He established an example to all, that education and learning was the path to freedom for his people and for all individuals. He truly needed to struggle to achieve his success as he worked his way up through high institutions and afterwards at Simpson University in Iowa where he was the first and only black student, as well as, eventually on to Iowa Agricultural College.

His success at Iowa Agricultural College came from the (decision and his great capability) to use his natural genius to prosper against all odds. But his developments were absolutely nothing short of revolutionary, introducing such concepts as the rotation of crops.

By this time, Carver already had great successes in the laboratory and the community. He taught poor farmers that they could feed hogs acorns instead of commercial feed and enrich croplands with swamp muck instead of fertilizers.

His idea of crop rotation proved to be most valuable.   Through his work on soil chemistry, Carver learned that years of growing cotton had depleted the nutrients from the soil, resulting in low yields. But by growing nitrogen-fixing plants like peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes, the soil could be restored, allowing yield to increase dramatically when the land was reverted to cotton use a few years later.  To further help farmers, he invented the Jessup wagon, a kind of mobile (horse-drawn) classroom and laboratory used to demonstrate soil chemistry.

Farmers, of course, loved the high yields of cotton they were now getting from Carver’s crop rotation technique. But the method had an unintended consequence: A surplus of peanuts and other non-cotton products.

Carver set to work on finding alternative uses for these products. For example, he invented numerous products from sweet potatoes, including edible products like flour and vinegar and non-food items such as stains, dyes, paints and writing ink.

 

In all,  George Washington Carver developed more than 300 food, industrial and commercial products from peanuts, including milk, Worcestershire sauce, punches, cooking oils and salad oil, paper, cosmetics, soaps and wood stains. He also experimented with peanut-based medicines, such as antiseptics, laxatives and goitre medications.

It should be noted, however, that many of these suggestions or discoveries remained curiosities and did not find widespread applications.

In 1921, Carver appeared before the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of the peanut industry, which was seeking tariff protection. Though his testimony did not begin well, he described the wide range of products that could be made from peanuts, which not only earned him a standing ovation but also convinced the committee to approve a high protected tariff for the common legume.

He then became known as “The Peanut Man.”

In the last two decades of his life, Carver lived as a minor celebrity but his focus was always on helping people.

He travelled the South to promote racial harmony, and he travelled to India to discuss nutrition in developing nations with Mahatma Gandhi.

Carver died on January 5, 1943, at Tuskegee Institute after falling down the stairs of his home. He was 78 years old. Carver was buried next to Booker T. Washington on the Tuskegee Institute grounds.   Soon after, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation for Carver to receive his own monument, an honour previously only granted to presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The George Washington Carver National Monument now stands in Diamond, Missouri. Carver was also posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

George Washington Carver; American Chemical Society.    George W. Carver (1865? – 1943); The State Historical Society of MissouriGeorge Washington Carver; Science History MuseumGeorge Washington Carver: Biography, Inventions & Quotes; LiveScienceGeorge Washington Carver, The Black History Monthiest Of Them All; NPRGeorge Washington Carver And The Peanut; American Heritage.

Author: Kenneth Eden

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