What Do Sweet Potatoes, Postage Stamps and George Washington Carver Have in Common?

George Washington Carver, an African-American inventor working for the Tuskeegee Institute, used an extract derived from sweet potatoes to make glues for postage stamps and other paper products. He became the father of modern agricultural chemistry.

Carver was especially interested in helping Southern farmers grow crops beyond just cotton. The spread of the boll weevil was systematically destroying cotton farms, and Carver knew the South would be devastated economically if a solution was not found. Carver thought crop diversification was the key. He examined the existing conditions and resources on hand in the South and determined that peanuts, sweet potatoes, soybeans and rich clay soil could deliver thousands of useful products. In addition to sweet potato glue, Carver invented new paints, hundreds of foods and recipes, soy-based foods, and even cosmetics and dyes based on easily obtainable Southern resources.