George Washington Carver : biography
With his increasing notability, Carver became the subject of biographies and articles. Raleigh H. Merritt contacted him for his biography published in 1929. Merritt wrote, "At present not a great deal has been done to utilize Dr. Carver’s discoveries commercially. He says that he is merely scratching the surface of scientific investigations of the possibilities of the peanut and other Southern products." In 1932 the writer James Saxon Childers wrote that Carver and his peanut products were almost solely responsible for the rise in U.S. peanut production after the boll weevil devastated the American cotton crop beginning about 1892. His article, "A Boy Who Was Traded for a Horse" (1932), in The American Magazine, and its 1937 reprint in Reader’s Digest, contributed to this myth about Carver’s influence. Other popular media tended to exaggerate Carver’s impact on the peanut industry.
From 1933 to 1935, Carver worked to develop peanut oil massages to treat infantile paralysis (polio). Ultimately researchers found that the massages, not the peanut oil, provided the benefits of maintaining some mobility to paralyzed limbs.
From 1935 to 1937, Carver participated in the USDA Disease Survey. Carver had specialized in plant diseases and mycology for his master’s degree.
In 1937, Carver attended two chemurgy conferences, an emerging field in the 1930s, during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, concerned with developing new products from crops. He was invited by Henry Ford to speak at the conference held in Dearborn, Michigan, and they developed a friendship. That year Carver’s health declined, and Ford later installed an elevator at the Tuskegee dormitory where Carver lived, so that the elderly man would not have to climb stairs., Rosen Publishing Group, 2004, pp. 90-92, accessed 7 July 2011
Carver had been frugal in his life, and in his seventies established a legacy by creating a museum on his work and the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee in 1938 to continue agricultural research. He donated nearly $60,000 in his savings to create the foundation.
Death and legacy
Upon returning home one day, Carver took a bad fall down a flight of stairs; he was found unconscious by a maid who took him to a hospital. Carver died January 5, 1943, at the age of 78 from complications (anemia) resulting from this fall. He was buried next to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee University. Due to his frugality, Carver’s life savings totaled $60,000, all of which he donated in his last years and at his death to the Carver Museum and to the George Washington Carver Foundation.
On his grave was written, He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.
A movement to establish a U.S. national monument to Carver began before his death. Because of World War II, such non-war expenditures were banned by presidential order. Missouri senator Harry S. Truman sponsored a bill in favor of a monument. In a committee hearing on the bill, one supporter said, "The bill is not simply a momentary pause on the part of busy men engaged in the conduct of the war, to do honor to one of the truly great Americans of this country, but it is in essence a blow against the Axis, it is in essence a war measure in the sense that it will further unleash and release the energies of roughly 15,000,000 Negro people in this country for full support of our war effort." The bill passed unanimously in both houses. On July 14, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated $30,000 for the George Washington Carver National Monument west-southwest of Diamond, Missouri—the area where Carver had spent time in his childhood. This was the first national monument dedicated to an African American and the first to honor someone other than a president. The national monument complex includes a bust of Carver, a ¾-mile nature trail, a museum, the 1881 Moses Carver house, and the Carver cemetery. The national monument was not opened until July 1953.