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George W. Carver. Portrait of George Washington Carver (1864-1943), black American agricultural chemist. Carver was born a slave but was adopted by his former "owners" in 1865. With their help he graduated from agricultural college. Carver realised that tobacco and cotton, the traditional crops of the southern United States, had denuded the soil of nutrients. Carver successfully promoted the use of peanuts and sweet potatoes, plants which would enrich the soil. To aid their commercial viability he developed from them a wide range of synthetic materials. He developed over 300 products, such as oil and peanut butter, from peanuts and 118 products from sweet potatoes.
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