On This Day

Benjamin Banneker

Mathematician, Astronomer and Almanac Author Benjamin Banneker

Profession: Mathematician, Astronomer and Almanac Author

United States of America

Biography: Banneker was a largely self-educated, free African-American scientist. He is most famous for his widely published almanacs (1792-1797) for which he calculated the daily locations of stars and planets and accurately forecast lunar and solar eclipses. His almanacs also included opinion pieces, literature, and medical and tidal information.

Banneker was an outspoken anti-slavery supporter who corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on the topics of slavery and racial equality. He included the correspondence between himself and Jefferson in his 1793 almanac.

His other achievements include constructing a wooden clock despite having seen only one other timepiece in his life, and assisting Major Andrew Ellicott in surveying the borders of the original federal capital of the District of Columbia.

Born: November 9, 1731
Birthplace: Ellicott's Mills, Maryland, USA
Star Sign: Scorpio

Died: October 9, 1806 (aged 74)

Historical Events

  • 1789-03-11 Benjamin Banneker and Pierre Charles L'Enfant begin to lay out Washington, D.C.
  • 1791-08-19 Benjamin Banneker sends a copy of his Almanac and writes a letter to Thomas Jefferson criticizing his pro-slavery stance and requesting justice for African Americans using language from the Declaration of Independence
  • 1791-08-30 Thomas Jefferson responds to Benjamin Banneker's letter on the issue of slavery
  • 1792-11-25 Benjamin Banneker first publishes his Farmer's Almanac