To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Banneker, 19 August 1791
From Benjamin Banneker
Maryland. Baltimore County. Near Ellicotts Lower Mills
August 19th: 1791
I am fully sensible of the greatness of that freedom which I take with you on the present occasion; a liberty which Seemed to me scarcely allowable, when I reflected on that distinguished, and dignifyed station in which you Stand; and the almost general prejudice and prepossession which is so prevailent in the world against those of my complexion.
I suppose it is a truth too well attested to you, to need a proof here, that we are a race of Beings who have long laboured under the abuse and censure of the world, that we have long been looked upon with an eye of contempt, and1 that we have long been considered rather as brutish than human, and Scarcely capable of mental endowments. Continue reading →
In 1753, Benjamin Banneker engineered the first striking clock made entirely of wooden parts. This invention marked the advent of his rise to fame as people would travel from far and near to witness his remarkable invention. Made entirely of hand carved wood parts and pinions, the clock struck on the hour for over 50 years.
Banneker was the first to track the 17 year locust cycle, a valuable revelation to farmers enabling them to prepare for attacks by locusts on their crops. He was among the first scientific farmers to employ crop rotation and water irrigation techniques. He enjoyed eviable results as a tobacco farmer, and harvested his own food crop.
Banneker was among the first Americans, and the first African-American, to publish almanacs, a valuable tool in an agricultural economy. His almanacs were publicly sold from 1792 to 1799, and did quite well. Continue reading →
Benjamin Banneker Scientist, Astronomer(1731–1806)
“The colour of the skin is in no way connected with strength of the mind or intellectual powers.”
Benjamin Banneker was a largely self-educated mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs and writer.
Benjamin Banneker was born on November 9, 1731, in – what was later named – Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland. A free-born black man who owned a farm near Baltimore, Banneker was largely self-educated in astronomy and mathematics. He was later called upon to assist in the surveying of territory for the construction of the nation’s capital Washington D.C. He also became an active writer of almanacs and exchanged letters with Thomas Jefferson, politely challenging him to do what he could to ensure racial equality. Banneker died on October 9, 1806.