Person: Banneker, Benjamin
Benjamin Banneker was a black American who is best-known for his Astronomical Almanac.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Benjamin received some education at the Quaker School although once he was old enough to help on his parent's farm then he had to end his formal education.
- There was, however, little respite for Banneker from the hard physical labour on the farm.
- When he was 22 years of age Banneker showed his abilities when he made a clock from wood using a pocket watch he had borrowed as a model.
- The clock struck the hours and continued in good working order for the rest of Banneker's life.
- Building this clock seems to have brought Banneker some fame in the local community in which he lived and he quickly acquired a reputation for skill in making and solving mathematical puzzles.
- In 1788 Ellicot lent Banneker some astronomy books and instruments.
- He employed Banneker as his assistant on this project.
- Banneker was also working on another project in 1791, namely constructing an astronomical almanac.
- The letter from Banneker most certainly does not suggest that at all, rather it suggests quite the reverse, namely that to have achieved what he did with all the difficulties which were in his way, he must have had a mind of quite remarkable stature.
- Jefferson promised Banneker in his reply to the 19 August 1791 letter that he would send his Almanac to Condorcet at the Académie des Sciences in Paris.
- Banneker published Almanacs until 1797.
- He dedicated them to the cause of equality and peace and the 1793 Almanac contains the correspondence between Banneker and Jefferson.
- On the day of Banneker's funeral the farm house burnt to the ground and his laboratory and the clock he made in his younger days was all destroyed.
- Only one manuscript journal which Banneker had written was not in the house and so survived.
Born 9 November 1731, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Died 9 October 1806, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
African American, Astronomy, Origin Usa
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive