Life Lessons from George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was a botanist and scientist in the late 1800s and lectured at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

For 47 years he taught there, lecturing on various methods of crop rotation and improving the soil in areas which were heavily cultivated in cotton. He had a great passion to improve the quality of the lives, through better nutrition, of farming families.

Instead of just cotton, he wanted poor farmers to grow alternative crops, not just for food, but for uses in other products, so they could be healthier and self-sustainable.

It is thought that he discovered nearly three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Some of these uses that he suggested to the farmers were: adhesives, buttermilk, chilli sauce, ink, axle grease, linoleum, metal polish, mayonnaise, fire briquettes, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, instant coffee, talcum powder, paper and wood stain.

George Washington Carver believed he could have faith both in God and science and integrated them into his life. His faith deepened as a young boy when he was not expected to live past his twenty-first birthday due to his poor health. He lived to the age of 78. Carver saw faith in God as a way to break down the barriers of racial conflict and social ‘walls’.

He put a big emphasis on not only developing his students intellectually, but morally and character-wise too.
He compiled a list of eight cardinal virtues for which his students should always strive:

  • Be clean both inside and out.
  • Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
  • Lose, if need be, without squealing.
  • Win without bragging.
  • Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
  • Be too brave to lie.
  • Be too generous to cheat.
  • Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.

The quote of his that I want to use this week is the following:

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

~ George Washington Carver

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