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Benjamin Banneker facts for kids

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Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker mural cropped.tif
Born November 9, 1731
Died October 9, 1806 (1806-10-10) (aged 74)
Nationality American
Occupation Scientist, surveyor, almanac author, farmer

Benjamin Banneker (November 9, 1731 – October 9, 1806) was a free African American scientist, surveyor, almanac author and farmer. Parks, schools, streets and other tributes commemorate him and his works.

Early life

Benjamin Banneker was born on November 9, 1731 in Ellicott Mills, Maryland. Banneker was taught to read by his white grandmother Molly, and for a short time attended a small Quaker school. He was a free black slave, who owned a farm near Baltimore. Banneker taught himself mathematics using borrowed textbooks. Banneker taught himself astronomy by watching the stars. He accurately forecast lunar and solar eclipses.

Public life

Banneker started as a clock maker and a surveyor. His work came to the attention of the Ellicott brothers. In 1791 Banneker partnered with Andrew Ellicot to help map out a new national capital. Later, he compiled almanacs from 1792 to 1797. His almanacs contained opinion pieces, literature, medical and tidal information. In his almanacs, Banneker criticized Thomas Jefferson because of slavery. Outside of his almanacs, Banneker also published information on bees and calculated the cycle of the 17 year locust.

Interesting facts about Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker stamp
The Benjamin Banneker stamp issued February 15, 1980. Source: US Postal Service
  • Benjamin Banneker would be 289 years old today.
  • He produced one of the United States' first almanacs
  • He constructed a striking clock made out of wood. The clock continued to run until it was destroyed in a fire forty years later.
  • He predicted the solar eclipse of 1789.
  • In 1980 he was featured on the15 cent stamp.
  • He spent most of his life on the family tobacco farm in Baltimore County.

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