Devotion for Week of May 6, 2018 - GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

Born in 1860 - Died in 1943

Romans 1:19-20 (KJV), “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Genesis 39:3 (KJV), “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.”

Jeremiah 33:3 (KJV), “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

It is rare to find a man of the caliber of George Washington Carver.  A man who would decline an invitation to work for a salary of more than $100,000 a year (almost a million today) to continue his research on behalf of his countrymen.

Agricultural chemist, George Washington Carver discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes.  Among the listed items that he suggested to southern farmers to help them economically were his recipes and improvements to & for: adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes, ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, plastic, pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, talcum powder and wood stain. Sadly, only three patents were every issued to Carver.

George Washington Carver was born in 1864 near Diamond Grove, Missouri on the farm of Moses Carver.  He was born into difficult and changing times near the end of the Civil War.  The infant George and his mother were kidnaped by Confederate night-raiders and possibly sent away to Arkansas.  Moses Carver found and reclaimed George after the War but his mother had disappeared forever.  The identity of Carver's father remains unknown, although he believed his father was a slave from a neighboring farm.  Moses and Susan Carver reared George and his brother as their own children.  It was on the Moses' farm where George first fell in love with nature, where he earned the nickname 'The Plant Doctor' and collected in earnest all manner of rocks and plants.

Carver was also a sincere and humble Christian, never hesitating to confess his faith in the God of the Bible and attributing all his success and ability to God. In 1939 he was awarded the Roosevelt medal, with the following citation: "To a scientist humbly seeking the guidance of God and a liberator to men of the white race as well as the black."

On his conversion to Christ he once wrote; “I was just a mere boy when converted, hardly ten years old. There isn't much of a story to it. God just came into my heart one afternoon while I was alone in the `loft' of our big barn while I was shelling corn to carry to the mill to be ground into meal. A dear little white boy, one of our neighbors, about my age came by one Saturday morning, and in talking and playing he told me he was going to Sunday school tomorrow morning. I was eager to know what a Sunday school was. He said they sang hymns and prayed. I asked him what prayer was and what they said. I do not remember what he said; only remember that as soon as he left I climbed up into the `loft,' knelt down by the barrel of corn and prayed as best I could. I do not remember what I said. I only recall that I felt so good that I prayed several times before I quit. My favorite song was `Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone and all the world go free,' etc.”

George began his formal education at the age of twelve, which required him to leave the home of his adopted parents.  Schools were segregated by race at that time with no school available for black students near Carver's home.  He moved to Newton County in southwest Missouri, where he worked as a farm hand and studied in a one-room schoolhouse.  He went on to attend Minneapolis High School in Kansas.  College entrance was a struggle, again because of racial barriers.  At the age of thirty, Carver gained acceptance to Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, where he was the first black student.

Carver had to study piano and art and the college did not offer science classes.  Intent on a science career, he later transferred to Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in 1891, where he gained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1894 and a Master of Science degree in bacterial botany and agriculture in 1897.  Carver became a member of the faculty of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanics (the first black faculty member for Iowa College), teaching classes about soil conservation and chemurgy.

  After receiving his Master of Science degree he wrote; "I am more and more convinced, as I search for truth that no ardent student of nature, can `Behold the lillies of the field'; or `Look unto the hills', or study even the microscopic wonders of a stagnant pool of water, and honestly declare himself to be an Infidel. More and more as we come closer and closer in touch with nature and its teachings are we able to see the Divine and are therefore fitted to interpret correctly the various languages spoken by all forms of nature about us.

My life time study of nature in it's many phases leads me to believe more strongly than ever in the Biblical account of man's creation as found in Gen. 1:27 `And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created he them.' Of course sciences through all of the ages have been searching for the so-called `missing link' which enables us to interpert man from his very beginning, up to his present high state of civilization. I am fearful lest our finite researches will be wholly unable to grasp the infinite details of creation, and therefore we lose the great truth of the creation of man.

God has indeed been good to me and is yet opening up wonders and allowing me to peep in as it were. I do love the things God has created, both animate and inanimate. I am absolutely nothing except as God speaks through me.”

In 1897, Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes, convinced Carver to come south and serve as the school's Director of Agriculture.  Carver remained on the faculty until his death in 1943.  (The pamphlet, "Help for Hard Times," was written by Carver and forwarded by Booker T. Washington as an example of the educational material provided to farmers by Carver.)

At Tuskegee Carver developed his crop rotation method, which revolutionized southern agriculture.  He educated the farmers to alternate the soil-depleting cotton crops with soil-enriching crops such as; peanuts, peas, soybeans, sweet potato, and pecans.  America 's economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture during this era making Carver's achievements very significant.  Decades of growing only cotton and tobacco had depleted the soils of the southern area of the United States of America.  The economy of the farming south had been devastated by years of civil war and the fact that the cotton and tobacco plantations could no longer use slave labor.  Carver convinced the southern farmers to follow his suggestions and helped the region to recover.

Carver also worked at developing industrial applications from agricultural crops.  During World War I, he found a way to replace the textile dyes formerly imported from Europe.  He produced dyes of 500 different shades and he was responsible for the invention in 1927 of a process for producing paints and stains from soybeans.  For that he received three separate patents:

(U.S. 1,522,176 Cosmetics and Producing the Same. January 6, 1925. George W. Carver. Tuskegee, Alabama.; U.S. 1,541,478 Paint and Stain and Producing the Same June 9, 1925. George W. Carver. Tuskegee, Alabama; U.S. 1,632,365 Producing Paints and Stains. June 14, 1927. George W. Carver. Tuskegee, Alabama.)

Carver did not patent or profit from most of his products.  He freely gave his discoveries to mankind.  Most important was the fact that he changed the South from being a one-crop land of cotton, to being multi-crop farmlands, with farmers having hundreds of profitable uses for their new crops.  "God gave them to me. " he would say about his ideas, "How can I sell them to someone else?"  In 1940, Carver donated his life savings to the establishment of the Carver Research Foundation at Tuskegee, for continuing research in agriculture.

George Washington Carver was bestowed with an honorary doctorate from Simpson College in 1928.  He was an honorary member of the Royal Society of Arts in London, England.  In 1923, he received the Spingarn Medal given every year by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  In 1939, he received the Roosevelt medal for restoring southern agriculture.  On July 14, 1943, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt honored Carver with a national monument dedicated to his accomplishments.  The area of Carver's childhood, near Diamond Grove, Missouri, is preserved as a park, the first designated national monument to an African American in the United States.

"He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither,
he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world."
Epitaph on the grave of George Washington Carver.

Quotes From George Washington Carver Agricultural chemist who was guided by God

"Without my Saviour, I am nothing."

"May those whom He has redeemed learn to walk and talk with Him: through the things that He has created."

"The Lord has guided me. He has shown me the way, just as He will show everyone who turns to Him."

Blog categories: