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George Washington Carver

The life and accomplishments of George Washington Carver demonstrate the degree to which some African American slaves were able to overcome the obstacles of slavery in remarkable ways. The exact date of CarverÆs birth remains a mystery, though most accounts put it as 1864-1865 on the Moses Carver plantation (Zanish-Belcher, 2000). The identity of CarverÆs father is unknown, but many believe he was a slave on a neighboring plantation and shortly after CarverÆs birth, his father was killed in a log-hauling accident. Moses Carver and his wife Mary were atypical southerners in that they were opposed to slavery. The CarverÆs were prosperous despite this opposition, and their plantation was raided numerous times. In one raid, Moses and GeorgeÆs brother Jim managed to hide, but George and his mother, Mary, were kidnapped by slave traders. Eventually George was returned to Moses but his mother was never heard from again and was presumed dead.

Despite CarverÆs uncertain and dramatic origins, the young man had a natural and insatiable interest in nature, particularly the flora surrounding his childhood home. Carver collected rocks and plants of all kinds, nurturing plants with such care that he became known as the ôplant doctorö by neighbors who would seek his assistance to tend to their own plants (Zanish-Belcher, 2000, 1). Carver was frail and tended to household duties rather than field work. He learned to read and write at home because no schools for African Americans existed in his hometown of Diamond Grove. CarverÆs unquenchable thirst for education eventually led him to Iowa, where he became the first African American to enroll at Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (Zanish-Belcher, 2000).

Though Carver demonstrated talent in art and music, his art instructor encouraged him to develop his abundance of horticultural talents. Carver became quite active


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George Washington Carver. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:40, November 29, 2021, from