Economic Botany

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 371–379 | Cite as

Introduction of soybean to North America by Samuel Bowen in 1765

  • T. Hymowitz
  • J. R. Harlan


This paper documents the history of the introduction of the soybean (Glycine max), a domesticate of China, to North America. Henry Yonge, the Surveyor-General of Georgia, planted soybeans on his farm at the request of Samuel Bowen in 1765. Mr. Bowen, a former seaman employed by the East India Company, brought soybeans to Savannah, Georgia, from China via London. From 1766, Mr. Bowen planted soybeans on his plantation “Greenwich” located at Thunderbolt, Georgia. The soybeans were used to manufacture soy sauce and vermicelli (soybean noodles). In addition, he manufactured a sago powder substitute made from sweet potatoes. The 3 products were then exported to England. Samuel Bowen received a patent for his manufacturing inventions for producing these products. Another early introduction of soybeans to North America was by Benjamin Franklin. In 1770 he sent seeds from London to John Bartram in Philadelphia.


Sweet Potato Economic Botany Flint Scurvy British Library 
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Copyright information

© New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY 10458 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Hymowitz
  • J. R. Harlan
    • 1
  1. 1.Crop Evolution Laboratory, Department of AgronomyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbana

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