- American botanist and educator whose work was instrumental in improving the agricultural efficiency of the United States.
Biography: George Washington Carver played a central role in revitalizing Southern agriculture after the Civil War, when Southern farms produced ever smaller cotton crops. His promotion of crop rotation methods helped to restore Southern farmlands, which had been depleted by the exclusive cultivation of cotton. Carver also introduced two new crops, peanuts and sweet potatoes, that would produce well in Alabama soil. To make them economically beneficial to farmers, he developed 325 products from peanuts, including peanut butter, plastics, synthetic rubber, shaving cream, and paper. He also developed hundreds of other products from sweet potatoes and from dozens of other native plants, including soybeans and cotton. During his forty-seven years as head of the agriculture department at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he taught the importance of crop diversification and soil conservation. Carver also introduced movable schools that brought practical agricultural knowledge directly to farmers.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Carver, George Washington
An African-American scientist and agricultural innovator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Carver aided the economy of the South by developing hundreds of industrial uses for crops such as the peanut and the sweet potato.
Carver, who was born to slave parents, was the first black scientist to gain nationwide prominence.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.