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Glasnerven t1_j51n07l wrote

George Whynot Carver, got it.


UghKakis t1_j51rfv8 wrote

Seriously. He literally told the guy the W stood for “Why Not” and they just ignored him


100LittleButterflies t1_j5203j8 wrote

People only hear what they want to hear.


AReluctantEssayist t1_j52c4ga wrote

Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Grant. The congressmen his father harangued into recommending him to West Point identified him as, "Ulysses S. Grant." As President, Grant quipped, "there is an 'S' in the middle of my name and I do not know what it stands for."


JPHutchy01 t1_j52nqdg wrote

Not to be confused with Harry S. Truman who's parents could agree whether it should be "Solomon" or "Shipp" so in the end it was just left as "S."


AReluctantEssayist t1_j52oyev wrote

I always heard Truman was the only person in his class without a middle initial, so one day he asked his mother for one.


JesusUnoWTF t1_j531kq7 wrote

My grandad only has a middle initial because the nurse misunderstood his parents and just put down what she heard. The 40's were a different time I guess; not a lot of oversight it seems.


TinySqueakFPV t1_j53iihq wrote

My grandad has no middle name.

When he was in the military they gave him the letter 'N' for his middle initial for "None" lol


bolanrox t1_j5344hu wrote

Just S he added the period after grammar nazis kept harassing him about it.


Turdplay t1_j53gxsa wrote

He should be grateful his parents didn’t Shipp him.


CBattles6 t1_j52tjp3 wrote

I had an Indian friend in high school who did not have a middle name. The first time he was forced to include a middle initial on a standardized test, he chose "W." We later decided that it stood for "Wallace."


derpy_viking t1_j55g2cr wrote

Is that an American thing? I have a middle name but I never use it and no one ever asked me for it.


AspireAgain OP t1_j56icot wrote

It doesn't usually get used, with most people just using the middle initial when filling out forms.

Middle names are usually only commonly used when the individual is a criminal and the news needs to make sure that, for example, Lee Jeffrey Oswald isn't confused with Lee Harvey Oswald.


derpy_viking t1_j56pgmh wrote

No, I mean virtually no one even uses a middle initial in Germany, although it’s really uncommon to not have at least two given names.

It’s not used on your headstone, over a scientific article, or on your business card. As far as I remember, I enrolled both, in school and in university, without requiring my second name. It’s only on my passport and on my bank statements – and with my bank I could have just skipped telling them my middle name.

Edit: I just wonder, I we are weird for not using it.


AspireAgain OP t1_j570p8s wrote

From a US perspective most medical/legal/enrollment forms have a space for a middle initial. Most online consumer focused ones don't.

If you're dealing with school systems and program registrations and health care and etc , the Middle Initial field is ubiquitous, I suppose for the same reason Carver started using W - to avoid confusion. But it is very rarely a required field.


StrikeTheSun t1_j52jsml wrote

This is a perfect Today I Learned. Just a little extra knowledge that I didn't know but will now remember for the rest of my life. Not life altering, but will perhaps come in handy for a trivia game.


AspireAgain OP t1_j52l2hw wrote

Glad to be of service. It's a real TIL too, I had no idea until I stumbled across it the other day.


HaikuBotStalksMe t1_j53i7vo wrote

"did you know that George Washington was not named Washington?"


"I reddit on read it."


swanspank t1_j53qwf2 wrote

Wasn’t he the guy with the peanuts rotating crops? I think I remember correctly it was about 54 years ago when I learned it in grade school. So I don’t think I qualify for todayilearned.


AspireAgain OP t1_j53u6y9 wrote

The TIL isn’t what he did. It’s that he never used Washington in his name. Just “W”, or no initial at all.


swanspank t1_j53ww0l wrote

Well darn, you are absolutely correct and think about that, 54 darn years and the system had lied to me the whole time!I

guess next you are going to tell me the government isn’t here to help me.


AspireAgain OP t1_j5419o3 wrote

Not sure what your point is. You misread the TIL. I pointed it out. Done?


100LittleButterflies t1_j5208tv wrote

I try to not people on pedestals - none of us are without flaw or regret - but I praise his name nearly every day. I freaking love peanut butter.


Howdy-partners t1_j5246tz wrote

He didn’t invent peanut butter.


Killianti t1_j525n9i wrote

He made it the staple it is today.


AspireAgain OP t1_j52o7ae wrote

I thought that was the work of famous peanut better industrialist, Skippy Jif.


Howdy-partners t1_j526iwv wrote

He had nothing to do with its success.


Gargomon251 t1_j527c7l wrote

He created more than 300 uses for peanuts but peanut butter was not one of them


bigbrothersrule t1_j55uqrr wrote

Sigh. George Washington Carver didn't invent peanut butter. He didn't invent x hundred uses for the peanut. Southern peanut farming was already on the upswing before he even began his work. He didn't save southern agriculture from the degradation of cotton farming. It's not true, and the really interesting story is why we were told these lies, instead of GWC's much more interesting life story. During his lifetime, his accomplishments were absurdly inflated by white journalists, politicians and business leaders as a form of tokenism in service of a white supremacist agenda. He was a great man, not a particularly remarkable scientist, but we should absolutely remember his story.

