Benjamin Banneker

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Jeremy T. Davis
6th Period

Benjamin Banneker was born in 1731 near Baltimore. His Grandmother, an Englishwoman, taught him to read and write. For several winters he attended a small school open to blacks and whites. There he developed a keen interest in mathematics and science. Later, while farming, Banneker pursued his mathematical studies and taught himself astronomy. In 1753, he completed a remarkable clock. He built it entirely of wood, carving each gear by hand. His only models were a pocket watch and an old picture of a clock. The clock kept almost perfect time for more than fifty years.

In 1791, Banneker served as assistant to Major Andrew Ellicott, the surveyor appointed by President George Washington to lie out the boundaries of District of Colombia. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had recommended Banneker to help in this work.

From 1791 to 1796, Banneker made all the astronomical and tide calculations and weather predictions for a yearly almanac. Banneker sent Jefferson a copy of his first almanac. With it he sent a letter in which he called for the abolition of slavery and a liberal attitude toward blacks. Banneker's skills impressed Jefferson greatly. Jefferson sent a copy of the almanac to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris an evidence of the talent of Negroes. Opponents of slavery in the United States and England also used the almanacs as evidence of blacks' abilities.

The Publishers of Banneker's almanacs printed contributions by prominent Americans in addition to his material. In the 1793 almanac, for example, the famous surgeon and statesman Benjamin Rush proposed the appointment of a U.S. secretary of peace. Banneker himself probably contributed a few proverbs, essays, and poems.

I think Benjamin Banneker changed the world with his almanac. If it was not for this almanac people would not be able to keep records of certain things that go on astronomically. Such as the weather and the temperature....
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