Southern farmers had a major problem after the Civil War. They had planted cotton season after season, and the result was soil that produced less and less.
It was the genius of a black man - George Washington Carver - that solved this quandary and in the process revolutionized southern farming. In 1896 Carver was asked by Booker T. Washington to become head of the agriculture department at The Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Carver not only discovered and developed a way to restore the vitality of the soil, he introduced two new crops that would produce well in Alabama soil (peanuts and sweet potatoes). Then when farmers needed a market for these new crops Carver created one by inventing hundreds of new uses for peanuts and sweet potatoes.