The Life of Benjamin Banneker

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  • Birth

    Benjamin Banneker was born into a farm located in Baltimore Maryland. His family consisted of a father who was a freed slave from Guinea, his mother, who was a free slave as well, and three other sisters.
  • Period: to

    Birth - Death

  • Benjamin Banneker's education

    Sometime around this time Benjamin Banneker attended a small, local quaker school for a short time, only about 2-3 weeks. After he dropped out of this school, he became almost completely self-educated, learning to read from a bible his family owned.
  • The useage of irrigation

    Banneker took over the operations of the family farm around age 15 due to his father's illness and advancing age, and once he took over control the farm productivity increased greatly, as he employed the use of his own system of irrigation consisting of many ditches and dams, allowing the farm to flourish even during drought.
  • Prediction of the 17-year locust cycle

    Benjamin Banneker noted the loud sounds the locusts made in one of his journals for the first time in 1749, and noticed that every 17 years these loud sounds would return, so he noted it in 1749 as previously mentioned, once in 1766, once in 1783, and then predicted it would occur again in the year 1800, and he was right.
  • The first striking clock made entirely out of American-made parts is created by Benjamin Banneker

    Sometime during 1753 Benjamin Banneker borrowed a pocket watch from a wealthy friend and took it apart, carefully examining each of the parts. After he returned the watch, he attempted to create one himself, and he succeeded, making it only out of hand carved wooden parts. This clock continued to function until Banneker's death.
  • Borrowing books from Ellicotts

    Around this time Benjamin Banneker befriended a local family than ran a long string of mills they owned around the area. These people also happened to have a very large personal library, where he began to borrow books on a regular basis and expand his intelligence by doing so.
  • Correctly predicts his first solar eclipse

    Sometime in early 1789 after borrowing the books from the Ellicotts, Benjamin Banneker correctly predicted the time of a solar eclipse due to the newly aquired knowledge gained from his borrowed books on astronomy.
  • Creation of the base of the reverse mortgage

    Sometime around this time period, when Benjamin Banneker was beginning to become more elderly, he created a deal with the Ellicotts which involved him promising his estate to them upon his death, and in exchange to be paid a monthly pension to try and free up his time from having to worry about farming so he could focus on finer arts. His monthly pension was based on how long he was likely to live, and the value of his estate. This deal was the first version of the modern day reverse mortgage.
  • Beginning survey work by order of Thomas Jefferson

    Sometime during Febuary of 1791 Andrew Ellicott was ordered out of surveying office in western New York by Thomas Jefferson, and ordered Benjamin Banneker to take over his work. Banneker's first order of business was to make astronomical evaluations of the area to create a pinpoint location to start the boundry for the new federal district that was to be created, however before he could finish he fell ill just three months into his work and was forced to return home.
  • Beginning the String of Letters between himself and Thomas Jefferson

    In 1791 Banneker wrote his first letter to Thomas Jefferson, currently secratary of state, after his appointment as surveyor in western New York. These letters were usually about his want for abolishment of slavery and equal rights between men of white and black color. This string of letters continued for many years, even after him leaving office as surveyor of western New York.
  • Creation of his first almanac

    During 1792 Banneker created his first almanac, and this pattern continued annually for several more years after, as he created 6 almanacs in total. He mailed this almanac to Thomas Jefferson along with a letter urging him to stop slavery, stating the idea of a human owning another human was ludicrous. This was also the first almanac created by an African-American.
  • Death

    Benjamin Banneker dies at age 75 during his sleep after his daily morning walk.