  • He was born a slave in rural Missouri, stolen as a baby and sold AGAIN as a slave in Kentucky. His original slave owner, Moses Carver, found George and returned him to Missouri. That's right, the "Carver" in George Washington Carver was his white owner's name. Because Moses and his wife Susan were unable to recover George's mom, they decided to raise George as their own child. That gave George a very different childhood than most of his peers in late 1800's Missouri.
  • He actually managed to be accepted to college in Kansas because everything "seemed white" until he actually showed up. Then he became both the first black student at Iowa State and its first black faculty member. Then at the turn of the century he moved to the Tuskegee Institute to found its Agriculture Department.
  • For a century following the end of slavery, a system of tenant farming or "sharecropping" existed allowing slavery/serfdom to persist under a different name. White landowners were able to continue producing agricultural products with very low or non-existent labor long as blacks stayed on the farm. The way out of this cycle of poverty was to break the system, or at least, on an individual basis to escape it. At the time, that usually meant moving north to get a factory job, or an education, or both. Either way, leave that southern farm.
  • George Washington Carver's stated mission was to help farmers remain as farmers through superior farming techniques. Today we call it "sustainability." He encouraged ditching cotton for crops that captured nitrogen from the air and returned it to the soil. His favorite options were sweet potatoes and yes, peanuts. These weren't his discoveries, but with his Tuskegee bullhorn, the man was way ahead of his time. Plus, they were both great sources of nutrition (together they are a virtually complete diet), which cotton wasn't. The more of your own crops you could eat, the less food you had to buy from the company store, the less debt you'll owe to your white landowner.
  • However, at that time, those in power down south saw something else: a perfect, non-threatening (sickly and fay) exemplar of black southern sharecropping. They wanted blacks to keep working white land and, sort of tangentially, so did George Washington Carver. His national star rose after his testimony to Congress regarding instituting a peanut tariff, and that meant great fundraising opportunities for the Tuskegee Institute, as long as he kept beating the same drum. The whites had the money, and even legendary bigot Henry Ford struck up a relationship. With GWC, the white establishment found a very convenient partner. Carver advocated improving the conditions of southern blacks within a farming world of systemic disadvantage. Self-help is, by definition, advice that ignores a broader problem of oppression.
  • The historian Linda McMurry once wrote, "If he had been white, [Carver] probably would have made significant contributions in mycology or hybridization and died in obscurity. Because he was black, he died famous, without making any significant scientific advances." That, in itself, is the shameful story of our last 150 years in the United States. We don't like to talk about the persistence of the stain of slavery, and it's pretty embarrassing that sustainability was staring us in the face, and we ignored it as a society for so long.

VeryJoyfulHeart59 t1_j56iz7j wrote

>Self-help is, by definition, advice that ignores a broader problem of oppression.

Where did you get that?


fragnet t1_j531lum wrote

I don't have a middle name and many jobs put some random middle initial because their system won't take a blank. Most places give me a N.


AspireAgain OP t1_j535aj4 wrote

N for No Middle Initial, I presume.


ShakaUVM t1_j540aeg wrote

I know a person whose first name is FNU - First Name Unknown


RudeMechanic t1_j5326nl wrote

I grew up in southern Missouri, and occasionally my family would go to the George Washington Carver National Monument. It took me a long time to understand the first President of the country wasn't into growing peas.

That having been said, George Washington Carver was a great scientist and his research has had a terminations impact on agriculture.


Amerpol t1_j53tdpz wrote

Sorta like Harry S Truman the s just stands for s


FistoftheSouthStar t1_j534amm wrote

The scholarship I was awarded was named after him. Amazing human being. Favorite story is why he actually came up for so many uses for peanuts


Crabrubber t1_j53clfo wrote

And then he died penniless and insane, still trying to play a phonograph record with a peanut.


KidCharlem t1_j54tdus wrote

Edward “Skippy” Williamson and Frederick “Jif” Armstrong – two white men – stole George Washington Carver’s recipe for peanut butter, copyrighted it, and reaped untold fortunes from it.


AspireAgain OP t1_j53jvef wrote

I think this is a reference to something but I can't remember what...


Moby1313 t1_j53ju29 wrote

This man was a master of the peanut. Most peanut derived products were developed by this man.


spleenboggler t1_j553kf0 wrote

Similarly, the middle name of Harry S Truman is literally the letter "S" and nothing more. The name is often written with a period after the S, as though it's an abbreviation, but that's just an old newspaper error, maintained for the sake of continuity.


tossinthisshit1 t1_j55o4ck wrote

for some reason i was taught that he invented peanut butter. he absolutely did not invent peanut butter. none of his peanut-based inventions took off. he did a lot of things, but peanut butter wasn't one of them.


lurker12346 t1_j53fakh wrote

my name is george... "who?!?!" washington carver...


Slicker1138 t1_j53wpw6 wrote

My father, brother, and nephew simply have a J as a middle name. I work with a girl who's middle name is G.


xX609s-hartXx t1_j54ybcn wrote

George W. has gotten kinda tainted so if he really didn't care that much he'd probably be fine with it.


Stswivvinsdayalready t1_j565c4d wrote

He was correcting him. His real name was George Why Not Carver


aidenjoneslearn4fun t1_j52evqq wrote

The meaning of this middle "name" is that their is no meaning behind it


AspireAgain OP t1_j52otl9 wrote

If I had to guess, perhaps "Washington" started to be used to help promote adoption of the agricultural advances he had worked on. It probably made his name more memorable, and also helped African-Americans who first heard the name to realize that he was African-American also.


aidenjoneslearn4fun t1_j5bunhi wrote

Sorry the comment was jokingly. I meant no meaning as in maybe he thought their was no true meaning not that it had no meaning at all.

That is very logical that Washington was picked for African recognition.


aidenjoneslearn4fun t1_j5mvwp8 wrote

This is very understandable as a name that would be recognized would of course help bring recognition to fellows who might want to see the various ways his name was in use. The name being something not only short aka W but also being a name that can be remembered makes it so that the record of the man is more likely to remain intact as opposed to a name.that would make him forgettable and therefore lost to history.

We can only guess if it was for the African American community. Well I cannot guess for I am not African American. I am sure this is part of some history for them however. I cannot be completely certain on this aspect. Anyway the scneario sounds like something made in the moment so he had to devise a solution for that situation!