Getting recognized by President Harry S. Truman as an innovator in the agricultural movement is not an easy thing to do. And for it to happen in 1945, with tensions still bare over racism, is only a testament of the impact that George Washington Carver has made on Black history. His birthplace was also the first memorial dedicated to an African American in the United States, further showing just how important he was to the history of the United States.
Dr. Carver was one of many scientists called upon to solve the southern farming crisis. Agriculture was a huge driving force in that time period, and with warring more at the forefront, calling it a farming crisis wasn’t a stretch at all. He has even been credited with indirectly helping the efforts to win World War II; with rations no longer an issue, soldiers were able to focus on fighting rather than fighting famine.
In 1935, he was appointed to the Department of Agriculture. His value was first seen by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and so he was quickly put to work. Through the use of some of his advice, such the utilization of crop rotation and nitrogen restoration of the soil through the use of peanuts and sweet potato crops, the farming crisis gradually turned around. Basically, by finding plants that benefitted the soil, the production of other nearby crops was facilitated. This 1×1 formula worked perfectly with the idea of crop rotation, which changed the way people planned their land. This achievement granted Dr. Carver the Roosevelt Medal in the year of 1939, as he singlehandedly saved Southern agriculture.
By signing the Joint Resolution in 1945, President Harry S. Truman made George Washington Carver Day into an official holiday. “I do hereby call upon officials of the Government to have the flag at half staff on all government buildings on January 5, 1946, in commemoration of the achievements of George Washington Carver,” stated President Truman.
It should be pointed out that the reason the southern farming crisis was an issue to begin with was because of the years of cotton farming destroying the nutrients in the soil. Admittedly enough, there lies a bit of irony in such a conundrum. Ultimately, it all worked out well for one of the most respected African American innovators of all time. He will always be remembered as a pioneer, and the first guy who found over 300 uses for peanuts!