the various reform movements that emerged within American society between 1820 and 1850 Benjamin Banneker and I share the same Birthday. He was born on November 9, 1731 in Baltimore County, Maryland. He was the son of an ex-slave named Robert, whose wife, Mary Banneky, was the daughter of an Englishwoman and an African ex-slave. Because both of his parents were free, Benjamin escaped the wrath of slavery as well. He was taught to read by his white grandmother, Molly. Benjamin grew up on his father's farm with three sisters. After learning to read from his mother and grandmother, Benjamin read the bible to his family in the evening. He attended a nearby Quaker country school for several seasons, but this was the extent of his formal education. He later taught himself literature, history, and mathematics, and he enjoyed reading. For the most part, though, Banneker was self-educated, a fact that did little to diminish his brilliance. Banneker taught himself astronomy and accurately forecasted lunar and solar eclipses. Banneker's talents and intelligence eventually came to the attention of the Ellicott brothers, industrialists who had made their name and fortune by building a series of gristmills in the Baltimore area in the 1770s. George Ellicott, a fellow mathematician and astronomer, loaned Banneker numerous books in both fields.
At the age of 15, he took over the operations for the family farm. His father, Robert Bannaky, was notable for having built a series of dams and watercourses that successfully irrigated the family farm. Benjamin enhanced the system to control the water from the springs on the family farm. Their tobacco farm flourished even in times of drought. His early exploits included constructing a wooden clock in his early twenties, despite having seen only one other timepiece in his life. At the age of 21, Banneker's life was changed when he saw a neighbor's pocket watch. He borrowed the watch, took it apart to...