George Washington Carver - and Peanuts - Helped Save Southern Farmland
George Washington Carver was born a year before the emancipation of enslaved people and was raised by a white family who treated him as a son. A somewhat sickly child, he concentrated on education but opportunities were limited for him. Eventually, he studied art at a mid-western school and through those connections was the first black student accepted at Iowa State University, earning an advanced degree. Booker T. Washington pleaded with Carver to come to the all-black Tuskegee Institute, where he did pioneering work into crop rotation. Southern farmers planted cotton year after year with dwindling yields from the depleted fields. His introduction of planting peanuts after cotton changed the face of agriculture in the south. Members of the legume family, peanuts added nitrogen to those worn out soils.