February 14, 2024

Black History Month - Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker

November 9, 1731 - October 9, 1806

  • A naturalist, mathematician, astronomer, and almanac author. A landowner, he also worked as a surveyor and farmer
  • Born in Baltimore County, Maryland to a free African-American mother and a father who had formerly been enslaved, Banneker had little or no formal education and was largely self-taught
  • At age 15, he took over the family farm and created an irrigation system to control the flow of water to the crops
  • In the 1750s, he invented the first clock in America; it was this invention that put his talents on display for the country
  • Responsible for surveying of territory for construction of the nation's capital in 1791 after the lead architect quit
  • Authored commercially successful series of almanacs
  • Corresponded with Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the United States Declaration of Independence, on the topics of slavery and racial equality

Learn More!
The White House Historical Association
Mathematicians of the African Diaspora
University of Virginia