George Washington Carver was born in 1860 in Diamond Grove, Missouri and despite early difficulties would rise to become one of the most celebrated and respected scientists in United States history. His important discoveries and methods enabled farmers through the south and midwest to become profitable and prosperous.
George was born the sickly child of two slaves and would remain frail for most of his childhood. One night a band of raiders attacked his family and stole George and his mother. Days later, George was found unharmed by neighbors and was traded back to his owners in exchange for a racehorse. Because of his frailty, George was not suited for work in the fields but he did possess a great interest in plants and was very eager to learn more about them.
His master sent him to Neosho, Missouri for an early education and graduated from Minneapolis High School in Kansas. He eventually mailed an application to Highland University in Kansas and was not only accepted but also offered a scholarship. Happily, George traveled to the school to accept the scholarship but upon meeting George, the University president asked “why didn’t you tell me you were a Negro?” and promptly withdrew the scholarship and the acceptance.
In 1887 Carver was accepted into Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa where he became well respected for his artistic talent (in later days his art would be included in the spectacular World’s Columbian Exposition Art Exhibit.) Carver’s interests, however, lay more in science and he transferred from Simpson to Iowa Agricultural College (which is now known as Iowa State University.) He distinguished himself so much that upon graduation he was offered a position on the school’s faculty, the first Black accorded the honor. Carver was allowed great freedom in working in agriculture and botany in the University’s greenhouses. In 1895, Carver co-authored a series of papers on the prevention and cures for fungus